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The Climate Justice Movement in Western New York

Lynda Schneekloth, Sam Magavern — Jul 9, 2019

Although climate change requires an international response and will require national policies and actions, local geographies have to be involved because it that is where the harms are felt.  But how can local and regional areas respond to the climate crisis?  This article offers a story of the emergence of a climate justice movement in Buffalo and Western New York as an example of how one community is addressing climate change and its unequal impacts.

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Community Agenda Update: Midyear Progress Report

Andrea Ó Súilleabháin — Jun 27, 2019

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Land Use and Zoning Law: A Citizen's Guide

Arthur Giacalone — Dec 20, 2018

This handbook was written by Arthur Giacalone, an attorney with many years’ experience in land use law. It is a basic overview to help the public understand the zoning and land use development process. It should not be considered legal advice and is not meant as a substitute for a thorough review of relevant New laws, or consultation with a lawyer. Zoning and land use decisions have major impacts on the wellbeing of a community. The purpose of this handbook is to help individuals and …

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The Buffalo, New York Outer Harbor as a Cultural Landscape

Camden Miller, Annie Shentag, Kerry Traynor — Oct 31, 2018

"This cultural landscape report primarily focuses on the Buffalo Outer Harbor (Outer Harbor) located in Buffalo, New York, with an understanding that it is part of a much larger context including the Buffalo Inner Harbor (Inner Harbor) and Buffalo Middle Harbor (Middle Harbor) in order to provide context and a holistic understanding of the surrounding landscape. This cultural landscape report investigates and documents the landscape history and the existing conditions within the study area of …

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Just Transitions in School Food

Jessica Gilbert, Sarah Robert, Alexandra Schindel — Oct 18, 2018

This article examines the public school food system in Buffalo, New York, for a just transition (Movement Generation, n. d.). School food programs built on just transition characteristics democratize engagement, decentralize decisionmaking, diversify the economy, decrease consumption, and redistribute resources and power.

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Policies to Reduce Lead Exposure: Lessons from Buffalo and Rochester

Sam Magavern — Oct 11, 2018

Lead exposure remains a major issue in cities, such as Buffalo and Rochester, with concentrated, segregated poverty and old, deteriorated housing stock. Exploring and comparing local policies and programs in these two cities, the author suggests that increasing the number of proactive housing inspections in high-risk areas and forming a single-purpose non-profit group dedicated to lead education and advocacy are two valuable interventions. He recommends additional policy steps, such as more …

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Community-Owned Solar Power and Micro Grids

David Yovanoff — Aug 1, 2018

This policy brief discusses how community owned solar projects and micro grids offer a sustainable alternative to reliance on the large power grid and polluting fossil fuels. It explains how micro grids work and looks at how they are connected to and can improve standard power grids or macro grids.  

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Electric Buses for the NFTA

Zachary Persichini — Aug 1, 2018

This brief discusses many reasons that the NFTA should invest in using electric buses. After explaining the differences in bus technologies, it details numerous environmental, public health, and economic benefits of electric buses. The brief closes with case studies to show how other cities and counties across the world are beginning to use electric buses.

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Farm Fresh Foods: What to Know About Growing and Selling Produce in Buffalo

Colleen Roberts — Aug 1, 2018

It details local regulations on market and community gardens as well as rules for selling produce. It includes tips to find the right locations to plant food gardens and opportunities for education on growing and selling. It addresses topics such as plant selection and soil safety.

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Methane Leaks from Natural Gas Pipelines: Solutions for New York

Jordan Hawkins — Aug 1, 2018

This brief explores the problems with methane leaks from natural gas pipelines, the obstacles that prevent change, and solutions that have been proposed by New York State and others. While most methane leaks do not pose an immediate threat to safety, they can have serious and sometimes deadly consequences, and methane is a major contributor to climate change. New York has proposed a Methane Reduction Plan. The plan is a good start to combat the issue, but research reveals additional tools to …

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Good Food Buffalo Policy Brief

Jessica Gilbert — Jun 26, 2018

This policy brief provides a snapshot of the current status of school food at Buffalo Public Schools and several ongoing school food improvement initiatives.

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Erie County Commits to Paris: How Erie County Can Meet US Target Reductions For Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Mark Poloncarz — May 7, 2018

“Erie County can take action to ensure its part in protecting the well-being and future of our planet by promulgating a plan to implement the United States target contribution plan to the Paris Agreement, as it pertains to Erie County, and to take such further action as it may by law to enforce the target contribution goals set by the United States within the bounds of the County of Erie, State of New York.”

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Good Food Purchasing for the Buffalo Public Schools

Jessica Gilbert — Apr 24, 2018

This policy report was drafted by Jessica Gilbert, research associate at PPG and PhD Candidate in the University at Buffalo’s Department of Geography.It provides an initial overview of the current status of school food at Buffalo Public Schools and many of the ongoing school food improvement initiatives. Framed within the Good Food Purchasing Program’s core values (local economies, nutrition, labor, environmental sustainability, and animal welfare), this report documents the …

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Urban Expressway Removal in Buffalo: The Historical Context

Daniel Cadzow — Mar 30, 2018

This policy brief was drafted by Daniel Cadzow, Policy Fellow at PPG and an advocate for environmental justice and equitable traffic infrastructure.  

