A kayak and canoe launch at a small Scajaquada Creek park, construction of a replica War of 1812 sloop and a boathouse to serve the local rowing community will get a big boost this year through $1.7 million in funding by the New York Power Authority to the Buffalo Niagara waterfront.
Among the most geographically significant might be Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper’s planned community paddlesport launch at 1660 Niagara St. Riverkeeper officials said they plan to allocate its nearly $602,000 award toward “poking a hole into access to the waterfront” in a place it has historically been cut off.
“Scajaquada Creek has significant cultural, historical and ecosystem value but still remains largely inaccessible to the community,” said Jill Jedlicka, Riverkeeper’s executive director. “Through our collaboration with key partners like Black Rock Riverside Good Neighbor Planning Alliance, we will now be able to acquire this brownfield and continue forward progress on Buffalo Niagara’s rust to blue transformation.”
The future greenspace and kayak launch at the planned “micro-park,” according to officials, “will remedy a major gap in the Niagara River Greenway and at the same time bring new life to a neighborhood currently cut off from its water front” with a “highly visible public space.”
The small Niagara Street park land on the creek will be developed to include a public launch site for kayaks and canoes. The funds Riverkeeper receives will be allocated to land acquisition for the park, site development, design and its construction.
“We’re excited about it,” added Nicole Lipp, Riverkeeper’s manager of communications. “It gets a lot of it moving forward for public access. It’s getting people more connected to Scajaquada Creek.
“It’s connecting the land and the water. It adds green space to an urban and industrial area.”
The smallest of the five awards “to improve the waterfront along the Niagara River Greenway” is $35,000 to the Niagara 1812 Bicentennial Legacy Council. But it is money organizers say will be huge in keeping the construction of a Battle of Lake Erie replica sloop USS Trippe moving along at the Buffalo Maritime Center on Arthur Street.
“It’s a community boat-building project,” said Roger Allen, director of the maritime center. Allen said the organization is still soliciting help from volunteers interested in helping craft the replica of the Trippe, the smallest vessel in Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s fleet during the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie off Put-in-Bay, Ohio.
Allen said “a majority of the hull” is already completed, but the deck still needs to be installed along with rigging, sails and ballast keel.
“The funding will go toward most of these things,” said Allen. “It’s not enough to finish the boat, but it will be really moving us far along.”
Besides the micro-park and the Trippe, three other projects were also approved for awards through the Buffalo & Erie County Greenway Fund Standing Committee. They are:
• Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy plans to use its $729,000 award to restore the roof and upgrade bathrooms at the circa-1952 Crowley Avenue Shelter in Riverside Park and provide new playground equipment, paint and “general landscape restoration.”
• Buffalo Scholastic Rowing Association will use its $100,000 for the completion of the third of four phases to erect the “Patrick Paladino Memorial Boathouse,” a prefabricated building, that will serve more than 400 members of the rowing community as the Ohio Street organization’s permanent headquarters.
• Cazenovia Community Boating Center, which operates its “Sail Buffalo” program to teach children “a love of water, nature and self-reliance” and plans to use its $157,365 award for capital improvements to “enhance safety and accessibility and increase its classroom size.”
“Taken together, all the projects funded under the Niagara River Greenway Plan are having a palpable effect on the aesthetics and economic vitality of Western New York and transforming the way the community – residents and tourists alike – use the waterfront,” said Harry Francois, Western New York’s regional manager for the Power Authority.