I’ve been in the Sierra Club Niagara Group for the last 14 years. I heard some of my colleagues from the Sierra Club nominated me for this award. Thank you to those members and thank you to the members of the Adirondack Mountain Club who went along with those Sierra Club members recommendation and voted for me to have this conservation award. It is very humbling.
I was contacted by Lynn Rehfeld-Kenney to speak to you about our Sierra Club Project for Electric School Buses. I’d like to go off script just a bit to broaden this out to the 3 successful projects I’ve been involved with as a Sierran and my personal relationship to the Adirondack Mountains.
In 1977 myself and a friend from Boston met at the foot of Mount Marcy. After two days we had hiked the 10 miles up to the peak and I was hooked. We’ve made it back to the Adirondacks almost every yesars of the last 44 years to hike and more recently portage. I’ll just call out some of the places we’ve travelled through: Mt Colvin, Saddle Back Mountain, Hay Stack Mountain, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, The Fulton Chain of Lakes. My times in the Adirondacks are very dear to me. It was time well spent.
The first successful project I was involved in with the Niagara Group was with the Buffalo Public Schools/Solar Poject. I had a chance meeting with Lou Petrucci a Buffalo Board of Education Member in 1998. Lou had just been to a meeting for NYS Board of Education members in NYC which presented solar power for public schools. Lou was keen on Buffalo Public Schools tapping into Solar Power. I am familiar with the Buffalo Public Schools as I worked in the schools as an Occupational Therapist for 26 years.
A small group of 3 people from the Sierra Club Niagara Group met with Lou who gave us permission to meet with the BPS Plant Operations Department. We brought in speakers to the Plant Operations Department regarding solar power, composting, green roof technology and wind power to explore how the BPSs could use these technologies to decrease the effect of climate change on people, communities and aquatic ecosystems.
After 2 years into this effort a new superintendent was hired who had an environmental interest. We met with Superintendent Amber Dixon and received permission from her to continue our organizing effort.
We attended Board of Education meetings to educate the Board Members. Larry Behan was one of the five presenters. The Board was impressed and we continued lobbying the board careful to always keep this positive. Board of Ed Member Jason McCarthy came up to me after one Board meeting to say he would be our champion on the solar power effort. Eventually 19 schools put up solar arrays on their rooftops after 11 years of organizing.
Second successful project – for the last 5 years we worked with NFTA to encourage the Transit Authority to begin a fleet change over from diesel to electric. Our first organizing effort was to collect 2503 signatures from the public to encourage NFTA to begin fleet conversion. Bob Cicieski helped enormously with this effort. We asked for and were permitted to schedule a meeting with CEO Minkle, Board President Roache, Board Member Phil Wilcox and Director of Ground Transportation Tom George. Again, our presentation were meant to educate. It went well and we gained traction as a reliable educated group.
We continued to attended NFTA Board of Director meetings and jointly made arrangements with garage employees to bring Electric Transit Buses to the NFTA garage for demonstrations. We made arrangements with the Bus companies, Proterra and BYD, to make appearances at events around Buffalo and we appeared on TV and radio with the BEB. Again, we found champions in the institution – Jeff Sweet the Equipment Engineer and Darren Kempner, Director of Grants and Government affairs.
We have signed off on 4 grants for NFTA at this point. Two were granted.
The FTA is funding electric chargers at the Michigan/Main Street Garage to the tune of $8.5 million. A ground breaking ceremony for the chargers with Secretary of Labor Walsh, Congressman Higgins, Senators Ryan/Kennedy, Mayor Brown and 8 Sierrans took place in December 2021. The second successful grant was for 10 electric buses was approved August 2021 and the first BEB was delivered April 2022. Nine more are on order. NFTA’s contract with New Ryder has a clause that they can order up to 130 BEBs at this same price over the next period. We just signed off on another FTA grant for 10 more BEBs.
We published a letter to the editor on the benefits of BEB, which the ADK endorsed. Thank you for that. There were 18 other groups who signed off on the letter. I received a call from NFTA Director of Government Affairs the Saturday morning the letter was published in the Buffalo News. The Director wanted to know all the groups in the coalition who signed off on the LTE.
