© 2024 Western New York Public Broadcasting Association

140 Lower Terrace
Buffalo, NY 14202

Mailing Address:
Horizons Plaza P.O. Box 1263
Buffalo, NY 14240-1263

Buffalo Toronto Public Media | Phone 716-845-7000
WBFO Newsroom | Phone: 716-845-7040
Your NPR Station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Turning bronwfield into park land in historic Union Ship Canal

A 22-acre waterfront park is complete in the city's Ship Canal Commons. 

A brownfield site near Buffalo's waterfront off Route 5 was transformed into a new, public green space along the Union Ship Canal at the Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park.

"If you build it, in the right place, with the right incentives and right amenities, and infrastructure, they will come," said Thomas A. Kucharski, President and CEO of Buffalo Niagara Enterprise.

Kurcharski was one of the many local leaders on hand to celebrate the new site Monday. City, state and county dollars were combined to create the 9-point-$2-million brownfield transformation.

The site was decontaminated. Fish habitats and wildlife were restored on the southern end of the Tift Nature Preserve. State Department of Environmental Conservation regional director Abby Snyder said the project took ten years along the historic ship canal.

"It was a brown, vacant, overgrown parcel of property. Now we've realized great economic development. We've had companies move in and we've built this beautiful park," said Snyder.

State DEC Commissioner Joe Martens traveled to Buffalo for the opening of the park and believes the project is a home rum.

"The biggest criteria in my mind for a successful open space project was, how many different boxes you could check off, how many different criteria did you accomplish or goals did you accomplish in the course of the project. Well I can tell you this one would be a ten out of ten," said Martens.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said it's a major example of brownfield redevelopment.

"Actually we are a national story in Buffalo when it comes to brownfield reclamation. If you look at what this community has down in the last six years in terms of the cleanup and remediation of brownfields, we are one of the leaders in states in the United States on the east coast in terms of remediation," said Mayor Brown.

Commissioner Martens said that the project will be an example to be followed.

"This place, I have to say, is Exhibit A when it comes to demonstrating that the environment and the economy are not only linked but they're mutually-interdependent. What was once an useless brown-field that was an impediment to development is now a green-field that's going to attract new development and investment to the region," said Martens.

The new Ship Canal Commons was the former site of Hanna Furnace - a pig iron manufacturer - for 80-years.

Local leaders hope the new park will lure more new business into the adjacent Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park -- where more than 800-people are already employed.

Congressman Brian Higgins also attended the ribbon cutting of the new Ship Canal Commons. He said the project was challenging.

"You know the tough thing about redeveloping Buffalo is that we have an industrial past, and with that comes tremendous challenges in the redevelopment of these kinds of projects because you can't just build on them - You have to clean them up, you have to prepare them. It requires a certain a certain skill, a certain discipline, and a commitment," said Congressman Higgins. brow