All posts by AlanBozer

National Association of Olmsted Parks Supports SCC Design Plan

National Association For Olmsted Parks

August 22, 2017

Mr. Craig Mozrall, PE
NYSDOT Region 5
100 Seneca Street
Buffalo, NY 14203

Dear Mr. Mozrall:

The National Association for Olmsted Parks (NAOP) is writing in support of Mayor Brown, the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, and all Buffalo citizens who are seeking a redesign and new planning approach for the NYS Route 198 Corridor Project (Scajaquada Expressway) as currently promoted by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT). Since its construction in the 1960s, at the height of the national urban highway boom that destroyed the livability of so many of our American cities, the Scajaquada Expressway has detracted from, and adversely impacted, a nationally significant historic designed landscape resource: The 150-year-old park and boulevard system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. Buffalo was the first city in the nation where Olmsted and Vaux were able to achieve much of their intended park-parkway designs as armature to shape responsible city growth. Over the past decades, Buffalo leaders have made great improvements to protect, rehabilitate and enhance this timeless vision and to thread the experience of landscape and nature throughout the city as an amenity to the urban environment.

Without consideration of Buffalo’s built heritage, the Scajaquada Expressway as originally located, deleteriously severed the scenic integrity of the 19th century Delaware park and its larger setting, robbing citizens of the intended restorative recreational values. Now is the time to thoughtfully step back from a failing infrastructure project to a corridor project that considers the natural and cultural assets that Buffalo’s earlier city leaders envisioned as beneficial and accessible to all in this corridor. A corridor improvement plan that does not critically evaluate the impact of the redesigned road in the context of the city’s investments in, and enjoyment of, its cultural and recreational institutions will result in more than a missed opportunity. Millions of capital dollars will be spent on corridor improvements that will fail to provide residents, park users, and motorists alike an experience of nature and design that city leaders over the past centuries have promoted. Such spending will also fail to support the urban revival around which Buffalo is currently rebounding.

Thank you for considering these concerns.

Lucy Lawliss, FASLA

Arleyn Levee, Hon. ASLA
Co-Chairs

cc: Matthew J. Driscoll, Commissioner NYDOT;
Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Governor;
Byron Brown, City of Buffalo Mayor;
Stephanie Crockatt, Executive Director BOPC

www.olmsted.org
1200 18th Street NW Suite 700 Washington, D.C. 20036
PHONE: 202-223-9113 INFO@NAOP.ORG

 

NYSDOT Designed Art-Grade Crossing of Delaware Avenue in 2010, Now They Say It Can’t Be Done!

An at-grade crossing of Delaware Avenue was designed by DOT in 2010, now they say it cannot be done because of an archaeological site! No better example of Albany’s determination to do it their way despite other reasonable alternatives than this – DOT says an at-grade crossing is not possible because it would disturb archaeological sites, yet the agency designed a crossing in 2010!

DOT’s Way or the Highway!

The presentation of August 9 disappointed the community’s interest in restoring and enhancing venerable Delaware Park.   The big picture, is about correcting a mistake from the 1950’s, which Albany officials recognize as a “sin,” and about restoring Olmsted’s vision for Buffalo’s crown-jewel of parks.

The SCC favored one intersection solution to crossing Delaware Avenue (as pictured) remains achievable notwithstanding doomsday predictions.  Delaware Park will never win an argument over whether traffic will run through it faster if more cement is poured atop, but even so this is a choice of the lesser of evils.  Albany’s current plan places a massive, signaled intersection within yards of hundreds of kids playing soccer, as well as a number of pedestrian crossings, all of which will slow traffic.

If Albany’s stated threat stands to take its money and go home if we do not accept their current plan, then the answer is simple – we have waited sixty years to correct the mistakes of the 1950s and to restore the Olmsted vision.  Better to correct it properly and wait a few years than to accept further degradation of our nationally recognized Park.

The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy Calls for One Interchange at Delaware Avenue

The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, a member of the Scajaquada Corridor Coalition, unveiled its vision for the reconstructed Scajaquada Drive interchange at Delaware Avenue.

“The one interchange solution will restore the unity of Delaware Park as Frederick Law Olmsted planned it, and as it existed for generations of Buffalonians and park users before an expressway was  introduced into the pastoral setting,” said Alan Bozer, chairperson of SCC’s Government Relations Committee and a Trustee of the Conservancy.  “This will re-unite the Meadow with Hoyt Lake” as it existed and as it was intended,” he added.

One of the plans currently being considered by NYSDOT call for two intersections.  “The two intersection idea is clearly inferior as it doubles the points of congestion. It also places a major intersection within a few yards of where hundreds of Delaware Soccer Club kids play soccer on a daily basis,” said Bozer, a former president of the Club.  “We deserve better.”

Community Turns Out to Ask for Better Scajaquada Planning

A large crowd turned out for a DOT community meeting Wednesday evening January 25. The overwhelming sentiment expressed by about 50 speakers was that Buffalo deserves better that is what it being presented. The large intersections proposed by DOT were particularly called out for criticism because of the danger to pedestrians. Many from the community asked for better bicycle and pedestrian access. Better transit arrangements between the two halves of the park we’re also pushed for.

The deadline for comments on the dot plan is February 8. The SCC encourages all in the community to submit their comments.  Contact with state and local officials is also encouraged.

