You may have read recently that U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins would like to see “The Riverline” project receive $10.5 million from President Joe Biden’s proposed highway bill. Are you wondering what’s “The Riverline”? The Western New York Land Conservancy – a not-for-profit land trust that is developing the project – describes The Riverline as a “a nature trail and greenway” that will transform the abandoned DL&W rail corridor and link downtown Buffalo to the Buffalo River.
The 1.5-mile greenway will traverse three working class Buffalo neighborhoods, Perry, The Old First Ward, and The Valley. While they have experienced economic and social stress for decades, the Land Conservancy envisions The Riverline assisting these neighborhoods build “a shared future of equity, opportunity, and prosperity.”
You can learn much about The Riverline concept – “a vision created by the community” – by visiting the Land Conservancy’s website and immersing yourself in the project’s design drafts. The renderings are detailed, informative, and intriguing. You’ll discover that the linear trail will have gateway entries, bridges, and two miles of paths. While conceived primarily as a refuge – with nature trails and wildlife views – it will include an abundance of gardens (of both the neighborhood and butterfly variety), as well as a variety of passive recreation areas.
But the zoning-law-attorney in me needed to experience something beyond concept drawings. I’ve learned from decades of assisting residents in communities throughout Western New York that nothing can beat a “site visit” if I want to truly begin to understand a neighborhood and imagine the impact of a proposed project. Even if the site visit is a mile-and-a-half long.
So, despite the daunting heat predicted for later that day, I spent 2 or 3 hours on June 7th walking the neighborhoods that will be touched by The Riverline, taking photos, and making mental connections between the colorful concept drawings and the real world. The images that follow will be “organized” into three groupings, The Del, The Junctures, and The Basswoods.
The Riverline begins at the corner of Moore and Miami streets, and proceeds in a southeasterly direction, initially on the north side of Miami Street, then on Miami’s south side, with an elevated berm eventually dropping to street level at Louisiana, Alabama, and Hamburg streets. Here’s the view looking east down Miami St. from Moore St.:
Just steps away, at Ohio St. and Moore, you’ll find the Buffalo River Fest Park:
And, as you peer down Miami St. from Moore, this is what is right behind you:
As you head easterly down Miami St., The Riverline will be on your left:
And here’s the scene on your right:
Here’s what awaits you at the northeast corner of Miami and Chicago St.:
There’s a pleasant surprise as you peak around the corner of that tired brick building:
Here are views heading east down Miami from Chicago:
Here’s the next cross street, Louisiana:
The Riverline path switches to the south side of Miami as you proceed easterly from Louisiana St.:
But the north side of Miami St. is much different, and makes you aware of the proximity of the future nature trail to a mixed industrial and residential neighborhood:
Directly across Miami St. from these homes:
Here’s the residential block looking north down Alabama from Miami:
And, here’s the view looking southeast across Alabama, south of Miami St.:
A lovely single-family home at 169 Alabama St.:
And, a reminder of where you are a block north of Miami, near the corner of South Park and Alabama St.:
TO BE CONTINUED.
With All Due Respect,