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Greener Niagara

The Benefits of Green Infrastructure in the City of Niagara Falls, NY 05/05/2014

Master’s Project Final Submission

Parinitha Kishore Marnekar

Environmental and Land Use Planning Specialization University at Buffalo Dept. of Urban and Regional Planning


Executive Summary The City of Niagara Falls has been seeing a consistent loss in population since the 1960s when the industrial era ended. This has led to problems such as fewer jobs, abandoned buildings, fewer schools and many others. The city has been looking to make improvements and create opportunities in ways they can increase the population to avoid losing its status as a city. While investments to improve sectors like schools, public transport, help entrepreneurs set up businesses etc, may help increase population, this project looks into investing in green infrastructure techniques in the city. This particular method is selected not only based on its benefits for the environment but also because it is the most cost effective method to help increase population. The primary benefit is while conventional infrastructure has a high annual maintenance cost, the green infrastructure improvements have minimal maintenance costs. This way the people as well as the city benefits with reduced costs and a better environment to live in. The GI improvements approach is not new as we will see in the precedents set by the City of Seattle and the City of Buffalo. In these projects, it has not only been proven that the approach has environmental benefits but it helps in increasing a sense of community and belonging in neighborhoods. The GI improvements in the City of Seattle have been such a huge benefit that the city has decided to create green grids rather than just improving individual blocks. The City of Buffalo has also conducted feasibility studies to understand the benefit of such improvements and it is obvious from the responses of the people living in the Elmwood neighborhood that the project is a great success. It has not only helped make the neighborhood healthier but has also increased property rates. Implementing GI techniques will help improve the neighborhoods of the City of Niagara Falls which has been seeing a rise in the vacancy rates of homes and an increase in crime in the city. It will also help in encouraging people to move into these neighborhoods which is healthier, safer and sustainable. To analyze the benefits of GI improvements in the City of Niagara Falls, the project uses the CNT Green Values Calculator offered via The US Environmental Protection Agency. Although the EPA offers many different models to calculate GI benefits, the Center of Neighborhood Technologies Green Values Calculator is ideal for this project because the model is especially made to analyze benefits at neighborhood levels. The input data and the output benefits are custom made for neighborhoods with more than 10 homes. The project analyzes the entire city and the neighborhood that is suffering the most in terms of population loss and home vacancy rates is selected. Michigan Avenue, a street in the Census Tract-206 has experienced high rates of home vacancy has been selected for this study. With the calculator we look at outputs such as Land Use breakdowns, Cost breakdowns (estimated annually and over 30 years) and actual monetary environmental benefits. With the results, we will see that the City of Niagara Falls can only benefit from the GI improvements in terms of healthier, safer, and active neighborhoods.

Greener Niagara Creating Sustainable Environments in the City of Niagara Falls, NY


Table

of

Contents

Problem Statement..............................................................................[ 1]

Background & Existing Conditions................................................... [2] Information Sources........................................................................... [2] [3] [4] [5] Analysis............................................................................................... [6] [7] Data Interpretation............................................................................ [7] [8] [9] Findings................................................................................................ [9] Recommendations................................................................................. [9] [10] Implementation..................................................................................... [10]

References........................................................................................... [11]

List

of

Figures

and

Tables

Figure 1 - Decreasing Population in the City of Niagara Falls, NY................. [1] Figure 2 - Increasing Home Vacancy in the City of Niagara Falls, NY............ [1] Figure 3 - Occupied and Vacant Homes in City of Niagara Falls, NY.............. [3] Figure 4 - Map showing % of Vacant homes in City of Niagara Falls, NY....... [3] Figure 5 - Population decrease in Census Tract 206........................................... [4] Figure 6 - Increasing Home Vacancy Rates in Census Tract 206....................... [4] Figure 7 - Maps showing Michigan Avenue and area considered for study....... [4] Figure 8 - Downspout Disconnection.................................................................... [5] Figure 9 - Rain Gardens........................................................................................ [5] Figure 10 - Permeable Pavements......................................................................... [5] Figure 11 - Green Streets and Alleys.................................................................. [5] Figure 12 - Land Use Output Before Green Improvements................................. [8] Figure 13 - Land Use Output After Green Improvements................................... [8] Table 1a.- Lot Information................................................................................... [6] Table 1b.- Land Cover Information..................................................................... [7] Table 2 - Green Improvements, Amount and Information................................... [7] Table 3 - Land Use Output................................................................................... [8] Table 4 - Cost Breakdown.................................................................................... [8] Table 5 - Environmental Benefits Breakdown.................................................... [9]

