Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday announced that a new recreation space on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor is now open to the public. Lieutenant Governor Robert J. Duffy, local officials and students from City Honors cut the ribbon and unveiled the site’s new name, “Wilkeson Pointe.” The state invited middle school classrooms from Buffalo Public Schools to name the site, which was formerly called “Parcel OH” and the winning submission came from the eighth grade classroom of Michael A. Serotte, a U.S. History Teacher at City Honors. Wilkeson Pointe is now open to the public from dawn to dusk seven days a week.
“As this administration works hard to breathe new life into Western New York and show businesses that New York is serious about revitalizing, rebuilding and remaking the Buffalo economy, it is also important that Western New Yorkers have a place to relax and enjoy the outdoors,” said Governor Cuomo. “Wilkeson Pointe is the City of Buffalo’s newest public, waterfront recreational space and I encourage both residents and visitors to visit and take in the unique views.”
Following the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation’s guiding principle of public access, the site has public access along the entire length of the perimeter and water’s edge with various design components, including pedestrian paths, volleyball courts, natural playgrounds, wind sculptures and public docking.
Additional work on the site includes shoreline enhancements; removal and disposal of miscellaneous concrete slabs and foundations; installation of a soil cap over the entire site; installation of site utilities and site lighting; and the rehabilitation of an existing building into a comfort station and garage. The site also has six acres of shovel ready land for future mixed-use development. The contractor on this project was EdBauer Construction with a contract for approximately $2.8 million. Rosato Management Services Inc. is the operations, maintenance and security contractor on site.
ECHDC engaged Buffalo Public Schools in identifying a name for the site. Many ideas were submitted and the winning submittal came from City Honors which chose “Wilkeson Pointe.” The waterfront recreation site’s name comes from Samuel Wilkeson who was a member of the Buffalo Harbor Company that brought the terminus of the Erie Canal to Buffalo, versus its rival Black Rock. In the early 1820s, Wilkeson led the project to improve the harbor to make it suitable as the canal terminus. He served in the New York State Assembly, the New York State Senate and as Mayor of the City of Buffalo.
Lieutenant Governor Duffy was in Buffalo last fall to announce the start of construction on this site and mark the first step toward creating a shovel-ready, mixed-use development site. Less than a year later, it is now complete and open to the public.
This project is ECHDC’s first construction project on the Outer Harbor. The site was made up of the Cargill Parcel purchased by ECHDC in 2008 and the former New York Power Authority (NYPA) parcel that housed the Lake Erie-Niagara River Ice Boom until it was relocated to a new site in Buffalo’s Old First Ward. The Power Authority’s efforts to relocate the ice boom stemmed from a 2006 agreement with Buffalo and Erie County. The agreement, in support of the federal relicensing of the Niagara Hydroelectric Power Plant, provided for $279 million of NYPA funding and other support for revitalizing the Buffalo waterfront and other improvement measures in the region.
The site also features an existing natural shoreline. ECHDC entered into contract with Nature’s Way on July 25, 2012 for a sand sustainability study at Gallagher Beach and this shoreline. The study began in September 2012 and was completed in December 2012. The state is now awaiting study results, which are anticipated by early summer 2013.