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Public access is vital to any waterfront plan

The League of Women Voters Buffalo/Niagara has maintained an active interest in the use and development of the region’s waterfronts in Erie County for many years. Currently the use of Buffalo’s outer harbor lands is under review. We acknowledge that there are many voices offering conflicting and mutually exclusive plans. Therefore, it is appropriate for us to examine and monitor the manner in which the various agencies owning or regulating the development of outer harbor properties guide its future.

Our interest in this issue has led the league to adopt the following Waterfront Planning Guidelines: The league offers support of plans for the waterfronts of Erie County (along Lake Erie and the Niagara and Buffalo rivers) that provide and ensure year-round public access to the waterfront; a coherent regional planning process arrived at and adopted with adequate public participation; only such commercial development as makes appropriate use of a waterfront location; documentation and preservation of the area’s significant industrial, commercial and social history; development of services and facilities necessary for a variety of recreational activities; and protection and enhancement of the natural environment at the water’s edge.

The league seeks assurance that these guidelines shall be applied to the former Port of Buffalo property now owned by the ECHDC and the NFTA. A hastily developed master plan could preclude full public access and use of the land. This part of the waterfront can establish a new image and enhance the region’s economic and social welfare, but only with careful stewardship.

Joan T. Parks

President, League of Women

Voters of Buffalo/Niagara