Greener Niagara Creating Sustainable Environments in the City of Niagara Falls, NY


Problem Statement The City of Niagara Falls has been experiencing a consistent loss in population in the past 40 years. In the year 1960, the city had a population of more than 100,000 but by 2010 the population reduced to almost half. If the population reduces below 50,000 the city could lose its status as a city and its federal funding.1 In an effort to keep the population up and help the younger population to move here, the city has come up with plans to incentivize young graduates to live in the city and renovating Main Street to attract investors and businesses.2 But many are skeptical regarding these advances since it may be good in terms of economic growth or bad in terms of more loss in population. Figure 1 below

Figure 1 Decreasing population in the City of Niagara Falls Source- Social Explorer

90.7%

1980

90.7% 13.8%

1970

86.6% 13.4%

1990 2000 2010

9.3%

1980

% Occupied Homes % Vacant Homes

7.6%

3% 1970

92.5%

10%

50,193

10%

55,593

61,840

13%

97%

17%

71,384

85,615

shows the loss of population in the past years in the City of Niagara Falls.

1990

2000

2010

Figure 2 Increasing Home Vacancy in the City of Niagara Falls Source- Social Explorer

This loss in population, due to dwindling city resources, has led to an increasing percentage of vacant homes in the city (Figure 2). This has led to abandoned houses in neighborhoods that are in a state of decay. These vacant houses have become the breeding grounds for crime and other notorious activities. The solution the city offers is to tear down these dilapidated homes. In 2014, the Niagara Falls City Council has “OK’ed� contracts to knock down 20 vacant, dilapidated homes in the Central City and Memorial Parkway neighborhoods.3 But this solution issued by the Council is short sighted and may lead to a greater loss in population. Unless some positive steps are taken to increase the downward spiral in population loss, the city may experience economic consequences such as deflation, reduction of standard of living etc. If efforts are being made in getting the younger entrepreneurs to move into the city, the city has to take the efforts to provide them with sustainable living options and neighborhoods with higher living standards. Although the City of Niagara Falls can adopt many types of infrastructure improvements to offer better living options for people, the city possesses a great opportunity to undertake citywide greening strategies to convert vacant properties into community assets with the help of site-based green infrastructure developments. The proposal for green infrastructure improvements is logical not only to revitalize urban environments, empower community residents, stabilize dysfunctional real estate markets, and to promote population growth4 but also because it is the most cost effective type of infrastructure development. In this project, we see GI improvements not only in terms of the environmental benefits but also monetary benefits such as reduced maintenance costs and life cycle costs.5 Greener Niagara Creating Sustainable Environments in the City of Niagara Falls, NY

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Background & Existing Conditions The City of Niagara Falls like many cities in the United States has a rich past. Niagara Falls has played an important role in not only the tourism sector but also in the development of many industries during the 19th century. Historically, the city was built around factories which utilized the power of the falling water of Niagara Falls for energy. By the end of the 19th century, the city was a heavy industrial area and was one of the main producers of jobs and was the economic backbone of the entire region. A major economic boom was witnessed in the 1950s and 60s when many industries moved into the city to take advantage of the hydroelectric power due to higher demands of household and industrial products. During this time of economic boom in the city, there was a great need for labor force and people from all the country, also the world, moved here to earn a living from the newly formed industries.6 Since the income was good from these jobs, they could afford good homes to reside. This helped the city thrive with good neighborhoods and high living standards and also bought about a sense of community among the residents. The downfall of the neighborhoods started when the city’s brief period of prosperity came to an end during the 1960s when the Schoellkopf Power Project collapsed in the Niagara River and the industrial era ended. Due to the collapse in the industries there was a major downfall in the economics and resources.7 Most of the jobs were lost and people had to move to other cities in search of employment. As we can see in figure 1, the loss of population from the 1970s to 80s was a major dip of 17 percent and the 80s to 90s was a dip of 13 percent. After the 90s there has been a consistent 10 percent loss in population. This loss in population in the past 50 years has left more than 14 percent of the homes vacant and started the deterioration of the neighborhoods and the city as a whole. Today, the city aims to increase the population by encouraging the younger demographic to move into the city. But the question arises, will people who are setting up their homes in the City be willing to live in neighborhoods

