Buffalo’s newest park on the waterfront will be open to visitors just in time for summer, complete with a beach, sand volleyball courts, decorative lighting and public art.
The land on the outer harbor that for decades was used by the New York Power Authority to store the ice boom has been reclaimed for public enjoyment and is expected to open in late May.
“It’s really going to be an exciting place,” said Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo. “It’s a very, very attractive and functional waterfront destination.”
The 21-acre park, which hasn’t been named yet, will feature gazebos, bridges, trails and wind sculptures that rotate and sit on a mound of land on a peninsula that reaches into Lake Erie. A portion of the site will be prepared for future private development.
The park is located on Fuhrmann Boulevard across from South Michigan Avenue, adjacent to Times Beach Nature Preserve, and has views of the downtown skyline.
It complements other developments on the waterfront, including Mutual Riverfront Park, a 1.3-acre space on the Buffalo River where the Power Authority has invested $24 million.
The park opened last summer and has a boardwalk, boat launches and a facility where the ice boom is stored in warmer months.
Storage of the ice boom was never the highest and best use for public land adjacent to Lake Erie, Higgins said, and the creation of the outer harbor park was a solution to two problems – the need for a better storage site for the boom and greater public access to the waterfront.
Most of the land was transferred from the Power Authority to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. for $1 in June 2011 and has been undergoing a $3.3 million transformation, funded by a relicensing settlement with the authority, which allocated $279 million for waterfront development.
Land formerly owned by Cargill also is included in the new park.
Higgins and representatives of Erie Canal Harbor, which will maintain the park, and the Power Authority talked Thursday about progress on the waterfront and marked the week when the ice boom is removed.
The goal of Buffalo’s waterfront redevelopment is to allow public access and some low-density private development, Higgins said.
“We don’t need to create another city on the outer harbor,” he said.
In other waterfront news, the transformation of Ohio Street into a parkway that will connect Canalside and the outer harbor is in final design and should be under construction next year, Higgins said.