We’ve also encouraged NFTA to solarize their rooftop and we put them in contact with Montante Solar the Company who provided solar panels for BPS.
Third successful project – Over the last 4 years we have been working with the Buffalo Public Schools to convert the school buses they use for the 34,000 school children to electric school buses. We met with Will Kereztes, Associate Superintendent of Government Affairs at the Buffalo Public Schools. Will mentioned that each November, as Buffalo is the second biggest school district in NYS, they get time with representatives from the Governors Office. Will asked us to basically write our “asks” to the Governor for ESB. We lobbied the transportation department of the Buffalo Public Schools, Director Cheryl Kennedy. We worked with the NY League of Conservation Voters as they were successful in helping the Albany School District procure an electric bus.
The key player in this organizing effort is First Student. First Student is the biggest school bus company in North America. They transport all the BPS students each day to and from school. Through the NYLCV we began a relationship with First Student’s Procurement Office where we discussed electric school buses. With NYLCV we developed a webinar called – Clean School Buses in the Buffalo Region. It targeted the Buffalo Public Schools and why they ought to go electric. NYS Senators Ryan/Kennedy, NYS Assembly Member Karen McMahon spoke on the webinar to encourage the BPS to go for fleet conversion.
NYLCV organized an event last fall at the First Student Depot in Cheektowaga. Through this event we became engaged with several other employees at First Student. We began to organize a webinar with First Student regarding electric school buses for Buffalo. This event went off successfully this April. The other department we met with was their finance department. We wanted to meet with the finance department to discuss the new NYS voucher incentive program. This program takes the funds allocated to NYS from the VW $6 billion settlement fund and seeks to take pollution out of the air that VW had put into the air illegally with ESB. First student has applied for 6 electric school buses for Buffalo and 6 electric school buses for Rochester through this grant.
As Amy Goodman says shine a bright light on the issue – get letters to the editor published regarding your issue.
Keep positive regarding what you want to achieve.
The developer of the ill-advised 20-story residential tower on the Outer Harbor (“Queen City Landing”) is trying to push the plans through. Recently, as I drove on I-190 watching huge waves crashing over the breakwall like waterfalls, I was tempted to divert over to Fuhrmann Blvd. to see what that proposed site looked like in severe conditions, but I made the decision to avoid Fuhrmann Blvd. while Lake Erie was angry. Can you imagine actually living in a tower that’s exposed to the frequent gale winds and occasional seiche that floods the shores? A high rise tower built on that landfill is simply out of place. The structure and its lights would disrupt migratory birds as it permanently mars the view and occupies space adjacent to the State Park marina (small boat harbor) that should be public. With all the great efforts to create natural settings and recreational opportunities for the public good, “Queen City Landing” is simply a bad idea for our Outer Harbor. http://www.ourouterharbor.org/
VIGILANCE. Committee members are keeping watch over a proposed development in Clarence where important wetlands are jeopardized, and monitoring news concerning the West Valley radioactive waste site that has radioactive and hazardous nuclear wastes buried, stored, and leaking.
WE HAVE A HOME! Beginning in February, our Conservation Committee meetings will be held at the Amherst Community Church – the same location where our chapter’s monthly meetings are held – in the upstairs (balcony) room at 7pm February 18.
Meetings are open to all chapter members. Come see what we’re up to, or contribute to the conversation. If you have any related news or topics that might be of interest to our chapter, please email [email protected]
-Bob Van-Hise, Conservation chair
RIVERLINE is the name given to the future 1.5 mile greenway recreational corridor that will run from near Canalside at the DL&W terminal, to the Buffalo River across from Solar City.
Good news! New York’s last coal-burning power plant (SOMERSET) announced plans to shut down operation in February. A park and data center is expected to take its place.
Do you still POISON your lawn? Those chemicals also kill birds, bees & other insects, and can even kill your pets. Dandelions are beautiful.
