State must pro­tect in­tegrity of Queen City Land­ing site

The Buffalo News - - CONTINUED FROM THE COVER - By Carl Den­nis Carl Den­nis, a SUNY pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of English, is a mem­ber of Buf­falo Niagara Water­keeper. is an is­sues-ori­ented col­umn that ap­pears on the edi­to­rial page each day. Writ­ers must have some back­ground or ex­per­tise on the topic about whic

Now that the Erie Canal Har­bor De­vel­op­ment Corp. has en­dorsed the pub­lic call for an Outer Har­bor that will of­fer a green al­ter­na­tive to the de­vel­op­ment in down­town Buf­falo, it’s time to fo­cus on the ma­jor prop­erty still in pri­vate hands: Queen City Land­ing.

It’s time to ask what will be the best way to make sure that the site will be de­vel­oped in a way that is in har­mony with a pub­lic park open to gen­eral use – to bik­ing, bird-watch­ing, fish­ing and ram­bling along the lake shore – the kind of re­cre­ation by the wa­ter avail­able in no other part of the city. It seems to me that the only way we can guar­an­tee this har­mony is to per­suade the state to buy the prop­erty from the cur­rent own­ers at fair mar­ket value.

The plan that the ECHDC has en­dorsed ex­cludes pri­vate res­i­den­tial hous­ing, but noth­ing will pre­vent the own­ers of the old Freezer Queen site from build­ing such hous­ing on their prop­erty. In fact, three years ago, be­fore the new plan was ap­proved, the Com­mon Coun­cil gave its ap­proval for a 23-story apart­ment build­ing on the site.

With our new plan now in place, such a build­ing would vi­o­late all the rules now man­dated by the Green Code for the rest of the Outer Har­bor. It would con­sti­tute a con­spic­u­ous af­front to the low coastal pro­file now being re­spected ev­ery­where else in the sec­tion.

It would place the priv­i­lege of the few res­i­dents to have a view of the lake out­side their win­dows over the rights of the many thou­sands who come to the Outer Har­bor in the spring and sum­mer to en­joy an un­bro­ken view of the lake and un­bro­ken ac­cess to it. Un­less we buy the prop­erty we have no way to pro­tect the Outer Har­bor from this kind of in­sult.

Be­sides the threat to the aes­thetic in­tegrity of the site, this kind of de­vel­op­ment is li­able to place an on­go­ing fi­nan­cial bur­den on the City of Buf­falo and on Erie County. By ap­prov­ing a tall build­ing on land­fill, on a nat­u­ral buf­fer to the wind and rain blow­ing in from the lake, the Com­mon Coun­cil may be in­cur­ring le­gal re­spon­si­bil­ity for the kind of weather-re­lated dam­age from the storms that now buffet the shore­line. How well would such a build­ing have weath­ered the vi­o­lent wind and snow of last win­ter? How well would it avoid chronic flood­ing if Lake Erie hap­pens to ex­pe­ri­ence a sub­stan­tial rise?

Our city might be re­quired to build for this lone de­vel­op­ment a sea wall and a wind break, and to keep these struc­tures in con­stant re­pair, spend­ing pub­lic money to main­tain a build­ing in pri­vate hands that should never have been built in the first place. To pre­vent this from hap­pen­ing, we need to act now. The editorials on this page rep­re­sent the opinion of The Buf­falo News edi­to­rial board. Mem­bers are Pub­lisher and Pres­i­dent War­ren T. Colville; Ed­i­tor Michael K. Con­nelly; Edi­to­rial Page Ed­i­tor Kevin S. Wal­ter; and edi­to­rial writ­ers Dawn Marie Bracely and Greg Con­nors.

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