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Planning the City of Good (and New) Neighbours: Refugees' Experiences of the Food Environment in Buffalo, New York

Samina Raja, Heather Orom, Isok Kim, Roberto O. Diaz Del Carpio, Rosie Devito, Hijab Khan, Aye Bay Na Sa, Alexandra Judelsohn — Feb 8, 2018

The United States has resettled an average of 62,000 refugees per year over the pastdecade, one-quarter of whom originate from Burma. Although refugees from Burmasometimes migrate from places lacking food-related resources, their resettlement in theUnited States, where processed foods are abundant, may have unanticipated negativedietary and health consequences. Studies suggest that refugees decrease their intake offruit and vegetables after living in the United States for a certain length of …

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Urban Design Project

Dec 31, 2017

The UB Regional Institute and Urban Design Project have officially merged under the UB Regional Institute name. Our long established history in the region and track record of success in public policy and urban planning/design, our professional staff, affiliated faculty and graduate students, our position as the research enterprise of the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, and our strong connection to the University at large, are our greatest assets. This is what sets us …

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Starting a School Recycling Program

Buffalo Recycling Alliance — Oct 20, 2017

The Buffalo Recycling Alliance compiled a list of foundational aspects and resources to start a school recycling program.

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Recycling Policies For Businesses 2017

Buffalo Recycling Alliance — Sep 27, 2017

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PUSH Buffalo's Green Development Zone: a Model for New Economy Community Development

Sam Magavern, Skye Hart — Jun 29, 2017

2008 marks the year that PUSH Buffalo founded the Green Development Zone in Buffalo’s West Side. Encompassing 25 square blocks, the Green Development Zone (GDZ) is an area that PUSH is making more environmentally and economically sustainable. PUSH stands for People United for Sustainable Housing, and it is a non-profit corporation that uses a unique combination of community organizing, policy advocacy, and neighborhood redevelopment.  

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Create a Signature Park on the Outer Harbor: Community Agenda Plank Video

UB Media Studies — Jun 27, 2017

In the spring of 2017, students from Professor Dorothea Braemer's class in the UB Media Studies department collaborated with community organizers to create videos on 4 of the 2017 Community Agenda plank issues.

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Lead Poisoning: Triggers and Thresholds

Adam Hains — Feb 10, 2017

Hains reviews the basic framework of federal and state laws aimed at preventing lead poisoning.  Given the growing body of research that even small amounts of lead cause can decrease cognitive performance and increase behavioral problems, Hains suggests that New York State lower its threshold of concern and supply additional funding, so that more children receive case management services and more units get their lead problems abated.

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Building the Blue Economy

Sam Magavern, Sarah Maurer, Jen Kaminsky — Dec 31, 2016

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The Public Service Commission Should Deny National Fuel's Request for a Rate Hike

Sarah Wooton — Oct 26, 2016

National Fuel (NF) has requested a rate hike of $41.7 million per year.  The Public Service Commission (PSC) should deny this request because: It will unduly burden low-income customers, who are already struggling to pay their utility bills; NF is a very profitable company, with skyrocketing executive compensation and large dividends; As noted by the PSC’s auditors and other experts, many of NF’s claimed expenses are questionable; and Instead of investing in additional fossil …

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A Plan that Bears Fruit: A Community Land Trust and Other Tools For Neighborhood Revitalization in the Fruit Belt

Jun 22, 2016

On December 1, 2015, the City of Buffalo’s Common Council passed a resolution placing a moratorium on the sale of city-owned lots in the Fruit Belt neighborhood.  The Fruit Belt includes the area enclosed by Cherry Street, Jefferson Avenue, Best Street, Main Street, Goodell Street, and Michigan Avenue – a neighborhood where the City of Buffalo owns over 200 vacant lots.  The City promised not to sell lots to developers until “a duly approved strategic plan” had …

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Energy Poverty in Buffalo's West Side: PUSH, National Fuel, and the Fight for Equitable Energy Access

Anthony Hilbert — Jun 16, 2016

Energy poverty, the condition of households that cannot adequately heat their homes, is a chronic problem resulting from low income, high fuel prices, and poorly insulated, energy inefficient houses.  In addition to financial strain, energy poverty causes severe social and health problems for people living in under-heated homes (Boardman 1991; 2013).  Despite its seriousness and pervasiveness, energy poverty has been ignored too often in the US.  Those that suffer through energy …

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A Planning Board for Erie County

Apr 13, 2016

The Partnership for the Public Good (PPG) unites 212organizations working to build a better western New York.  Each year, the partners vote on their top policy priorities for the coming year; these priorities become the PPG Community Agenda.  The very first Community Agenda, formed in 2008, included a provision calling for a planning board in Erie County.  Since that time, the reasons for a planning board have only become more compelling.  There is a reason that every other …

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Buffalo Niagara at the Crossroads: How State Energy Policies can Lead Western New York to a Green, Prosperous, and Just Future

Mar 16, 2016

Buffalo Niagara stands at a climate crossroads.  Looking down one road, we can see a chance to rebuild impoverished neighborhoods with quality jobs, green affordable housing, community-owned renewable energy, urban farms, and community gardens, building on the highly successful example of the Green Development Zone on the city’s West Side.  Looking down another road, we can see an inequitable region made even more unjust and vulnerable by climate change impacts such as heat …

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Buffalo's Proposed Unified Development Ordinance

Jessie Fisher — Mar 1, 2016

For the first time since 1954, the City of Buffalo New York is undertaking a comprehensive review and complete overhaul of its zoning code, the result of which has been popularly dubbed “the Green Code.”  The City, particularly Mayor Brown and the leadership and staff at the Office of Strategic Planning are to be commended for undertaking this important task.  While there are many positive aspects of this effort, some changes are needed in order to ensure that the final …

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Redesigning the Scajaquada Expressway

Daniel Cadzow, Justin Booth — Feb 8, 2016

The Scajaquada Expressway was constructed in the early 1960’s and is now at the end of its functional life.  The redesign and rebuilding of the roadway offers the opportunity to make it less dangerous and more compatible with the natural, historic, and cultural fabric of the parks, parkways, neighborhoods, schools, colleges, and museums it serves and impacts.

