Report Calls for Expanded State Park on Outer Harbor

Report Calls for Expanded State Park on Outer Harbor

Date: September 23, 2019

A new report calls for New York State to greatly expand its park on the Outer Harbor. “We have an amazing opportunity,” said the report’s author, Sam Magavern, from the Partnership for the Public Good.” “There’s nothing like our Outer Harbor on the Great Lakes – natural beauty, historic landmarks, recreational opportunities – all within minutes of downtown.”

The Partnership’s report features a comprehensive analysis of the assets and challenges or the Outer Harbor and provides fourteen reasons that a state park is the best use of the land. “Over and over,” said Magavern, “when the community has been asked what they want on the Outer Harbor, they’ve said they want public access to the water and a quiet place to enjoy nature. And for good reason: you can see over 200 species of birds out there; you can find rare flowers; you can catch over 40 kinds of fish; you can kayak, sail, hike or bike; or just enjoy the sun setting over Lake Erie.”

The Our Outer Harbor Coalition, which represents over a dozen groups, joined in the report’s call for a state park. Margaret Wooster, member of the Coalition’s steering committee, emphasized the importance and fragility of the site’s ecosystem. “It’s remarkable the way nature is starting to heal this polluted area,” said Wooster. “As the climate continues to change, generating storms, flooding, and other challenges, our waterfront will play a critical role in our resiliency.”

Citizens for a 21st Century Park at the Outer Harbor has long called for a park on the Outer Harbor, inspired by Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Buffalo’s internationally renowned system of parks and parkways. “Olmsted planned an innovative park on the Outer Harbor, but it was never built,” said 21st Century Park’s president, Melissa Wischerath. “As we get ready to celebrate Olmsted’s 200th birthday, what a great time to ask, “What would Olmsted do today on the Outer Harbor?”

“Buffalo’s residents face severe health challenges,” echoed Magavern. “And they are under-parked – meaning the city has a less-than-average amount of parkland. We need to make sure that everyone in the region has a chance to enjoy Lake Erie.”

Jessie Fisher, executive director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara, said that a state park would help preserve an important heritage. “The waterfront has always been the lynchpin of Buffalo’s history – from the Seneca settlements on Buffalo Creek until today. Landmarks like the Buffalo Lighthouse, the Ford plant, and the grain elevators make the Outer Harbor a destination for those who love history, as well as those who love nature.”

Members of Our Outer Harbor plan to share the report with state and local officials and urge them to enlarge the existing state park. The report is available in the Buffalo Commons digital library:

Our Outer Harbor Coalition is a coalition of concerned citizens and over a dozen groups including the Western New York Environmental Alliance, 21st Century Park on the Outer Harbor, Friends of Times Beach Nature Preserve, League Of Women Voters of Buffalo Niagara, Sierra Club, Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo, and more. Website:

Partnership for the Public Good is a community-based think tank representing 294 partner organizations in Buffalo-Niagara.