A New Helipad for our Waterfront?
As I am sitting here at my South Buffalo home on Friday afternoon, my house is shaking with the sound and vibration of a Mercy Flight Helicopter landing a few blocks away on the roof of South Buffalo’s Mercy Hospital. It is hard to hear myself think, and I cannot speak on the phone over the uproar. I know that helicopters have accidents, and I always am concerned that it could happen here. I long ago became resigned to the fact that this intrusion on the tranquility of my neighborhood’s spaces is a profoundly important and a regular daily consequence of saving lives. I support it, I endure it, and I welcome it. I am more than willing to set aside any personal inconvenience, even loss of sleep and tranquility, because I know how critical this service is.
This does not mean that the neighborhood heliport situation supports property values. The suppressed housing market in South Buffalo, while gradually improving, has not surged like much of the rest of Buffalo. I can’t help but think that quality of life issues such as this noisy bone-rattling intrusion are part of the slow growth equation in this neighborhood. But the hospital is an anchor and a welcome one.
Now there comes a proposal for a commercial airport, a heliport, to be located near downtown Buffalo and adjacent to the Outer Harbor. It is to be located next to Silo City, the growing music and art venue that is one of the bright and rising stars of our local waterfront revitilazaton strategies. This proposal is in support of a commercial venture, focused on wealthy tourists, to conduct “photographic” tours of the Buffalo shorelines up to and including the Falls and Gorge areas.
This proposal appeared earlier this week out of nowhere.
The proposal by Ellicott Development (Pallidino) will be heard at a Public Hearing of the Buffalo Common Council Legislative Committee on Tuesday October 10, at 2pm in Buffalo Common Council Chambers. This will be followed at 4 pm by a Planning Board meeting which is scheduled to address the issue. This proposal will require a special use permit. This means that we will all get another chance to look closely at how the Green Code works and how the City addresses Green Code issues and concerns.
Our confidence in this process is in the vicinity of “shaky at best”
Most of you may be working Tuesday afternoon, so it is a convenient time for the city to hide the proposal and the approval process. If you can make the meeting, please do. If not, call the Mayor’s office and call and write to your Common Council member, and all of them. Public opinion counts.
One can only imagine the disturbances and dangers presented by the noise and catastrophe contingencies that this project will visit on the Old First Ward and the Outer Harbor. One thing is certain, if you have come to enjoy the peace, tranquility, and nature of the Outer Harbor that our community’s invests so much in, this project will kiss it goodbye.
If you have ever been near the tourist helipads near Niagara Falls and on both sides of the border, you will know what i am talking about. The noise, the fumes, and the tranquility of enjoying the outdoors at the falls has been permanently altered by these giant machines.
A recent article published in the New York Times “A Plague of Helicopters is Ruining New York” gives a vital perspective on what we can look forward to if this Buffalo proposal is approved.
Will the city look at SEQRA issues and make a “positive declaration” meaning that the project must undergo more environmental and community character scrutiny? Or will this get a “negative declaration” like so many projects-which means that they simply will throw away the common sense “deeper look” and vote hastily in favor of a connected business proposal that is offering an extremely superficial cut and pasted plan that considers neither neighborhood, environmental, or Outer Harbor perspectives? I doubt that this will even get an FAA hearing, it is so substandard. We should not stand for this developer driven demand for another Green Code Special Use Permit. We need to rise up and fight idiotic and harmful projects. The Planning Board has proven to be useless on these issues. However the Common Council is vested with approving the Special Use Permit. We must use our voices. Come to the Tuesday Oct 10 meetings and or contact the Mayor’s Office, and your Common Council members. Contact them all. Let them know that you want a transparent and accountable process.
Mayors office at 851-4841.
Call your Common Council member, especially Chris Scanlon (851-5169) in whose district this is, or email and call any and all councilmembers regards your concerns. Complete contact info CLICK here: