Award-Winning State Park Provides New Recreational Opportunity and Unprecedented Access to Lake Erie Waterfront
October 18, 2017 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the transformation of the new Buffalo Harbor State Park, the City of Buffalo's first state park, is now complete. New York State purchased the once neglected property in 2013 and immediately invested $15 million across 3 phases to remediate the brownfield and transform all 190 acres into a vibrant state park. Today, more than 240,000 people visit the park annually.
"The transformation of the Outer Harbor into this newly revitalized and family-friendly destination bring new excitement and new energy to the region, while also continuing downtown Buffalo's economic momentum," said Governor Cuomo. "Buffalo Harbor State Park is providing expanded outdoor recreation and access to the waterfront for the local community, welcoming visitors to come experience all that Western New York has to offer."
"The rebirth of Buffalo's waterfront is a hallmark of the city's recovery and a symbol of our commitment to making this region a premier tourism destination," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "The Outer Harbor State Park restores one of our most important recreational and environmental assets and underscores Governor Cuomo's dedication to Western New York's continued revitalization. "
The transformation of Buffalo Harbor State Park now offers the community a host of new recreational opportunities and unprecedented access that include:
- Rehabilitated Breakwall: Now stabilized the breakwall provides new recreational access with paved walking and bike paths, shaded seating areas with accent lighting and the introduction of a fishing platform.
- Rehabilitated Southern Revetment: Like the Rehabilitated Breakwall, the southern revetment is stabilized and now features a fishing platform.
- Enhanced Greenspace: Features a fresh new great-lawn with beautiful vistas of Lake Erie and the Harbor, open air picnic pavilions, nautically themed destination playground, sled-riding hill, stage area for live music and movies in the park, new park furnishings including benches, improved lighting and walkways, landscaping and general utility upgrades.
- New Public Boat Launches: The Marina now includes an 8 lane boat launch. Its new location on the southwest side enables day boaters access to Lake Erie without having to maneuver through the state's largest boat marina, as has been required in the past. Such action also provides marina slip owners with calmer water as less traffic now passes by them.
- Redesigned Parking and Boating Queue Lines: Sandwiched between the marina and the parks' greenspace are two specially marked parking areas. The main parking area can accommodate 228 boat trailers and is located in close proximity to the new public launch. This lot can also be easily converted to 372 parking spaces for special event needs.
Designated queuing lines have also been created to ensure day boaters can access the public boat launch with ease. All combined, the revised traffic flow, reconfigured parking lots, and the new public launch will reduce the amount of time between unloading and parking which will allow boaters more time to enjoy the water.
The second parking lot, adjacent to the play area and greenspace, features 134 parking spaces and is for park patrons only.
- Rehabilitated Marina: Marina concessionaire, Safe Harbor Development, has invested an additional $8 million into the boat marina that includes new and additional slips, enhanced lighting and controlled access and security all designed to provide slip owners the ability to better support their needs on the docks.
- New Multi-Use Trail: Constructed parallel to the boating queue line, the new multi-use trail will provide connectivity between the rehabilitated breakwall, the remaining multi-use trail system in the park, and the new Empire State Trail for which Buffalo Harbor State Park serves as the western terminus.
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "The Buffalo Harbor State Park is a key component of the waterfront's transformation and as we celebrate the completion of Phase III, it is clear that every improvement made at the water's edge is a smart investment in Buffalo's economic future."
At a ceremony today State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey welcomed the community and its leaders to dedicate the park and tour the full scale improvements provided through the Governor's Buffalo Billion and NY Parks 2020 initiatives to completely reinvigorate the Buffalo Harbor waterfront.
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "The revitalization of Buffalo Harbor State Park has rejuvenated the waterfront and now provides the community with a proper recreational and family friendly resource. Parks and green spaces have a tremendous, unparalleled power to enhance communities, and I thank Governor Cuomo for championing this new park for the wonderful city of Buffalo."
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Through Governor Cuomo's ongoing commitment to protecting the environment and enhancing the quality of life for New Yorkers, we continue to prioritize creating access opportunities to the states amazing natural resources. Nowhere is this more evident than in the city of Buffalo, where Western New Yorkers are witnessing the rebirth of the entire region. DEC is proud to partner with State Parks in the transformation of the Buffalo Harbor State Park from a polluted wasteland to an economically viable park and access amenity."
Congressman Brian Higgins said, "Less than 10 years ago people couldn't find the Outer Harbor; today it is a destination. Since 2008 more than $121 million has been invested in Outer Harbor infrastructure, parks and public spaces, transforming the waterfront land from crumbling and desolate to a vibrant, natural recreational attraction. We pushed for years to transition the property formerly owned by the NFTA into hands better suited to waterfront enhancement and working closely with Governor Cuomo we got that done, creating Buffalo Harbor State Park."
Senator Chris Jacobs said, "I am very pleased that the City of Buffalo's first State Park is located on our greatest asset, our waterfront. The new Buffalo Harbor State Park will increase access to our waterfront, grow the marine and water related recreational opportunities in our city and contribute to the continued revitalization of our region."
Senator Tim Kennedy said, "For too long, Buffalo's waterfront was inaccessible and underutilized. The rediscovery of our water resources, from Canalside to Buffalo Harbor State Park, will be one of the most important lasting legacies of the recent growth our region has experienced. This $15 million project has given us the first state park within the City of Buffalo, and provided the community with a new, and valuable, resource for all to enjoy. Thank you to Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Harvey for their leadership in seeing this transformation through to completion."
Assemblyman Sean Ryan said, "Over the last decade, Buffalo's waterfront has seen an amazing transformation. Residents and tourists are taking advantage of the many investments that have been made at Canalside and the Outer Harbor. The new infrastructure at the Buffalo Harbor State Park furthers the goal of connecting people to the water. This new public space is sure to become one of Buffalo's most popular destinations, and I am honored to have worked with the Governor and his administration to continue the progress along Buffalo's waterfront."
Since Buffalo Harbor State Park is located on a brownfield, State Parks, Department of Health, Department of Environmental Conservation, Ecology and Environment, a global environmental management company, embarked on a comprehensive multi-year environmental investigation. The tests involved the rigorous sampling and analysis of surface water, storm water, surface soil, subsurface soil, sediment and field quality control and revealed that neither the lake water, lake sediment or land surface represent a concern and that all standards for safe and enjoyable land and water-based recreation such as canoeing, kayaking, wave-running and windsurfing have been met. While not required through health and safety standards, State Parks as a precautionary move did install an additional one-foot barrier on the greenspace so that an ultra-safe two feet of protection would be in place.
In addition to the comprehensive environmental investigation, State Parks also conducted the Buffalo Harbor Sanitary Survey. A full report of the comprehensive environmental investigation and Buffalo Harbor Sanitary Survey can be found here.
Recently Buffalo Harbor State Park received the Environmental Project of the Year awarded by the Western Branch of the American Public Works Association for the improvements completed at Buffalo Harbor State Park. The annual award recognizes specific projects that have far-reaching and positive impacts in the community.
Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York State is making a historic commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. The Governor's NY Parks 2020 plan is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. The Governor's 2017-18 Executive Budget allocates $120 million toward this initiative.
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