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Greening the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

Sep 1, 2015

The Medical Campus is dedicated to improving health, and a sustainable campus will improve the health of the patients, visitors, workers, and neighbors of the campus, as well as that of the general public.  Sustainability measures such as improving energy efficiency, promoting healthy transit, and reducing waste will provide long-term cost savings, freeing up dollars for research, treatment, and education.  The Campus is well-poised to become a national model for the types of …

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One Region Forward A New Way To Plan For Buffalo Niagara

University at Buffalo Regional Institute — Jul 20, 2015

This document represents the culmination of three years of research, community engagement, partnership building and planning under the banner of One Region Forward. Within the pages of this plan, you will find the major research findings of what the data tells us about where the region is today and expressions of thousands of citizen voices on the direction people in the region want to see Buffalo Niagara go. Proposed strategies and actions, built by a team of 100+ subject matter experts, are …

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Traffic Equity in Buffalo, New York

Sam Magavern, Daniel Cadzow — Jul 14, 2015

Traffic is not good or bad –it’s good and bad.  For example, traffic serves stores, restaurants, and cultural organizations.  However, traffic, especially vehicular traffic, also causes property damage, personal injury, pollution, illness, and premature death.  So, for example, by channeling motor vehicle traffic on expressways and major urban arterials, we are concentrating the bad in some places but also starving other areas of the good.  We need to build a …

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Initiatives for a Stronger Community

Mark Poloncarz — Mar 31, 2015

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Composting Food and Yard Waste: A Guide for Individuals, Non-Profits, and the City of Buffalo

Rebecca Mize — Oct 11, 2012

In 2010, the United States added 68 million tons of food and yard waste to landfills, accounting for roughly 34% of all municipal solid waste.  Lowering the amount of this waste in a city’s garbage saves the taxpayers money and protects the environment.  Composting is an easy and inexpensive solution.  Instead of throwing out food and yard waste, homeowners, not-for-profits, businesses and local government can reuse it to create compost, a useful product that can be …

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How to Recycle Special Items in Buffalo-Niagara

Catholic Care for Creation Committee of Buffalo — Sep 27, 2012

Alphabetized special product listing and where you can recycling it in Buffalo-Niagara.

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Recycling: an Easy Way to Save Money, Create Jobs, and Help the Environment

Aug 10, 2012

The City has to pay to dispose of its garbage, but it gets paid a rebate for its recyclables.  For this reason, the City saves about $150,000 for every 3,500 tons of waste recycled, and every one percent increase in the recycling rate saves the City between $70,000 and $100,000.  That means that every time you recycle something instead of throwing it away, you’re helping to keep taxes and fees lower.

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Reshaping Buffalo's Recycling Initiatives

Sam Magavern, Lauren Schwarzenholzer — Apr 5, 2012

The city of Buffalo recycles approximately eight percent of its curbside waste per year.  This is far below the national average of 27% and pales by comparison with cities such as San Francisco, which recycles at a rate of 72%.  Within Western New York, there is also great disparity in regard to recycling.  The Town of Tonawanda, to give one example, currently recycles 13.5% of its curbside waste.

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Massachusetts Avenue Project: Urban Farming and Job Skills for Youth

Rebecca Mize — Apr 1, 2012

Massachusetts Avenue Project (“MAP”) seeks to make food systems more local and inclusive.  MAP nurtures the growth of a diverse and equitable community food system to promote local economic opportunities, access to affordable and nutritious food, and social-change education.  MAP grows fresh produce on its urban farm on the West Side of Buffalo.  Annually, MAP employs roughly 50 at-risk youth to transform the community’s food system.  The programs reflect …

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Recycling by Businesses Creates Jobs, Saves Energy, Reduces Pollution, and…it’s the law!

Apr 1, 2012

In accordance with state law, the City of Buffalo requires all businesses to recycle paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, and some metal.  Violations are punishable by a fine between $25 and $250, and/or imprisonment for 15 days or community service.  Many local businesses may not be aware of this law, and they may not be recycling at all, or they may be recycling only some of their recyclable materials.  It’s time to spread the word about recycling, not just because …

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Recycling by Multi-Family Residences Creates Jobs, Saves Energy, Reduces Pollution, and…it's the law!

