A new waterfront park is coming to Niagara Street. The park and paddlesport launch is now underway thanks to a partnership between Riverkeeper and the Buffalo Niagara Land Trust (formed in 2012). A decision was made to create a waterfront park in an area of the city that does not have much quality waterfront access. A condemned building (sitting on brownfield land) located at 1660 Niagara Street turned out to be the perfect location for just such a park. A press conference was held earlier today to highlight the long overlooked property. Once developed, the access point will enable kayakers to reach Scajaquada Creek, Black Rock Canal and the Niagara River.
The Niagara Street aquatic park is just part of a “Blueway Trail” initiative that seeks to establish and connect waterfront access points (paddle access points and launches). This particular initiative is purported to cost upwards of $850,000, and is made possible thanks to grant funding from New York State Canal Corporation, the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and the New York State Power Authority (through the Buffalo and Erie County Greenway Fund Standing Committee).
Today’s press conference was attended by representatives from Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, the Buffalo Niagara River Land Trust, Congressman Brian Higgins, Senator Marc Panepinto, Alan Bozer, Chairman of the Buffalo and Erie County Greenway Fund Standing Committee, and representatives from community organizations.
“For generations, Scajaquada Creek has been an abandoned waterway that still suffers from pollution and limited public access,” said Jill Jedlicka, executive director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. “There are significant restoration planning efforts underway, thanks to recent years of strong collaboration between the government and non-profit sectors. While this work is happening, we can take additional steps to improve the creek corridor. Just like we have seen in the Buffalo River and the Outer Harbor, by prioritizing public access and water quality, the increased community use of our waterways can play an important role in stimulating additional investment and recovery.”
“This project embodies all of the challenges the Buffalo Niagara Land Trust was created to resolve. Located on an urban brownfield, severely dilapidated privately owned buildings have hid the creek from the public for years. Through these generous grants and important partnership, this project will reclaim the space for environmental remediation, public fishing and boating access. We hope it is the start of many similar projects along the region’s waterfront,” said Adam Walters, Board President for the Trust.
Congressman Brian Higgins stated, “This project, creating a new park and public space along the waterfront, compliments millions of dollars in federal funding supporting reconstruction and enhancements to Niagara Street. As a result, we will have improved access to our city and the water’s edge for local neighbors and visitors entering this critical gateway.”
“As Buffalo’s economy continues to grow, more and more of our Brownfield sites are becoming ripe for redevelopment and reuse,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown. “Today’s demolition begins the process of transforming an area of blight into a publicly accessible waterfront park and paddle-sport launch, complementing the city’s $16.3 million infrastructure investment along the Niagara Street corridor and continuing our commitment to improved water quality and increased community use of our waterways. I’m grateful for this public-private partnership and investment in Buffalo’s continuing resurgence.”
The park project is a welcome addition to the infrastructure work that is currently underway on Niagara Street. The site in question will be the perfect spot to drop a kayak in the water. In the future there will be bike trail/lane connectivity as well as waterfront access, making this a highly trafficked destination for healthy outdoor activities.
“Today, Riverkeeper and the Buffalo Niagara River Land Trust expand on their continuous efforts to create local access to our waterfront which has long been denied,” said Senator Marc Panepinto. “This project is a collaborative and shining example of government working together on all levels to stimulate Buffalo’s growing Blue Economy, reclaim deserted space for environmental remediation and create public fishing and boat access. Thanks to Riverkeeper’s vision, the creation of this new waterfront park will continue to draw residents to the emerging Niagara Street corridor and reconnect them to the waterfront they deserve.”