A regional project seeks to create a plan for sustainable development and economic redevelopment, encompassing land use, transportation, housing, energy, climate change and access to food.
The initiative, entitled “One Region Forward,” is in the first year of an expected three-year process in which it plans to tie together existing municipal plans – some of which have gathered dust on shelves – as well as state and federal blueprints into a measurable sustainability plan for the region.
“For the first time in my 30 years here, we see the federal programs in planning design, the state programs and the local programs all aligning,” said Robert G. Shibley, dean of University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning.
Some of the principle participants of the Buffalo Niagara Consortium will be on hand at 7 p.m. today in Babeville, 341 Delaware Ave., for the first of a pair of two-hour “Community Congress” public meetings. The second will be at 2 p.m. Saturday in Conference and Event Center Niagara Falls, 101 Old Falls St., Niagara Falls.
Hal Morse, executive director of the Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council, a key organizer of the project, said the sustainability plan can help reverse past land-use decisions, and transportation and energy use that followed, that have been detrimental to the region’s economic health.
“The business community recognizes clearly the need for sustainability in government, government services and the ability to create quality communities and attract population to this area,” Morse said.
A steering committee will administer the project, with input from the government, the private sector and the public. The five areas of recommendation will be land use and development, transportation and mobility, housing and neighborhoods, climate change and action, and food access and justice.
The document would be implemented, according to the organizers, in future “high-leverage projects in strategic locations,” and used for broad educational purposes.
One Region Forward is funded by a $2 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of its Partnership for Sustainable Communities Initiative.
The consortium was one of 29 grant winners out of 140 applicants.To learn more about One Region Forward, visit www.oneregionforward.org.