Apr 1, 2012

Since 1996, in accordance with state law, the City of Buffalo has required all multi-family residences to recycle paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, and metal.  Each complex must provide and maintain a recycling collection area, and occupants must then put their recyclables in the appropriate receptacles Violations are punishable by a fine between $25 and $250, and/or imprisonment for 15 days or community service.  Many property owners and managers may not be aware of this law, and …

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Buffalo's Sprawl: Fiscal, Environmental, and Social Costs

Feb 16, 2012

Rolf Pendall has aptly summarized Buffalo’s development pattern as “sprawl without growth.”  Between 1950 and 2000, the region gained only 80,881 people, but the urbanized area nearly tripled, going from 123 square miles to 367 square miles.  The city of Buffalo’s population declined from 580,132 to 292,648 (a loss of 287,484), while the rest of Erie County grew from 319,106 to 657,617 (a gain of 338,511).  From 2000 to 2010, the trend continued, with the …

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State Funding for the NFTA Reduces Pollution, Fights Poverty, and Promotes Economic Development

Feb 7, 2012

New York State should support public transit in Buffalo-Niagara by increasing Transit Operating Assistance and increasing the NFTA’s allocation of low-cost electric power.  There is no more effective tool for reducing pollution, cutting poverty, and promoting economic development than affordable and comprehensive mass transit.  In recent years, New York State has been cutting its funding to the NFTA, even as the NFTA’s costs have been rising.  State funding has been …

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Localization in Buffalo

Kathleen Moriarty — Dec 31, 2011

Generally speaking, localization is the idea of keeping as much of a region’s resources and energy as local as possible - business, employment, agricultural yields, and economic goods.  Localization also includes an effort to reduce the distance that goods travel between production and consumption.

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Buffalo's Community Bicycle Workshop

Marshall Bertram — Oct 30, 2011

The “CBW” is a cooperative learning workshop that provides a facility, tools, and education to those interested in bicycles.  The workshop provides affordable bicycles and a free place to learn and thus increases bicycle awareness.  The CBW is a program of Green Options Buffalo, which promotes biking, walking, public transit, and other healthy and sustainable transportation options.  The CBW refurbishes and sells roughly 109 bicycles per year for an average of $85 a …

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Front Park's Past and Future

Lawrence Bice — Oct 30, 2011

Front Park is a 26-acre urban park in Buffalo, New York.  The park entrance is located on Porter Avenue.  The park is bounded on the west by interstate 190, on the north by the Peace Bridge truck plaza and on the north by Busti Avenue and the adjacent Columbus Park-Prospect Hill neighborhood.  Front Park is part of Buffalo’s Olmsted park system.  The park system takes its name from its most prominent original designer, Frederick Law Olmsted Sr., a nationally renowned …

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Monitoring Pollution in our Communities: The Clean Air Coalition of Western New York

Kathleen Gabel — Oct 30, 2011

The Clean Air Coalition of Western New York (CACWNY) is a community health and advocacy group working to ensure local residents’ right to a healthy environment.  The group organizes media campaigns, provides resources, and designs programs to help reduce pollution in local communities.

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Reducing Disposable Bag Use

Rick Ahrens — Oct 30, 2011

Plastic shopping bags were introduced to the consumer market about 25 years ago.  Since then, they’ve become-literally-a ubiquitous part of the American landscape.  Every year, between 500 billion and one trillion disposable plastic shopping bags are consumed worldwide.  In the United States, 100 billion plastic bags are used each year, costing retailers $4 billion, which is passed on to the consumer in the price of goods.

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Vacant Lot Greening Options in Buffalo

Robert Grimaldi — Oct 30, 2011

The main goals of PUSH (People United for Sustainable Housing) and its development subsidiary, the Buffalo Neighborhood Stabilization Corporation (BNSC), are to mobilize residents to create strong neighborhoods with quality affordable housing, to expand local hiring opportunities, and to advance economic justice in Buffalo.

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Refugees, Food Insecurity, and Community Gardens

Dorian Rolston — Aug 10, 2011

Nearly nine in ten resettled refugee households endure food insecurity, meaning that they are without “access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.”  Because western New York resettles hundreds of refugees per year, many of them on Buffalo’s west side, we have a unique opportunity to combat refugee food insecurity.

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Greening Buffalo's Vacant Lots

Christopher Szczygiel — Jul 5, 2011

Greening vacant lots is one of the most cost effective ways for Buffalo to improve its neighborhoods.  At a bare minimum, Buffalo can combat blight, raise property values, raise property tax revenue, lower crime rates and improve residents’ quality of life with a simple program to clean up, green up, and maintain vacant lots.  Vacant lots are also prime locations for parks, playgrounds, bike trails, walking paths, community gardens and urban farms.  Greening lots can …

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A Green Building Ordinance for Buffalo

Donna Budniewski — May 27, 2011

All new building projects in the City of Buffalo totaling 5,000 square feet or more that are city-owned, city-financed or city/state subsidized should be LEED-Silver certified.  The City of Buffalo should mitigate its contribution to global warming and reduce reliance on energy and natural resources while improving the quality of life or its residents, employees, and visitors.  Multiple federal/state funding incentives and significant tax credits exist for going green.  Green …

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Looking for Trickledown Under the Peace Bridge: A Critique of the Public Bridge Authority's Economic Impact Claims

Apr 19, 2011

The Public Bridge Authority’s economic impact analysis, presented in its environmental impact statement for the Peace Bridge Expansion Project, offers a grossly exaggerated impression of the project’s benefits.  The Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority has proposed a significant expansion to the operations of the international crossing between Buffalo and Fort Erie known as the Peace Bridge.  The plans presented to the public in 2007 would radically alter a five …

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Cooling Global Warming Through Transit

Lynn King — Mar 17, 2011

For generations, cars have been cool because they are perceived to correlate to independence and wealth.  People’s attachment to their cars is one of the most cited examples of why government doesn’t want to invest in mass transit.  Accompanying this ideology is an underlying fear and distaste for buses.  Recently, Cleveland purposely avoided such a stigma in naming its new bus line “The Health Line” and referring to it always as rapid transit.  Yet, …

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How City Hall Can Foster the Urban Farming Revolution in Buffalo

