|Date:||November 9, 2021|
For these reasons, we ask that you halt the implementation of the General Project Plan, especially the amphitheater, order a full environmental review, and begin the process of making the Outer Harbor a world-class state park.
November 9, 2021
The Honorable Kathy Hochul
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Re: Buffalo Outer Harbor
Dear Governor Hochul:
Partnership for the Public Good unites over 300 groups working to build a better Buffalo-Niagara. We are writing to ask respectfully that you:
Opposition to the GPP is wide and deep. Of 242 public comments on the Plan, just 3% supported it. The other 97% were critical – because it does not reflect the public’s repeated calls for a beautiful, Olmstedian, naturally-regenerative park. Three groups with broad constituencies (League of Women Voters of Buffalo-Niagara, WNY Environmental Alliance, and 21st Century Park on the Outer Harbor) have sued over the ECHDC’s failure to do a full environmental review and other legal violations.
ECHDC’s plan for an 8,000 person event facility on the Outer Harbor is misguided for many reasons:
Lake Erie is one of the most important environmental assets in the world, and the Outer Harbor is a critical habitat. As Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper stated in its letter opposing a special use permit for the amphitheater, “We cannot emphasize enough the importance of the Outer Harbor, how it supports critical habitat and ecosystems, the role it plays in coastal resiliency, and the protection it affords the City of Buffalo’s lakefront.” It is shocking that the ECHDC did not do a full environmental with its GPP – a plan that involves many major alterations to a heavily-polluted, fragile, and environmentally critical site. The Outer Harbor is part of a Globally Significant Bird and Pollinator Habitat and includes state-designated Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitats. The amphitheater plan alone – which involves cutting down many mature trees, continually applying pesticides, and bringing thousands of vehicles to the Outer Harbor – should be enough to trigger a full review.
A State Park
Over 7,000 people have signed the petition calling for a state park on the Outer Harbor. We set forth the reasons for a park in our 2019 report, “Buffalo’s Outer Harbor: the Right Place for a World-Class Park.” Over the last year, many people have discovered the beauty of Buffalo’s Outer Harbor. As the pandemic made healthy recreation harder to find, thousands flocked to the waterfront to walk, bike, boat, picnic, or watch a sunset. It is an amazing spot – over 200 bird species, animals like fox and mink, rare plants like spotted bee balm, and historic structures like the grain elevators – all within minutes of downtown Buffalo.
The City of Buffalo is severely “under-parked,” with only 7 percent of its land used for public parks (New York City, by contrast, is 20 percent park). People of color and people with low incomes, in particular, suffer from this lack of access to recreation and natural beauty. A state park would:
For these reasons, we ask that you halt the implementation of the GPP, especially the amphitheater, order a full environmental review, and begin the process of making the Outer Harbor a world-class state park.
Thank you for your consideration.
Senior Policy Fellow
Partnership for the Public Good