New York State Senator Sean Ryan is asking Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (ECHDC) to work together with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, to create a more unified vision for the waterfront. Ryan feels that the ECHDC should eliminate its plan for an 8,000-person capacity outdoor event venue on the Outer Harbor, for a number of reasons.
Mainly, a more in-tandem effort should be implemented that would better utilize the “Great Lawn” (lead image) and other outdoor event spaces at Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park, which would free up the Outer Harbor lands for greenspace and public access upgrades. Ryan states that the two waterfront destinations would otherwise be competing against each other for large events. Ultimately, each park should have distinct purposes and components, instead of duplicating efforts.
“We have a long history of siloed decision-making in Buffalo that often leads to scarce resources being wasted on projects that clash with one another,” says Ryan. “With the planned large-event venue at the Outer Harbor, I fear that we are going down that same path once again. Through years of public feedback, the people of Western New York have made it clear that they want a ‘quieter, simpler’ Outer Harbor that features trails and green space. It is imperative that ECHDC work together with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to ensure that Outer Harbor funding is not wasted on a plan that will disregard the public’s wishes, only to create competition for outdoor events on Buffalo’s waterfront.”
This past June, a lawsuit was filed by four groups, against ECHDC’s ‘General Project Plan’ for the Outer Harbor. The lawsuit jives with Ryan’s sentiments that the Outer Harbor should expand its green space into a more natural environment, while Centennial Park should establish a large-event space (the Great Lawn). Ryan cites a growing amount of public feedback for basing his decision.