Déjà vu. Recently, I picked up a great old book, “Murray’s Adventures in the Adirondacks: Tourist’s Edition”. It’s an 1869 publication that is generally credited (or blamed) for the surging post-Civil War popularity of the Adirondacks that gave rise to the great camps, and attracted so many other “sports” to make the long trip from NYC & Boston to experience the natural beauty of a place we now know so well. It even included a companion map of the “New York’s Wilderness”, depicting the region before roads and dams changed the terrain. MAP https://historicpittsburgh.org/islandora/object/pitt%3ADARMAP0302
The ADK-NFC Conservation Committee
September 16, 2017
Mitigating Climate Change
This program will discuss methods that are currently being utilized or are being researched to decrease the effect of climate change on people, communities and aquatic ecosystems. This program is offered at no charge as part of an educational outreach to educate individuals, policy makers and community activists about climate change and how each one of us can participate in decreasing the effect it has on the planet.
Our expert speakers will share a wealth of knowledge on a topic they are passionate about:
Christopher Page, MS – Senior Biologist, Mote Marine Laboratory in the Florida Keys will speak about Coral Re-skinning to mitigate the effect of climate change on coral reefs. He will discuss the importance of coral reefs and the impact climate change is having on them.
Zoé A. Hamstead, PhD – Assistant Professor, University at Buffalo School of Architecture & Planning and Director of the Community Resilience Lab, Dr. Hamstead will share her research on the impact of extreme heats on communities and the development of socially equitable, livable & healthy urban communities.
Leah B. Bernhardi, BS, MS, J.D. will share her experience in December 2015 when she spent a week in Paris, France attending the 21st Conference of the Parties for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. She will discuss the Paris Agreement, what other countries are doing and what we can do about climate change
Schenck Hall / Auditorium Room 107
4380 Main Street
Amherst, NY 14226
Directions to Schenck Hall – Click here for Map
Doors open at 8:30 am, refreshments will be available.
Presentations start at 9:00 AM. The program ends at noon.
Co-sponsored by: Daemen College Global & Local Sustainability Department
Thursday January 7, 2015
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is accepting public comments on amendments to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP). Proposed amendments focus on the use of bicycles in the Essex Chain and Pine Lake Primitive Areas and the use of non-natural materials for bridge construction over the Cedar River. (Click here for more information.)
ADK is asking its long distance members to send a comment letter on Amendments To The Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan!
Send a Letter to the Adirondack Park Agency!
Sunday November 8, 2015
‘Rise Up for Climate Justice’ Hike
Niagara Gorge Discovery Center, Niagara Falls, NY
On a bright November Sunday morning 15 of us met at the “Discovery Center in Niagara Falls State Park.” We were a mix of ADKers, Sierrans and students. Our leader Jay Wopperer was dressed in a tiger costume; there was a gorilla, a dinosaur and a little bear in the group. Several carried signs calling attention to the Paris Summit and calling for the end of fossil fuels. We had pamphlets to distribute with the same message.
We walked under the Rainbow bridge to Prospect point passing the amazing falls view where Father Hennepin got his first glimpse of this wonder and then moved on to Prospect Point where we were marveled at by tourists. They took pictures of us in our costumes and so did we. Along with the photography, we tried to get across our concerns about the Planet. We went on to Luna and then Goat Island where a magnificent Rainbow paralleled the arch of the Rainbow Bridge for us. We then reversed our tracks.
It was a beautiful day, we had a great time and maybe we did some good.
The hike was an ADK contribution to the “Rise up for Climate Change” campaign organized by Sierra Club Niagara Group.
Wednesday September 23, 2015
Call for Signatures!
Tell Congress to renew the Land and Water Conservation Fund!
Yosemite National Park (Photo by E. Redding, 2012)
Yosemite National Park (Photo by E. Redding, 2012)
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF, the Fund) is a bipartisan piece of legislation that went into effect in 1965. The Fund uses revenues from use revenues from the depletion of natural resource, such as oil or gas, to support the conservation of other priceless resources, such as our land and water. When used properly, funding has helped to protect national parks, national forests, and national refuges. It has also provided matching grants for states and communities that want to protect land and water.
