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Published on November 6th, 2013 | by growwny


What do you want Buffalo Niagara to look like in forty years?



One Region Forward effort hosts public workshops on regional sustainability initiative



Over the past four decades, residents of Buffalo Niagara – the counties of Erie and Niagara – have seen the region’s population decline by sixteen percent while we have built over 150,000 new homes, left 30,000 additional homes vacant, and developed 160 square miles of new land, spreading ourselves out, growing our tax burden and infrastructure costs, and losing valuable farmland.

What trends should characterize the next forty years of change? One Region Forward, a community-based regional planning initiative is asking citizens of Niagara and Erie counties to answer that question at a series of interactive “Community Congress” public workshops this November. Building on the first round of Community Congresses that asked the public to weigh in on our shared Regional Vision & Values, as well as the community input received this spring, summer, and fall at festivals, events, public forums, and farmers markets across the region, the workshops will present the public with a short presentation about what our region might look like if we keep doing what we’re doing and do not reverse some of the trends that have characterized the past forty years. Citizens will then be given the opportunity to map what their vision for the Buffalo Niagara region would look like if they could change our approach to land use, development, housing, and transportation.

IMG_4890Events are open to the public and will include kid-friendly activities. The events are scheduled for:

  • Tuesday, November 12th, 6:00 – 8:00 PM – Amherst Central High School, 4301 Main Street, Amherst, NY, in the school cafeteria (registration begins at 5:30).
  • Wednesday, November 13th, 6:00 – 8:00 PM – City Honors School, Buffalo NY 14203, in the school cafeteria (registration begins at 5:30).
  • Thursday, November 14th, 6:00 – 8:00 PM– Orchard Park HighSchool, 4040 Baker Road, Orchard Park, in the school cafeteria (registration begins at 5:30).
  • Friday, November 15th, 6:00 – 8:00 PM– Starpoint Central HighSchool, 4363 Mapleton Road, Pendleton, NY, in the school cafeteria (registration begins at 5:30).
  • Saturday, November 16th, 12:00n – 2:00 PM – Niagara Power Project Visitors Center – the “Power Vista”– 5777 Lewiston Road, Lewiston, NY (registration begins at 11:30am).

A fun, participatory mapping exercise will be the highlight of the workshops and will involve working together in small groups to draw a vision for how and where Buffalo Niagara should develop over the next forty years. With large scale maps of the two counties, participants will use markers and game chips to express their vision for the future of Buffalo Niagara. Specifically they will be asked to:

  • Draw areas to protect from development, such as farmland or ecologically sensitive areas
  • Identify where development should be concentrated and what it should look like using a set of “place type chips” representing different place types that can typically be found across Buffalo Niagara: exurban residential, single family resident, office/industrial park, suburban strip, traditional neighborhoods, village centers, and urban centers.
  • Show how we will get around and how these developments will be connected by drawing transportation systems such as pedestrian/transit corridors, trails and bikeways, and highways.

IMG_20131021_191936_599The maps citizens create will be consolidated by researchers at the University at Buffalo Regional Institute into several alternative scenarios for the future. These scenarios and their forecasted impacts on our agriculture, transportation systems, economy and fiscal health will be presented at the next set of Community Congress meetings in the spring of 2014. Citizens will be given the opportunity to reassess their approach and again voice their opinions on how they would like to see Buffalo Niagara move forward.

This community input will help shape a regional plan to advise how Buffalo Niagara and its local communities can grow sustainably over the next forty years. It will offer guidance for how to use land for economic growth, coordinate housing and transportation investments, prepare for climate change and make it easier and cost effective to grow food and distribute it locally. When the plan is complete, it will give Buffalo Niagara priority status for Federal dollars related to transportation infrastructure, housing and community development, cleaning our environment and promoting economic development.

Citizens, community organizations and media members who want to “Share it Forward” and get the word out about the upcoming event can find a host of resources, i.e. sample social media posts, email texts, high resolution images of the mapping activities, etc. in our Community Congress Toolkit at the project website.


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