Common Council meeting today, Tuesday 2:00pm City Hall.
The Campaign for Greater Buffalo is urging city officials to save the only public access on the east shore of the City Ship Canal and not give control to a business that would cut off access...
The Campaign for Greater Buffalo strongly supports retaining all of the public-right-of-way of South Michigan Avenue to The City Ship Canal, and to avoid permanent or temporary leases which would in any way impede the unfettered public access that has been in effect there since the waterway was created in the 1850’s. Make no mistake: this is a taking of public lands and public access at a time when the public is clamoring for more.
We urge, instead, enhanced public access and the restoration of the lift bridge that was removed in 1964. The City Ship Canal landing should be designed to encourage public enjoyment, with historical interpretation, relaxation, and cultural tourism enhancements.
General Mills, having failed to gain direct ownership of South Michigan Avenue and the City Ship Canal landing, now wants to be given a “revocable” lease, in perpetuity, on this valuable section of public land for a nominal sum. To grant the request would be a grievous mistake. It would be rued every time a person would be blocked from enjoying a beautiful and historic part of Buffalo’s living waterfront.
Lately, it has suggested that it is a matter of homeland security. That is a stretch (How does this property differ from any other in the United States in terms of food and water security? Every one of the tens of millions of farms, food handling points, and water supply points would be a matter of “homeland security”).
The Campaign for Greater Buffalo and its Open-Air Autobus tours would be directly effected by the proposed abandonment, as its most popular tour for visitors and residents alike is the tour that stops at the City Ship Canal and South Michigan Avenue for an extended discussion of General Mills’s elevators (built as part of the Washburn-Crosby complex) and the Great Northern Elevator, also to be seen from there. The eminent architectural historian Reyner Banham, as quoted in my book, Buffalo’s Waterfront, said that it could be argued, with little exaggeration, “that Elevators A, B, and C of the Washburn-Crosby complex [currently General Mills] constitute the most internationally influential structures in North America.”
Further, abandoning South Michigan Avenue would forfeit rebuilding the lift bridge that was once there. The Buffalo waterfront has changed dramatically since its low ebb in the early 1960’s. It would be a grave mistake that would be rued and recalled by all citizens forever if this most logical public path between the Outer and Inner harbors were to be foreclosed. There is potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in development at stake, as well as enhanced access to hundreds acres of public recreational lands on the Outer Harbor.
The Campaign urges you to reject any attempts to privatize this vital and strategic right-of-way, temporarily or permanently and to actively explore the lightest, quickest, cheapest, and best crossing of the City Ship Canal: A new South Michigan Avenue lift bridge.