A Buffalo Rising reader recently sent me an email proposing an urbanist development that I believe has some real legs. The reader pointed to the corner of Elmwood and Forest as a vast opportunity, just waiting to be tapped. I knew right away what he was referring to – the gated off corner that is under the jurisdiction of the Office of Mental Health (OMH).
In the past, I too have looked at that corner and thought about the possibilities. This parcel of land is pretty large, and completely underutilized. There’s never anyone using it, from the OMH or otherwise. The foreboding iron gate keeps people off the property unfortunately, but think what would happen if the gate was removed from along the sidewalk and replaced towards the back of the parcel.
Elmwood would have an incredible, centrally located, urbanesque park asset overnight, where bands could play, people could congregate, and various activities could be held. The gate would still be in place, but it would simply be inverted. If this was to happen, there would not only be increased connectivity between the Elmwood Village and the culturals (Albright-Knox, Burchfield-Penney, etc.), the newfound park land would help to alleviate many of the pressures that Bidwell Parkway faces.
For years, neighbors along Bidwell have been fighting new programming initiatives best suited for parkways. This new park land would be ideal for Buff State college students due to proximity to the campus, and would also be a nice connector (instead of dead zone) to the up and coming Richardson-Olmsted Complex.
The plan would take a sleepy corner and would activate it in numerous ways. The high profile corner would make a very desirable spot for anyone looking to program events and activities. There’s a new bike path, and even a wide strip of grass (on Elmwood and Forest) that would be included in the park design. There’s even tree coverage that offers plenty of shade during hot days. Once again, this corner could enhance the connectivity between so many different cultural components, which is currently lacking.