The Barrel Factory has staked a claim in the Old First Ward, helping to ignite a historically significant part of the city. Now, the key figures behind the project are calling for additional resources to be allocated to properties fronting the vicinity of the development. Moving forward, The Barrel Factory is hoping/helping to initiate a number of advancements that would take this fallow property and convert it into an inspirational tract of land within the burgeoning neighborhood.
The project would include the environmental cleanup and adaptive re-use of discontinued railroad tracks (.3 miles along Republic Street, between Hamburg Street and Louisiana Street), including planting native species, creating rain gardens, and building a bike and pedestrian path/trail, and also possibly a multi-use “green” community pavilion, community garden, and sculpture garden.
The project would be a Buffalo River watershed buffer and public park attraction for the enjoyment of Old First Ward residents and visitors. Work would include the removal of a longstanding major eyesore and possible environmental hazard, in the shadow of the Buffalo River and the Old First Ward’s historic and popular grain elevators. Once complete, the project would provide linkage between the Ohio Street Greenway Project/Father Conway Park and Mutual Riverfront Park, plus Canalside and the Outer Harbor.
As with most game changer projects, it starts with private buy-in by a number of sources. Check. Then there is buy-in from much larger entities, including the City of Buffalo. This abandoned section of rail is rife with possibilities. There could be no better time to come up with a game plan for this disjointed property.
The proposed Old First Ward public greenway along Republic Street is an idea that has apparently has been bantered about for many years in the Old First Ward. In late 2015 or early 2016, the project was finally discussed by the board of directors of the Old First Ward Community Association, and also at a Community Association meeting, receiving positive support. A couple of years earlier, a UB professor and a class of students conducted a study on a very similar concept at this same location. There is a lot of interest here, and there’s no reason not to connect the dots, while creating a public green space with amenities that could include bike features, a narrow gauge hand pump car, or any number of other fun, creative and resourceful ideas.
What are some of the ideas that you think would work with this space? Key players in the area want to hear your thoughts.