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TONAWANDA FUTURES Transforming an Inner-Ring American Suburb

University at Buffalo Department of Urban and Regional Planning Environmental Design Workshop Fall 2010

Instructor: Peter Lombardi

Published by: Department of Urban and Regional Planning

TONAWANDA FUTURES Transforming an Inner-Ring American Suburb

University at Buffalo Department of Urban and Regional Planning Environmental Design Workshop Fall 2010 Instructor: Peter Lombardi Keith Considine Jonathan Ehlers Blake Fisher Alex Jennings Okoa Kinsey Tammy Kulpa Chris Lee Damian O’Meally Christine Michaud Matt Murphy Adam Ricker Sergey Selyuzhitskiy Shouqian Shi Kyle Smith Jonathan Sowinski Shaun Taylor Tim Vertino AJ Wasilewski David Weinstock Cam Worczak

This book was designed by Kyle J. Smith using Adobe CS5

Table of Contents 1. Preface


2. Introduction


3. Demonstration Projects


| Brighton-Eggert


| Sheridan-Parkside


| Waterfront


| Kenmore


| Sheridan-Delaware


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

PREFACE From their outward appearance, America’s older suburbs often seem changeless, providing a clear window to the lives, lifestyles, and dreams of previous generations. To the extent that their current residents inhabit an inherited landscape, this perception of the static suburb is accurate. Probing beneath the surface, however, reveals dynamic social and economic environments—ones that have changed dramatically in recent years and will continue to change in the coming decades. This report highlights the work of undergraduate students at the University at Buffalo to envision parts of an older Buffalo suburb—the Town of Tonawanda— in the year 2035. Based on recent and anticipated changes to the town’s demographic, social, and economic profiles, the students imagined a series of small and large transformations that combine to define a flexible and sustainable suburb that meets the needs of future residents while lessening its environmental impact and improving its quality of life. As it worked throughout the fall, this Environmental Design Workshop (PD450) discovered the Town of Tonawanda’s unusual complexity—a place with a wide variety of residential, commercial, and industrial landscapes. The students also discovered tremendous opportunities in leveraging existing assets and the town’s diverse physical settings to create or reinforce a wide range of desirable and memorable places. For aiding its work and introducing it to key issues facing the town, the Workshop would like to thank Kenneth Swanekamp, chairman of the Town of Tonawanda Planning Board and a planner for Erie County. The Workshop hopes that this report provides the town and its residents with helpful ideas as they continue their efforts to maintain Tonawanda as a strong and livable community well into the future.

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Tonawanda Futures: 2035

INTRODUCTION In urban regions across North America, inner-ring suburban communities— places developed primarily in the middle decades of the 20th century—are home to large and increasingly diverse populations. Nearly half of Erie County’s residents in 2010, or 400,000 people, live in inner-ring suburbs surrounding Buffalo. In most cases, these suburbs are strong communities with stable property values and a laundry list of good public services. But in Buffalo Niagara, as in other regions, these suburbs are facing a growing number of challenges. Their populations are increasingly older, with fixed or stagnating incomes. Infrastructure is aging and more expensive to maintain, as are residential and non-residential buildings in danger of becoming outmoded, underutilized, or abandoned. At the same time, tax bases are flat and have little room to grow, leaving dwindling resources to meet these challenges.1,2,3 The Town of Tonawanda is a perfect example of these recent trends in innerring suburbs—and of 20th century suburban development in American industrial regions. The first major wave came when the Village of Kenmore emerged as Buffalo’s premier “streetcar suburb” in the early 1900s. After World War I, the town witnessed an industrial boom on its Niagara River waterfront, as manufacturers moved beyond their cramped city quarters to expansive new facilities with excellent access to rail, water, and electricity. Another residential surge followed World War II, as returning veterans, cheap mortgages, the Baby Boom, and the ubiquitous automobile combined to spur the town’s postwar expansion. TONAWANDA 1960-2010: A MATURE AND CHANGING SUBURB Tonawanda’s blistering postwar growth—its population ballooned from 55,000 to 105,000 during the 1950s alone—consumed most of the town’s undeveloped land. As a result, the town has witnessed only modest physical change in recent decades, including a smattering of new homes and redeveloped commercial properties. The absence of profound physical change, however, belies significant transformations in the town’s population, households, and economy that mirror national trends in inner-ring suburbs. Among these changes: A smaller population: The town’s population (including the Village of Kenmore) has fallen 32% since 1960, from 105,000 to an estimated 71,700 in 2009.4 Smaller households: The population drop can be almost entirely attributed to shrinking households. According to U.S. Census figures, average household size in the town dropped from 3.59 in 1960 to an estimated 2.26 in 2006-08—down 37%. Besides the shrinking of American households in general, this drop also reflects the transition University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


from a suburb filled with large Baby Boom families in 1960, to a much wider range of household and family types. Stable number of households and units: Because of shrinking household sizes, the town’s declining population has not resulted in fewer households. Between 1960 and 1990, the number of households in the town actually increased by 16% (from 29,221 to 33,765). Since 1990, the number of households has remained fairly stable, numbering 33,278 in 2000 and an estimated 33,309 in 2006-08 (with smaller households, once again, offsetting losses). The number of total housing units reflects this trend, rising from 29,221 units in 1960 to 34,589 units in 1990, and stabilizing at 34,545 units in 2006-2008. Older households and population: The aging of the population has contributed to shrinking household size. Between 1960 and 2000, the number of households in the town headed by a senior (65+) rose from 1 in 5 to almost 1 in 3. In 2006-08, the proportion of residents in the town over 65 was 18.4%, larger than Erie County’s 15.5%. Along with single young adults, seniors are among the residents most likely to live in small or one-person households. Greater diversity: In addition to a greater breadth of household types and resident age groups, Tonawanda is growing more ethnically and racially diverse. Non-whites now represent about 6% of the town’s population (2006-08), compared to less than 1% in 1960. Large employers, low job growth: Besides retail and offices lining the commercial corridors of the central and eastern part of the town (Delaware, Kenmore, Sheridan, Eggert, and a few others), most major employment centers are located at the western end of town, where Dunlop, General Motors, DuPont, and other major industrial employers still operate, and where Kenmore Mercy Hospital serves as the town’s major health care center. According to the 2007 U.S. Economic Census, the largest sectors in the town were manufacturing (6,337 jobs at 75 firms), health care and social assistance (3,409 jobs at 161 firms) and administrative/support/waste management (3,056 jobs at 87 firms). While the latter two sectors grew at a steady clip between 1997 and 2007—reflecting economy-wide gains in service jobs—those gains were offset by a manufacturing sector that shed over 1,300 jobs. Income stagnation and a stable labor force: When adjusted for inflation, median household income in the town fell by 13% between 1989 and 2009, from $53,769 (in 2009 dollars) to $46,732. This 4

Tonawanda Futures: 2035

drop reflects the loss of manufacturing jobs, the rise in part-time work, and the migration of wealthier households to bigger homes in newer suburbs. The stability of the labor force (remaining steady around 40,000 in the past decade, despite population loss) may reflect later retirements and the trend of multiple wage-earners trying to maintain household living standards amidst wage stagnation. Land in transition: While most of the land in Tonawanda today is being used as it has been for decades, many parts of the town are in a transitional state, where land and buildings are dormant or underutilized, searching for future purpose. Vacant industrial lands near the Niagara River are the clearest example of the town’s transitional land. But so are many commercial properties, built in the immediate postwar years and in need of reconfiguration, refurbishment or repurposing to meet contemporary and future needs.

TONAWANDA 2010-2035: ANTICIPATING THE FUTURE Despite its reputation as an old and unchanging suburb, the Town of Tonawanda has witnessed dramatic demographic and economic change over the past several decades. Over the next 25 years, similarly dramatic changes are likely to unfold, including: A population that keeps getting smaller: Population projections from the Cornell Program on Applied Demographics5 show a continued shrinking of many upstate New York counties over the next 25 years, including Erie, which is projected to shrink by 14.4% between 2010 and 2035. If the Town of Tonawanda’s population mirrors the county’s projected decline, it would drop to approximately 61,400 by 2035. A population that keeps getting older: The proportion of Erie County’s population over age 65 was 15.5% in 2006-08, and is projected to increase to 21.6% by 2035. With the Town of Tonawanda’s senior population at 18.4% in 2006-08, it can be expected to at least match, and possibly exceed, the county’s 21.6% rate in 2035. Smaller households, and the possibility of fewer households: With the decline in household size expected to continue in the U.S., especially as the population ages, the typical household in Tonawanda will likely be smaller in 2035. For the total number of households to remain steady through 2035 (given the anticipated drop in population) the household size would have to drop from the current 2.26 to 1.84. If the decline in household size is shallower, the number of households would begin to drop. For example, if the average household size is 2.1 in 2035 (mirroring the rate of decline in recent decades) the number of households would drop 12% from 33,309 to 29,240. If the number of households shrinks, housing vacancy may accelerate: Unit University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


vacancy increased during the 1990s, and is estimated to have climbed in recent years, but has not yet become an epidemic—due largely to the stable number of households. If the number of households decreases by more than 10% by 2035, however, vacancies would likely increase unless the number of housing units also shrinks. If the number of units stays the same, there could be almost 5,000 more units than households by 2035. Aging structures and infrastructure: While regular maintenance has kept most of the town’s infrastructure and buildings in good working order, the town’s aging components will need ongoing reconstruction and reinvestment in coming decades to remain functional or be reconfigured to meet the needs of older residents, smaller households, new economic uses, and increasingly energy-conscious users. This will be especially important for older parts of the town, particularly the southern half below Sheridan Drive, where many of the homes were built before 1950.

TONAWANDA FUTURES: STRATEGIES FOR SUSTAINABILITY Given the trends of recent years and the anticipated trends of coming decades, Tonawanda’s future health with depend on its ability to respond to changing demographics, households, economies, and environmental imperatives. Of course, communities across the United States will be grappling with similar issues, and many strategies have been proposed to meet the challenges posed by aging populations, polluted or vacant land, outmoded housing stock, underutilized assets, and lagging reinvestment. The following summaries examine a wide range of strategies that have been implemented or are proposed in various parts of the United States to meet the emerging needs or older urban and suburban environments, and their relevance to the Town of Tonawanda. Aging Population America’s population is estimated to experience a significant increase in the percentage and volume of those over age 65 in the next 10-20 years. These estimates consistently predict the increases from 12.4% and 35 million nationally in 2000, to 19.6% and 71 million in 2030.6 The main reasons for the increase are longer life expectancy and an aging postwar Baby Boom population. A senior population is different in the ways it interacts with its surrounding environment and society. Seniors tend to live on fixed incomes, work less, require more outside help, and may rely heavily on social services, Social Security, and Medicare as they age.7 Some less-abled seniors will need homes that have been retrofitted with assessable design improvements in order to maintain their independence. As people age and their needs for supplemental care grow, their independence shrinks and they rely on their friends, family, as well as the medical and social services more and more.8


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

The trend in America is that as personal care requirements grow, people begin to look to third party specialists for assistance and care. These services include in-house nursing staff, amenity services (e.g. food, laundry) and assisted living or inpatient facilities once one’s health deteriorates to a certain point. These services are costly and for the most part not welcomed by individuals not wanting to give up their independence.9 There are current estimates that the existing infrastructure and services will not be able to accommodate the predicted increased older population.10 There have been some recent trends that are thought to better accommodate seniors in environments that are more cost effective, based on social community care and allow for more independence.11 These developments are being found in the form of co-housing and special retirement communities where day-to-day tasks and some costs of living are shared by a community of elderly residents. Recent efforts that address the built environment as a whole and how it should be built for all, or “universal design,” have also been gaining popularity, allowing seniors to remain independent longer.12 As people age there are usually some major changes regarding their effect on the surrounding economy. With age usually comes retirement on a fixed income —this means there is a reduction in the work force as well as an individual’s disposable income. There are also different demands that are associated with an elderly population. There is usually a greater demand for the service economy and medical resources.13 These demands are specific and require a certain infrastructure in order to accommodate them. As the population grows older there will need to be major investment made in these fields in order to meet the demand. Whatever the solution, there is a consensus that greater efforts will have to be made in order to address the challenges posed by the growth of the aging population. The key to Tonawanda’s future will be flexible policies that address the needs of its older residents. Community Reinvestment The Town of Townawanda’s development peaked in the post-World War II era, and the town contains homes and other structures that were largely built before 1970. In the future, there will be a growing need to adapt and reuse these older, existing structures. At the same time, reinvestment will allow developers and the public sector to recreate a sense of place that is absent or lacking in many parts of the town. Creating a better neighborhood is a main goal of community reinvestment. When done is a way that responds to emerging market conditions, it provides places with a more flexible housing stock that adapts to changing demographics. The typical suburban residential zone features single unit divisions that are largely disconnected from one another. It also features a fairly uniform housing stock, which for many, presents a challenge. A growing family would have a hard time settling down into a 1,000 square foot ranch home. This makes the existing housing stock difficult for reinvestment. Many growing municipalities have altered University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


zoning codes in order to allow for diverse reinvestment. Allowing a home to increase its coverage on an existing lot, minimizing setbacks, and allowing for increased density, could enable greater reinvestment in existing homes.14 Changing existing neighborhoods can cause great controversy. Most suburban communities have strict zoning laws that have allowed them to resist any physical changes. Levittown, on Long Island, is facing a similar fate with its housing stock. The lack of variety and the ability to change existing building footprints has forced new residential units into previously commercially zoned land.15 In Willingboro New Jersey three story town homes were built on an existing mall parking lot. While this diversifies the housing stock, it also prolongs a mindset that sees multi-unit housing as a commercial enterprise that needs to be separated from neighborhoods. In places such as Austin, Texas, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Portland, Oregon, where the economies are generally thriving, they have adopted policies to encourage Traditional Neighborhood Development. These standards work to create a neighborhood designed around the pedestrian as opposed to the automobile. An emphasis on sharing the right of way between cars, bikes, and pedestrians is seen as essential. When pairing adaptive reuse of existing residential structures with a traditional neighborhood design, a greater variety of investment could occur. Allowing for a mixing of uses at intersections can also increase vitality. Peter Calthorpe argues that “greater density can attract more residents in inner suburbs when placed in mixed use configurations”.16 The neighborhoods of Tonawanda could certainly benefit from changes in existing zoning codes that allow for flexible, and thus greater, reinvestment. Tonawanda also features the retail plaza developments seen in most suburbs. Empty plazas and abandoned retail stores, commonly known as greyfields, can become a real blight to the community. Adaptive reuse of such structures is difficult because of their architectural qualities and zoning. Retrofitting such structures can be costly because the stores lack interior walls, windows, and have unappealing concrete facades.17 The overwhelming size of the buildings also makes adaptive reuse complicated. However greyfield retrofitting does occur. In Phoenix Arizona they transformed the Maryvale Mall into two elementary schools. The entire mall serves as a local family resource center (Sochar, B. 2008). Kendall, Florida, a suburb of Miami, transformed a 324 acre mall into a mixed use transit oriented “downtown.”18 For this to occur, a change in the zoning code was essential. The entire project was made pedestrian friendly and is currently in the later stages of development. This type of retrofit would be ideal for any vacant commercial areas in Townawanda. Waterfront Revitalization and Brownfield Redevelopment The Town of Tonawanda waterfront has been dominated by heavy industry for nearly a century. As the town’s industrial base has declined, drastic underutilization and outright abandonment of industrial facilities and land has occurred, producing a combination of needs that are common to older industrial 8

Tonawanda Futures: 2035

communities: revitalization of waterfront areas that are, at the same time, brownfields. Market forces have caused local surpluses of waterfront industrial property, while back taxes and other problems have hindered their productive reuse. Hazardous waste sites are a major player in affecting redevelopment of the waterfront. Thirteen waste sites are located within the waterfront area according to the Town of Tonawanda Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, and nine of the waste sites have been confirmed as having hazardous wastes. While the history and current condition of waterfront land poses many problems, the following strategies have been found to be effective on underused waterfront sites and may be appropriate, in various combinations, along the Tonawanda waterfront. They come from Smart Growth for Coastal and Waterfront Communities:19 1.