where the homes are in a state of decay and crime is wide spread?

Information Source In figure 2 above, we see that homes in the City of Niagara Falls are increasing in rates of vacancy. In an effort to stabilize the rates of occupancy, the “Greener Niagara” project looks into green infrastructure approaches and benefits for a selected neighborhood in the city. With the GI approach communities can choose to maintain healthy water, provide multiple economic benefits and support sustainable communities. GI has been adopted in more than 2000 projects around the US8 and it is reported that a majority of the projects are just as affordable as or even more so than traditional “grey” infrastructure.

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Greener Niagara Creating Sustainable Environments in the City of Niagara Falls, NY


To access the census tracts with high percentage of vacant homes, data was acquired from Social Explorer for the year 2010 and an analysis was conducted.

25% Vacancy

C.Tract 225

C.Tract 224.01

C.Tract 223

C.Tract 222

C.Tract 221

C.Tract 220

C.Tract 217

C.Tract 214

C.Tract 213

C.Tract 212

C.Tract 211

C.Tract 210

C.Tract 209

C.Tract 207

C.Tract 206

C.Tract 205

C.Tract 204

C.Tract 203

C.Tract 202

C.Tract 201

% Occupied % Vacant

Figure 3 Occupied and Vacant Homes in City of Niagara Falls, NY Source- Social Explorer, Vacancy of Homes Census Data 2010

As we can see in figure 3 and figure 4, the Census Tract-206 is one of the areas where the vacant homes percentage is very high (25 percent.)

N

C. Tract 206

Figure 4 Map showing percentage of Vacant homes in City of Niagara Falls Source- Social Explorer, Vacancy of Homes Census Data 2010

Greener Niagara Creating Sustainable Environments in the City of Niagara Falls, NY

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In figures 5 & 6 below, we see that Census Tract 206 (Niagara Ave. and Lockport St. neighborhood) has dipped in population from 3,304 in 1970 to 1,439 in 2010 which has led to a rise in vacancy from 4.4 percent in 1970 to 24.6 percent in 2010. As per Zillow.com, a real estate website which provides details of property rates of homes in the USA, the homes in Michigan Avenue (Figure 7) has an average property rate estimate of $25,000 and has been falling. This street is

1980

1990 2000 2010

Figure 5 Population decrease in Census Tract 206 Source- Social Explorer, Decennial Census

1970

1980

1990

2000

75.4% 24.6%

81.0% 19.0%

85.5%

% Occupied Homes % Vacant Homes

14.5%

4.4% 1970

7.1%

92.9%

95.6% 1,439

1,909

2,442

2,798

3,304

selected for further analysis as it is typical to most of the streets in the neighborhood.

2010

Figure 6 Increasing Vacancy Rates in Census Tract 206 Source- Social Explorer, Decennial Census

15th Street

13th Street

MICHIGAN AVENUE

Figure 7 Maps showing Michigan Avenue and area considered for study Source- Google Maps, Primary Source

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Greener Niagara Creating Sustainable Environments in the City of Niagara Falls, NY


To increase property rates and create a sustainable environment, the project will look at set of models which assess the monetary costs and environmental outcomes associated with GI approaches and how it benefits the neighborhood in terms of air quality improvements, reduced energy use and storm-water interception. Although this project will consider one neighborhood block for the assess-

Precedent Seattle is one of the best examples of cities which have adopted the GI techniques in

ment of GI benefits, the city can choose to adopt the modeling methods in larger

reducing storm-water runoff as

scales.

