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Western New York Land Conservancy appoints a director to make The Riverline a reality

Artist rendering of how The Riverline might look once its finshed
WNY Land Conservancy
Artist rendering of The Riverlne

The Riverline--the 1.5 mile former DL&W rail corridor that connects Canalside to the Buffalo River--has taken another step along the long path from planning to reality. The Western New York Land Conservancy has named Jeff Lebsack as The Riverline Director.

"It's more than your traditional rail corridor because it goes through some historical communities, both for residential and industrial land uses. It provides some iconic views of our history. The grain elevators. The railroad bridges," Lebsack said in an interview with WBFO.

The urban space also offers a connection to nature.

"Every time I've walked on this right of way I've encountered deer. I've encountered cats. I've encountered turkeys. It's really an amazing place."

Lebsack has experience working on The Riverway in Niagara Falls State Park, the redesign of North Union Street in Olean, the Genesee Valley Greenway and other public spaces. One of the keys to creating successful spaces, Lebsack says, is communicating with stakeholders. The Land Conservancy has spent considerable time over the last four years talking with the NFTA, the city of Buffalo, railroad companies and Erie County.

"A lot of time spent with the communities. They really want this to be an equitable-type opportunity that's going to benefit the communities," Lebsack said.

There's more to do. Permits need to be access. Studies conducted. Funds need to be raised.

"I started my career in 1991, which was when the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act was passed, that really recognized non-motorized transportation--pedestrians and bicycles," Lebsack offered.

"I've seen that progression from people saying why are we spending money on this stuff to now people saying we've got to spend more money on this."

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Jay joined Buffalo Toronto Public Media in 2008 and has been local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" ever since. In June, 2022, he was named one of the co-hosts of WBFO's "Buffalo, What's Next."

A graduate of St. Mary's of the Lake School, St. Francis High School and Buffalo State College, Jay has worked most of his professional career in Buffalo. Outside of public media, he continues in longstanding roles as the public address announcer for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and as play-by-play voice of Canisius College basketball.