Mix land uses, including water-dependent uses. Key actions would include adopting zoning policies and building codes that support mixed-use development. Plan for the needs of water-dependent recreational, commercial, and industrial users and implement fiscal policies and incentives that support a mix of uses.


Take advantage of compact community design that enhances, preserves, and provides access to waterfront resources. Key actions would be the creation of walkable environments and emphasizing pedestrian access to and along the waterfront.

3. Provide a range of housing opportunities and choices, where appropriate, to meet the needs of both seasonal and permanent residents. 4.

Foster distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place that capitalizes on the waterfront’s heritage.


Preserve open space, natural beauty, and the critical environmental areas that characterize and support waterfront communities.


Strengthen and direct development toward existing communities and encourage waterfront revitalization. Key options would be to promote community-based waterfront revitalization efforts, promote infill development by preserving, upgrading, and reusing existing properties, and retrofit historic waterfront for new uses.


Provide a variety of land-and water-based transportation options.


Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective through consistent policies and coordinated permitting processes. Key actions would be to come to a consensus on a vision for future growth.

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Encourage community and stakeholder collaboration in development decisions, ensuring that public interests and rights of access to the waterfront are upheld.

Based on this set of principles, a community should be able to plan a working waterfront. The Town of Tonawanda is already contemplating into its future through its comprehensive plan and waterfront revitalization plans, which emphasize many of these principles. Brownfield remediation, the process through which contamination at brownfield sites is addressed, is the most difficult challenge to address on the waterfront. Some brownfields can become perfectly usable, and simply aren’t targeted for redevelopment because of their undesirable surroundings. However, most have some form of contamination present that must be addressed before any redevelopment occurs. Cleanup efforts may include actively removing contaminants, isolation of contaminates so they can no longer leak into the environment, or just re-zoning the land for a use that allows the presence of some contamination to be present. Remediation can reduce health problems in neighboring communities and support plant and animal life. By allowing redevelopment to occur on once unused land, communities can see improved property values and tax bases. However, tremendous coordination is needed, over time, to overcome the real and perceived risks of developing new uses and new communities in a waterfront brownfield area—risks that are more than strong enough to dissuade the lone developer or isolated project. Transit-Oriented Development and Improved Mobility Transit-oriented development, which may also be referred to as a transit village or simply TOD, is a type of urban planning strategy. The foremost principle of a neighborhood built or refurbished as a transit-oriented development is that it contains high-quality transit service at its core, connecting to a transit system and larger region as a whole. TOD aims to be a sustainable alternative to traditional suburban living that also offers a better quality of life. The housing stock is typically higher density and mixed use, and the best examples also include mixed income housing. This concentration of residences uses land more efficiently than traditional suburbs. The physical design of transit-oriented development emphasizes walking and transit as the primary modes of transportation, while discouraging automobile use by limiting roads and parking availability, therefore reducing household transportation expenses. Transit-oriented developments will usually contain essential shops and services within the one-quarter to one-half mile radius boundary from the transit facility.20 Although transit-oriented development is an appealing urban planning strategy due to its inherently sustainable nature, it is generally not found in places with decreasing populations or poor transit service—both of which currently describe the Town of Tonawanda. In fact, case studies showcasing successful TODs, including the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor in Arlington County, Virginia, Ohlone10

Tonawanda Futures: 2035

Chynoweth Station in San Jose, California, and the Pearl District in Portland, Oregon, all have one thing in common – they are located in places with growing populations that generate high demand for new, highly accessible housing.21,22 Although transit-oriented development is unlikely to occur in the Town of Tonawanda in the near future due to the general lack of population growth, congestion, or high-quality transit service, availability of public transportation still remains an issue. As a first tier suburb, Tonawanda has considerably more transit access than newer suburban communities. The Niagara Frontier Transit Authority (NFTA) provides several bus routes that connect Tonawanda to downtown Buffalo, following the traditional hub-and-spoke transit system. However, there are insufficient routes running east to west to connect the town with growing employment centers in surrounding suburbs.23 This may be due to low demand. In 2000, only 1.47% of Tonawanda’s population used public transportation to get to work, down from 2.09% in 1990. Of course, the low levels of use could also be due to inadequate levels of service. Despite these trends, access to public transit still remains a problem of social equity. The following is a statement from the Alliance for a New Transportation Charter, a project of the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership, regarding the promotion of social equity and livable communities: “The transportation system should be socially equitable and strengthen civil rights; enabling all people to gain access to good jobs, education and training, and needed services. Where possible, personal transportation expenses should be minimized in ways that support wealth creation. Integrated with land use planning, transportation should also enhance the quality, livability and character of communities and support revitalization without displacement. The transportation system should allow every Americans to participate fully in society whether or not they own a car and regardless of age, ability, ethnicity, or income.”24 This excerpt provides a concise set of guidelines to create equitable transportation in a sustainable way. As Tonawanda’s population ages in coming decades, likely resulting reduced mobility by car, alternative transportation options—whether by foot, bicycle, traditional transit, demand-response transit, or other means—will need to be available. Economic Development Economic development in older suburban communities, especially in regions that once relied heavily on manufacturing, is a difficult process that often requires a balancing of industrial and labor force policy. In Tonawanda, where manufacturing is still a dominant feature of the economic and physical landscape—even as jobs in that sector continue to dwindle—the challenge in coming decades revolves around fostering development in growing industries with a foothold in new economic frontiers, doing so in a way that allows the reuse and renewal of underutilized land, and linking labor force development efforts (especially for displaced and undertrained workers) to the emergence of new industries. A combination of cluster-based economic development and human University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


development strategies may succeed in helping Tonawanda meet its future economic needs. Cluster-based development strategies support the emergence or expansion of companies that collaborate or compete in a similar industry, and do so in a given location because of one or more strategic advantages (including transportation access, workforce, access to research and development, and access to suppliers and other supportive firms). As a policy intervention, supporting clusters requires the public sector to target investments in infrastructure, job training, or tax incentives toward selected clusters that provide the greatest ability to contribute to the local economy in terms of job creation and revenue. The cluster strategy also allows for regional specialization to occur—a potentially powerful tool with regard to branding and marketing a place to prospect companies and individual entrepreneurs. Human development is the process of increasing an individual’s ability to leverage the resources that enhance their wellness and access to food, clothing, and shelter. Human development encompasses all education and skills training that lead to these ends. The concept of human development must be a significant part of any economic intervention strategy. There is a growing body of scholarly literature that highlights the direct correlation between human development and economic development, asserting that any sustainable program of economic growth must include a viable human development component from its outset in order to achieve long term success.25 A combination of cluster-based development—along the lines, perhaps, of the regional industrial clusters identified by the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise26 —and reinforcing that development through job and skills training for displaced or underemployed workers, could provide a flexible and sustainable route for older suburbs such as Tonawanda to follow in the coming decades. ENDNOTES 1. Puentes, Robert and Myron Orfield. Valuing America’s First Suburbs: A Policy Agenda for Older Suburbs in the Midwest (Washington DC: The Brookings Institution Center on Urban & Metropolitan Policy, 2002). 2. Hanlon, Bernadette and Thomas J. Vicino. “The Fate of Inner Suburbs: Evidence From Metropolitan Baltimore” (Urban Geography, 2007, 28.3, pp. 249-275).

3. Vicino, Thomas J. “The Quest to Confront Suburban Decline: Political Realities and Lessons” (Urban Affairs Review, 2007, 43.4, 553-581). 4. Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are drawn from U.S. Census Bureau materials, including the Decennial Census, Economic Census, and American Community Survey.


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5. Projections for Erie County were drawn from Cornell University’s Program on Applied Demographics, archived at index.cfm. 6. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. “Public Health and Aging: Trends in Aging --- United States and Worldwide” (Atlanta, GA: U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 2003). 7. Durrett, C. Senior Cohousing: A Community Approach to Independent Living – the Handbook (Berkely California: Habitat Press, 2005). 8. Hudson R. B. Boomer Bust? : Economic and Political Issues of the Graying Society (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2009). 9. Brent, R. and B. Schwartz. Aging, Autonomy and Architecture: Advances in Assisted Living (Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 1999). 10. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. “Public Health and Aging: Trends in Aging --- United States and Worldwide” (Atlanta, GA: U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 2003). 11. Durrett, C. Senior Cohousing: A Community Approach to Independent Living – the Handbook (Berkely California: Habitat Press, 2005). 12. Scheidt, R. J. and P.G. Windley. Environment and Aging Theory: a Focus on Housng (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998). 13. Gilderbloom, J. I. Invisible City: Poverty, Housing, and New Urbanism (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2008). 14. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Essential Smart Growth Fixes for Urban and Suburban Zoning Codes (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2009). 15. Williamson, J. “Retrofitting Levittown” (Places, 2005, 17.2, 46-52). 16. Dunham-Jones, E. “Suburban Retrofits, Demographics & Sustainability” (Places, 2005, 17.2, pp. 8-19). 17. Sochar, B. “Shining Light of Greyfields.” (Albany Law Review, 2008, pp. 697- 717). 18. Dunham-Jones, E. “Suburban Retrofits, Demographics & Sustainability” (Places, 2005, 17.2, pp. 8-19). 19. Smart Growth for Coastal and Waterfront Communities, (Silver Springs, MD: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2009). 20. Berton, B. “Transit Villages: retail, restaurant, and entertainment businesses are moving to serve New Jersey residents…” (Urban Land, 2008, 67.1, pp. 94-97). University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


21. Dittmar, H. and G. Ohland (eds.). The New Transit Town: Best Practices in Transit-Oriented Development (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2005). 22. Skuzinski, T. “Next TOD Stop? A proposed transit center in suburban Detroit, Michigan, could bring transit-oriented development to the Motor City” (Urban Land, 2008, 67.1, pp. 98-101). 23. Umiker, E. “Transportation” (Town of Tonawanda Comprehensive Plan, 2005, pp.38-49). 24. Surface Transportation Policy Partnership. “Issue Areas: Promotion of Social Equity and Livable Communities” (retrieved 9.19.2010 from http://www. 25. Stewart, F. and G. Ranis. “The Priority of Human Development” (The Development Imperative, 2005, E Hershberg and C. Thornton (eds.), New York: Social Science Research Council). 26. Buffalo Niagara Enterprise. “Industry Clusters” (accessed under “Industry Clusters” menu, at, on 12.6.2010).


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DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS While the Town of Tonawanda is representative of the trends and pressures experienced by inner-ring suburbs across the country, the breadth of neighborhoods and landscapes within the town make it a uniquely complex place. Consequently, the Town of Tonawanda is in a position to be an important testing ground for ideas and strategies ranging from brownfield remediation and reuse, multi-modal suburban transportation, universal design for aging populations, revisioning of unused or underutilized spaces, and the leveraging of natural assets—namely, the Niagara River—for recreation, conservation, and economic development. This Environmental Design Workshop took advantage of the town’s diversity by selecting a wide range of places to envision as more flexible, sustainable, and desirable environments in 2035. In the five areas of Tonawanda selected by the Workshop, a team of students examined the existing site, considered the trends and pressures facing both the site and the town, and envisioned a series of small and large transformations that would lead to a stronger and more sustainable place in 2035. In the chapters that follow, the transformations applied to the five selected sites will be described, as will the strategies that would assist in ushering those transformations into being over the next 25 years. The sites include:

1. Brighton-Eggert: a crossroads in northeast Tonawanda that is emblematic of the potential and challenges found in older suburban neighborhoods. 2. Sheridan-Parkside: a transitional zone featuring old and new industrial properties, an active rail line, wide arterial roads, a public golf course, and a large pocket of outdated low-income housing. 3. Waterfront: a sweeping area along the Niagara River with many active and inactive industrial sites, brownfields, landfills, excellent transportation links, and a patchwork of old, factory-adjacent neighborhoods. 4. Kenmore: an historic streetcar suburb with a rich urban fabric, quaint commercial areas, diverse housing stock, and recent recognition as a great American neighborhood. 5. Delaware-Sheridan: a major commercial center with old and new shopping plazas, surrounded by noisy roads and quiet suburban neighborhoods.

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Figure 1 Current crosswalk of Brighton-Eggert Intersection

Figure 2. Streetscape conditions


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

1 Keith Considine Christine Michaud Damian O’Meally Cam Worczak

Instead of a memorable focal point for a strong community, the intersection is merely forgettable, with little to distinguish it from any other suburban intersection.