well as reducing the costs of public infrastructure and public

GI techniques like downspout disconnection, rain gardens, and permeable pave-

works. 110 Cascade Project is

ments are adaptable in most communities. Downspout disconnection (Figure 8)

an interesting project where the

refers to the rerouting of rooftop drainage pipes to drain water in rain barrels, cisterns, or permeable areas instead of the storm sewer. The water collected in the barrels can be reused as grey water. Rain gardens (Figure 9) also known as bio retention is shallow vegetated basins that collect and absorb runoff from rooftops,

entire street of 110 Cascade which runs for many blocks is part of a Natural Drainage System. The project encompasses most of the GI techniques

sidewalks and streets. Rain gardens are versatile features that can be installed in

such as bioswales, permeable

almost any unpaved space. Permeable pavements (Figure 10) are paved sur-

pavements, planting of native

faces that infiltrate, treat and store rainwater where it falls. These pavements are

plants in rain gardens etc. The

particularly cost effective where land values are high and where flooding or icing

results were convincing, both

is a problem. Green Streets and Alleys (Figure 11) integrate GI elements into the

financially and hydrologically.

street and alley design to store, infiltrate storm-water. Green roofs are roofs of buildings covered with vegetation that enable rainfall infiltration. Green roofs are particularly cost effective in dense urban areas where land values are high.

Runoff volume was reduced by 98 percent, at a cost 25 percent below that of conventional street designs. The local residents, students and other visitors of the City of Seattle learn about the relationships between the streets and the infrastructure and are impressed with the aesthetics and the healthy environment it provides. The project has

Figure 8 Downspout Disconnection

Source- Buffalo Riverkeeper, “Rain Barrels” http:// bnriverkeeper.org/projects/rain-barrels/, (assessed 21 March 2014)

Figure 9 Rain Gardens

Source- US EPA, “Rain Gardens” http://water.epa.gov/ infrastructure/greeninfrastructure/gi_what.cfm, (assessed 21 March 2014)

not only increased the property rates but also inculcated a sense of community in the neighborhood. This project was considered so successful ecologically and economically that the city is now working on green grids rather than individual blocks.

Figure 11 Green Streets and Alleys

Source- US EPA, “Green Streets and Alleys” http://water. epa.gov/infrastructure/greeninfrastructure/gi_what.cfm, (assessed 21 March 2014)

Figure 10 Permeable Pavements

Source- CNT Green Values, “Permeable Pavements” http:// greenvalues.cnt.org/national/calculator.php, (assessed 21 March 2013)

Greener Niagara Creating Sustainable Environments in the City of Niagara Falls, NY

Source: 110th Cascade Project http:// www.seattle.gov/util/MyServices/ DrainageSewer/.htm, (assessed 12 March 2014)

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Analysis

Precedent The Buffalo Niagara River-

A range of models are available to assess the monetary costs and environmental

keeper with funding from The

outcomes associated with green infrastructure approaches. Models allow us to

Community

extrapolate our understanding of physical processes to different contexts, allow-

Foundation

of

Greater Buffalo and the John R,

ing us to predict the environmental outcomes of different design and manage-

Oshei Foundation had conduct-

ment approaches9. Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of modeling is that no

ed a feasibility study regarding GI solutions in the Elmwood residential

and

commercial

area. The initiatives involved

model can accurately predict all environmental outcomes at all scales. But it can help us in giving us an idea of the positive and negative outcomes of the approaches so that we can be prepared. Choosing a model for GI analysis is strictly

were downspout disconnection,

based on 2 aspects: the data requirements for the model and the environmental

commercial and industrial site

outcomes that need to be assessed.

greening, vacant lot management etc. The study showed that

The model used for this project is The Center for Neighborhood Technology

there were economic and com-

National Green Values Storm-water Management Calculator, in collaboration

munity health benefits, achiev-

with US EPA, takes user-defined site specifications, such as size, impervious

ing the City’s goal of creating an environment of sustainability and a cohesive community. It is evident that after the pilot

cover, street design, soil type, and life cycle to model the volume and peak discharge of runoff produced by the site. The GVC can apply scenarios, thereby creating a comparison between “conventional” (i.e. pipes, curbs, gutters, etc.)

study was conducted, the people

and “green” scenarios (i.e. green roofs, rain gardens, vegetated swales, trees,

currently residing in the neigh-

native vegetation, and permeable pavement). The GVC displays hydrologic and

borhood were more than happy

financial results of the two scenarios side-by-side, highlighting the differences in

with the results of the study.

runoff reductions and financial performance5.