This fund expires at the end of September, and it is up to us to show Congress that we want it renewed!
Please consider learning more about the LWCF on the LWCF Coalition page here.
Click here to sign a petition at Change.org
Thursday September 3, 2015
Here in Western New York, we have several exciting restoration projects going on. Some of the most notable are the Habitat Improvement Projects taking place in the Niagara River and Buffalo Harbor. Tim DePriest, of the NYS Department of Conservation, gave a presentation on the these projects in May 2015 and his presentation is now available. You can see his presentation here. (Note: the presentation make take a few moments to open.)
Tuesday September 1, 2015
Help us classify Erie Niagara as a National Marine Sanctuary!
In the News
Another slant on the Adirondack mining constitutional amendment
Huge win on climate in Dutch court
Dutch government ordered to cut carbon emissions in landmark ruling.
Larry Beahan states, “Maybe the tide is turning in our and the earth’s favor”
Monday July 19, 2015
Call for Letters!
Tell DEC to Protect the Essex Chain Lakes!
Many of you may know by now that ADK is requesting member support to protect the Essex Chain Lakes, located south of Newcomb.
Currently, ATV and snowmobile users have access to this area by crossing an old bridge built by the logging company, Finch Pruyn. This bridge allows for motorized vehicles to use the Vanderwhacker Wild Forest. ADK is requesting that this bridge be removed, helping to keep this forest as pristine as possible.
Click here to read more and send your own letter.
Report on NYS Wildlife Action Plan, SWAP public meeting June 16 2015
Submitted by Larry Beahan
In 2002 the Federal government provided states with money to develop Wildlife Action Plans. New York’s plan was completed in 2005 and is up for its required 10 year renewal this year. DEC estimates that the $2.1 million dollars allocated for the project is about one tenth of the funds required to do an adequate plan. Remember that SWAP is only a plan for wildlife conservation it is not the implementation of the plan.
(Some other moneys are available to the states for implementation on a formula and a competitive basis. At today’s meeting some of the implementation work on hellbender, paddle fish and raptors was presented.)
How Was The SGCN (species of Greatest Conservation Need) List Updated?
Information on life history, conservation status, and population trends for 597 species was compiled into assessments by DEC. A model to categorize SGCN according to the urgency of their conservation need was developed by the New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Cornell University, with input from conservation partners and DEC staff. The technical information from the species assessments was input to the model, resulting in:
366 SGCN, of which 167 are High Priority SGCN.
113 additional species categorized as Species of Potential Conservation Need (SPCN), because of insufficient available information to reliably determine their current population status.
93 species determined to no longer be present in New York.
25 species removed from the SGCN list because their populations were determined to be secure in New York.
Threats are also listed and recommendations for dealing with threats are made. For example Climate Change is dealt with by maintaining path ways for migration of threatened species but not, so far, by actual movement of populations. Resilient habitats are identified. They are habitats usually protected by terrain features.
The SWAP does not directly address problems like the siting of wind turbines or control of toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie. SWAP would however identify species threatened by such phenomena and expect other agencies to supply regulatory supervision.
There is a SWAP Advisory Committee made up of hunting, fishing, environmental and Conservation organizations including Audubon but Sierra and ADK were not mentioned specifically.
More info on SWAP here.
ADK Asks Your Support For Two Bills In NYS Legislature
There are two bills in the legislature that could give a big boost to recreation and conservation right here in Western New York. We need ADK members to contact NYS Legislators listed below by phone, mail or email and ask them to sign on to them.
We have all been disappointed in the way the 400 million dollar Niagara Greenway money has been used as a slush fund rather than to build the strip of parks and trails along the Niagara River that we were promised.
ADK Memo in Support S4824 PG and CP edits
S4824 by Senator Panepinto and A 478 by Assembly member Ryan would correct that by requiring these funds be spent in a band close along the River.
