BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Some prime pieces of waterfront property could soon be changing hands in Buffalo.
Sources tell News 4 the state has plans to take back the Outer Harbor from the NFTA, which the agency has owned for nearly 60 years. The deal would turn the NFTA's waterfront property over to the state with Gallagher Beach and the Small Boat Harbor coming under the management of state parks officials.
Governor Andrew Cuomo will be in WNY on Thursday, and Congressman Brian Higgins hinted at things to come.
"That's something that the governor will elaborate on tomorrow," he said. "It will be transferred."
Higgins first proposed creating an 80-acre state park along the waterfront in 2002, when George Pataki was governor. The city, Erie County, and the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy all supported that plan.
"State Parks has a very high quality standard, in terms of highest and best use recreational facilities, and restaurants, and beaches," Higgins said. "So they will put capital investment in it to bring it to a higher level."
The NFTA has already made a number of improvements to Gallagher Beach, drawing swimmers, windsurfers, and folks who just enjoy being near the water.
Surveys of the Outer Harbor have revealed improvements to the breakwall are needed, with a price tag of about $30-million.
Tucker Curtin owns and operates Dug's Dive, the Outer Harbor eatery, and is concerned about how state parks are operated, namely an entrance fee typically charged at state parks.
"I heard we have a new landlord getting ready to sign up for us, down here at the Small Boat Harbor," he said. "If they are going to be charging for parking, how will that affect our bottom line? Will it change the scope and the culture of what is going on, and the magic of Dug's Dive? It could, and so we have to take all those things into consideration."
Higgins responded, "Valid concern. And I've talked to the governor about that. He gets it. He's very sensitive to that. We're not going to charge people who've been denied access to their waterfront for six years to park on the Buffalo waterfront."
The other big question is, if the state does take back the Outer Harbor, how much would the NFTA get for it? NFTA officials have said the property is worth millions of dollars.
Higgins says the state should pay no more than the NFTA paid for the property.
"The NFTA, when they acquired this property 55 years ago, acquired it in two separate transactions, for a dollar each," Higgins noted.
The congressman insists the NFTA should get no more than two dollars for nearly 400 acres of prime waterfront property.
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