Michael Raleigh — Mar 17, 2011

The City of Buffalo has made strides in recent years to make urban farming an accepted use of vacant land.  However, the fact remains that the City is unwilling to “take risks” in this area.  There are a number of policies that restrict the freedom of farmers to get access to land, gain long term land security, grow a diversity of foods (including animals), and sell the food.  In order for farming to really take hold and have a transformative effect on the local food …

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Policies to Encourage Biking and Walking in Buffalo

Paul Fusco-Gessick — Mar 17, 2011

Despite having a climate that can make Siberia look attractive at time, Buffalo has a surprisingly large number of citizens who ride a bicycle or walk to work.  But the City and Erie County have not done much to meet this high demand.  Though there are a few streets within the City that do have marked bike lanes the vast majority do not.  A similar problem exists in the suburbs; suburban roads frequently lack sidewalks, let alone bike lanes, though bicyclists can (and do) ride on …

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What Climate Change Means for Buffalo

Sam Magavern — Mar 17, 2011

Why should state and local governments respond to a problem with so many national and international ramifications? As we have seen, Buffalo and New York have much to lose from climate change, and much to gain from preventing it.  Moreover, it is clearer than ever that states and localities will have to lead the way.  In the past two years, the Democrats have failed to pass meaningful climate change legislation despite controlling the Presidency, Senate, and House.  The chances …

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Green Municipal Building Ordinances

Donna Budniewski — Oct 27, 2010

In 2006 the town of Babylon, NY adopted a local law that requires LEED certification for “new construction of commercial buildings, office buildings, industrial buildings, multiple residence, or senior citizen multiple residence over 4,000 square feet”.  As an incentive, the town will refund certification fees paid by developers if a new project achieves LEED status.

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Increasing Use of Public Transit

Lynn King — Oct 27, 2010

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) provides bus and rail service to Erie and Niagara Counties.  In Erie County, this metro service is delivered via 38 interwoven bus routes and one light rail line.  Service extends out to many of Buffalo’s outer-ring suburbs but is concentrated within City limits and runs most frequently during peak hours.  The NFTA also provides special transit service to disabled riders, riders attending special events, and metro pass …

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Urban Farming in Buffalo: Economic Development and Climate Change Strategy

Michael Raleigh — Oct 27, 2010

Our food system is heavily industrialized, which means it consumes an incredible amount of resources, including energy derived from burning fossil fuels.  By one estimate, the food system takes 10 calories of energy to produce one calorie of food.  The phrase “eating oil” refers to our use of oil to power the machines that plant seeds, spray pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, spread fertilizer, operate irrigation pumps, till the soil, harvest and process crops, and …

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Environmental Data for Buffalo

Sep 7, 2010

Environmental fact sheet outlining environmental data in Buffalo.  This includes: land use; vehicles; global warming; sprawl; water quality; parks, trees, lots; air quality; energy; garbage and recycling. 

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Healthy Eating and Active Living: For Children in the City of Buffalo

Kailee Neuner — Jul 1, 2010

Children and youth are the future of our community and the nation. Children and youth living in Buffalo face a number of challenges that threaten their well-being and quality of life. A key among these challenges is children’s limited access to environments that facilitate healthy eating and active living behavior. Healthy Kids Healthy Communities-Buffalo (HKHC-Buffalo)2, a collaborative effort to promote healthy eating and active living among Buffalo’s children, is pleased to …

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Transportation and Low Wage Work

Michael Raleigh — Apr 28, 2010

Living on a low wage can be extremely difficult, yet the number of low wage jobs in metro Buffalo grew by 17% from 2004 to 2008.  This means that many more people are struggling to figure out how to survive with less money.  It also means that it is becoming increasingly difficult for many people to afford transportation.  As the location of employment has dispersed throughout the region, transportation has become a basic need similar to food, clothing, and shelter.  A …

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Food Environment, Built Environment, and Women's BMI: Evidence from Erie County, New York

Samina Raja, Alex Ticoalu, Leonard Epstein, James Roemmich, Li Yin, Pavan Yadav, Changxing Ma — Apr 20, 2010

The authors present the results of a neighborhood-scaled exploratory study that tests the association of the food environment and the built environment with women’s body mass index (BMI) in Erie County, New York.  The proximity of women’s homes to a supermarket relative to a convenience store is associated with lower BMI.  A diverse land use mix in a neighborhood is positively associated with women’s BMI, especially when restaurants dominate nonresidential land …

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Environmental Health and Racial Disparities in Buffalo

Sam Magavern, Partnership for the Public Good — Dec 31, 2009

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Buffalo Sewer Authority

Eric Vogan — May 3, 2009

The Buffalo Sewer Authority is a public benefit corporation created by the New York State legislature in 1935 to clean wastewater before it is released into the environment.  The BSA also maintains the storm drains for the City of Buffalo.  The BSA serves the residents and businesses of the Buffalo area as well as some neighboring communities.  Currently, around 98,000 Buffalo residents and nearly 400 businesses in the City of Buffalo are served by the BSA. 