BRIGHTON-EGGERT This chapter outlines a long-term transformation for the neighborhood surrounding the intersection of Brighton Road and Eggert Road. Today, the area features a combination of residential and commercial land uses and serves as a hub of activity for the northeast part of Tonawanda. Despite its key location and diversity of uses, however, the area lacks any sense of identity and presents a shabby, worn image. Instead of a memorable focal point for a strong community, the intersection is merely forgettable, with little to distinguish it from any other suburban intersection. The intersection is encompassed within a large residential neighborhood, with a large percentage of elderly residents. In coming decades, the population is expected to become increasingly elderly. Currently, the streets and sidewalks are in poor condition and show signs of neglect and disrepair. The intersection features an antiquated and dangerous crosswalk system that poses potential risks for both pedestrians and drivers—and especially for older residents who no longer drive and rely more and more on pedestrian facilities. The facades of the buildings at and around the intersection are typical of those found within a suburban environment and display little individuality or character of their own. The lots are consumed primarily by parking spaces and provide sparse landscape features. This aesthetic quality makes them uninviting to people driving or walking by. Despite the condition of the streetscape, this area maintains a small but active business district, populated by a number of small, independently owned businesses, including a florist, a restaurant, an optometrist, an insurance agency, a gas station and several other businesses of equal size and influence. During observation, an informal interview was conducted with a Town Highway employee who explained that the Town of Tonawanda is currently in the midst of a $30 million dollar transitional phase. The current project includes the replacement of an outdated sewer line as well as the installation of new gas and electric infrastructure. The Town Highway employee went on to explain that a proposal to convert the intersection into a traffic circle several years ago was rejected due to lack of support of neighboring residents. Overall, the Town of Tonawanda lacks a single cohesive identity and it is without a definitive sense of place, comprised of seemingly disconnected neighborhoods without a town center. A contributor of this document has described the town as having the appearance of a “Nowhere-place, USA”. This criticism does not imply that the town does not have its own unique character or places within its boundaries that can be built upon and enriched through intelligent planning.

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Perhaps more than others, the intersection of Brighton Road and Eggert Road has enormous potential to become a more identifiable place, and one that serves as a strong anchor for a more sustainable neighborhood.

VISION SUMMARY In 2035, the intersection of Brighton and Eggert Roads has emerged as a unique place that is known and recognized far beyond the intersection itself. Four strategies have been integral to the site’s transformation. The first and most difficult transformation was the creation of a unique and identifiable sense of place at and around the intersection. Over time, this has been achieved through a series of “placemaking” strategies that have established a much stronger sense of place, making Brighton-Eggert a destination for nearby residents and for visitors from other parts of the town. The second strategy, which was linked to the placemaking effort, redesigned the area’s intersecting roadways into a traffic circle arrangement. In 2035, this redesign provides a smooth flow of traffic that ensures maximum safety, comfort and aesthetics for users and travelers, regardless of age, gender, or level of physical ability in all modes of transportation. The third strategy involved the creation of an attractive living environment for aging residents in the Town of Tonawanda. In 2035, seniors in Tonawanda actively seek housing in the Brighton-Eggert area to take advantage of a senior co-housing complex, the walkable streetscape, alternative forms of transportation, and high levels of social connection between the area’s residents. The senior co-housing complex is also a sterling example of the fourth strategy, which has managed to enhance the energy efficiency and sustainability of the area’s building stock through the extensive refurbishment of existing buildings and the construction of innovative new facilities.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

STRATEGY: PLACEMAKING According to a recent publication printed by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, “geographic places are complex organisms made up of an interrelated system of values and activities”. The term “placemaking” is a technique used by planners to create pleasurable, attractive or interesting physical environments that attract people toward them. It is also “the way in which all human beings transform the places they find themselves into the places where they live.” 1 The placemaking process almost always begins with the establishment of goals. The goals of this particular proposal may vary greatly from the goals (or desired outcomes) of residents, business owners and town planning officials in Tonawanda. For the purpose of avoiding conflicting values and desired outcomes, the following mission statement is provided which tentatively outlines a rough set of goals which can easily be adjusted to suit the needs and desires of all others involved: “The complete redesign of the intersection in such a way that a unique, attractive and sustainable place is created that benefits neighboring businesses and residents. It will achieve this outcome by increasing public health and safety, and by providing a functional and attractive environment that represents the spirit of Tonawanda, New York and its people, both now and into the future.” Building on the above mission statement, the placemaking strategy aims to turn “Brighton and Eggert” into a unique place. The focus of building the traffic circle is not merely to improve the aesthetic qualities of the intersection, but to embrace the neighboring businesses and residences and unifying them all together. This sense of “place” will be achieved by creating a new balance of modern planning principles within an aged neighborhood comprised largely of locally owned small businesses. The area will not only invite a multitude of visitors and sight-seers to the area alone, but to the Town of Tonawanda itself. The social and economic impacts will undoubtedly be felt throughout the town. The plan for “placemaking” is not strongly affected by the decreasing population. In many ways it aims to help attract new business, residents and investment to the region as well. In addition to simply redesigning the intersection, there is potential for creating a unique identity for the area itself. The introduction of unified and cohesive design elements (like colors, typography, lighting designs, and landscaping elements) and design standards (like sidewalk width, traffic control devices, adequate draining specifications) have potential to “brand” the area as uniquely “Brighton and Eggert”. Depending on the success achieved by this branding strategy the Town of Tonawanda may wish to adopt it for use in other areas of the town as well.

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The exact specifications of these aforementioned design criteria will be left to the expert judgment of planning and design experts. As recommended by the document “Placemaking Tools for Community Action�, public forums and discussions must be held between members of the residential and business community to identify the needs of all of those affected. Doing so establishes a refined set of goals within the planning process, and creates a community value system.2 A truly successful place-branding strategy cannot be created overnight. It is a long-term endeavor that requires years of consistent and persistent action in order for the brand to take shape . Across the world, numerous urban locations are implementing their own placemaking or place-branding strategies for a variety of different reasons. Another factor in determining their success or failure is the level and completeness to which they are taken. Most importantly, these places must have a strong sense of what they wish to become, what they will offer and how they will function.3 The purpose of public forums and opencommunication between the community and the planners is to ensure that these objectives are met.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035


Figure 3. Site plan for traffic circle at the intersection of Brighton Road and Eggert Road

The second part of the redesign proposal is the implementation of a new traffic circle with a counter-clockwise, one-way direction (Figure 3). Of all of the traffic control devices used by planners today, traffic circles have repeatedly proven themselves to be the most effective at solving concerns about speeding and traffic accidents with the least amount of controversy .Within the construction of a new traffic circle, it is imperative that the design adhere to the criteria of a complete street. Currently the plan is a tentative proposal based on a limited set of preliminary research and fact-finding conducted between September and October of 2010. Additional information and refinement is necessary before any firm implementation can occur. Traffic circles have been used the world over to regulate traffic (both vehicular and non-vehicular). Among their measurable benefits is the ability to effectively and efficiently manage large traffic volumes and reduce traffic accidents by directing all traffic in the same direction around a center island. According to the 1997 NTCP (Neighborhood Traffic Control Program) in Seattle, Washington “of all of the devices used in Seattle, traffic circles have proven to be the most effective at solving neighborhood concerns surrounding speeding and traffic accidents with a minimum of controversy�.4

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The circle will be fed by the adjacent streets: Jamaica, Eggert, Brighton and Loretta (Figure 3). In order to fully optimize the efficiency of the circle, Loretta Street (which is a lower-traffic, mainly residential street) will be converted into a one-way street that feeds its traffic into the circle but does not allow traffic out of it. Figure 3 shows how Loretta might also be curved slightly for a smoother transition of traffic into the circle. The proposal is also individually designed to fit into the intersection without severely changing existing street width or turning radii. Not only will the traffic be reconfigured, but new spaces will be created within the circle that allow for another redesign of the area’s landscaping, lighting, pedestrian spaces, etc. Safety While the primary objective is to create a unique and attractive sense of place, it should be noted that improved safety through automobile accident reduction is the proposal’s greatest benefit. Studies from around the world have shown that the installation of traffic circles improves safety for motorists. While the number of accidents does not necessarily decrease, the severity of the accidents and reported injury rates undoubtedly does. The ability of traffic circles to reduce traffic accidents shows that they pay for themselves over time. There is also a measurable reduction in the amount of resources spent on police, fire and paramedic rescue when accident severity is reduced as well.5 It has also been proven that a pedestrian’s chances of death if hit by an automobile are drastically lower when the speed of the vehicle is slower . In addition to improving safety by reducing the severity of automobile accidents, traffic circles are effective at calming traffic by reducing vehicle speeds. They have not, however, been shown to significantly reduce traffic volume. Public Acceptance / Criticism It is important that the success of a traffic circle be measured by its acceptance by residents and businesses located near them. Traffic circles can cause the greatest disapproval when they are constructed poorly, or without consideration for aesthetic or logistical criteria.6 To avoid unnecessary construction of traffic circles and the subsequent waste of community funding and resources it is imperative that all facets of the traffic circle be examined thoroughly. A concern among business owners near proposed traffic circles is the effect that lengthy construction can have on them.7 In order to minimize the negative effects suffered by adjacent businesses, the plan must be phased accordingly so that unnecessary obstructions and construction interference is avoided. Again, this strategy is best solved by professional traffic engineers and highway construction teams who understand the complexities of such a problem.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

Studies from around the world have shown that the installation of traffic circles improves safety for motorists.

Another criticism of traffic circles is that motorists don’t fully understand how to drive on them; thus leading to an increase in the number of accidents . This problem has the potential to arouse public resistance and is an issue likely to occur during the preliminary planning phases. Proper public education and driver-safety information will hopefully mitigate these concerns. Policy Considerations Multi-Modal Transportation and Complete Streets As with all complete street transportation planning, attention must be given to all modes of transportation. The future integration of a roundabout must be implemented such that vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles are given equal consideration with regards to their safety and individual mobility characteristics. A. Pedestrians In addition to their slow rate of travel, pedestrians are also the most vulnerable, therefore their safety must be given special consideration. This is accomplished by the placement of pedestrian crossings around the perimeter of the roundabout (See Figure 2). The space between alternating traffic directions known as “splinter islands” not only help slow down approaching traffic, they also simplify pedestrian crossing by offering a resting point at which pedestrians can consider the oncoming one-way traffic. Figure 2 also shows the pedestrian treatment as a white line which represents a sidewalk surrounding the outer circle. Here, pedestrian traffic is kept at a safe and comfortable distance from the dangers of higher-speed vehicular traffic traveling within. The inner circle of the roundabout must also be designed in such a way to discourage pedestrians from crossing through it; for example by using landscape or manmade barriers around the circle’s perimeter. Complete street guidelines state that special consideration must also be given to children, disabled and elderly pedestrians as well. The principles of universal design are imperative to the design of the roundabout to ensure the safety of all people regardless of age or varying levels of physical ability. The Americans with Disabilities act (ADA) mandates that certain accessibility criteria must be met. B. Bicycles Bicycle transportation is not always easily accommodated within traditional roundabout design4 yet the integration of this method of transportation cannot be omitted. Like pedestrians, bicyclists pose safety concerns because of their often unpredictable movement and the varying degrees of speed and comfort of their users when mixed with vehicular traffic.8

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It has been recommended that bicycles therefore should not be mixed within the vehicular realm of the circle. Following this recommendation, the proposal places a bicycle path adjacent to the pedestrian path along the outer circle where it is clear of the dangers of vehicles. In this proposal, efficiency and bicycle speed must be compromised for the purpose of increased safety. Doing so does not suggest that bicycles are given lower priority, but rather are kept isolated due to the potential risks of integration with vehicular traffic. Figure 2 again shows the white line that represents the dual pedestrian / bicycle path. C.

Public Transit and Emergency Vehicles

The universal design principles of complete streets also apply to both public transportation and emergency vehicles as well. Because the future growth and development of the Town of Tonawanda and its public transportation system is fairly uncertain (although somewhat predictable) it is still necessary for the design of the proposed roundabout to be suitable for bus use in the future. Currently the NFTA-Metro system (which provides public transportation via bus and railway to Tonawanda)has no routes or stops that operate within the vicinity of Brighton and Eggert. The future usage of Brighton and Eggert should not be limited by a design that failed to consider the possibility of different uses in 2035. Therefore the proposal is designed such that the turning radii and lane widths can accommodate standard size buses, fire engines and ambulances both now and in the future. Cost and Funding There are numerous factors that influence the amount of economic investment justified for any type of intersection transformation.9 The costs of these roundabouts may be accrued by construction costs, design and engineering fees, additional land acquisition costs (which are necessary in the proposal) as well as the continual maintenance costs in the future. However these costs are offset over time by the aforementioned improvements in safety as well as the improved business climate which facilitates a sustainable business environment and reliable tax base into the future. Perhaps the most costly element of the redesign proposal is the acquisition of the piece of land at 882 Brighton Road. There is a piece of privately owned property at the northeast corner of Brighton and Eggert. Unfortunately, the entire proposal is contingent upon the use of this land as part of the traffic circle. It is imperative that the lot be re-zoned for transportation, and demolished accordingly. It is anticipated that this process will be both lengthy and costly. A thorough analysis of all aspects of the proposal must be carefully measured in terms of their benefit to the Town of Tonawanda and residents in order to determine if the traffic circle serves the greater good. If this is done successfully, the land can be acquired through eminent domain, and the landowner must be compensated fairly for their loss. It is not known at this time just exactly how long or expensive this procedure may be, however it is crucial.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

STRATEGY: ENVIRONMENTS FOR THE AGING POPULATION Creating an environment for the aging population in the town of Tonawanda will foster a welcoming and attractive place for senior citizens to thrive. The goals of this strategy are to create an environment that will foster and sustain social connectivity, provide access to public transit as well as on-demand transportation, and provide access to goods and services within the perimeter of the neighborhood corridor, and ultimately promote increased independence throughout the senior population for a longer time. Creating an environment for the aging population for both the Town of Tonawanda and those adjacent the Brighton and Eggert Road Corridor will address these issues and meet the unique needs of the ever-growing senior population in a comprehensive way. This strategy will become increasingly important for the town of Tonawanda through 2035, especially in the Brighton/Eggert Corridor as it develops a real sense of place. In 2011, across the United States, the eldest members of the post WWII baby boom generation will begin to turn 65. By 2030, a projected 1 in 5 people with be over the age of 65.10 Similarly, projections indicate that by 2035, an estimated 21.6% of the population in the Town of Tonawanda will be over 65 years of age. Though this trend is primarily due to the increase in births during the baby boom, it is also due to increasing longevity. For example, according to the United States Census Bureau, in 1990 in the United States, there were 38,300 centenarians. By 2000, the number of centenarians in the United States had grown to 96,548.11 Senior citizens, especially those incoming from the baby boom generation, are also becoming much less idle and significantly more active than previously anticipated. According to the 2003 Del Webb Baby Boomer Survey, 59% of people surveyed said they planned on moving one more time during retirement, versus only 31% as surveyed in 1999. Where the town of Tonawanda is concerned, this could imply willingness amongst senior residents to relocate one last time to a place that would allow them to age independently. Housing for seniors comes in myriad forms and sizes. The type of senior housing called the “assisted living facility� does not have a unanimously agreed upon standard and can range in building type, appearance, and size. While assisted living facilities typically provide housing, meals, personal care, support, social activities, 24-hour supervision, and occasionally health-related services, they strive to help their residents remain self-sufficient and independent as possible.12 Nursing homes are for persons that are no longer capable of functioning independently. They typically provide their residents with 24-hour care from nurses, room, board, assistance with personal care needs, and physical therapy.13 Generally, a nursing home will be housed in one building with several stories where residents live in their own bedroom including a private bathroom.

