Today was a big day for Scajaquada Creek. Mayor Brown held a ceremonial groundbreaking for a $2.8 million project to restore Scajaquada Creek between Main Street and Elmwood Avenue. The project will help to tackle the issues of odor, trash, flooding and other problems related to the creek, which has been in a state of turmoil for decades.
“This project is the fruit of a multi-year partnership involving my administration and several government and community entities, all of whom have looked forward to the day when we could say with certainty that this portion of Scajaquada Creek would be properly restored. This important environmental project will enhance the visitor experience in Forest Lawn Cemetery, along the shores of Hoyt Lake, and Mirror Lake’s Japanese Garden, behind the Buffalo History Museum. The garbage, debris and related odors will be gone,” Mayor Brown said.
Instigators and partners in this effort to clean, dredge, plant, etc., include the City’s Sewer Authority and its Public Works, Streets and Parks Department, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Forest Lawn Heritage Foundation, Forest Lawn Cemetery, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Environmental Facilities Corporation, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper and Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy.
The 2017 Scajaquada Creek Restoration Project involves:
- Improved trash collection upstream of Forest Lawn Cemetery to reduce debris and trash in the Creek;
- Selective dredging throughout to address historic sediment accumulation, reduce water temperatures and improve creek flow ;
- Earthwork and plantings within the cemetery at the Chapel Meadow to reconnect the floodplain to the creek;
- Restoration of the Creek’s banks to address invasive species, stabilize soils and provide overhanging vegetation and shade;
- Wetland enhancement of the former Swan Lake area of Forest Lawn Cemetery immediately east of Delaware Avenue, adjacent the creek and within the floodplain, to provide sediment storage, reduce flooding, and improve water quality by acting as a biological filter;
- Educational signage and improved trail connections to the water;
- Aesthetic improvements where the Creek enters the bypass around Hoyt Lake.
The Buffalo Sewer Authority (BSA) has committed $2,866,525 to this endeavor and will take the lead on daily construction and administration. The crux of the money came from the NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation Green Innovations Grant program – $1,815,000 grant, of which 80 percent was sourced from the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Forest Lawn Heritage Foundation also stepped up by contributing $896,155 in project match funding.
“As part of our watershed approach to restoring the health of Scajaquada Creek we are dedicated to eliminating the negative effects of stormwater. We understand that each segment of the Creek has a different set of problems, and this $2.8 million project will clean and restore the Creek as it runs through Forest Lawn, Delaware Park, and adjacent to the Buffalo History Museum. While Scajaquada Creek’s pollution concerns will not be changed overnight, this restoration effort is complemented by the Authority’s documented promise to deliver over $80 million in clean water projects to restore the Scajaquada Creek watershed.” Oluwole A. (OJ) McFoy, P.E., Buffalo Sewer Authority.
Mark Cerrone, Inc. was awarded the contract. The company, located in Niagara Falls, has a track record working with similar projects. The construction project officially commenced in December of 2016, and is expected to be completed in 2017.
“Scajaquada Creek is an important waterway and DEC is committed to addressing threats and improving water quality to this critical Great Lakes tributary,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Governor Cuomo recently proposed the $2 billion Clean Water Infrastructure Act to protect and revive our state’s irreplaceable waters, and New York has already committed nearly $24 million to water quality improvements in the Scajaquada Creek and Hoyt Lake watershed. The $1.8 million from New York’s Green Innovation Grant Program will further help restore Scajaquada Creek and capitalize on the economic potential of restoring this waterway.”
Assemblyman Sean Ryan said “A generation ago, the Buffalo River was so contaminated that you could literally light it on fire. It took determination and tireless effort to clean up the Buffalo River and turn it into a catalyst for economic development. The water quality and health of Scajaquada Creek is our next big challenge. This is an issue where collaboration between the city, the state, and the federal government is essential. A healthy and thriving Scajaquada Creek will be a significant victory for Buffalo’s future, and I am excited for this important work to begin.”
“We are fortunate to have Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, the Buffalo Sewer Authority, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Facilities Corporation teaming with us at the Forest Lawn Heritage Foundation to take this first critical step in what will ultimately be a comprehensive clean-up and restoration of Scajaquada Creek,” said Joseph P. Dispenza, President of Forest Lawn and the Forest Lawn Heritage Foundation. “It is appropriate that the effort to breathe life into this essential waterway is beginning in one of the nation’s premier cemeteries, where life surrounds memories in a protected, peaceful, sacred place.”
“The team at Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper has spent the last five years researching, planning and designing projects that will create a clean and healthy future for Scajaquada Creek”, said Jill Jedlicka, executive director. “We are energized by the significant commitments and leadership exhibited by the Buffalo Sewer Authority, City of Buffalo, Forest Lawn Cemetery, Olmsted Parks Conservancy and the Army Corps of Engineers, to advance this shared vision. This unusual partnership builds upon the successful Buffalo River restoration model, and Riverkeeper remains committed to accelerating restoration efforts of Scajaquada Creek into other parts of the community. We thank Mayor Brown and the Buffalo Sewer Authority for their continued dedication to our local waterways.”
“Water views and interaction are such a critical components of the Frederick Law Olmsted designed park experience. Today’s announcement is a major step forward,” stated Stephanie Crockatt, Executive Director, Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy. “We applaud this effort to address the various issues which plague the Scajaquada Creek and want to thank our partners at the Buffalo Sewer Authority, City of Buffalo, DEC USACE, Forest Lawn Cemetery, and Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. We look forward to working together on continued efforts to restore the Scajaquada Creek Corridor.”
“This major restoration of Scajaquada Creek is not only good for the tens of thousands who visit Forest Lawn Cemetery, Hoyt Lake and Mirror Lake, and also for Delaware District residents, who frequent the creek area for recreation and reflection,” said Delaware District Common Councilmember Joel P. Feroleto.
Photo: Mayor Brown’s office