Elmwood Avenue mainly a commercial street started thriving since the street seemed livelier and aesthetically pleasing. Source: Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper http://syracusecoe.org/EFC/images/ allmedia/Presentations/BogdanGIConf. pdf, (assessed 12 March 2014)

In table 1a and 1b below, the inputs necessary for the analysis is added to the calculator. The zipcode makes it easy for the calculator to estimate the climatic conditions of the area. The average annual rainfall data, acquired from the US climate data 2010, is 34.92 inches for Michigan Avenue. Table 1a. Lot Information

Lot Information Input Data

Data Source

Zip Code

14305

Avg. Annual Rainfall

34.92 inches

US Climate Data

Lot Size

1.6 acres

On site measurement

Site Hydrologic Soil Grp.

B

US Soil Data

Source- Primary Source

The lot size considered is 1.6 acres which includes homes on both sides of the block. The land cover is estimated based on the total impervious and pervious

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Greener Niagara Creating Sustainable Environments in the City of Niagara Falls, NY


area which in this scenario is 75 percent and 25 percent respectively. The total roof size area calculated for 26 homes along the street are 26000 sq. ft. (1000 sq. ft. per home). The number of parking spots (26 for 26 homes) in this calculator estimates the number of cars which are parked in the driveway. The runoff volume reduction goal is based on the Chicago Storm-water Ordinance, in which the regulations require that the first 0.5 inches of rain over the site impervious area be captured and retained on site. The calculator offers two options for water captured over only the impervious area or the entire study area. The selection made for this study is the whole area. Table 1b. Land Cover Information

Land Cover Input Data Impervious Area

75%

Roof Size

26000 sq. ft.

Parking Spots

26

Lawn in fair condition

Area Considered Roof, streets, driveways Estimate for 26 homes

25%

Runoff Volume Reduction Goal

0.5 inches (Minimum Goal)*

Volume captured over

Whole Area

*The runoff volume reduction goal was of 0.5 inches took effect in January 2008 which requires that the first 0.5 inches of rain over the site impervious area be captured and retained on site.

Source- Primary Source

As seen in table 2 below, the calculator asks to input the different kinds of green improvements to be estimated for the study area. In this scenario, since the estimates are based on minimum green improvements, 6 improvements have been considered. 10 percent of the homes have been considered for partial green roof installations, 20 percent of the study area for rain garden installations, 80 percent of the homes for downspout disconnection to rain barrels, 80 percent of the green spaces to accommodate native vegetation, all of parking spaces and driveway areas for permeable pavement installations. Table 2 Green Improvements, Amount and Information

Green Improvements Improvements Green Roofs Rain Gardens Rain Barrels Native Vegetation Permeable Pavement on Parking Permeable Pavement on Driveways

Amount 10% 20% 80% 80% 100% 100%

Information Roofs partially covered with vegetation Disconnect downspout water to flow into rain gardens Disconnect downspout into cisterns of 200 (gal) cap. Vegetation along sidewalks native to the area Porous Asphalt to be used Permeable pavers to be used

Source- Primary Source

Data Interpretation Before the analysis, the calculator breaks down the input data and gives a total of impervious and pervious area in sq.ft. as seen in table 3 below. The information provided is in terms of conventional area and green area. The total conventional roof area as per input is 26,000 sq.ft in which 2,600 sq.ft. is considered for green roofs (10 percent). 100 percent of the parking area is considered green area since porous asphalt is used. Since part of the rain water runoff from the streets and sidewalks flow into rain gardens, the total green area estimated is lower than the conventional Greener Niagara Creating Sustainable Environments in the City of Niagara Falls, NY