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Another type of senior housing is the Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). CCRCs are comprised of several buildings arranged in a campus-like setting. The housing within the community varies to accommodate its residents changing needs, from independent living, to assisted living, to skilled nursing care.14 As previously discussed, several senior housing options exist today. Unfortunately, these options tend to be institutional, expensive, wasteful, and are not conducive to social interaction, causing widespread loneliness for residents. Cohousing, on the other hand, promotes social connectivity, community, and practical advantages of a close-knit neighborhood. Residents cooperate and socialize on a daily basis. Members know of each other’s skills and are not afraid to ask for help because they know they will be able to reciprocate later. Common dinners are cooked by residents and served to the community in the common house. Common dinners increase social interaction and serve as a catalyst for other social activities.15 In senior cohousing communities, the residents of the community participate in the design and planning process and are ultimately responsible as a group for the final decisions. Residents are continuously responsible for managing the community through community meetings. In a truly democratic manner, there are no designated leaders as all members of the community have a say.16 How cohousing communities are designed and built is also different from traditional senior housing options. They are usually designed as attached or single family homes clustered around a courtyard or one or more pedestrian streets and include extensive common amenities such as a common house and recreational areas. Though the individual dwellings are built to promote selfsufficiency and include a kitchen, they are much smaller than the average single family home. The common house is the central social space in the community and can contain a spacious dining room and kitchen, recreational facilities, workshops, laundry room, and a guest room for visitors. Senior cohousing communities generally range in size from 7 – 67 residences.16 These intentional communities also follow universal design principles, such as being user-friendly, barrier-free, accessible, and easy for all to navigate.17


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

Figure 4. Site Plan for the Senior Cohousing Community

Cohousing is sustainable because it offers numerous environmental benefits. For example, studies have shown that residents of cohousing communities use a quarter the amount of energy as Americans use in traditional housing. Similarly, cohousing dwellings are approximately 60 percent the size of new American houses. Cohousing communities also have a footprint that is less than 50% as much land as the average new subdivision in America for the same number of households.18 Though it does cost money up front to move from an existing residence to a newly built cohousing residence, residents recognize that they are no longer capable of doing what they used to, and their current environment is no longer meeting their needs. They are willing to make an investment that will ensure the highest quality of life for their remaining years. Senior cohousing communities are generally paid for by the people who plan to inhabit them. Though this may lead one to believe that this option may be an exorbitantly expensive one, people who chose to live in a senior cohousing community can save a significant amount of money compared to other senior housing options. Individual senior cohousing residences are custom-tailored, extremely energy efficient, well designed, and substantially smaller, resulting in a low cost to build, furnish, and maintain. Though the residences are small, their size is supplemented by large common spaces and common amenities.19 One example, as illustrated in Senior Cohousing: a community approach to independent living – the handbook by Charles Durrett, shows one can save a significant amount of money in cohousing versus assisted living.

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In senior cohousing, if the average cost per month for a mortgage and utilities is $1,500, plus $300 a month for food, plus $400 per month for a once-a-week visiting caregiver, the total is $2,200 per month. The average cost per month for assisted living on the other hand is $4000, a difference of $1,800 a month, making senior cohousing economically more attractive by far.

The average cost per

The senior cohousing community will be located to the north of Brighton Road between Jamaica Road and Guenther Avenue on a lot that will be 6 acres. It will be located there because on the north side of Brighton Road will be the location of a mixed use cohousing building. This section of the Brighton/Eggert intersection is also the most regularly shaped and has the most potential for store from retail space. As a mixed use building, the bottom floor will be used as retail and office space with several residences above. Behind the building will be a courtyard, the common house, and several more townhouse type cohousing residences. Figure 4 illustrates a potential site plan for the senior cohousing community.

hand is $4000, a

The future residents of this community will acquire the site with the help of a knowledgeable developer and an urban planning professional. The developer and planner will serve integral roles in helping the project move faster, more efficiently, and in a less costly way.

month for assisted living on the other difference of $1,800 a month, making senior cohousing economically more attractive by far.

Under the current zoning code, however, certain restrictions would pose a problem when it would come time to get the project underway. All of the lots abutting Brighton Road are classified as C-1, restricted business. A restricted business zone allows residential used but no multifamily uses, and only a limited number of commercial uses.20 North of these zones are lots classified at B, or second residential district. A second residential district means housing can only be developed for the use of up to two families and it does not allow for commercial use. To the north of these lots is a park type area. Figure 5. One example of a mixed use cohousing development is FrogsSong Cohousing community in Cotati, California. This project won Best in American Living Award in 2004.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

In order to accomplish the goals as described in this strategy, the zoning codes in this area would need to become more flexible, allowing for commercial and residential use, as well as multifamily residential use, to occupy the same land. One example of a place that has adopted flexible zoning codes is Palo Alto, California. The City of Palo Alto incorporated several flexible zoning techniques over time by creating overlay and combining districts for specific purposes such as neighborhoods preservation, pedestrian shopping, and ground floor retail. They also created another zone, the Planned Community zone, which can diverge from restrictions imposed on other zones. Overlay districts, as described in the City of Palo Alto Website, have the “flexibility to impose specific requirements for area-specific or site-specific needs.21 Overlay districts could be used to allow for mixed used development which could increase density in areas where only two family dwellings are allowed. Similarly, the senior cohousing community could be qualified as a Planned Community, giving it the flexibility required to be mixed use and multi-family.

In order to accomplish the goals as described in this strategy, the zoning codes would need to become more flexible...

A senior cohousing community at the Brighton and Eggert Road Commercial Corridor would contribute to the overall vision of a sustainable suburb in the Town of Tonawanda in 2035. Senior members of the community would actively participate in the design and planning process, and the community would provide living spaces that would accommodate the transition from an active lifestyle to one that needs greater levels of accessibility. A mixed use senior cohousing development would be promoted, though the members of the future community would have the final say. Additionally, improved public transportation system would improve accessibility to other town centers, as well as the city of Buffalo, prolonging mobility for seniors even after deterioration of site has rendered them incapable of driving. Though senior cohousing is still in the beginning stages in the United States, a few successful examples exist. Silver Sage Village in Boulder, Colorado is one of the first senior cohousing communities built in the United States. Construction was completed in 2007. It includes a 5,000 square foot common house, 16 units oriented towards a garden court, a workshop, community decks and community gardens.22

Figure 6. Silver Sage Village in Boulder, Colorado

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STRATEGY: GREEN BUILDINGS Redeveloping Tonawanda for 2035 into a beautiful and thriving area is very important for its future. In order for it to be sustainable in 2035, new green building policies need to be adopted. There are several government agencies that have established guidelines to follow. It is often believed that the cost for green housing is more expensive than that of a traditional home. However, grants and tax incentives from federal, state and local governments can often offset costs significantly. Organizations like the National Renewable Energy Lab and the National Association of Home Builders Leadership oversee green home construction projects and present awards to uilders and homeowners using green housing materials and energy efficient design.23 Perhaps the most well known guidelines are implemented by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), a program run by the United States Green Building Council that establishes green construction standards and certifies buildings that maintain these standards. Despite the rigidity of LEED guidelines, benefits include long term reductions in home energy costs, sustainability and positive environmental impacts. Potential green homeowners are often discouraged by the preconception that materials and design are more expensive as well. This may have been true in years past, however builders specializing in green construction are now able to build efficient green homes at almost an equal cost. Innovations in green home technologies include solar-heated water systems which have the ability to eliminate up to thirty percent of a household’s annual energy expenses. Expenses can also be offset by grant assistance. Currently there are over one thousand different grants offered by twenty six independent agencies, the majority of which are from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.24 The redesign plan for the Brighton and Eggert neighborhood in 2035 includes special consideration for green home innovations and sustainable technology in the form of two unique projects. The first major project will be the construction of an entirely new green building one block to the east of Eggert and Brighton at the intersection of Brighton and Guenther as a means to showcase green technologies and home construction advancements as well as to serve as a catalyst for the implementation of these ideas throughout the rest of Tonawanda into the future (Figure 7). As previously mentioned, this area is going to be developed into a senior cohousing community and mixed-use retail area and will be a great place to implement new complete green buildings. The buildings can potentially include any number of green building technologies, and should be designed such that continual modification and adjustment can be made as the technologies themselves change throughout the future.Currently, the list of technologies includes numerous types of green heating systems and renewable energy sources, energy efficient windows and insulation types, sustainable and recycled lumber and building materials as well as many innovations that continue to be developed each day.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

Using the newly developed green buildings that line Brighton/ Eggert intersection as a starting point, the second project will implement new green home innovations to retrofit existing residences and businesses throughout Tonawanda as seen in Figure 7, over a longer period of time. Although it would be great to construct completely new green buildings throughout Tonawanda it is more realistic to retrofit existing structures. As indicated by the blue in Figure 6, existing business surrounding the Eggert/Brighton intersection will be retrofitted with green home innovations. The surrounding residences represented by the purple in Figure 7, will also be retrofitted with green home innovations. It’s becoming clear that green building technologies and sustainable planning are in no way a passing trend. The overwhelming number of measurable benefits has proven that the future of town and city planning will undoubtedly be shaped by the continual growth of these innovations over time. It is therefore reasonable to suggest that the future of Tonawanda, New York must also embrace this way of planning, and must begin to utilize this plan effective immediately.

Figure 7. Site plan proposal for the Brighton-Eggert intersection

The acceptance of grants from federal and state agencies must be the first step in the successful implementation of green housing policies. Furthermore, the plan is also contingent upon the continual education of Tonawanda’s residents about green building technologies, as well as what options are available to individuals. Residents and building owners would also undoubtedly benefit from learning about the federal tax incentives available to them. These incentives include but are not limited to the following: • Basic Home Rehabilitation. $1,500 off your tax bill - a 30% credit for the first $5,000 you spend in 2009 or 2010 for improvements to your house energy efficiency. • Solar heated water. Solar hot water system to heat your shower or radiators (not hot tub or pool) qualifies for a 30% federal credit with no dollar cap. University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


• Solar powered energy. Uncle Sam will give you a tax credit equal to 30% of the price of a solar system you install to generate electricity in your home. For a $60,000 system, that’s $18,000 off your taxes.25 Over time the existing and ever-aging building stock can be gradually retrofitted into green homes by the implementation of contemporary green technologies. It is difficult to anticipate exactly how current technologies and LEED certification standards will change in the future, or which new ones will exist as well. Therefore predicting the exact physical appearance of Tonawanda’s housing environment in 2035 is difficult as well. What is certain however is between now and the year 2035 a rapidly increasing number of homes and buildings, both new and old, will be more energy efficient, environmentally sustainable and cheaper to operate and maintain.

CONCLUSION The Town of Tonawanda is continually changing every year. For the Town of Tonawanda to become a thriving and prosperous city in 2035, many revitalization projects will have to be implemented. The intersection of Brighton Road and Eggert Road is a great place to start. In order to gain a sense of place and create community through connectivity, specific strategies will have to be applied. The first strategy will utilize the placemaking technique used by planners to create a pleasurable, attractive, or interesting physical environment that will attract people to this place. The second strategy will implement a traffic circle at the intersection of Brighton Road and Eggert Road that will adhere to the criteria of a complete street. The third strategy will create an environment for the aging population in the form of a senior cohousing community that will include a mixed use residential building. The fourth strategy will adopt green building policies as to gradually retrofit existing structures within the Brighton/Eggert neighborhood to be energy efficient and environmentally friendly. The proposal given is merely a tentative and vague vision for the future of Eggert and Brighton in Tonawanda. Throughout the future there will undoubtedly be changes made to the vision in ways that most adequately and efficiently accommodate the needs of the town and its residents. Currently the logistical and economic aspects of this plan have only been discussed minimally. Further collective efforts of planners, planning students, designers and local officials is essential for the development and completion of this plan. It may even be revealed that the plan itself is not feasible. We are confident, however, that the future of the Town of Tonawanda and its success would greatly be improved by the adoption and implementation of this proposal in some form.


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ENDNOTES 1. Boyd, Susan. Placemaking Tools for Community Action: tools that engage the community to create a future that works for everyone. Washington, DC: US Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2002.

