The New York State Department of Transportation announced on January 8, 2018 that it was withdrawing its “Final Environmental Impact Study” (FEIS) for Rt. 198. The FEIS, which was disfavored by many community groups, would have taken many acres of parkland for vehicles only as well as constructing large intersections within Delaware Park.
The Scajaquada Corridor Coalition (SCC) is an advocacy group focusing on the enhancement, restoration and improvement of the Scajaquada Corridor, from Rt. 33 to the 190. The SCC encourages intermodal transportation opportunities (pedestrian, bicycle, etc.) without the interruption of a highway. In withdrawing the FEIS, the DOT stated that roughly two-thirds of the comments concerning the proposed work were negative, and therefore the DOT decided it will take another look.
SCC member GOBIKE released the following statement:
Following an overwhelming community response to plans for the Scajaquada/Route 198 re-design, the New York State Department of Transportation has pulled its Environmental Impact Statement and will go back to the drawing board to develop a better solution for the roadway.
With over two-thirds of the comments submitted by the public overwhelmingly against it, today we heard from the New York State Department of Transportation that their plans for the Scajaquada Expressway (198) have been pulled — and we could not be more pleased!
SCC member Parkside Community Association posted:
The PCA is very thankful that the NYSDOT has listened to neighborhood concerns, and we look forward to working together on a plan that is focused on reconnecting our communities, improving safety, improving impacts on health, and creating a vision that our community can support.
The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy also welcomed the opportunity for the community to have an opportunity to be heard on concerns. Check out its public announcement.
The SCC and its constituent groups have been working for years to upgrade Rt. 198, which runs through the Scajaquada Corridor by making it a more park-friendly roadway. The 198 was thrust through Delaware Park in the 1950s on what City planners called “vacant land.” Since then, Rt. 198 has served as a barrier and prevented park users from going from the Meadow to Hoyt Lake without leaving the park and cutting the Park off from the communities it serves. The SCC has been advocating for the restoration of the Delaware Park “Stone Arch Bridge” to park use as it was the means by which Frederick Law Olmsted connected the two parts of Delaware Park across Delaware Avenue when he designed the Park.
Alan J. Bozer, Chairman of the SCC’s Government Relations Committee reacted to the news by saying this was a direct result of community concern over the future of the Park and their appeals to the area’s local officials, as well as their comments to the DOT. “The public is properly concerned about the prospect of losing more parkland and entrenching the existence of a limited access highway through Delaware Park, with more intersections, traffic signals, and traffic,” said Mr. Bozer. “Members of the SCC’s Government Relations Committee have been busy contacting elected public officials to educate them on what the DOT really planned to do. It was through this grassroots advocacy that both the Common Council and the Mayor told the DOT that it needed to come back to the design table.”
There were also meetings by the SCC with the DOT, as well as other stakeholders involved in the DOT’s outreach to the community.
The SCC heard from many in the community who are interested in preserving and restoring their park and reconnecting the community. What we do now will determine the look and feel of Delaware Park and the entire Scajaquada corridor for the next couple of generations – we need to get it right.
The SCC and the community at large look forward to engaging with the DOT to come up with better plans that respect the Park and the community.