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Buffalo Water Authority

Amanda Schieber — May 3, 2009

The Buffalo Municipal Water Finance Authority Act governs the Water Board.  In general, the Buffalo Water Authority is empowered to establish, fix, revise, change, collect, and enforce the payments of all fees, rates, rents, and other service charges for the use of the services furnished by the system.  The Buffalo Water Authority is in charge of setting rates and of capital improvements to the system as a whole over $10,000.  Some specific powers of the Water Board: terminate …

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Erie County Sewer Division and Sewer Districts

Nathan Kerstein — May 3, 2009

Each district is a self-supporting entity with the power to assess fees and levy local charges.  New York state law gives nearly complete autonomy to the county to run their agencies.  The specific agencies are empowered to assemble data relating to the water resources available in the county, number and location of wells, contaminants that are present in the supply of the water in the county, sewage collection and related issues that may arise.  Erie County has made the decision …

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Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA)

Michelle Liberty — May 3, 2009

NFTA provides transportation services in the Buffalo-Niagara region.  It oversees the Metro Bus and Rail System, the NFTA Boat Harbor, the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, and the Niagara Falls International Airport.  NFTA is governed by a state law, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Act which created the Authority to further and improve transportation services within the Niagara Frontier. 

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County Planning Boards

Nathan Kerstein — May 2, 2009

The main focus of the board should be to implement the Framework for Regional Growth and to combat sprawl in the region.  From 1980 to 2000 the developed area grew thirty-eight percent, even though population fell nearly six percent.  It has been estimated by the county that better planned development could save $800 million.

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Sustainability Offices for Local Governments

Robert Coly — May 2, 2009

The most widely recognized definition of sustainability is found in the 1987 Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development.  It says that sustainability means “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  The United States’ Environmental Protection Agency also provides a definition of sustainability.  The EPA says that sustainability is “a new way of thinking about an …

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Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority

Robert Goodwin — Dec 8, 2008

The Authority is an international entity, created out of an agreement between the State of New York, with the consent of the United States Congress, and the Canadian Government.  The Authority’s mission is to be known as the premier Canada/US international border crossing.  The Authority strives to provide excellent customer service and be an effective channel for trade and tourism between the two nations.  The Authority governs the Peace Bridge.  The …

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Brownfield Cleanup and Development in Buffalo, New York

Caitlin Connelly — Nov 8, 2008

Brownfields are abandoned or underutilized properties for which expansion, development, or reuse may be complicated by environmental contamination, such as the presence of a hazardous substance or pollutant.  Examples of brownfields include the former sites of factories, mills, rail yards, gas stations, and dry cleaners.

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NYSERDA: New York State Energy Research and Development Authority

Jenna Piasecki — Oct 3, 2008

There are four regional offices located in Albany, New York City, Buffalo, and West Valley.  The major staff is broken into three subgroups.  Energy Analysis has 21 staff members, most with the title of project manager.  Energy Efficiency Services has 34 staff members at the main office, 5 in New York City, and 1 in Buffalo.  The Residential Efficiency and Affordability Program staffs 29 employees at the main office, 4 in New York City, and 2 in Buffalo.  The Research …

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Easy Ways to Lower your Utility Bills

Aug 7, 2008

The average home in Buffalo can expect energy bills of $2,267 per year.  An energy-efficient home in Buffalo will have much lower bills – only $1,451 per year.  That is a savings of $816.  Here are some simple steps you can take to start saving money on your energy bills.

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Greening Buffalo: What Local Governments Can Do

Sam Magavern — May 2, 2008

Almost every city in the Unites States is undertaking a significant green initiative.  Policy makers, advocates, and citizens are realizing that the future of cities lies in sustainability, and that the future of the environment depends on urban policy.

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Greening the Richardson Complex

Feb 25, 2008

One of the Platform’s planks calls on Buffalo to meet the commitment it made under the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement to reduce its carbon emissions.  Buildings are the single largest source of carbon emissions in Buffalo, due to the carbon released in the processes of heating them, cooling them, and providing them with electricity.  The renovation of a large, old complex such as the Richardson Complex offers an important opportunity to reduce carbon emissions and aid …

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Position Statement on Route Five and the Peace Bridge

Feb 19, 2008

The Partnership for the Public Good rejects the Department of Transportation, the Public Bridge Authority, and the Federal Highway Administration's 'preferred alternatives', in favor of the community's preferred alternatives for Peace Bridge expansion and Route Five reconstruction.  In the Route Five and Peace Bridge projects, Buffalo has within its reach two opportunities to reinvigorate our waterfront and create real wealth and opportunity for existing and future residents and …

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Regionalism Revisited: The Effort to Streamline Governance in Buffalo and Erie County, New York

Craig Bucki — Jan 16, 2008

During the first half of the twentieth century, burgeoning grain transshipment trade and heavy manufacturing spurred the bustling economy of Buffalo, the eastern-most port on the shores of Lake Erie and the second-largest city in the State of New York.  With the jobs that these industries provided came residents to occupy them.  In the 1900 census, Buffalo ranked as the eighth-largest city in the United States, with a population of over 350,000.  By 1950, Buffalo could claim over …

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Beyond Food Deserts: Measuring and Mapping Racial Disparities in Neighborhood Food Environments

Samina Raja, Pavan Yadav, Changxing Ma — Jan 1, 2008

Given the emerging focus on improving food environments and food systems through planning, this article investigates racial disparities in neighborhood food environments.  An empirical case of Erie County, New York tests the hypothesis that people belonging to different racial groups have access to different neighborhood food destinations.  Using multiple methods—Gini coefficients and Poisson regression—we show that contrary to studies elsewhere in the country there are no …

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The Buffalo Olmsted Park System: Plan for the 21st Century

Jan 1, 2008

The System Plan for the Buffalo Olmsted Park System is a blueprint for the future of this unique “cultural landscape”.  The Buffalo Olmstead Parks Conservancy, charged with the management and operations of these parks since 2004, initiated an inclusive and comprehensive planning process with the goal of restoring the system and enhancing the parks and parkways in ways that respect their status as important neighborhood, regional, national, and international resources.  The …

