Congressman Brian Higgins has some interesting ideas about how the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) can spend the remaining half of the proceeds from New York Power Authority’s license to operate the Niagara Power Project, which was granted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
To date, ECHDC has spent $62.8 million, and is expected to receive another $92.4 million through 2029. Higgins is looking for the ECHDC to step up its planning efforts to identify concrete action plans moving forward, in order to ensure that the remaining funds are put to the best practical use.
Higgins points to the North Aud Block Redevelopment as the perfect spot to dedicate $10 million from NYPA, to boost/attract private development, with public spaces. The site would feature period buildings, cobblestone streets, and a public square, consistent with urbanist Mark Goldman’s vision dating back to 2013 (Friends of the Buffalo Story). Higgins is disappointed that the site is a “large hole” in its current state, instead of adhering to the 15 year old plan to develop.
Higgins chimed in that it is imperative that the Michigan Pier project (former Pier Restaurant Site) be stepped up using $8 million of the NYPA settlement, combined with Buffalo Billion funds, which would transform the area into a more presentable lakeside park setting.
He also noted that Erie Basin Marina should be in line for major infrastructure improvements. Finally, someone is asking that the boardwalk be extended along the remaining 500-yard seawall, and widened. The marina is showing its age, and is prime for improvements. Currently, the marina along the lakeside is a jumble of rocks with a major disconnect from the water’s edge – there’s a big “unfinished” factor here that needs to be addressed, including seriously dated light standards. Higgins wants to allocate $5 million from NYPA funding.
Higgins is pushing for $7 million of NYPA settlement funds to be used for the DL&W Corridor Trail that was previously proposed.
Higgins also called out for $7 million in NYPA funds to be used to make the Buffalo Naval and Military Park a year round attraction, by building out all-weather exhibit and meeting spaces. This would help to make the Military Park a primary facet along the waterfront, instead of a seasonal attraction.
Thankfully, Higgins also pointed out the need for a ped-bike bridge from Silo City to the Outer Harbor that would traverse the City Ship Canal. Using $5 million federal transportation funding and a match in the same amount from the NYPA resettlement purse, the vision is achievable, according to Higgins.