For years people of Western New York have complained about the lack of any development along the Buffalo's waterfront. Many blamed the NFTA for having no imagination and incentive to do anything with the Outer Harbor land. But things have started to change. The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. has helped revitalize the harbor front with parks and the ongoing work on the former Aud site.
The climate has changed enough that private developers are starting to dip their toes into the waterfront redevelopment efforts. Sam Savarino has proposed an apartment/condo complex along the Buffalo River on Ohio Street. It's one of the first signs that the tide has turned against neglect and stagnation.
But there's a snag.
Well meaning preservationists say the Savarino's site - home to the decaying Erie Freight House - has enough historical significance to be saved. Find another place for housing, they say, and save this vestige of Buffalo's former waterfront glory.
It's a tough call, as David Robinson's column points out. Preservationists have helped preserve so much of what makes Buffalo unique. Their work should be honored. They have saved us from smashing true value for transient successes.
But the Erie Freight House may be too far gone to save. A judge may have to make that decision. The slow crawl toward reusing our waterfront is going to involve some hard choices. Sacrificing some of the past may be the cost for building a new waterfront future.
- Grove Potter