The Community Congress for One Region Forward
If you are of the belief that key issues such as “improving mobility, promoting more efficient land use patterns, strengthening our basic infrastructure, growing a 21st century economy, assuring broad access to healthy food, protecting housing and neighborhoods, and mounting our region’s response to the challenge of global climate change” should be addressed now, then it’s time to join public and private sector organizations as they attempt to draw a roadmap outlining Buffalo’s Regional Plan for Sustainable Development.
One Region Forward is made possible thanks to a two million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The federally recognized document is important in that it allows the community to become part of the process. As Federal funds are allocated in the future, toward community priority projects that encompass the guidelines of sustainability practices, Buffalo must be on track with planning efforts and development potential. “We’re not starting from scratch,” Howard A. Zemsky, chair of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, a leading partner in the effort, and co-chair of the Regional Economic Development Council, said. “Our commitment is to make sure that all the plans for our region are working toward the same ends.” Playing off of a number of significant development initiatives that have proved successful in Buffalo as of late, organizers hope that these forums will incorporate and enhance Regional Economic Development Council strategies, as well as the “Buffalo Billion,” the Buffalo Green Code, and others (including more than 160 regional, municipal, and special purpose plans throughout Buffalo Niagara).
Our business community, local organizations and individual citizens must lend their ideas and visions, so that we can help to manipulate our future by having a strong unified voice with diversified components. Consider lending your voice to this regional discussion. “We’ve read all of these plans and abstracted a series of statements about what values are common across them – statements about economic development, parks and recreation, transportation, housing and neighborhoods, climate change, water resources, food access, and more,” continued Shibley “It will be up to citizens participating in the Community Congresses to tell us whether or not we got these right,” Shibley added, “and how we have to change them if we didn’t.”
*Help frame the values and set the direction for a two-county plan for sustainable development. The first event is Tuesday, January 29 from 7-9 p.m. at Asbury Hall (aka “Babeville”) in Buffalo. The second is Saturday, February 2 from 2-4 p.m. at Conference Center Niagara Falls. To learn more about the effort, check out www.oneregionforward.org and please register.
Based on this direction from the general public, detailed implementation strategies will be developed by a series of working teams on land use and economic development, housing and neighborhoods, transportation, food systems, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. A subsequent Community Congress will review these strategies later in 2013. Further work will produce a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development, a document that will give our region priority status for funding opportunities today and into the future.