ECHDC Prepares for NCAA Tourney

March 13, 2017 - 8:41 am
Buffalo, NY (WBEN) The Erie County Harbor Development Corporation says it has no choice but to be ready for this week's NCAA tournament games.

Chairman Bob Gioia says, "I don't think it's unusual to see 10,000 people during different times of year, so I think we're very much prepared." He says work on the Explore & More Children's museum was stopped specifically for the tournament, but in 20 years' time, that won't matter.

"We might have actually begun construction earlier this year, but we put it off a week so there weren't compliations associated with our visitors and guests coming down to the basketball tournament," says Sam Hoyt. "Everything we do, we coordinate with our neighbors, and our expectation is that with each event, we're educating the public on how to get here, the best way to park, etc."

Meantime, the ECHDC approved including a contract for architectural and engineering design services for the Canalside Interpretive Structures project; ECHDC’s operating and capital budgets; and an agreement with State Parks for operations and maintenance of property at Buffalo’s Outer Harbor.
“ECHDC continues to support projects that transform the once vacant and underutilized parcels in downtown Buffalo into a vibrant, mixed-use, year-round area that we now know as Canalside,” said Gioia. “The Canalside Interpretive Structures project will further advance our work by promoting and incorporating architectural elements that celebrate and interpret the historical significance of the Erie Canal and surrounding area.”
The Canalside Interpretive Structures project consists of new facilities at several locations, with a focus on former buildings located along the Commercial Slip.  The ECHDC Board approved a $1.3 million contract with Hamilton Houston Lownie Architects, LLC (HHL), a Buffalo-based architectural firm, to provide architectural and engineering design services for the project.  The facilities being considered are:
  • An open air pavilion structure allowing for a range of three-season programming, activities and possibility semi-permanent exhibits and/or experiences.  It could evoke a 1870s building.
  • Recreation of the full-scale brick facade of the Union Steamboat building. 
  • Backdrop for a concert stage.
  • Another open air pavilion structure that will allow for additional three-season programming, activities and possibly semi-permanent exhibits and/or experiences.
  • Visitor center.  With the popularity of Canalside as a regional tourist destination, the demand for visitor services has been growing. 
  • Public restrooms. With the popularity of Canalside as a regional tourist destination, the demand for public restrooms has been growing. 
  • City of Buffalo Police sub-station. 
The HHL team will complete detailed environmental studies, structural and building surveys, and architectural and engineering design services in order to prepare a construction bid package.  The HHL team includes Perkins Eastman (formerly Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn), Theatre Consultants Collaborative, Environmental Design & Research, M/E Engineering, Ravi Engineering, RJR Engineering, Illumination Arts and Baer & Associates.  HHL is well suited for this project, having completed the Darwin D. Martin Estate Restoration and Reconstruction, the Buffalo Club renovations, and the Market Arcade Restoration.  It is also very familiar with Canalside’s history and current programming and events, as well as the process of working within the City of Buffalo and with other agencies in the immediate area. 
At today’s ECHDC meeting the board also approved ECHDC’s fiscal year 2017/2018 operating and capital budgets.  The operating budget, which includes personnel and non-personnel services, is $1,215,409.  Separate from the corporation’s operating budget is the corporation’s capital expense authorization, which will be individually approved by the corporation’s board of directors under separate actions throughout the year.  The corporation’s fiscal year 2017/2018 capital expense authorization is $34,263,456.  This includes, but is not limited to, the remaining costs on the design and construction of Explore & More Children’s Museum; design and construction of the carousel project; activation of the South and North Aud Block; design and construction of the historic pavilion/stage/facade/restrooms; Canalside wayfinding signage; and Canalside events, programming, site operations, maintenance and utility costs.  Additionally, ECHDC is funding various projects at the Outer Harbor, including, but not limited to, operations, maintenance and utility costs; and access/activation design and construction.    Funding for ECHDC’s capital budget will consist of both existing and anticipated funds from the NYPA, New York State and the Federal Highway Administration.
The board also authorized a memorandum of understanding with New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for operations and maintenance of land associated with ECHDC-owned property on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor.  OPHRP and ECHDC successfully completed a scope of services (trash removal, facilities maintenance, general landscaping) for years 2015 and 2016, and are in agreement to extend the partnership through 2017.  The funding amount is not to exceed $126,000.  
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