Back in 2015, a plan for Downtown public spaces was announced.
A number of downtown areas will see traffic calming measures, public space investments, and streetscape improvements under a new master plan prepared under the direction of the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation (BUDC). The improvements, planned for right-of-ways and also public spaces, are proposed to build upon proposed or completed streetscape work along Main Street, Ellicott Street, Genesee Street, Niagara Street, and elsewhere.
Since that time, there has not been much news concerning any developments pertaining to this matter, until just recently. Mayor Byron W. Brown announced that the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works, Parks & Streets, Empire State Development (ESD), and the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation (BUDC) would come together to host a public meeting to present conceptual designs of one of the proposed projects – Erie-Shelton Square Greenway Project.
BUDC Chairman Mayor Brown stated, “The City of Buffalo’s partnership with Governor Andrew Cuomo and Empire State Development is making this transformative project a reality, continuing my Administration’s efforts to create a 24/7 live, work and play environment in Buffalo’s downtown core, while further improving access to Buffalo’s waterfront for all to enjoy.”
As we are all aware, there have been some serious mistakes made when it comes to transportation decisions and the built environment in downtown Buffalo. From demolishing Erie Country Savings Bank at Shelton Square, and closing off Genesee Street to build a bland convention center, to constructing the Main Place Mall, we have witnessed a number of serious blunders (learn more). Adding insult to injury, we essentially have a series of freeway-style roadways running through this district, which make for very an unfriendly user experience, with little greenspace connectivity (think North and South Division). Furthermore, the greenspace that does exist is unkempt and unfriendly.
Erie/Shelton Square Node (from 2015 Plan for Downtown release):
The area is centered along Church Street, North and South Division streets, and Erie Street extending to Waterfront Village. Improvements are designed to reconnect Michigan Street and Erie Community College to Lake Erie in a pedestrian-friendly manner, with an emphasis on traffic calming and green space. Key projects:
- Erie Street improvement project
- Erie Node two-way conversions
- Erie Node intersections and streetscapes
- North and South Division traffic overhaul
- Traffic tables (raised crosswalks with pavers between parks spaces to calm traffic)
- New student-oriented park
- Erie underpass beautification and development
- Five Flags/Firemen’s Park design study
Funding for the project is twofold: Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion 2 Initiative and the New York State Department of Parks. The project is being managed by the City of Buffalo’s Department of Public Works, Parks & Streets, and the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation.
The project intends to connect people from downtown’s central business district by interlinking existing green spaces along the Erie Street corridor to the waterfront, using walkable, bikeable, pedestrian friendly designs. By doing this, there is hope of creating a more user friendly experience, that will ultimately attract more residents and businesses to the core of downtown.
“The Erie-Shelton Square Greenway will connect the parks and public spaces between Buffalo’s downtown and waterfront. It’s a Buffalo Billion project that demonstrates how the state’s investments in placemaking ultimately connect people—Buffalo’s students, residents and visitors—and revitalize cities,” said Howard Zemsky, President and CEO of Empire State Development.
A public meeting will be held at Erie County Community College’s Minnie Gillette Auditorium, located at 121 Ellicott Street, on Thursday, April 19 at 5:30 p.m. The meeting will be facilitated by Clark, Patterson, and Lee Landscape Architects. Light refreshments will also be provided.
Lead image is from 2015 Plan for Downtown release.