2. Boyd, Susan. Placemaking Tools for Community Action: tools that engage

the community to create a future that works for everyone. Washington, DC: US Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2002. 3. Van Gelder, Sicco. “How to improve the chances of successfully developing and implementing a place brand strategy.” Placebrands: Places with Purpose, May 26, 2008. pdf. 4. U.S. Department of Transportation. Roundabouts an Informational Guide. Washington, DC: USDOT, June, 2000. 5. Department of Transport (United Kingdom). “Killing Speed and Saving Lives.” Reprinted in Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, 1995. 6. Kavanagh, Sean. “Residents protest traffic-calming circles”. From CBC News; 7. Good, Dan. “Local restaurants could lose business, as construction crews eliminate Somers Point traffic circle”. Press of Atlantic City. October 18, 2010. 8. U.S. Department of Transportation. Roundabouts an Informational Guide. Washington, DC: USDOT, June, 2000. 9. U.S. Department of Transportation. Roundabouts an Informational Guide. Washington, DC: USDOT, June, 2000. 10. Abbott, Pauline S. Re-creating neighborhoods for successful aging. Baltimore, Md.: Health Professions Press, 2009. 11. Brody, Jane E. “Three R’s for Extreme Longevity,” The New York Times, October 19, 2010. 12. American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). “Caregiving Resource Center: Assisted Living: Weighing the Options,” September 2010, http://www. 13. American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). “Caregiving Resource Center: What Are Nursing Homes?,” October, 2010, 14. “Types of senior housing and senior care” http:// Retrieved November 20, 2010. 15. Durrett, Charles. Senior cohousing: a community approach to independent living - the handbook. Berkeley, CA: Habitat Press, 2005.

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16.Abbott, Pauline S. Re-creating neighborhoods for successful aging. Baltimore, Md.: Health Professions Press, 2009. 17.Abbott, Pauline S. Re-creating neighborhoods for successful aging. Baltimore, Md.: Health Professions Press, 2009. 18. Durrett, Charles. Senior cohousing: a community approach to independent living - the handbook. Berkeley, CA: Habitat Press, 2005. 19. Durrett, Charles. Senior cohousing: a community approach to independent living - the handbook. Berkeley, CA: Habitat Press, 2005. 20. Town of Tonawanda, NY. Town Code. 21. City of Palo Alto. “Types of Zoning Codes and Formats: Discussion Paper,” =239#PAZoning 22. Durrett, Charles. Senior cohousing: a community approach to independent living - the handbook. Berkeley, CA: Habitat Press, 2005. 23. Wyeth, John. “Take Note- Affordable Green Building is Possible.” 24.Verde, Zach. “Finding Grants for Green Construction.” http://ezinearticles. com/?Finding-Grants-for-Green-Construction&id=447495. 25. Forbes. “Going Green? Here are the 10 Tax Breaks for 2010,” April 10, 2010.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop



Tonawanda Futures: 2035

2 Okoa Kinsey Tammy Kulpa Kyle Smith Jonathan Sowinski

A three part redevelopment plan - residential, green infrastructure and commercial/industrial land uses will define the Sheridan-Parkside study area

SHERIDAN-PARKSIDE This chapter describes long-term transformations to the Sheridan Parkside/Military Road section of the Town of Tonawanda, bordered by the Youngman Expressway (US I-290) to the north, Sheridan Drive (County Route 324) to the south, Military Road (County Route 265) on the east and US I-190 to the west (see Figure 1). The existing neighborhood is made up of a wide variety of land uses and can be divided into five unique sub-areas (see Figure 2). First, the most commonly identified area is Sheridan Park Golf Course (“Park”) which accounts for about 30% of the area. To the east of the course is what is known as the Sheridan Parkside Neighborhood (“Parkside”). Currently the Sheridan Parkside community consists predominately of post-World War II temporary housing. The orientation of the streets and houses results in an irregular assemblage of dwellings and pathways with no internal logic governing the arrangement. Much of the existing housing stock east of East Park Drive has outlived its intended life cycle. The residential areas around Browning Avenue and Cowper Avenue are also physically isolated from the major thoroughfares of Essminger Road and Sheridan Drive. This isolation inhibits the flow of people and may be exacerbating negative economic dynamics. North of this residential neighborhood is a mix of commercial and industrial businesses (“North Parkside”). The eastern edge of Sheridan Parkside is identified by a rail corridor that separates it from the Military Road corridor ( “Military Road”). Military Road is a five lane connector that is made up of mostly commercial land uses; however, there are some residences mixed in as well. The east side of Military Road consists of a more coherent land use mix than the west side. The western most section of the study area (“West Parkside”) is primarily made up of a business park, but again there are a few residential units that separate this area from the Park. The following three issues have been determined to be the major obstacles faced by the Sheridan Parkside neighborhood: A. B. C.

Physical/Economic isolation High concentrations of low income housing Poorly positioned parks and green spaces

Each one of the identified sub-areas will benefit from individual strategies for future uses and development. These issues will be addressed in a way that will best serve that particular neighborhood, and accommodate the future needs of the town.

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Figure 1: Aerial view of study area

Figure 2: Outline of specific focal areas


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

VISION SUMMARY (Figure 3) In 2035, the Sheridan Parkside area is a stronger and more sustainable place, thanks to four major transformations that leveraged the area’s assets and stimulated reinvestment: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Diversification of the housing stock Development of green infrastructure Mixed use development Human development initiatives

The major asset of the study area in 2035 continues to be its strategic location next to Sheridan Park. This 18 hole golf course features a spectacularly manicured lawn, 6,534 yards of fairways, rolling hills, and scenic standing pools. On the south side of Sheridan Drive there is additional green space for open recreational use. There is a large pond in the middle of this section of green space, and to the east there is a residential neighborhood consisting of small single family homes. The new Sheridan Parkside development is a combination of synergistically linked resources. The residential development is an economic anchor for other types of investment. The incorporation of residential and recreational facilities for the elderly has helped to enhance the diversity of the community and is also a significant source of employment. With median incomes on the rise, shops and restaurants now have incentives to locate along the adjacent thoroughfares of Sheridan Drive and Military Road. The industrial park in the northwest corner of the study areas has, by 2035, developed into an innovative eco-industrial park. The buildings located in this park use environmentally friendly techniques to manage resources and reduce pollution. Implementing energy/resource cascading initiatives has provided savings on construction and heating/ventilation costs. As knowledge of the cost savings and reduced environmental impact become more common, demand is growing for space in this location. The eco-industrial park has also been a pilot project for this technology, spurring similar developments in the region and a new industry around the design and construction of eco-industrial parks. The industrial and residential areas are separated by buffer zones in 2035. These green spaces provide an aesthetic back drop for residents while placing physical and perceptual space between the two land uses. Commercial and mixed use developments are located along Military Road. The various land uses involved in the project have been connected by a rationalized grid system of streets. Multimodal transportation is now incorporated into the new street system, allowing residents who do not own automobiles to access centers of commerce and employment without disrupting the residential fabric of the neighborhood.

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To further enhance the physical and perceptual connectivity of the new Sheridan Parkside community, a program of green space has been interspersed throughout the new development. A system of pocket parks has been strategically placed throughout the community. The parks are accessed through a series of permeable and semi-permeable pathways. These pathways reduce storm water runoff. Additionally, a system of bio swales now mediates environmental impact. Swales located at the sides of the road contain cattails and bulrushes enhancing the physical beauty of the community. The program also includes community gardens. These provide a low cost means of reclaiming vacant lots, while enhancing the sense of community among residents. The population of the study area has changed as median incomes rose. The majority of the residents in 2035 are now middle to upper-middle income families. The median age of the study area also increased slightly as approximately 30% of the residential units now accommodate a significant elderly population. The community also continues to be a strong draw for young adults between the ages of 24-30. The majority of the median to high income jobs are marketed toward this age cohort. The community resource center provides educational opportunities to community residents, classes are offered for personal edification. To provide an employment base for semi-skilled and low skilled workers, businesses that sell essential goods and services are encouraged to locate within the mixed use zone along Military Road. Small grocery stores, drug stores, Laundromats, and other such establishments allow convenient access to these commodities while providing much needed jobs. In summary, the Sheridan Parkside community in 2035 has optimized land values by utilizing existing assets to leverage investment. A new middle income subdivision built on the north side of Sheridan Drive takes advantage of proximity to the Sheridan Park Golf Course, and easy access to the 190. This new subdivision is an economic anchor, raising the median income, and incentivizing mixed use development along Military Drive and Sheridan Drive. The ecoindustrial park is now a source of higher income jobs, and attracts individuals of the 24-30 age cohorts. Residential units that cater to the elderly and low income families have been incorporated into the development. This will provided a level of diversity in the community and reduce pressures resulting from displacement. Aesthetically the community is enhanced by a network of small parks and community gardens connected by permeable pathways to reduce cost and environmental impact. The effort has been completed with a community resource center that provides classes for job training and personal edification. Each of these elements implemented allow them respond to the evolving needs of a growing community.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

Figure 3: Plan view of the redeveloped study area

new residential

green infrastructure

new commercial/industrial

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Tonawanda Futures: 2035

RESIDENTIAL Existing Conditions

Figure 4: Existing Parkside multi-family residential housing.

The Parkside area today is in desperate need of redevelopment. The housing stock and infrastructure has reached the end of its useful life. The overall quality of the residences is poor and the majority of properties are not being acceptably maintained and lower the overall value of the neighborhood as well as the achievable rents.

The housing stock and infrastructure has reached the end of its useful life.

The current street pattern consists of many segregated small courts that are accessed by one main thru street: Sheridan Parkside Drive. These small courts do not provide connectivity within the community, are confusing to those not familiar to the area and can discourage pedestrian walking and cycling due to the limited thru traffic created by these courts. The housing is primarily made up of multi-family, detached units located on small parcels and do not have adequate parking facilities. Most of the housing is non-owner occupied rental units. Located in the middle of the neighborhood is the Parkside Community Center, a great asset to the community providing safe educational and entertainment programs for residents. Another asset to the neighborhood is the presence of the NFTA 20H bus line that has numerous stops along Sheridan Parkside Drive. The close proximity to the Park also makes this area unique and elevates its development potential. The mixed commercial and industrial land uses of North Parkside can be better integrated into the surrounding area. The proximity to the rail corridor, as well as access to I-190 and I-290, provides conditions suitable for the existing types of businesses. Efforts should be made to maintain and strengthen the progressive change in land use that currently exists between the residential Parkside and the more industrial North Parkside. Businesses and land uses such as St. Timothy’s Church and senior housing, the SPCA, Senior Citizen Center and adjacent open space, as well as the Tonawanda Manor Assisted Living facility are all good transitional land uses that keep the heavier industry closer to I-290 and separate the Parkside residences. These transitional land uses should be maintained and efforts to incorporate them into the Parkside Neighborhood should be made.

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The existence of the Senior Citizens Center, St. Timothy’s and Tonawanda Manor could provide services to the aging population that might locate within Parkside. These might be used as a catalyst to encourage more attention to be paid to the provision of senior amenities in any future developments. Recommendations (refer to Figure 5) The new vision of the Parkside/Sheridan neighborhood centers on the Town of Tonawanda’s need to provide new, quality housing for upwardly mobile families who often leave for wealthier suburbs with more stable neighborhoods. With this in mind, the Parkside/Sheridan neighborhood then becomes one of the only large and potentially free parcels of land for this type of housing. The logic behind this would be to help relocate lower income residents over a 25 year period as the neighborhood is transformed into a higher-income subdivision. Based on the current conditions of this neighborhood, it is recommended that the area is redeveloped over time to accommodate a wider range of income and family demographics and improve access and public transportation. The ability to attract a more diverse population is dependent on the availability of a variety of housing types from detached single-family units, single-family attached (townhouses), as well as affordable multi-family units. This would require the demolition of the majority of the existing housing stock. This demolition would allow for resizing and redistribution of the parcels and street infrastructure to achieve the aforementioned goals. Housing should maximize the potential land values considering their relationship with the Park and Community Center and the most desirable parcels should be marketed to higher income families. Considerations of the issues identified in regard to the ageing population, universal design, and “green” buildings and infrastructure should also be highlighted during this redevelopment process. Establishing building guidelines that include universal and green building design standards would help set this neighborhood apart for most others. In addition to higher income residents, the former Parkside/Sheridan neighborhood would be used to accommodate a rising population of elderly adults. Approximately 30% of the land will be devoted towards special housing for the elderly to help retain their independence. Part of this independence will rely on the new community center and transportation hub which will provide necessary transportation for an aging population. The new transportation hub will be for a new bus rapid transit system that services the redeveloped Parkside/Sheridan neighborhood and possibly an increased commercial corridor that surrounds it. Connecting these different land uses through both the bus rapid transit system and “green” pedestrian corridors will provide independence for both elderly residents and those who choose not to be dependent on an automobile.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

Figure 7 Residential | 2035

pedestrian accesible roads

Railroad Greenway

mixed aging facilities

transportation hub

community center

subsidized residential

Figure 5: proposed residential redevelopment

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By adding different size and style homes, people of all income levels would have the opportunity to live near one another and to interact as a community. The public image of Sheridan Parkside could potentially be transformed from a “slum” to a beautiful, diverse community; one that is perfect for young couples and families searching for a starter home, larger middle-class families with children, single adults, and seniors. If designed correctly, people of all different socio-economic backgrounds could live together. Having a wide range of income levels can also allow for “community role models” to emerge. For example, if one homeowner takes impeccable care of their lawn and home, it may influence the other homeowners on the block to do the same. With the help of organizations such as Buffalo ReUse, PUSH Buffalo, and the Buffalo Tool Library (these resources are discussed in more detail in the following section), everyone can have the opportunity to improve and maintain their property. By providing residents with detached homes rather than apartments and condominiums, the rate of home ownership would grow, and the number of renters would decrease. Communities with high home ownership rates are more stable and give the residents a reason to care about their property as well as their community as a whole. Homeowners are also more likely to be active in community affairs and feel more connected to the community. “A family that owns its home is more likely to upgrade the property, to take pride in its neighborhood, and to feel invested in the community.”1 Home ownership also greatly reduces the turnover rate, which in turn can raise property values.

