Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper and Buffalo Niagara River Land Trust collaborate to transform a brownfield on Scajaquada Creek
Buffalo NY - The transformation of Scajaquada Creek gains momentum with a new waterfront park project led by Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper and the Buffalo Niagara River Land Trust. On Monday September 28, representatives from both organizations were joined by Congressman Brian Higgins, Senator Marc Panepinto and local community groups at a ribbon cutting ceremony to commence their collaborative efforts to demolish a condemned building and create a publicly accessible waterfront park and paddle-sport launch at 1660 Niagara Street in Buffalo. The nearly $850,000 project, located near the intersection of Niagara and Tonawanda streets, is made possible through grant funds from the New York State Canal Corporation, the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and the New York State Power Authority through the Buffalo and Erie County Greenway Fund Standing Committee. Alan Bozer, Chairman of the Buffalo and Erie County Greenway Fund Standing Committee, attended to represent the Standing Committee.
Riverkeeper and the Buffalo Niagara Land Trust are working to reconnect the community with Scajaquada Creek which has significant cultural, historical, and ecological value, but still remains largely inaccessible to the community. The future waterfront park will remedy a major gap identified in the Niagara River Greenway, complement the City of Buffalo's extensive investments along the Niagara Street corridor, and help breathe new life into neighborhoods currently cut off from its waterfront.
"For generations, Scajaquada Creek has been an abandoned waterway that still suffers from pollution and limited public access," said Jill Jedlicka, executive director of Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. "There are significant restoration planning efforts underway, thanks to recent years of strong collaboration between the government and non-profit sectors. While this work is happening, we can take additional steps to improve the creek corridor. Just like we have seen in the Buffalo River and the Outer Harbor, by prioritizing public access and water quality, the increased community use of our waterways can play an important role in stimulating additional investment and recovery."
"This project embodies all of the challenges the Buffalo Niagara Land Trust was created to resolve. Located on an urban brownfield, severely dilapidated privately owned buildings have hid the creek from the public for years. Through these generous grants and important partnership, this project will reclaim the space for environmental remediation, public fishing and boating access. We hope it is the start of many similar projects along the region's waterfront," said Adam Walters, Board President for the Trust.
Congressman Brian Higgins stated, "This project, creating a new park and public space along the waterfront, compliments millions of dollars in federal funding supporting reconstruction and enhancements to Niagara Street. As a result, we will have improved access to our city and the water's edge for local neighbors and visitors entering this critical gateway."
There is a lack of public access to Scajaquada Creek, Black Rock Canal and the Niagara River along the Niagara Street corridor, separating residents from Wester New York's fresh water resources. This project will contribute to an expanding "Blueway Trail" of paddle access points and launches throughout Western New York, activating the waterfront with recreational opportunities for residents and tourists alike.
"As Buffalo’s economy continues to grow, more and more of our Brownfield sites are becoming ripe for redevelopment and reuse," said Mayor Byron W. Brown. "Today’s demolition begins the process of transforming an area of blight into a publicly accessible waterfront park and paddle-sport launch, complementing the city’s $16.3 million infrastructure investment along the Niagara Street corridor and continuing our commitment to improved water quality and increased community use of our waterways. I’m grateful for this public-private partnership and investment in Buffalo’s continuing resurgence.”
"Today, Riverkeeper and the Buffalo Niagara River Land Trust expand on their continuous efforts to create local access to our waterfront which has long been denied," said Senator Marc Panepinto. "This project is a collaborative and shining example of government working together on all levels to stimulate Buffalo's growing Blue Economy, reclaim deserted space for environmental remediation and create public fishing and boat access. Thanks to Riverkeeper's vision, the creation of this new waterfront park will continue to draw residents to the emerging Niagara Street corridor and reconnect them to the waterfront they deserve."
This opportunity for a waterfront park was identified as a priority through a land acquisition feasibility study, conducted by Riverkeeper and the Buffalo Niagara River Land Trust with support from the Buffalo and Erie County Greenway Fund Standing Committee. The Buffalo and Erie County Greenway Fund Standing Committee, which is funded by the New York Power Authority as part of a settlement agreement related to the 50-year federal operating license of the Niagara Power plant, awarded $601,981 to Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper for the implementation of this project.
Local stakeholders also identified this opportunity for a waterfront park during the process of multiple planning efforts designed to revitalize the Riverwalk through the Black Rock-Riverside community. The project will also aid in meeting the goal of improving public access to Scajaquada Creek, identified as a key priority of the Niagara River Greenway Plan (2007). This project has an outpouring of support from the community including the Scajaquada Canoe Club, Black Rock Historical Society, Believe in Black Rock, Grant Amherst Business Association, Rediscover Riverside, Black Rock Riverside Alliance, and Black Rock Riverside Good Neighbor Planning Alliance. The vision for the site is for it to be developed into an enhanced, publicly-accessible waterfront park, with living infrastructure and a universally-accessible paddle sport launch.
This project builds on the City of Buffalo's work at Broderick Park, extensive streetscape improvements to Niagara Street from City Hall to Ontario Street to include complete street bicycle and pedestrian features, water-protective landscaping, and public art; and the Better Buffalo Fund incentives for private investment along the corridor.
The Buffalo Niagara River Land Trust was formed in 2012 to acquire and manage lands along Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the Niagara River and their tributaries for habitat conservation/restoration; water conservation including filtration and groundwater recharge; and passive and active water recreation including boating, fishing, swimming, birding, walking/running and biking. For more information about Buffalo Niagara River Land Trust, please visit niagarariverlandtrust.org or contact Adam Walters, Board President, at (716) 536-2859 or AWalters@phillipslytle.com.
Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is a community-based organization dedicated to protecting the quality and quantity of water, while connecting people to water. We do this by cleaning up pollution from our waterways, restoring fish and wildlife habitat, and enhancing public access through greenways that expand parks and open space. For more information about Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, please visit bnriverkeeper.org or contact Susan Kornacki, Communications and Development Manager, at (716) 852-7483 ext. 38 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Buffalo and Erie County Greenway Fund Standing Committee makes grants of $2 million annually through an agreement of the New York Power Authority with the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, the City of Buffalo and the County of Erie. Grants by the Standing Committee benefit projects that are consistent with the Niagara Greenway Plan. For more information about the Buffalo and Erie County Greenway Fund Standing Committee, please visit: http://niagara.nypa.gov/RelicensingGreenwayFunds/BuffaloErieGreenway/BEdefault.htm or contact Alan J. Bozer, Committee Chairman, at (716) 504-5700 or Abozer@phillipslytle.com.