The first phase of the Urban Habitat Project at the Buffalo Central Terminal is underway. Much of the work is expected to be completed in two weeks, just in time for the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference. The Terminal will be hosting several field sessions during the four-day conference.
According to project lead Dave Majewski, the Urban Habitat Project has ecological, environmental and community significance. The Urban Habitat Project is envisioned as a living ecological classroom and demonstration project on a 3-acre parcel of the CTRC property at the intersection of Memorial Drive, Curtiss and Peckham streets. Techniques used on the site could be replicated elsewhere in the city and region.
It will demonstrate: biodiversity, native regional habitats, soil remediation, several plant communities, ecosytems that benefit birds, bees, various beneficial insects and an array of resident mammals that currently exist near the site. There will be large groves of pine trees, hawthorns, native shrubs, and vast meadows of grasses and wildflowers that have been specifically designed and selected to meet specific site criteria.
A significant amount of time, effort and resources have gone in to making this 18 month old vision become a reality. The 2.3-acre first phase has a $60,000 price tag and a number of public and private funders have helped make the project a reality. Organizers have obtained a $15,000 contribution from the John R. Oishei Foundation, $10,000 from the Buffalo Green Fund, $10,000 from the Marks family, $5,000 from the Baird Foundation, $5,000 from the Vogt family, $5,000 from Dore Landscape, and $2,000 from Councilmember Franczyk. Wendel Design contributed $3,500 in in-kind services. The Central Terminal Restoration Corporation is also underwriting a portion of the project.
The project will demonstrate Low Impact Development (LID) on a large scale; along with the concept of Sustainable Sites Development.
Storm water runoff is controlled on site, and minimal trucking and equipment use is being employed, thus mitigating fuel consumption and disruption to the local community. All soil and existing material on site is being reused; the exception of several tons of limestone boulders uncovered during site preparation. The boulders are being sold for use on a Buffalo River habitat project and the proceeds are going towards additional work on the site.
“We have taken the LID component a major step forward in that, rather than simply mitigating negative impacts on the site, we are reversing that by making the site better because of what we have done,” says Majewski.
“This is a Western New York first- we are impounding approximately 320,000 gallons of storm water runoff from Curtiss Streed and redirecting it in to the site via two adjoining large bio-retention cells,” he says. “This project will be an example to municipalities and developers as to how real Sustainable Sites and Low Impact Developments can feasibly be undertaken with ecologically sensitive integrated planning and design.”
“Too keep the LID and RED components intact on the site, we needed to manipulate the topography throughout the entire parcel to accommodate all the fill and soils,” explains Majewski. “While doing so, we were able to create sloped areas that will generate significant amounts of site storm water runoff. At the same time, the seeded swales and bio retention cells will also impound, and benefit from, the large amounts of new runoff generated from this topography modification.”
This can be done on any scale and it demonstrates to developers, architects and engineers that it is possible to intelligently develop while regenerating small portions of our lost habitats and managing storm water runoff and its negative effects on our local waterways – one of our most serious environmental problems today.
Planted and seeded areas were specially selected for particular functions and benefits – while also demonstrating the plant communities that occur naturally in our region. We have lost large tracts of native habitats for generations now and these areas within the UHP also demonstrate how those communities existed and flourished in the past. With the available urban greenspaces that abound in our city, we are showing that we can make at least a small effort to helping restore valuable and critical habitats.
Planting starts this Saturday. Plants include:
Large meadows and wetland retention areas to include:
The variety of native grasses are significant in that they develop deep fibrous roots systems that aerate the soil and aid in the absorption of accumulated runoff. These grasses are important in restoring long neglected soils. Moreover, they are a key winter food for birds and other wildlife as well as providing nesting sites and nesting materials for birds.
The project is also a living classroom to educate residents on the importance of natural habitats, ecology, and the environment.
It is intended to help make the Central Terminal a destination rather than a quick photo op. It will leverage other existing and planned green development projects in the Broadway-Fillmore community as well.
A site management plan has been developed and the sustainability of the project has been coordinated and planned. Volunteer groups have agreed to help with the construction and maintain the site.
Boy Scouts Troop 250 from Clarence, Biology students from Daemen College, Youth Construction Initiative from East High School, neighborhood residents and other groups are participating. The Boy Scouts are making bat houses, mason bee posts and bird houses.
Planning is starting on a second phase that will encompass the remaining .7 acres of the site and will include an educational gazebo, fencing and additional signage.
“We are constructing the UHP as that: LID and RED are requirements and not simply Green sounding options,” says Majewski. “Integrated design and planning; i.e. horticulture, ecology, environment, community, sustainability, and economics all are key aspects when considering the finished product and goals.”