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area. 80 percent of the lawn area is considered to have native vegetation and 1000 sq.ft. of the area along the streets are considered to have rain gardens. In the summary we see that in the conventional area 67 percent is impervious and 33 percent is pervious but after the green improvements are implemented the impervious area reduced by 15 percent which has contributed to an increase in the green area. Table 3 Land Use Output

Land Use Output Conventional Area (sq. ft.) 26,000 7,800

Conventional Roof Green Roof Parking Area Permeable Parking

Green Area (sq. ft.) 23,400 2,600 7,800

10,000

Streets Sidewalks

7,700

3,000 22,896

Lawn

2,000 -

Native Vegetation

-

22,396

Rain Gardens

-

1,000

Total Impervious Area

46,800 (67%)

36,400 (52%)

Total Pervious Area

26,000 (33%)

26,000 (48%)

Source- The Center of Neighborhood Technology. “National Stormwater Management Calculator.” Green Values. http://greenvalues.cnt.org/ national/calculator.php (accessed March 12, 2014).

33%

48%

Green Area

Green Area

67%

52%

Conventional Area

Conventional Area

Figure 12 Land Use Output Before Green Improvements Source- Primary Source

Figure 13 Land Use Output After Green Improvements Source- Primary Source

In table 4 below, we see that even though the construction cost of these GI improvements increase by 3 percent which is a nominal amount, the annual maintenance cost of the entire project will reduce by 25 percent which is 1/4th of the amount spent annually maintaining conventional infrastructure. Table 4 Cost Breakdown

Cost Breakdown Conventional

Construction Costs ($) Green

Difference

$ 352,447.00

$ 364,170.00

3%

Annual MaintenanceCosts ($) Conventional Green Difference $ 5,405.00

$ 4,074.00

-25%

Source- The Center of Neighborhood Technology. “National Stormwater Management Calculator.” Green Values. http://greenvalues.cnt.org/ national/calculator.php (accessed March 12, 2014).

Result The Green Storm-water BMP(s) applied in this scenario DECREASE the site impermeable area by 15.45% and capture 80.8% of the runoff volume. Compared to conventional approaches, the green practices in this scenario will DECREASE the total life-cycle (accounted for 30 years) construction and maintenance costs by 6% (in net present value).

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Greener Niagara Creating Sustainable Environments in the City of Niagara Falls, NY


To further prove the benefits of the improvements, table 5 below shows us annual green benefits and life cycle benefits (estimated for 30 years). The total benefits incurred due to reduced air pollutants, carbon dioxide sequestration, tree benefits, groundwater replenishment, reduced energy use and reduced treatment benefits annually is $8,854 and over 30 years is $265,624. The calculator also allows us to estimate the benefits over 40, 50 and 100 years. Table 5 Environmental Benefits Breakdown

Environmental Benefits Benefits Reduced Air Pollutants Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Tree Benefits Groundwater Replenishment Reduced Energy use Reduced Treatment benefits Total Benefits Incurred

Green Benefits Annual Benefits ($) Life Cycle Benefits ($) 3.00 81.00 2.00 54.00 4,125.00 123,750.00 29.00 861.00 4,680.00 140,400.00 16.00 478.00 8,854.00 265,624.00

Source- The Center of Neighborhood Technology. “National Stormwater Management Calculator.” Green Values. http://greenvalues.cnt.org/ national/calculator.php (accessed March 12, 2014).

Findings Looking at the numbers after the analysis and interpretation of the data, it can be concluded that, since Niagara Falls has heavy quantity of rainfall and snowfall, green infrastructure improvements are the best and the most cost effective solution. Even thought the scenario shows that there might be a 3 percent increase in investments, as compared to conventional “grey” infrastructure, during the construction of these improvements the benefits seen in terms of annual savings and environmental are immense. This will encourage people to live in these neighborhoods because there is more incentives and help foster a close knit community. The main criteria which has been assumed in this project is that the residents in this neighborhood are willing to preserve and maintain this type of green infrastructure improvements which will be made in, on and in front of their homes. This may not be true since some residents may not agree to have these improvements made to their homes or street. If the city promotes the idea of better neighborhoods and higher standards of living, people may be convinced in maintaining these improvements.