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A Proposal to Create the Buffalo Green Land Bank

Robert Quinn — Dec 4, 2007

For many years the city of Buffalo has had far more housing units than households.  Buffalo has experienced a precipitous population decline over the past fifty years.  From 580,000 in 1950, Buffalo residents declined to 462,000 by 1970.  In 2006, the population had dropped to 276,059.  This flight from the city, a product of both suburbanization and the decline of the Rust Belt, has resulted in numerous vacant properties.  With a weak housing market and continued …

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Green Infrastructure Can Combat Combined Sewer Overflows

Dec 4, 2007

Every year millions of gallons of raw sewage are dumped directly into our local waterways here in Buffalo, NY.  Combined sewer overflows (or CSO’s) are the cause of this environmental and human health hazard, and they occur an average of 68 times per year, whenever we have heavy rain or snow.  Currently the Buffalo Sewer Authority (BSA) is negotiating with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency …

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Is a Green Building an Energy Efficient Building?

Steven Mindy — Nov 27, 2007

Is a “green building” an energy efficient building? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is “not necessarily.”  As the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) notes, green building rating systems are flexible, and buildings with poor energy efficiency may be certified “green.”  Accordingly, how do green rating systems address energy efficiency and what rating system is best suited to controlling operating costs in affordable …

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Methane and Cogeneration Technology: Renewable Energy Opportunities for Erie County Wastewater Treatment Plants

Priscilla Hampton — Nov 27, 2007

This proposal encourages the Erie County Division of Sewerage Management and the Buffalo Sewer Authority (BSA) to explore opportunities to invest in combined heat and power technology at their wastewater treatment facilities.  As energy costs continue to rise, use of methane-fueled CHP systems will become more and more cost-effective.  Furthermore, facilities will increase energy efficiency, utilize renewable biofuels, decrease utility costs over time, and limit our dependence on …

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Local Advantage in a Global Era: Making Local Procurement Work for New York

Amy Kedron — Nov 13, 2007

Around the country municipalities have enacted local procurement preference laws, which give a competitive advantage to local firms bidding on public contracts.  Much of this legislation has been informed by a broader “local first” movement.  Those in this movement champion the many benefits of conducting business on a small local scale.

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Weatherization: A Step Towards Green Cities

Rebecca Town — Nov 1, 2007

Home heating is a basic necessity that comes at a very high cost, particularly for residents in the city of Buffalo.  Weatherization is an efficient and affordable method for reducing energy costs by increasing home energy efficiency.  Existing buildings are renovated to increase energy efficiency and decrease energy consumption.  Promotion of weatherization programs provides the City with an essential opportunity to financially empower its most vulnerable residents, who are the …

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PUSH Buffalo's Community Housing Co-operative: A Case Study in Green Building Rehabilitation

Mary O'Donnell — Apr 19, 2007

Between March 2006 and March 2007, a group of community organizers at People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) used green building methods to create affordable, safe, and sustainable housing by rehabilitating a formerly abandoned four unit building on Buffalo’s West Side.  Organizations and agencies involved in affordable housing can learn from PUSH’s example and should replicate or support similar projects because greener and more affordable housing will benefit the …

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Weatherization Assistance and Low-Income Households

Constance Giessert — Apr 19, 2007

Weatherization is one of the most efficient affordable housing tools available to communities and residents.  Weatherization is defined as the practice of protecting a building from the elements (such as sunlight, precipitation and wind) and modifying the building to reduce energy consumption and maximize energy efficiency.  Traditionally, weatherization processes have focused on heating and cooling as methods to conserve energy.  Currently, however, weatherization is expanding …

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Niagara River Greenway Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement (Part I)

Niagara River Greenway Commission — Apr 4, 2007

The Niagara River Greenway is a world-class corridor of places, parks and landscapes that celebrates and interprets our unique natural, cultural, recreational, scenic, and heritage resources and provides access to and connections between these important resources while giving rise to economic opportunities for the region.

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Niagara River Greenway Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement (Part II)

Niagara River Greenway Commission — Apr 4, 2007

The Niagara River Greenway is a world-class corridor of places, parks and landscapes that celebrates and interprets our unique natural, cultural, recreational, scenic, and heritage resources and provides access to and connections between these important resources while giving rise to economic opportunities for the region.

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Niagara River Greenway Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement (Part III)

Niagara River Greenway Commission — Apr 4, 2007

The Niagara River Greenway is a world-class corridor of places, parks and landscapes that celebrates and interprets our unique natural, cultural, recreational, scenic, and heritage resources and provides access to and connections between these important resources while giving rise to economic opportunities for the region.

