The lawmaker who secured millions of dollars in public funding to revitalize Buffalo's waterfront is questioning how the money's being spent. Congressman Brian Higgins wants a full accounting from the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation.
Higgins is making his request under the Freedom of Information Act. In a letter to the ECHDC on Monday, he said, that he's concerned about the $2.6 million spent so far defending lawsuits over a construction dispute at Canalside. Higgins says, the case hasn't even gone to trial yet - and he has other concerns with the public agency.
"When the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation votes to approve a master plan three and a half years ago, and use $8 million of money to create a Canalside Market Place, and you have a big hole in the ground, that begs the question where are those improvements and where is that money?"
Higgins' is requesting the dates and amount of any legal costs paid by the New York Power Authority. A full accounting of NYPA's payments to the ECHDC. And a full accounting of ECHDC's expenditures. Higgins says, the public deserves answers because it's all public dollars.
"They're very simple questions and transparency and accountability is a good thing. My concern is that the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation has grown sloppy and they're distracted by lawsuits and things having nothing to do with waterfront development," Higgins said.
Empire State Development Regional President and ECHDC Board Member, Sam Hoyt says, the agency would be more than happy to provide the congressman with the information he's requested. Hoyt says, currently a number of projects are moving forward at Canalside and on Buffalo's Outer Harbor.