Outer Harbor plans shrouded in secrecy

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation is again the subject of transparency complaints over its planning effort for the Outer Harbor.

Board member Sam Hoyt had said the state would unveil a revised development plan at two public meetings in April. The development corporation controls some 200 acres of lakefront at the Outer Harbor.

But those public meetings never happened.

Instead, Investigative Post has learned that state officials have held at least two secret brainstorming sessions. Some who attended had been critical of the state’s first Outer Harbor plan released last fall.

That plan included up to 2,100 housing units, stores and restaurants.

But Assemblyman Sean Ryan, U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins and numerous environmental groups opposed this plan. They argued that there was not broad public support for dense commercial and residential development.

Since then, the development corporation has agreed to reduce the development footprint in an attempt to mollify the opposition. But it hasn’t organized any public meetings about the project in almost a year.

However, Investigative Post has obtained a confidential draft plan that the development corporation finished in March. The plan shows one large residential development at the southern end of the property and one small development across from Times Beach Nature Preserve. The plan also includes amenities such as new trails, a visitor’s center and an amphitheater.

Development corporation officials refused numerous interview requests.