It’s unfortunate that Niagara Street (named for the river that it bounds) offers very little in the form of waterfront access. If you live on the West Side, or anywhere in the city for that matter, it’s easier to head to Canalside or the Outer Harbor to launch a kayak.
Thankfully, that’s about to change. Riverkeeper has announce that it has secured NYPA (NY Power Authority) funding in order to create a micro-park at 1660 Niagara Street. The park will help water-lovers to gain additional access to the Niagara River and Scajaquada Creek. The sum of $602,000 will allow Riverkeeper to move forward with the creation of a community paddlesport launch, which will add to the ongoing momentum of the street. Not only have a few new businesses popped up (and more on the way), a Great Lakes Restoration grant was also recently secured that will provide much needed aesthetic and green streetscape enhancements for WNY’s Blue Economy (see more). Those enhancements will help to alleviate storm water contamination issues that have been identified.
For Riverkeeper programming, the paddlesport park is a big boost, as it offers direct access to Scajaquada Creek via a small tributary that leads right up to Niagara Street where a series of ancient-looking wharf-style buildings are located – rumor has it that one of the shacks has significance in that it could be the oldest structure in the city. The location is also significant due to its relevance to the War of 1812, where Commodore Perry launched his fleet.
“Riverkeeper would like to thank the Buffalo and Erie County Standing Committee for this Niagara River Greenway investment into the Black Rock community, and for the continued revitalization of the Niagara Street and Scajaquada Creek corridor,” said Jill Jedlicka, Executive Director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. “Scajaquada Creek has significant cultural, historical, and ecosystem value, but still remains largely inaccessible to the community. Through our collaboration with key partners like Black Rock Riverside Good Neighbor Planning Alliance, we will now be able to acquire this brownfield and continue forward progress on Buffalo Niagara’s rust to blue transformation.”
As part of the Niagara River Greenway, this paddlesport launch will add to the collection of water access points, and at the same time it will help with connectivity between key waterways. The park will also become part of a system of paddle access points and launches collectively referred to as the Blueway Trail. Supporters of the initiative (part of the Niagara River Greenway Plan (20017) include Scajaquada Canoe Club, Black Rock Historical Society, Believe in Black Rock, Grant Amherst Business Association, Rediscover Riverside and Black Rock Riverside Good Neighbor Planning Alliance.
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said, “This micro-park project is a wise investment that not only beautifies our community but improves access to the waterfront while working to control stormwater runoff. The NYPA funding will allow the creation of new green space and a paddlesport launch, bringing new quality of life to a community that had been cut off from the water. I commend Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper and all of its partners who worked together to nurture this vision of a welcoming and useful public space, and I look forward to the building of this next jewel along the Niagara River.”
Allocated funds for the park will go towards acquiring the land, park design, remediation. Additional funds will be sought to realize the full scope of the project. In order to ensure that the park is taken care of, and essential programming ensues, a newly formed Buffalo Niagara River Land Trust has been established by Riverkeeper with the following mission task at hand – “a separate entity specifically to acquire and remediate waterfront brownfields for enhanced community uses such as habitat and ecological restoration, waterfront parks, and open space within the Niagara River Greenway.”
“I look forward to the continued revitalization of our green spaces and waterways. Just a few more reasons why Buffalo is a great place to live, work and play,” said Joseph Golombek, Jr., North District Common Council Member.