An abandoned inlet on the outer harbor will become the new home to a community boating center.
The inlet, located on an acre of property near the north end of Fuhrmann Boulevard, will be used by the Cazenovia Community Resource Center in South Buffalo to expand its junior sailing program, Assemblyman Michael P. Kearns, D-Buffalo, announced at the waterfront site on Friday.
“It’s not only about providing people more access to the water, it’s going to open up access to young kids – disadvantaged kids – who never had the opportunity to get to the water,” Kearns said.
Over the past two years, the resource center and the Sail Buffalo program have been teaching kids ages 8 to 17 about sailing along the outer harbor, where it docks its “floating classroom” – an eco-friendly barge kept afloat by 6,500 two-liter plastic soda bottles.
Now, the center has received permission from the U.S. Coast Guard to use the nearby basin – between the Coast Guard station and the First Buffalo River Marina – which had served as a foul-weather inlet for the Coast Guard, Kearns said.
The property already has been dubbed the “Frances Folsom Cleveland Fair Weather Inlet,” named after the wife of former President Grover Cleveland.
“What makes me happy about this whole process is that more kids from the city will have more access to the water than ever before,” said Mark Lazzara, president of the Cazenovia Community Resource Center.
The next step is coming up with funding to clean up the location and provide more amenities for the program.
The first phase of the project will cost about $250,000 and the second phase will be an additional $100,000, Lazzara said.
“We need docks and a few more boats,” Lazzara said. “We’d love to be able to fund kayaks, water bicycles and standing surfboards.”
The resource center has already applied for funding through the Niagara River Greenway Commission.
“We’re hopeful that this gets consideration,” Lazzara said. “If we get funded by that, we will be operational by this summer.”
“One way or another,” Kearns said, “we’ll be using the inlet this year.”