ADK Memo in Support S4109 PG and CP edits
Water and waterways are among Western New York’s most valauable assets. Scenic 18-Mile Creek in Erie County looks ,bewdautiful, provides lots of fish and clean water and overlays an aquifer.
S4109-A by Senator Panepinto and A 3475-B by Assembly member Ryan will have 18-mile creek classified as an “Inland Waterway” which will protect and preserve those qualities.
Here the legislators are:
Name District Party District Area
New York State Assembly
Robin Schmminger 140 D Erie/Niagara
Crystal Peoples-Stokes 141 D City of Buffalo
Michael Kearns 142 D Erie West Seneca
Angela Wozniak 143 R Cheektowaga
Jane Corwin 144 R Erie/Niagara/Orleans
John Ceretto 145 R Erie/Niagara Falls
Raymond Walter 146 R Erie/Williamsville
David DiPietro 147 R Erie
Sean Ryan 49 D City of Buffalo Bill sponsor
New York State Senate
Robert Ortt 62 R Niagara Falls/North Tonawanda/Lockport
Marc Ranzenhofer 61 R Williamsville/Clarence
Marc Panepinto 60 D Grand Island/Buffalo/Hamburg
Timothy Kennedy 63 D City of Buffalo/Cheektowaga/Lackawanna
Patrick Gallivan 59 R West Seneca, SW Suburbs
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Renewable Energy Industry & Environmental Groups Laud Governor Cuomo’s Renewable Energy Proposal
New York proposes 10 year, $1.5 billion large scale renewables program
ALBANY, NY. – The New York Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) filed a proposal with the Public Service Commission (PSC) Monday to extend and enhance the states cornerstone renewable energy program supporting large scale clean energy as part of PSC’s Large Scale Renewable Energy Track of the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceeding.
Since its inception in 2004, New York State’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) has been a driver of clean energy investment and highly cost effective for New York ratepayers. New York’s large scale renewable energy projects will contribute a total of $2.7 billion in direct economic investments statewide, have added approximately 670 jobs annually to New York’s workforce, and will reduce harmful carbon dioxide emissions by 50 million tons over the life of the projects. Large scale renewable energy projects like wind power, promote fuel diversity, protect electricity customers from volatile gas prices, reduce the need for power plants that drive climate and air pollution, and improve energy security and independence.
The following joint statement was released by Sierra Club, Alliance for Clean Energy New York, Environmental Advocates of New York, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Pace Energy and Climate Center:
“New York’s current Renewable Energy Standard expires at the end of 2015. We applaud NYSERDA’s proposal to extend and enhance the State’s support for large scale renewable energy with a 10 year, $1.5 billion commitment that is designed to ensure the certainty, longevity, and scale necessary to attract continued private sector investment in these valuable renewable resources.”
With this bold proposal, coupled with a strong renewables target such as 50% by 2025, Governor Cuomo can cement New York’s status as a national leader on clean energy and climate policy. Along with the smart execution and implementation of the forthcoming Clean Energy Fund proposal and Final New York State Energy Plan, New York can stay on track to meeting the Governor’s commitment to reducing climate pollution 80 percent by 2050. This Large Scale Renewables proposal is a huge step forward toward that goal, while also driving the broader pollution reduction and job creation benefits such policies have proven to deliver.
Report: ADK Conservation Meeting in Albany
At the ADK Conservation meeting in Albany, discussion revolved around the dangers of transporting oil from the Alberta tar sands and western oil fields in thin walled tank cars that are not designed to transport crude oil that could rupture and explode. These tankers are going through many urban areas including Buffalo and Albany. It also endangers the water supply since many railroad lines travel next to waterways as they traverse the state. An oil spill would pollute drinking water. ADK has asked the federal government to slow the RR down to decrease the risk of accidents and to upgrade the RR cars to decrease the risk of a tank car from rupturing.
The Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan is going to be revised. Currently mountain bikes are prohibited on hiking trails in areas designated as primitive & wilderness. ADK wants to keep this provision but proposes to allow mountain bikes on the gravel roads in the new Essex Chain of Lakes. ADK is proposing modifications to allow the use of some non-natural materials to be used to construct bridges in primitive areas. There should be a pragmatic compromise to minimize the manmade look of a bridge, with function and a realistic price. ADK proposes to work with powder ski groups to create a model in a conservation area to determine if powder skiing belongs in primitive/wilderness areas.
Submitted by Lynn Rehfeld-Kenney
Update on the Outer Harbor
On December third our petition on the Outer Harbor was delivered to Sean Ryan. Yesterday the new board of the WNYEA voted to post the petition and the comments on the GROW website.
Sean was asked to take the petition to his colleagues in the local delegation to Albany and to the Governor.
A couple of things to know about:
1. The league of women voters is thinking seriously of holding an open public forum on the outer harbor, (from our point of view). When this is announced and held we can bring the petition
2. The Buffalo Common Council is probably going to hold a public hearing on the outer harbor based on the resolution that they passed. We can bring the petition to that.
3. The ECHDC meetings are indefinitely postponed. The governor is concerned about the uprising here.
4. We have promised to bring the Mayor the signed petition.
5. The WNYEA is soon to release a report on alternatives visions for the outer harbor based on our principles and based on an economic analysis that both agrees with the July Perkins and Will “Outer Harbor conditions report” which says that housing is a bad option and would require significant government intervention (financing) to pull it off. Our report will analyze what the costs are and whom will be paying for it, and whom will benefit. Our report will cite the values and benefits including and especially the cost benefits of public access, conservation, and the promotion and creation of a recreational economy that is linked to, for instance the conservation of the Great lakes and a Marine Sanctuary.
6. Riverkeeper is producing a visual guide demonstrating what our vision will look like on the outer harbor, coinciding with our WNYEA report.
7 The WNYEA and Riverkeeper, and Friends of Times Beach will co host a press conference at some point to release these materials, -sometime prior to the next ECHDC board meeting. This may occur the last week of December or the first week of January.
Submitted by Larry Beahan
Urgent request for E-mail to lobby for a natural park in Buffalo’s Outer Harbor:
The Conservation and Executive Committees of the Niagara Frontier Chapter of ADK have reviewed the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporations (ECHDC) plan for developing Buffalo’s Outer Harbor. The plan has sacrificed the natural values of this shoreline for the development of commercial real-estate. The 2000 residences in 3-4 story buildings will deny meaningful access to the vast majority of Western New Yorkers.
We therefor ask you to email ECDHC at: [email protected]
as soon as possible to express your feelings about this hasty plan.
For a quick look at the plan copy Click Here
For a more detailed look at the plan and the planning process Click Here
Possible points to make in your email might include:
1. Close proximity of housing to Times Beach and Wilkerson Point will disturb wild life, particularly bird flight paths and end their usefulness as Nature Preserves.
2. Residents, their homes, their parking spaces and their priorities will greatly limit the use of the outer harbor to the rest of the community.
3. A Presque Isle like natural Park on our outer Harbor would greatly enhance the attractiveness of downtown Buffalo to business and for living.
4. Such a park need not in itself pay for its maintenance. The surrounding city benefitted by it should pay for it.
5. Existing buildings on the outer harbor should be refitted for Park purposes, concerts, restaurants, restrooms, even an indoor outdoor swimming pool has been suggested.
An Urgent Request from the President of the Adirondack Mountain Club:
I rarely make an appeal to all of our Members, but we are faced with a couple situations where I feel I need to do so. We are close to the end of the Legislative session in Albany, and we need your help. As you know, we are trying to combat Aquatic Invasives, and there is a bill pending where we need your support. Here is the link: http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/51116/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=11121 Please log in and help us protect the spread of Aquatic Invasives.
In addition, we are trying to stop a bill that would allow ATV’s that, fully loaded, weigh up to 3,000 pounds wherever ATV’s are currently permitted. In comparison, the 1960’s Volkswagons only weighed 1,600-1,900 pounds. These UTV’s as they are called, are up to 12’ long, and you can imagine the destruction they can cause. Here is where you can show your support for stopping them: http://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/51116/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=11152 PLEASE take a few minutes and help us put the brakes on these trail killers.
