It’s been four years since the Chief Petty Officer’s Club (The CPO Club) shuttered its doors. Since that time, the structure has been slowly repaired, which is great news. The unfortunate news is that there is no official news, and word is that there might not be a public component to the property moving forward, and that stinks.
The property, which essentially adjoins the Buffalo Yacht Club compound, has in past years been a place where the community would frequent for cold beers and delightful fish fries. Eventually the place fell into disrepair and the politicos appeared to covet the properties in ways that were somewhat disturbing. Questions regarding the future of the club fell on deaf ears. To this day, there aren’t many people that can tell you the future use of the club, now called the Captain J. Bailey Boat House [Navy Operational Support Center].
What I can tell you is that the property is now gated and is monitored by a security camera. At a time when the citizens of Buffalo have been reclaiming the waterfront, there could not have been a worse time to pull the plug on the community aspect of this longstanding waterfront asset. Ultimately the property, tied to neighboring US Navy Reserve Center, is owned by the NYS Division of Military and Naval Affairs (DMNA).
I emailed Assemblyman Sean Ryan’s office for an update on the status of the boathouse and never got an update from his end. All the while we were told that there would be a public component incorporated into future plans. The appearance of the gate does not bode well on that end if you ask me, nor does the fact that no officials like to talk about it one way or another.
There was a time when people talked about this property being a key pedestrian connector between the Lasalle Park and the West Side Rowing Boat House, and parts in-between. That was when Sam Hoyt, now the Regional President at Empire State Development, was talking about the addition of a Sunset Promenade next to the Peace Bridge (originally part of Front Park, now disconnected by the freeway). There was a shining moment when all of this looked to be part of the waterfront connectivity that “everyone” is/was embracing. This connectivity could have sparked some other development opportunities nearby, where The City stills keeps abandoned military vehicles (that were never relocated, as once promised).
If someone with any political gumption was to study this area, they would see that there are vast and squandered opportunities. While Canalside shines, other parts of the waterfront are still being kept in the dark.