Figure 6: Example of desired residential unit styles


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

Figure 7: Residential Universal Design features

The possibility of constructing a new senior community should evaluate the possibility of a senior co-housing development. Co-housing embraces the independence of seniors and should be designed using universal design techniques such as no step entries, single level structures, open floor plans and minimum door clearances. These specific requirements should be listed within the building codes in order to ensure standards are kept. Incentives could also be created for buildings that exceed these requirements. It has been documented that these developments are most successful when the prospective homeowners are involved in the planning process from day one.2 There should be an attempt to recruit these potential residents from the region in the earliest stages of planning. The structure of the co-housing community will vary in specifics, but primarily will include a dense concentration of individual homes connected by smaller courtyards/gardens and anchored by a central community facility where activities will occur such as nightly potluck dinners, community meetings and sometimes can also accommodate guest housing for visitors and/or nursing staff, if needed. The idea of the co-housing is for residents to share the cost and responsibilities of home ownership that would otherwise become a burden to individuals. This type of facility could replace some of the structures within the Parkside residential community. This could be a good first phase in the replacement of these homes. The same acquisition techniques that are outlined in the existing Sheridan Parkside Plan section of the Town’s comprehensive plan could be used in acquiring the necessary land.3 Adaptive housing could be created in parts of the neighborhood that are based on co-housing. This development strategy has been gaining popularity in the U.S. and provides a more communal neighborhood that shares resources, costs, and responsibilities of home ownership. University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


New streets should be designed to accommodate multi-modal transportation and provide safe pedestrian amenities. The new infrastructure could utilize green building techniques such as bio-retention, grey-water reuse and permeable surfaces in order to limit the negative effects of storm water runoff. The incorporation of smaller “pocket parks” and “greenways” within the new residential development will also add to its desirability, these green technologies and green space concepts are discussed in detail in the following section. The rail corridor that borders the neighborhood to the east is undesirable for a residential community. Methods to better buffer the rail line could be implemented in order to reduce the negative impacts. This could be accomplished with physical barriers such as earthen mounds, sound walls, or a combination of these. Building around the area’s existing assets that were previously mentioned should be a main goal of any future plan. (It should be noted that there is an existing plan in place by the town that address some of these issues in the Parkside neighborhood.) In order to insure that the residential community to the south is properly protected from the industrial uses to the north, the Town should place zoning restrictions on the properties that are located along Ensminger Road. The land in this “buffer” zone should be limited to commercial and service industries that would contribute an added value to the residential community. This fortunately would not affect most if not all businesses that are currently located in this area. Consideration of expanding the existing elderly/senior services should include a feasibility study for an independent living community/facility that would fit nicely within the existing amenities. Financial incentives already exist for developing low income residences for seniors, making the development potential greater.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE Recommendations (Refer to figure 17 ) Green infrastructure in the Parkside/Sheridan area of Tonawanda is crucial to making a sustainable, efficient, and pedestrian friendly neighborhood. There are several strategies that are being proposed to help accomplish this. 1.) Solar Power Large portions of the available land North of Ensminger Road will be used to partially power the industries and commercial activities located nearby. In addition, the option should be available for solar energy residential homes. 2.) Complete Streets Major streets and connective arterials will conform to “complete street” standards in order to encourage vehicle independence for residents and connected industry, retail, and commercial spaces. Complete streets are an integral part towards making the Parkside/Sheridan development perform as a cohesive network of pedestrian accessible spaces. 3.) Rail Greenway A shared access rail greenway will be created that consists of paved trails and other pedestrian features to create a linear park that connects all major areas of the proposed re-development. In addition to the complete streets, the rail greenway – due to its location- provides comprehensive pedestrian access to all industrial, commercial and retail spaces. Solar Case Study – Drake Solar Landing, Alberta, CA Drake Landing Solar Community is the first fully solar powered community in North America that consists of 52 homes with a total of 800 solar panels place throught the community garage roofs. The energy produced from these solar panels is able to provide approximately 90% of all annual heat and hot water needs of the homes. The homes are modestely sized ranging from 1,492 to 1,664 square feet and are located within close proximity to one another (figures 10,11,12).4 For Tonawanda’s purposes, this development may serve as one example of sustainable development that is both affordable and works well in colder climates. It is recommended that at least a portion of the homes in the Parkside Sheridan neighborhood utilize solar technology and work towards a sustainable fabric.

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Figure 8: proposed residential redevelopment

Figure 9: proposed residential redevelopment

Figure 10: proposed residential redevelopment


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

Green Commercial Recommendations Solar Case Study – Solar Project, Stone Mills, Ontario The “First Light 1” Solar Project was activated on September 28, 2009 and developed by SkyPower and its joint venture partner SunEdison. This project represents the first solar project to reach commercial operation in Canada as well as one of the largest existing solar fields in the country (90 acres). The power from this solar field will be able to power up to 1000 typical Ontario homes annually and displace 8000 metric tons of carbon emissions annually (the equivalent to removing 1700 cars from the road each year). 5 A similar solar field, North of Ensminger road (see figure 17) could provide surrounding industry, commerce, and residential neighborhoods with at least part of the energy that they need annually.

Figure 11: proposed residential redevelopment

Complete Streets The addition of green infrastructure or complete streets (figure 12) along Military Road and Sheridan Drive may require these streets to be narrowed. Currently, the stretch of Sheridan Dr between Military Rd and Grand Island Blvd has six lanes of two way traffic with a 45 mile per hour speed limit. The Military Road corridor would also benefit from implementing green infrastructure. Parking lots dominate this area, making it unattractive and increasing the potential for runoff. “Oil, grease, metals, petroleum, hydrocarbons, herbicides, pesticides, and other pollutants are swept into underground drainage systems when it rains. These pollutants eventually go to streams and rivers.”6 University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


Figure 12: proposed residential redevelopment

Recommended for center medians and buffer areas throughout the industrial and commercial zones, bioswales are an attractive option for allowing pavement runoff to safely return back into the environment. Bioswales cheaply and naturally filter out pollutants in runoff. They can be a simple addition to a new site design project or to an existing lot. The redesigning of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s parking lot in downtown Portland actually saved the museum $78,000 in construction costs. The implementation of bioswales reduced the number of manholes, piping, trenching, and catch basins needed. As for long term benefits, the only maintenance bioswales require is an occasional trimming of the grasses if they grow too tall or begin to grow into the parking lot. Traditional storm drains and sewers need to be cleaned regularly.7 Bioswales contain native plants and grasses and may also contain yellow iris, cattails and bulrushes. To add even more of a natural look, rocks of all shapes and sizes can be placed around the bioswale or used as accents in the bioswale itself. The addition of a center median containing gardens or shrubbery would take away one or two lanes of traffic, but would have many positive effects on the area. As mentioned previously, green space helps reduce runoff and can make a street more attractive. More importantly however, this example would also make Sheridan Dr. a safer place for pedestrians. A center median narrows the road and creates a shorter distance for pedestrians to travel when crossing the street. A narrower road would also help reduce the speed of traffic along Sheridan Drive. Figure 13: proposed residential redevelopment


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

Rail Greenway Case Study - West Toronto Rail Path

Figure 14: proposed residential redevelopment railpath/5168750740/sizes/z/in/

Figure 15: proposed residential redevelopment culture_history/spinner_park/

Figure 16: proposed residential redevelopment

The West Toronto Railpath is a 6.5 km that runs from Toronto’s Junction Neighborhood to Downtown Toronto and the shore of Lake Ontario. When completed, the trail will serve a sustainable transportation alternative for approximately 250,000 residents. Partially opening in 2009, the trail provides convenient pedestrian access to many of Toronto’s commercial and residential neighborhoods ( Figures 14 & 15).8 The rail corridor that runs parallel to Military Road in the Town of Tonawanda, despite being active, could provide a similar greenway for residents (see figure 17). Much of the land surrounding the rail line is raised, keeping potential residents a safe distance from the tracks. Because of this – and its proximity to residential, commercial, and industrial centers – the Tonawanda rail line could be a substantial step towards¬ providing residents with vehicular independence. Buffalo ReUse has also been contributing to Buffalo’s public green space. To celebrate Earth Day 2010 they teamed up with members of National Grid to transform two vacant lots on the corner of Michigan and Northampton into a beautiful rain garden. Other recent Buffalo ReUse projects include a children’s vinery, patchwork garden and community garden, all of which are maintained by volunteers, groups and neighbors.10 Community gardens in place of vacant lots have obvious positive environmental impacts, but can also change the attitude of the people living in the community. Community gardens make a fantastic after school activity for children, especially since they do not require access to an automobile. Children learn how to work together while learning gardening skills as well as the responsibility of caring for a living thing. Once completed, the gardens give the children and other residents something to be proud of, rather than having to look at vacant lots that contribute to neighborhood blight.11 Buffalo ReUse also holds various workshops to teach residents about gardening and landscaping, as well as making their own rain barrels.12 Rain barrels are used to collect rain water so it can be reused to water gardens during dry seasons. Not only are they a good conservation practice, but they also help reduce urban runoff. With a large enough volunteer base, workshops like these could be held at the Parkside Community Center to educate and motivate the residents as well as provide them with the resources necessary to begin these community projects. Organizations such as the Buffalo Tool Library rents home repair and gardening tools to its members free of charge ($5 annual membership

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Tonawanda Futures: 2035

new greenspacel

transportation hubs

solar fields

pedestrian accessible streets “complete streets�

retain sheridan park

Figure 9 Green Infrastructure | 2035 Figure 17: Green Infrasture Plan

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retail/mixed use

class-A office/retail

retail/mixed use


transportation hubs

pedestrian accesible connections

develop and retain light industrial

Figure 18: Commercial/Industrial Plan

Figure 19 commercial, industrial, retail | 2035



Figure 19: proposed residential redevelopment

West Parkside The area of West Parkside is primarily occupied by Interstate Commerce Center, a large business park made up of logistical, shipping and warehousing enterprises based there. These uses are fitting due to the close proximity to the I-190/I-290 interchange that make it less desirable for residential uses and provides great access to and from the surrounding regional amenities. Excluding the commerce center which looks fairly new, the existing infrastructure in unattractive and the facilities are dated. Simple remediation efforts and better maintenance might elevate the area to a more highly desired business center. There is a small cluster of residential units that are found along 2 Mile Creek Road that are well protected from the negative visual impacts that are created by these businesses through the use of landscaping and fencing. The proximity to the Park and the fact that the commercial facilities are fed by their own designated roads allow for these houses to be located so close to this commercial center. Recommendations (refer to Figure 18) Future development should consider opportunities in green facilities to create a unified business park and provide a better backyard to the existing residences. A trend toward developing a “green business park” or “eco-industrial park” that provides businesses opportunities to share common resources and benefit from green techniques such as resource cascading, a method of using one business waste or byproduct for another’s benefit, and other sustainable building techniques similar to the ones described in the Parkside section, would help brand the area and attract business with value added amenities. One approach to reach these goals would be through developing zoning regulations that would require specific types of industrial businesses be located within this area. Provisions that require the strengthening of the buffer zone that is between the residential and access that is limited only to a ‘commercial” road would also help. Financial incentives could help encourage the right type of development to locate there. The Town could also market the area in order to solicit the types of businesses they would like to see there and attempt to build the area around their business.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

This idea of creating sustainable industrial parks has been gaining popularity in the last decade. There have been a number of developments that have been designed with efficiency as a top priority. Some sites and plans that can be looked at as case studies are; • • • •

Oak Point, Bronx, New York; Burnside Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia; Swan Eco-Industrial Park, Tucson, Arizona; and Bruce Eco-Industrial Park, Bruce Ontario.

One of the sites (TaigaNova eco-industrial park, Ft. Murry, Alberta, Canada) has broken down the methodology in creating their site: * Businesses cycling material and energy (waste of one = feed for another), increasing efficiency and reducing their environmental impacts; * Buildings and sites that have been designed to minimize resource use, and protect and even incorporate the site’s local ecology; some facilities are shared by multiple businesses (e.g. storage building or yard); * Green infrastructure – traditional infrastructure is replaced with, for example, naturalized stormwater management; district energy systems; or wastewater capture, treatment, and reuse distribution systems. * Businesses are networking around services. For example, businesses can save money by sharing services such as training and transportation.13 These ideas can be implemented overtime within the area. An overall site assessment and development plan should be undertaken in order to determine the existing infrastructure, site conditions, land ownership, existing business/ resources and marketability of the area. Development should always keep efficiency and sustainability at the forefront. Next, begin a phased development that starts with changes and updates to the existing infrastructure e.g. redesigning drainage and existing open space to support better stormwater runoff mitigation efforts such as bio-retention and swales that lighten the load on the sewers. Incentives for the installation of greenroofing to be installed could also help mitigate runoff. Developers should look into alternative energy source possibilities (wind, solar, hydo, geothermal, etc.) and evaluate individual business operations to determine potential beneficial partnerships and optimal site locations while developing the site. After the existing infrastructure has been updated, undeveloped land can begin to be built out according to the plan.

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North Parkside/Military Corridor The Military Road corridor may benefit from more dramatic change in its existing land uses. The northern section of mixed commercial and industrial may be well suited where it is, however, the southern section of residential, commercial and industrial is less ideal. The redevelopment of this area could help improve the connectivity between the proposed Parkside neighborhood and the existing residential communities to the east. Developing this area into residential or specific commercial services that better cater to the surrounding community might be the best option. If it were not for the major barriers created by the rail corridor and Military Road this could be an easy transition as many of the properties are vacant and/ or underutilized. The presence of these barriers hinder the accessibility and attractiveness needed to locate residences within the area. Recommendations (refer to Figure 18) The primary vision for the area defined as can be split into two focus areas. The first of these is located below Ensminger and bordered by both the rail corridor and Military road. The second, located above Ensminger road, continues until it reaches the I-290 border. In each of these focus areas it is recommended that significant redevelopment occur that is inclusive of mixed use, commercial, retail, and office/research spaces (figures 20-23) Military Road Corridor Improving existing infrastructure along Military Road is recommended in order to spur private development that helps redefine the aesthetic and economic impact of this area. Military Road access could be limited to three or four points and a new street grid could be created on this block to help some of these issues. The limited access would reduce the need for a center turn lane down the entire length of the corridor and provide an opportunity to replace it with a raised median that would serve as a pedestrian island. Curb bump-outs and actuated, signalized crosswalks could also be placed where needed to improve pedestrian safety. Solutions to improve the rail corridor may be more costly and involved than those mentioned for Military Road. One possibility may be to cover the rail line using culverts topped with earth creating a grade separated crossing that would be more park like, however, the cost to benefit ratio of this solution might reduce its feasibility/popularity. A lower cost solution may be to create a rail greenway as describe previously in the green infrastrucuture portion of this report.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

Figure 20: Mixed use example

Figure 21: Retail /mixed use example

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Figure 22: Light Industry/Research Park Example

Figure 23: Office/Research example

This redevelopment would require significant land acquisition and come at a relatively high cost. It would most likely benefit if certain specific changes were made slowly over time. If the area was made more attractive to private developers, the necessary public funding may be limited. By adopting a more flexible zoning code, the Town will allow for a more organic development to occur. When writing the zoning code for this area, a Military Road restricted access clause should be included. This would require future developments to be more pedestrian friendly, denser and more connective to their neighbors. Overall, the foundation for redeveloping the Sheridan Parkside Military Road neighborhood is there. The identified issues are the need to replace aging infrastructure, but in doing so, provide an opportunity to address other future issues such as the aging population, sustainable infrastructure, the need for more employment opportunities and an expanded tax base. Building around the existing assets of this neighborhood and building with the future in mind are the keys to success.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

Transportation Hubs/Land Use Connectivity

Figure 24: Transportation hub example

Key to providing equal access to the businesses,jobs and residents our plan proposes several strategic transportation hubs located at least once within in each distinct land use area. These transportation hubs will serve the newly redeveloped Sheridan/Parkside neighborhood as well as the densified light industries, research facilities, and retail. By creating these transportion hubs, it ensures that all residents have equitable access to resources that surround them, whether they are without an automobile or they are simply past their ability to drive. Figure 25 is an example of the type of transportation hub that would be desirable for these new developments.