John P. Gilewicz, P.E.
“Conservationist of the Year” – Sam Magavern
The “Conservationist of the Year” Award with be presented to Sam Magavern at our Annual Picnic on Saturday, June 7th.
Sam Magavern is the founder and co-director of the Partnership for the Public Good, a local think tank that provides research and advocacy support to help revitalize Buffalo-Niagara in many areas, including our natural environment. The group works to cultivate our assets, including Lake Erie, Niagara Falls, the waterfront, and diverse natural areas. They also tackle some of our most serious problems such as air pollution, poor water quality, and numerous brownfields.
Magavern has authored or co-authored a number of important reports on behalf of our environment and the public good. A recent report served to restore progress in developing the Niagara River Greenway by ensuring that Greenway funds are used only for their intended purpose – parks, trails, and conservation areas along the River.
The Partnership also works to promote mass transit, energy-efficient buildings, recycling, and the conservation of energy, water, and habitats. Such ventures are not only friendly to our environment but also will generate business, helping to revive the economy of the Buffalo-Niagara region and provide new jobs.
Sam Magavern serves on the Niagara River Greenway Commission, and has chaired the boards of several non-profits, including a land conservancy. He teaches at the SUNY Buffalo Law School and the Cornell University ILR School. He is a graduate of Harvard University and UCLA Law School.
No Condos in the Outer Harbor Park
The Olmstead- inspired 21st Century Park on the Outer Harbor, as presented by its promoters over the past several months, is an ideal use of that invaluable 100-acre stretch of shore from Times Beach and Wilkerson Point to the Terminal facilities just before the Small Boat Harbor. The Park’s concept which includes continuous public access for sailing, boating, kayaking, paddle-boarding and fishing, strolling, sunset viewing, an outdoor amphitheater, restaurants, a promenade, meadows, beaches and lagoons would rival the waterfronts of any city in this country.
It is very difficult to understand why then these seemingly well-intentioned promoters brought representatives of Brooklyn Bridge Park to Buffalo to advertise their approach to another waterfront, an approach that has failed miserably as a Park. Instead of a Park they have a high-rise, luxury, residential development with a nice front lawn. In fact the lawn isn’t so nice because ordinary people who can’t afford these apartments have to trample on it to catch a glimpse of the harbor.
BBP, as it is called, is a stretch of abandoned wharves along the Brooklyn waterfront with a magnificent vista of New York Harbor. A group of Brooklyn residents organized to preserve it as a public park with full public access: lawns, walkways, ball fields, pools, an open-air theater, a recreational building. These original organizers lost control of the process. Another group took over and devoted 25 percent of the non-water portion of the Park to high-rise apartment buildings, the proceeds from which pay Park maintenance.
Today I drove down the 190 along the Niagara River past that long stretch of condos, an earlier mistake of ours, that obscures the view of the water. I crossed the Buffalo River via the Skyway. Then I drove back along this magnificent water scape that should be a public Park. The earthen and concrete rise of Route 5 formed a wall to my right. I imagined a wall of condos to the left and realized that I would be in a ditch if we were to follow the BBP model. There would be no view at all.
Poor old Fredrick Law Olmstead must be doing back flips in his grave if he has heard of this tragic possibility.
With the BBP in mind, on May 6 2014, the Board of the local 800-member Adirondack Mountain Club passed this resolution:
“The Adirondack Mountain Club Niagara Frontier Group has endorsed the concept of a 21st Century Park on Buffalo’s outer Harbor in the spirit of Fredrick Law Olmsted.
However we do most vigorously oppose any Outer Harbor Park that would include residential or other large scale commercial buildings, after the unfortunate example set by Brooklyn Bridge Park.”
In short, ADK hopes that the organizers of Buffalo’s 21st Century Outer Harbor Park drop the BBP condo idea like the hot potato or rotten tomato it is.