Congressman Higgins Weighs In on Planning

Congressman Higgins has written to the NYSDOT Commissioner to support the concerns expressed by the SCC.  In his letter, Congressman Higgins states:

Their request for bike lanes, for smaller medians, for smaller intersections, for a reconfiguration of the intersection of 198 and Delaware Ave. which will allow for Olmsted’s historic bridge to achieve its original function, and their call for the restoration of Agassiz Circle are reasonable, appropriate, and should be implemented.

See the Letter from Congressman Higgins 01-25-17.

NYSDOT: We Want a Right-Sized 198!

Let NYSDOT know that we do not support their preferred design for the Scajaquada Corridor and that we want it right-sized. Please consider using the below template for your letter before the public comment period ends on February 8, 2017. Please email support letter to the Regional Director’s Office (scajaquadacorridor@dot.ny.gov).

You can also sign our petition here.

Proposed Letter to NYSDOT

 

Frank Cirillo, Regional Director

New York State Department of Transportation

100 Seneca Street

Buffalo, NY 14203

 

January 13, 2017

 

Re: Right Size the Scajaquada Expressway

Dear Mr. Cirillo:

(You or your organization) is writing to express our displeasure with the New York State Department of Transportation’s (NYSDOT’s) current design for the conversion of the Scajaquada Expressway to a Boulevard.

The narrow set of design parameters used in the Draft Environmental Impact Study (DEIS) focuses on vehicle level of service, congestion relief, and operational safety effectively establishing a 30 mph limited-access expressway while offering limited accommodation and safety improvements for walking, bicycling and accessing public transit. Being maintained as a limited access expressway fails to meet Governor Cuomo’s transformational vision and will ultimately attract more traffic, create congestion and worsen the safety of the corridor for all users other than vehicles.

The current design in the DEIS creates more problems in Delaware Park. Delaware Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, is recognized as one of the top parks in the country and the world, but the DEIS creates huge intersections that impair the Park’s beauty while increasing noise and visual pollution. The DEIS also continues the separation of the Park into two halves separated by the barrier of the roadway.

While Buffalo’s expressways have provided vehicular access to downtown, they disrupted Olmsted’s Delaware Park and Humboldt Parkway, as well as the existing urban grid and street system. They severed local commercial activity from customers, and many once vibrant streets now stand with shuttered businesses and negligible street activity. Over the life of these expressways, it has become clear that in addition to significant long-term maintenance costs, these roads contribute to environmental degradation and negative public health impacts. Our expressways occupy valuable real estate without contributing to the tax base, while increasing blight and decreasing property values nearby. They create barriers to movement within our city, institutionalize social inequities, and encourage suburban sprawl.

As we have seen in the City of Buffalo as well as cities across the state and country, communities desire Complete Streets. Through Complete Streets, we are developing multi-modal networks that provide safe access to jobs, education, health care and other essential services for all roadway users. This makes walking, biking and public transit a viable transportation choice for everyone while contributing to the health, equity, economic vibrancy and quality of life in our city.

These objectives have not been met in NYSDOT’s current plan; instead, their proposed design continues to perpetuate the challenges of a limited access expressway with a 30 MPH speed limit.

(You or your organization) opposes the current boulevard design due to:

  • The lack of a meaningful and engaging public input process while NYSDOT ignores multiple submissions by community organizations with constructive recommendations;
  • Prioritization of vehicle traffic over the safety of vulnerable users through:
    • Over-sized intersections that will make crossings unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists;
    • Lack of dedicated bicycle infrastructure;
    • Medians throughout the corridor at the expense of park space and on-street bicycle facilities; and
    • Adverse impacts upon the Historic Olmsted Park and Parkway System, including the continued barrier against movement between the Meadow and Hoyt Lake in Delaware Park and the obliteration of Agassiz Circle;
    • Adverse impacts upon the surrounding cultural and educational institutions and business districts; and
  • The plan’s limited scope, including the absence of addressing impacted communities west of Grant Street and east of Parkside Avenue.

Before (you or your organization) can support any plan to transform the Scajaquada corridor, NYSDOT needs to address the community’s priorities and demonstrate that this project will have a positive impact on economic development, public health, environmental sustainability and the quality of life of all residents.

Sincerely,

(Your name)

(Your name)

Buffalo Olmsted Conservancy Posts Position Statement

The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy has posted its position statement on the former expressway. See it here. It is the BOPC’s stated position that the former expressway should never have been imposed on Delaware Park, and it should be removed. In the event that it can be shown that the long-term needs of the community require the taking of public parkland, then any new roadway must be constructed in a manner and in design consistent with Olmsted’s goals as articulated above. There must be free and unimpeded access from The Meadow to Hoyt Lake, with the Delaware Bridge restored to park use. To date, none of the proposed plans meet this criteria.

ROCC Joins the Scajaquada Corridor Coalition

ROCC logo

The Restore Our Community Coalition joins with the Scajaquada Corridor Coalition in seeking to improve our community.  The ROCC notes that with respect to the purpose of the SCC and improving Delaware Park through reclaiming land taken by the former expressway, “the speed reduction to 30 mph should be thought of as an upgrade for the community, instead of a downgrade for commuters.”

Read the ROCC’s notes on  Reasons to Upgrade the Scajaquada Expressway here.