Recommendations Although the “Greener Niagara” project looks into minimal improvements in terms of green infrastructure on Michigan Avenue there are many more green improvements included in the design of the street or neighborhoods such as vegetation filter strips, amending of the soil to absorb more rainwater runoff, reducing the street width, permeable pavement on sidewalks etc. Implementation of these other types of GI technologies available can help make the neighborhood more environmentally friendly by helping reduce the pervious areas in the neighborhood. Greener Niagara Creating Sustainable Environments in the City of Niagara Falls, NY

9


One of the more substantiated examples is creating community gardens on vacant lots in the community. This method of GI not only helps in fostering a cohesive community but has also proven to reduce crime rates and increase property rates in the neighborhoods. This is also a great way to get the youth involved in understanding the importance of environmental sustainability and food production.

Implementation To implement a successful green infrastructure project it is important to involve diverse stakeholders as partners in the initiative. The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI, USA) are some of the organizations which can help implement and fund these strategies in the City of Niagara Falls. Whether it is an individual block or for the entire city there has to be a shared vision that is compelling, practical and inspiring. It is also important to design the GI network to link diverse green space elements. The identification and mapping of green space elements is key to holistically lay the network to connect these elements. The next step is to develop a program to make the network design a reality and begin activities to work toward desired goals. Pilot studies can be conducted in one selected neighborhood in the city and the benefits of the program can be measured in a timely fashion as established by the organizations. If the study is a success in terms of increasing property rates of homes and environmental benefits, the study can be implemented on a larger scale (neighborhood grids.) Preparing a plan of action that involves participants from public, private and nonprofit sectors would be the next step. To actively sell the strategic vision and plan to the public, a rationale and convincing information that documents the need for and the benefits of the vision and plan has to be developed. It is important to make connections between green infrastructure initiatives and other activities within and beyond the community.

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Greener Niagara Creating Sustainable Environments in the City of Niagara Falls, NY


References 1

Byrnes, Mark. “Can Niagara Falls Grow Again?.” The Atlantic Cities 14 June 2012: n. pag. The Atlantic Cities Jobs and Economy. Web. 20 Mar. 2014. < http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2012/06/can-niagara-fallsgrow-again/2257/> 2

“Main Street Niagara.” Main Street Niagara. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Apr. 2014. <http://mainstreetniagara.blogspot.com/>

3

Sondel, Justin . “Niagara Falls City Council OKs contract to knock down 20 vacant, dilapidated homes Niagara Gazette.” Local News ATOM. N.p., 21 Feb. 2014. Web. 13 Mar. 2014. <http://www.niagara-gazette.com/local/ x1196449722/Niagara-Falls-City-Council-OKs-contract-to-knock-down-20-vacant-dilapidated-homes>. 4

Terraza, Horacio. “Meeting of the Minds.” Gray and Green Infrastructure for Increased Urban Resiliency. N.p., 12 Aug. 2013. Web. 13 Mar. 2014. <http://cityminded.org/gray-and-green-infrastructure-for-increased-urban-resiliency-8823>. 5

The Center of Neighborhood Technology. “National Stormwater Management Calculator.” Green Values. http:// greenvalues.cnt.org/national/calculator.php (accessed March 12, 2014). 6

“Niagara Power Plant.” New York Power Authority. https://www.nypa.gov/facilities/niagara.htm (accessed April 3, 2014). 7

Bloomberg. “The Fall of Niagara Falls.” Bloomberg Business Week. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_50/b4207078529793.htm (accessed April 4, 2014). 8

“Low Impact Development (LID).” United States Environmental Protection Agency. http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/ green/ (accessed March 4, 2014). 9

”Modeling Tools, Green Infrastructure Models.” US Environmental Protection Agency. http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/greeninfrastructure/gi_modelingtools.cfm (accessed March 15, 2014).

Greener Niagara Creating Sustainable Environments in the City of Niagara Falls, NY

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Greener Niagara - The Benefits of Green Infrastructure in the City of Niagara Falls, NY  

Final Project for the Master's in Urban and Regional Planning Program at University at Buffalo, NY

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