Maintain public access to Buffalo’s waterways
A recent waterfront proposal for loft apartments on the Buffalo River demonstrates we just cannot learn from our own failed past. Public access to the Great Lakes is our largest and most important heritage and greatest asset.
We remain blessed that in 1215 the dukes of England forced an arrogant King John to relinquish his presumption that the crown owned everything of value and used the Magna Carta to assert the right of the public to have a valid interest and share in ownership of common lands and waters.
Since that time, rambunctious lords, robber barons and finally corporate America have sought to pre-empt those rights. We have fought back to win our right to our waterways, our public trust, and deny exclusivity to wealth and power.
During the 1970s, real estate developers and the city combined to develop housing on the waterfront at the Erie Basin that granted exclusive water access to the owners of the expensive housing.
Public interest reviews had just begun and though there were some protests of this arrangement by a few parties, no official process existed to ensure public access to our waterways. Thus, though their tax dollars paid for the Great Lakes cleanup, the people were denied access to their investment.
The new proposal to construct exclusive apartments along the Buffalo River near Ohio Street once more proposes to construct a virtual wall along a public waterway and deny public access. We must discontinue and discourage the lazy management practices and policies that serve wealthy private interests. The public should have full access to all the waters of its public trust.
Art “Happy” Klein