Conclusion The town of Tonawanda has some very important issues to address in order to sustain itself over the next 25 years. Among them are maintaining population, diversifying its economy and finding ways to reuse vacant commercial properties. This report presents three strategies to address these issues. First, a focus on human development initiatives will help produce the local talent needed to actively participate in a technologically diversified economy. Second, providing mixed use walkable communities will allow residents to access basic needs and services, and possible employment sources without the use of an automobile. The critical obstacle in the town of Tonawanda is the absence of skilled labor jobs, most of which were formally found in the manufacturing/industrial fields. This obstacle can be surmounted if a new skill set is introduced to residents in conjunction with an initiative to encourage new forms of investment from firms who can use those new skills. In addition, residents must be empowered to make necessary changes to improve their communities. Human development initiatives that combine skills training and implementation strategies, with a context sensitive approach are a means of achieving an empowered community. Residents must see other residents behaving as engaged community stake holders. In this way, a collective intelligence can be formed that will serve as the underlying context of a true living community. 窶ザniversity at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop 63

Parkside/Sheridan | 2035


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

Figure 25: Sheridian-Parkside:2035

ENDNOTES 1. Partners in Charity. “The Positive Effects of Home Ownership.” http://www. 2. Durrett, Charles. Senior cohousing: a community approach to independent living - the handbook. Berkeley, CA: Habitat Press, 2005. 3. Town of Tonawanda, NY. Comprehensive Plan. 4. Drake Landing Solar Community. 5. SkyPower, First Light 1 Solar Project. projects.html 6. Watkins-Miller, Elaine. “Filter the Water: Bioswales Offer a Green Option for Parking Lot Run-off.” Buildings, June 1, 1997. 7. Watkins-Miller, Elaine. “Filter the Water: Bioswales Offer a Green Option for Parking Lot Run-off.” Buildings, June 1, 1997. 8. Hume, Christopher. “Trail breathes life into ‘dead zone’,” Toronto Star, October 30, 2009. 9. Seawell, Caesandra. “What’s New at Buffalo ReUse.” http://www.buffaloreuse. org. 10. Seawell, Caesandra. “What’s New at Buffalo ReUse.” 11. Lingenfelter, Amy. “Public Schools in Urban Disadvantaged Communities: Buffalo, NY, USA.” Lecture from SOC 315 Sociology of City Life, University at Buffalo. October 20, 2010. 12. Seawell, Caesandra. “What’s New at Buffalo ReUse.” 13. Build Where Industry Thrives. Taiganova Eco-Industrial Park. http://www.

University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


Figure 1 Satellite image showing Waterfront site conditions. The northern part of the waterfront area is mostly industrial. Old Town is at the southern end, adjacent to the GM Plant and Buffalo’s Riverside Park.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

3 Jonathan Ehlers Blake Fisher Sergey Selyuzhitskiy David Weinstock

For Tonawanda to fullly leverage the waterfront’s potential...enhancing its connections to the Niagara River is both a challenge and a necessity.

WATERFRONT Tonawanda’s waterfront is a large and diverse area on the town’s western end, overlooking the Niagara River, Grand Island, and Canada. Much of the land contains operational or abandoned industrial sites, while smaller parts contain old neighborhoods for factory workers, including Old Town on the Buffalo border. Isolated from the rest of Tonawanda by rail lines, highways and industrial properties, Old Town and the rest of the waterfront are often forgotten parts of Tonawanda, sharing more in common with the region’s industrial cities than its post-industrial suburbs. Significant areas on or near the waterfront currently serve industrial purposes and have for nearly a century, including the Huntley Station (a coal-fired power plant), the General Motors Powertrain facility, and plants for DuPont Chemical, Dunlop Tire, and Tonawanda Coke. Consequently, the area continues to present many of the sights, sounds, and smells of a heavy industrial center. While the area also contains large swaths of unused or underutilized property, the presence of contaminated soils, vacant structures, and landfills constrain their productive reuse, leaving enviable assets in a state of land use limbo. Environmental remediation has addressed, or will soon address, some of the area’s pollution problems, but cleaning and reusing land represents a considerable long-term challenge. The Old Town neighborhood is also a part of the waterfront’s industrial legacy, having developed adjacent to Buffalo’s Riverside neighborhood to house an industrial workforce. Today, Old Town has a much older housing stock than the rest of the town (with 83% of its units built prior to 1959), a much higher percentage of renters (just over 50%), rising levels of vacancy, and an aging population. Despite its dramatic waterfront location, the neighborhood’s adjacency to industrial sites and the Niagara Thruway (or I-190, which separates it from the Niagara River) inhibit reinvestment—thus maintaining Old Town’s working-class industrial heritage while also making its slow decline much more difficult to curtail. Its location next to Frederick Law Olmsted’s Riverside Park, and to the park’s pedestrian bridge over the Thruway, gives Old Town its only true parkland and waterfront access. Public access to the river is difficult throughout this area, not just in Old Town. While a few marinas and greenways have opened some areas to public enjoyment, they are limited, fragmented, and often difficult for visitors to find. For Tonawanda to fully leverage the waterfront’s potential as a source of recreation, entertainment, and a major quality-of-life asset, enhancing its connections to the Niagara River is both a challenge and a necessity.

University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


VISION SUMMARY Old Town is a much different place in 2035. Homes are in great condition and are energy efficient thanks to upgrades performed with the help of tax incentives. It is now a lively place and fits the image of a regional waterfront community, where residents and visitors enjoy the neighborhood’s green infrastructure, its intimate pocket parks, and a green buffer that separates it from commercial and industrial sectors. With the addition of a waterfront boardwalk, which replaced a rerouted I-190 along the Niagara River, property values have increased and spurred a demand for homes in Old Town. On the boardwalk itself, small businesses cater to local residents and regional visitors who come to enjoy the sweeping river views. Further north along River Road, vacant and polluted lands have been remediated and productively reused. At the intersection of River Road and Sawyer Avenue, a patch of low income housing has been replaced by new apartment buildings, providing housing in a wide variety of price ranges to accommodate senior citizens and workers at a nearby research and innovation park. Across River Road is an expanded marina with new commercial development, featuring a variety of dining establishments, small shops, and a common space for nearby residents, workers, and regional visitors. Meanwhile, adaptive reuse of the Huntley Power Station site has provided a symbol of change. Its iconic smokestacks serve as reminders of the area’s industrial heritage, while parts of the plant that have been reborn for commercial and industrial uses, and as exhibition space, herald the town’s reinvention as a pioneer of new economic frontiers. Lastly, in 2035 the Town of Tonawanda pursuit to be a more sustainable town with a desirable waterfront including passive water uses is attained and compliant with the current comprehensive waterfront plan. Much of the town’s pioneering economic activity takes place in a new research and innovation center, which replaced Tonawanda Coke and a large swath of vacant land. Budding entrepreneurs and established companies share a wide range of services and collaborate on a variety of green energy, land remediation, and high technology ventures, while their workers enjoy access to waterfront amenities. One of those amenities is a new recreational center on a landfill site, which provides sloped land for sledding in the winter and an elevated position for viewing the Tonawanda’s transformed waterfront. Tonawanda’s Waterfront now serves as an attractive gateway to the United States when traveling south from Toronto, with easy access to downtown Buffalo, the University at Buffalo and many other points. Its strategic location, its new companies, and its innovative reuse of historic and natural assets serve as solid foundations for the town’s revitalized economy.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

Figure 2 A vision for the waterfront in 2035

University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


STRATEGY: IMPROVED GREENSPACE IN OLDTOWN Currently, the closest park space for residents of Old Town to enjoy is Riverside Park in the neighboring City of Buffalo. With the reuse of vacant spaces within Old Town in coming years, Old Town could have a collection of high-quality pocket parks to complement Riverside Park, anchor residential reinvestment, and allow families to access a series of safe and secure greenspaces. These parks do not need to be large or complicated, but simple spaces where children and adults can go with friends. Park designs will be flexible and tailored to the needs of those who live nearby. Figure 3 demonstrates one possibility, with activities that appeal to a variety of ages. The basketball court and open space is geared towards teens and adults, while the playground is geared to younger children. To accomplish a network of pocket parks, the town can strategically acquire abandoned properties throughout the town. This will not only eliminate unsightly boarded up homes but increase both property values and attractiveness of the town for families. Figure 4 illustrates a hypothetical distribution of pocket parks. Figure 3 possible pocket park design.

Figure 4 location of possible pocket parks


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

In addition to small parks, a commitment to basic green infrastructure in Old Town should be seen as both an environmental benefit and an aesthetic investment in the community’s livability. To achieve this goal a park buffer should be established around the neighborhood, with indigenous trees and other vegetation providing a natural boundary from neighboring industries. By providing a multitude of vegetation the buffer will reduce the amount of runoff, which will reduce the frequency of sewer overflows and improve water qualities in the Niagara River. Increasing Old Town’s tree population will also improve air quality for residents by filtering many airborne pollutants that have become associated with everyday life. This buffer will also provide wind protection for housing units, thus reducing house wear, especially during winter, as well as increasing energy efficiency because homes will no longer lose as much heat during winter months due to unblocked winds, and will be cooler during the summer months due to arboreal shading. Redesigning streets will also contribute to a greener infrastructure. Similar to the reconstruction of Buffalo’s Main Street, between Goodell Street and Tupper Street, Old Town’s streets can be rebuilt with medians and planters. The introduction of medians will provide the town increased green space and will improve the streets both in safety and appearance. Medians reduce conflicts by separating opposing traffic streams and allowing turning movements to occur only at locations where median openings are provided.1 This minimizes crosscenterline accidents that may occur on an undivided roadway, while restricting accidents that involve turning and crossing maneuvers. Introducing medians will not only improve safety for those driving in vehicles but pedestrians and bicyclists as well. The medians serve as protected positions for crossing pedestrians, while eliminating unexpected vehicle maneuvers. As part of street reconstruction, designated bike lanes should be established on all roadways. By providing quality alternatives to driving, residents will be more inclined to ride bikes for leisure and short trips. The bike lanes could be located between the roadways and sidewalks. In order to provide these lanes current vehicle lanes would be reduced in width. Not only will this allow for bike paths but narrowing of lane widths has been seen as a direct link to reducing vehicular speeds. Some studies have shown a speed reduction of as much as 3 mph for every foot the lane is narrowed.2

University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


Figure 5 street design with middle bicycle lane.

Figure 6 street design with side bicycle lanes.

A green median that incorporates a bike path down the center could be a desirable layout for wide roadways. Figure 5 illustrates how the median serves as a physical barrier between cars and pedestrians. This is ideal as families will feel safe allowing their children to use these paths. Roadways that cannot facilitate this design could incorporate a more simplified strategy, seen in Figure 6, where the median is reduced significantly and the designated bike path is pushed to the periphery of the roadway. Portland Oregon is a prime example of how bike lanes and provisions for multiple modes of transportation can work on a local and regional scale. Portland citizens and businesses worked together with the city government to envision a landuse pattern that works for the local environment, economy and community. The success of the city relies on the ability to create a supporting regional vision that includes a connected network of trails, parks, and green spaces.3


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

STRATEGY: OLD TOWN WATERFRONT DEVELOPMENT Since its construction in the 1950s, the I-190 has been a concrete barrier between Old Town and the Niagara River. Some in the community have advocated a realignment of the highway along a nearby railroad corridor (Figure 7) to remove this barrier—something the Thruway Authority should seriously consider in coming decades, especially before it undertakes a major reconstruction of the existing route. Doing so would open up land for waterfront access and development in Old Town, providing public space and opportunities for commercial and residential development, including an innovative boardwalk complex. Old Towns’ boardwalk could consist of mixed-use development set within the natural slope between Old Town and the river, with green roof-tops providing a linear park space on the west side of River Road, thus accommodating riverside development without blocking views from properties on the east side of River Road. Figure 8 offers an illustration of what the waterfront boardwalk would look like. These structures would be designed for efficiency through a system of drainage that reduces the amount of runoff water.

Figure 7 relocation of the I-190. (Green : the removed highway, Red: the new locations)

University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


Figure 8 street design with side bicycle lanes.

Beyond the boardwalk itself, accessibility to other parts of the waterfront should be a priority. The pedestrian/bike trail that runs along the river north of the Grand Island Bridge and into the industrial section of Tonawanda will be continued through the boardwalk not only to allow people to stop and enjoy its amenities, but to strengthen connections between Tonawanda and the City of Buffalo. Additionally, bike paths installed along streets throughout town should be connected to River Road to make the waterfront accessible by bike or foot from neighborhoods near the waterfront. In an effort to further ensure accessing the waterfront it easy, even for visitors, clear sight lines and signage should be implemented throughout Old Town and surrounding areas. The town’s current grid pattern facilities the notion that simply traveling west on any of the streets will bring you to the waterfront. The goal, however, is to prevent large structures to block the view or direct path to the water. Zoning restrictions and planned continuation of the grid pattern will allow for access to the waterfront to be simple. Success along the river depends on how easy it is for people to access it.

Figure 9 a mixed use commercial park, replacing vacated GM properties


Tonawanda Futures: 2035


Old Town’s housing stock was constructed during the early 1900s as housing for industrial workers and are, today, mostly inefficient structures that lack many of the requirements and necessities that homebuyers seek.