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Home Energy Conservation: Affordable Housing and the Environment

Katie Woodruff — Apr 1, 2007

For low-income homeowners and renters, paying the utility bills every month can become a struggle.  Even with assistance from programs such as Erie County Social Services HEAP program, many find paying those bills takes up a large portion of one’s income, decreasing funds available for other necessities.  Finding inexpensive ways to decrease utility bills can save money that could be better used elsewhere.  One way to reduce utility bills is to conserve energy.  Not …

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The Potential of Deconstruction in Buffalo, New York

Erik Faleski — Apr 1, 2007

Building deconstruction is not a novel idea but represents an ancient practice reinvented for our modern era.  Deconstruction is an environmentally friendly (yet fiscally remunerative) alternative to traditional building demolition.  Deconstruction is: [t]he process of carefully dismantling a building in order to salvage components for reuse and recycling.  Typically, a small team of skilled and licensed professionals disassemble the structure, setting aside the valuable …

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A Growing City: Hydroponic Farming in Buffalo

Cristen Manning — Jan 1, 2007

The City of Buffalo is need of revitalization. Vacant lots, a declining economy, widespread poverty, and a lack of employment opportunities are just a few of the issues that the City needs to address.  The City should consider implementing innovative policies, such as investing in and operating a hydroponic urban farm.  Hydroponic farming is highly productive and requires a fraction of the resources of traditional farming.  Although hydroponic farms are expensive to get started, …

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Don't Pay for your Neighbors' Garbage

Ryan Haggerty — Jan 1, 2007

The opportunities and benefits of recycling are under used in the City of Buffalo.  The city currently achieves a meager 7% diversion rate.  The rest of Erie County achieves a 42% diversion rate.  Clearly, a great deal of recyclable content is included in city household garbage.  Buffalo pays about $42 per ton of garbage it “tips” and it receives about $10 per ton of recyclable content it redeems.  Every ton of waste that households can divert from garbage …

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Integrating Deconstruction and Recycling Into the Demolition Process in Buffalo, NY

Tara Stahl — Jan 1, 2007

Buffalo’s Comprehensive Plan currently calls for the demolition of 10,000 buildings over a period of ten years.  While demolition contractors may recycle a small percentage of the waste created from demolitions, the process generates a great deal of waste that ends up in landfills.  Many of the materials that are thrown away after a building is demolished are either reusable or recyclable.  In order to lessen the negative environmental impact of building demolition, Buffalo …

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Residential Deconstruction in Buffalo: A Viable Alternative to Demolition

Sean Cooney — Jan 1, 2007

The problem of vacancy and abandonment manifests itself in many different ways.  Whether it is crime, decreasing property values, loss of tax revenue, neighborhood eyesores, or removing the condemned structures, the City of Buffalo is facing a monumental challenge both in resources and policy.  The deconstruction of abandoned homes offers opportunities for cost savings, environmental benefits, and economic development.  An alternative to demolition, deconstruction is the …

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Sustainable Roofs for Buffalo Schools

Andrew Zemrac — Jan 1, 2007

The Buffalo public school system, currently in the midst of a ten year, 1.1 billion dollar reconstruction project, has a unique opportunity to create sustainable, high performance schools.  Instead, the Joint Schools Construction Board has apparently decided to take a more conservative approach to the renovation plan, incorporating commendable, but limited initiatives such as updates to windows, lighting systems, heating systems, and exterior weatherization improvements.  This myopic …

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At Taxpayers' Expense

The League of Women Voters of Buffalo/Niagara — Oct 1, 2006

Planning and managing growth are fundamental responsibilities of any local government.  It should be recognized that sprawling development can actually be more costly in the long run, not only to a particular municipality but also to those around it that may be affected by its decisions.  Inter-municipal collaboration could curb costs and prevent actions that are detrimental to neighboring communities.  These are complex issues, and sprawl is just one of several components …

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Framework for Regional Growth

Oct 1, 2006

The absence of a region-wide vision for conservation, development, and public investment has become an increasingly central concern of the Region’s leaders.  For the past two to three decades—the last regional plan was completed in 1974—local and regional actions have occurred without the benefit of reference to a larger policy or planning framework.  Important decisions regarding the location and pace of development, investments in economic development, the …

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Left Behind: How Difficulties with Transportation are a Roadblock to Self-Sufficiency

Homeless Alliance of Western New York — Sep 1, 2006

The Transportation Task Force, a project of the Homeless Alliance of Western New York, completed a transportation needs assessment among homeless and very low-income persons at sites around Erie County.  The assessment was in survey form and was administered to approximately 800 people over a 5-day period.  From earlier focus groups with homeless individuals and the workers who directly serve them, the Task Force found that problems with affording public transportation and with …

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Vacant Land, Buildings and Facilities Asset Management Project

Jan 1, 2004

The purpose of the Vacant Land, Buildings and Facilities Asset Management Project (Project) is to develop recommendations for the sustainable, economical and productive conservation, development and management of vacant land, buildings and facilities throughout the City of Buffalo.  The Vacant Land, Buildings and Facilities report is a product of an effort designed to provide an overview of an array of related subjects and issues deemed important by Project participants.  The results …

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The Peace Bridge Chronicles

Bruce Jackson — Dec 31, 2003

Many articles regarding the Peace Bridge written by Bruce Jackson.

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Sprawl Without Growth: The Upstate Paradox

Rolf Pendall — Oct 1, 2003

People throughout the world place a strong value on the landscape, natural environment, and compact settlement pattern of Upstate New York.  The Adirondack and Catskill mountains, the Finger Lakes, the Lake Ontario shoreline, Lake Champlain, and the Thousand Islands attract hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.  At the scale of the entire landscape, farms and forests define the edges of Upstate’s cities, villages, and hamlets and form a distinctive matrix of land …

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The Health Status of the Near East Side Black Community: A Study of the Wellness and Neighborhood Conditions Buffalo, New York

UB Center for Research in Primary Care, The Black Leadership Forum, Center for Urban Studies, UB — Jul 26, 2000

The purpose of this study is to gain insight into black community wellness by examining a number of health, social, economic, cultural, and lifestyle issues that affect the health status of Buffalo’s Near East Side black community.

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