Old Town’s housing stock was constructed during the early 1900’s as housing for industrial workers and are, today, mostly inefficient structures that lack many of the requirements and necessities that homebuyers seek. As a result, market values are low and residents have a difficult time selling their homes. Over time, some are abandoned. To help homeowners, tax incentives should be provided to help owners make vital structural improvements that improve energy efficiency and add important features that would make the home more livable to its occupants and more desirable to the marketplace. For homeowners who cannot sell their home because required investments far exceed market value, the town should develop a program for purchasing such properties. The property could then be demolished so the land can either be used to develop a park or allow for new residential construction to occur. This will potentially draw more families to the area that normally wouldn’t be interested because of the condition of the homes available. The goal by 2035 should be to have almost all of Old Town’s homes either significantly refurbished, or newly built. Providing incentives for homeowners to create a home that is more energy efficient may be assisted by the Home Star incentive, which is a proposed federal program that would provide direct incentives to homeowners to invest in improving the energy efficiency of their homes. To see immediate savings of 5 – 40, homeowners would be able to replace furnaces, water heaters, and install better insulation, windows, and air sealing. These measures would increase the viability of the home, as well as its value, helping to stabilize surrounding properties. Residential development along River Road is a strong possibility in the future, if the Thruway is removed and waterfront accessibility is improved. Waterfront parcels along River Road could see a surge in new investment, especially with higher-end residential units—helping to diversify the housing stock of Old Town and Tonawanda. A broad mixture of housing helps provide housing for a wide range of household types and income ranges.4 In addition to the possibility of new residential development to coincide with an improved waterfront, the emerging gaps in the industrial landscape could present new opportunities. With the completion of new facilities at General Motors in the past decade, it is anticipated that older sections of the GM complex will ultimately close, leaving a relatively large expanse of land vacant. Because of the type of chemicals and processes that have occurred at the old plant, the land is anticipated to suffer contamination and will need to be remediated. After cleanup, the land could serve as a new commercial center for Old Town, featuring a variety of commercial or recreational developments. Figure 9 provides an overview of the redeveloped site. Part of the property could be used to attract retail facilities—something currently lacking in western Tonawanda. Along River Road, a hotel and business center would take advantage of waterfront views and the new boardwalk. To the East, soccer fields and an ice rink would provide yearround athletic opportunities. University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


STRATEGY 4: HUNTLEY POWER STATION REUSE Given the probability that the Huntley Power Station—a high-pollution coal-fired power plant—will eventually be decommissioned, a re-envisioned Huntley could convert this imposing structure into a symbol of reinvention and innovation. Reuse of a decommissioned power station is not unheard of--Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has an old power plant that was converted into commercial space. Possible uses for the Huntley Power Station site may include space for an exhibition center for the nearby commerce and innovation incubator (see strategy 5), a movie theater, farmers market, office space, industrial museum, unique residential units, or a combination of uses. As a lynchpin along the waterfront, the Huntley Power Station could connect new business centers to the north with Old Town to the south, while serving as an icon of Tonawanda’s new waterfront and new industrial base. WATERFRONT STRATEGY 5: COMMERCE AND INNOVATION INCUBATOR To provide a space where high-tech companies can start, grow, collaborate and expand, a Commerce and Innovation Incubator should be established on land currently occupied, in part, by Tonawanda Coke. Such a development would encourage high levels of interaction between tenants and assist entrepreneurs and the formation of economic clusters by providing shared space and services for new companies and university researchers, as well as more private and permanent space for established and expanding firms. Part of the site’s appeal to new or established firms would be its unique location—providing ready access to demonstration projects involving green energy, land remediation, as well as central and accessible location within the cross-border region. A unique feature of the Commerce and Innovation Incubator would be the emphasis on leveraging local academic research to spur economic development, by providing space where researchers from universities from across the region can mingle with entrepreneurs, suppliers, industrial engineers and others to commercialize their research and retain the region’s college graduates. The University of Buffalo, University of Toronto, Niagara University and Rochester Institute of Technology, for example, could co-locate appropriate research centers at the site to develop synergies with each other and with other entrepreneurs. Successful applications of a multi-university research complex include a communications project developed in the Research Triangle in North Carolina for the Department of Defense. Another example is Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, where several universities collaborate on agricultural research projects.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

STRATEGY: COMMERCIAL AND RESIDENTIAL IMPROVEMENTS Old Town’s housing stock was constructed during the early 1900’s as housing for industrial workers and are, today, mostly inefficient structures that lack many of the requirements and necessities that homebuyers seek. As a result, market values are low and residents have a difficult time selling their homes. Over time, some are abandoned. To help homeowners, tax incentives should be provided to help owners make vital structural improvements that improve energy efficiency and add important features that would make the home more livable to its occupants and more desirable to the marketplace.

Figure 10 illustrates what the Commerce and Innovation Incubator could look like, with high-quality public spaces and a layout based on a flexible grid—allowing spaces to develop over time in a way that responds to market demand, creates an urban aesthetic, and inspires collaboration. New buildings would include a variety of features (LEED standards, solar cells, wind turbines, and rooftop recreational facilities) to make it sustainable, to make it attractive to young, highly-skilled workers, and to act as a marketing strategy (along with the reused Huntley Station) that emphasizes innovation and creativity.

STRATEGY: LEISURE ACTIVITY PARK North of the Commerce and Innovation Incubator, a proposed Leisure Activity Park would further market the waterfront’s rebirth as a creative place. In this case, a site next to the South Grand Island Bridge that currently exists as a capped landfill would be reborn as a center for year-round recreation. Taking advantage of the landfill’s topography, the site could be redesigned to accommodate sledding hills and cross-country skiing courses in the winter, with hiking and hill-climbing trails in the summer. This creatively reused landfill, if properly protected to ensure the health of potential users, would attract visitors from throughout the region and serve as a further attraction for potential employees at the Commerce and Innovation Incubator. In Yarmouth, Massachusetts, a former landfill site was successfully closed, capped, and then transformed into a park. Later, the park was converted into a nine-hole golf course, which demonstrates the attainability of a re-use for the site. Additional commercial and retail uses will grow organically because of the new leisure activity destination. Addition space south of the landfill mounds could be used in the short-term as parkland, and land banked for spillover development at the Commerce and Innovation Incubator in future decades. This entire area would also be linked to the greenway along River Road, helping to connect the waterfronts new recreational and commercial developments.

University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


STRATEGY: SAWYER AVENUE RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT Besides Old Town, another older residential area sits off of River Road and Sawyer Avenues, containing a mixture of scattered, low income residences and underutilized light industrial space. To provide a better residential environment for the current residents, as well as new waterfront housing opportunities this area should redeveloped in phases. The first phase will be the demolition and removal of the current residences located along Sawyer and Kaufman Avenues, illustrated in Figure 11 in red, as well as the clearing of the underutilized land along James Avenue, in Blue. These existing residences show no sign neighborhood form. In their place, there will be new housing complexes built, to house the displaced families, older residents, new families, and employees as the nearby Commerce and Innovation Incubator. To attract a diverse population, units will be priced at low and middle income ranges, as well as market rate units. A portion of the new housing will be designated as senior housing to accommodate Tonawanda’s aging population in the future. This will give the elderly an equal ability to take advantage of the new housing and the location at the Tonawanda Waterfront. In an effort to create more of a community feeling in the area, pockets of community parks and greenspace, as shown in Figure 12, will be mixed among the new, higher density housing complexes. The greenspace will help encourage people to socialize and enjoy the outdoors. With the existing and new companies in the area, this brand new housing opportunity will be an attractive option for those moving into the area and working for these companies.

Figure 11 a mixed use commercial park, replacing vacated GM properties


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

Figure 12 a mixed use commercial park, replacing vacated GM properties

STRATEGY: WATERFRONT COMMERCIAL DISTRICT Figure 13 a mixed use commercial park, replacing vacated GM properties

Across River Road from the Sawyer Avenue residential redevelopment, and next to a marina, is a site currently occupied by the Erie County Water Authority. Given its prime waterfront location, the site today is underutilized. While a relocation of the ECWA may not be possible, a restructuring of the facility’s current footprint could open up opportunities for public access and a publicprivate development that includes a commercial district of shops, restaurants, hotel rooms, and other spaces to attract waterfront visitors and serve nearby employees and residents (see Figure 13). The marina located south of the ECWA is currently operated as the Mid River Marina Inc. and specialized in selling and storing yachts. This plan would call for an expansion of the current marina as well as expanded water-based commercial development around the marina. There could be the potential for a variety of small shops and stores mixed into the area. Outdoor spaces taking advantage of Niagara River views would also be a large part of this waterfront development, including areas of public seating with scenic water features and sculptures. Figure 14 illustrates the possibility of what can exist on the Water Authority property, based on a similar development on Long Island.

Figure 14 a mixed use commercial park, replacing vacated GM properties

University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


CONCLUSION By implementing these key strategies, the Tonawanda waterfront can begin its transformation to a thriving waterfront neighborhood and destination. With new housing opportunities, new companies and job opportunities, and a new waterfront entertainment and recreation district, the Tonawanda Waterfront will become a place for people to live, work, and play.

ENDNOTES 1. Harwood, Douglas. Operational impacts of median width on larger vehicles. Washington DC: National Research Council, 2010.

2. Lum, H. “The use of road markings to in residential areas narrow for controlling speed.” Institute for Transportation Engineers, June 1984. 3. Anderson, S. “Portland, Oregon: a case study in sustainability.” Government Finance Review, 12 Feb. 2002. finance/118361-1.html.

4.Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. “Creating Successful Mixed Use Communities: Housing Action Agenda.” mixedUse.asp.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035


Chris Lee Shouqian Shi Tim Vertino AJ Wasilewski

The village of Kenmore is facing issues inherent to many first ring suburbs, including aging infrastructure and population...

KENMORE The focus of this chapter is the southwestern portion of Kenmore in the Town of Tonawanda, extending form Military Road to Delaware Avenue and from Kenmore Avenue to Shepard Avenue. The Village of Kenmore, recently named a top ten neighborhood to live in by the American Planning Association, stands today largely unchanged from the postwar era of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Originally, Kenmore was developed as a dormitory suburb for commuters using Buffalo’s extensive streetcar system. As a mostly residential area, commercial and industrial spaces are limited in scale and location, with commercial land usage primarily along the streets bordering Kenmore, and on the major north-south streets within the village. Built-out for decades, any new development in Kenmore takes the form of redevelopment, often on small or narrow parcels. The Village of Kenmore is facing issues inherent to many first ring suburbs, including an aging infrastructure and population, both of which are contributing factors to the village’s declining population. Over time, the declining population contributes to a rise in vacant properties, which further contributes to the lower property values and a spiral of disinvestment. Given that much of the population is middle class or working class, and the price of oil and gas is expected to continue to increase, Kenmore is in need of planning initiatives that are ecologically sound and cost efficient. ‘Green’ initiatives, including those outlined in this chapter, can also aid in attracting a new generation of residents to the community. VISION STATEMENT In 2035, Kenmore has reasserted its identity as a unique village and a special place. A traffic circle at Delaware Avenue and Delaware Road, in front of the Town Hall, stands as a gateway and public space for residents utilizing a rapid transit link to downtown Buffalo. From the circle, residents and visitors can head west along the new Lincoln Parkway—a scenic east-west connection between the village’s core and Mang Park. Thanks to widespread pedestrian-oriented streetscaping, pedestrians actively use the sidewalks for leisure and transportation, improving community health and safety. Mang Park acts as a center for recreational activity in 2035, having adapted to the community’s needs for multiple passive and active uses, including basketball, football, soccer, and jogging. Though situated amongst established residences, the usable area of the park has increased due to the relocation and consolidation of community civic centers through one of the community’s numerous re-visioning projects. The new Kenmore Pool exists as a swimming pool in the summer and an ice rink in the winter for year-round utilization. Formal entrance ways to the park have given the area definite form and established the park as a landmark of the community. University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


Re-visioning projects have turned otherwise unused and derelict properties into functional small businesses, civic services, and community space. The increased community space has encouraged dialogue and networking amongst village residents, establishing strong social ties and informal social economic systems within Kenmore. As well, civic spaces are now available for residents to be outside with their neighbors. Coupled with street improvements and transit connections, a more active and engaged community—a healthier community—has emerged.

Figure 1 Map of the Village Kenmore in 2035

STRATEGY: VILLAGE CENTER The intersection of Delaware Avenue, Delaware Road, and Lincoln Boulevard in the Village of Kenmore can be confusing and difficult, as three streets come together at once. This intersection is important to the village due to its close relationship with the Town Municipal Building, and its key location in the center of the village. Unfortunately this intersection can be an unsafe area due to restrictions on turning left during certain hours and three busy streets coming together, and it does not live up to its aesthetic potential. The vision for this area is the creation of a traffic circle and the use of this space as a “Village Center,” connecting the center to Mang Park via Lincoln Parkway, and establishing an express transit link between the Village Center and downtown Buffalo. The traffic circle will be implemented to create a firmer sense of place, to improve pedestrian safety, and to eliminate dangerous left-hand turns into oncoming traffic (which can reduce fatal accidents by as much as 90 percent). A new, small traffic circle will be created without demolition or elimination of existing greenspace. Removing traffic lights and restrictions on turning will make this intersection more efficient, safer, and more aesthetically pleasing for the community. To help plan Kenmore’s traffic circle, other parts of the U.S. and Erie County provide instructive examples. 82

Tonawanda Futures: 2035

There seems to be an emerging theme of traffic circles (or round-a-bouts) sweeping the nation, with traffic engineers embracing their potential to improve traffic safety. One example can be found about 20 minutes from Kenmore, in Cheektowaga, New York. A project there was developed by the New York State Department of Transportation and the Greater Buffalo Niagara Regional Transportation Council. This specific project took 15 years of planning and construction, and was completed in 2009. It consists of new waterlines, sewer upgrades, reconstructed and widened roadways, improved pedestrian features, and the installation of round-a-bouts. The project cost approximately $23,700,000, funded through federal, state, and local governments. There is also a current project underway on Aero Drive at Holtz Drive in Cheektowaga, next to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, to add a round-a-bout to an intersection that has three roads coming together at one, similar to Delaware Avenue, Delaware Road, and Lincoln Boulevard. Cheektowaga is not the only area in Western New York with the traffic circle/ round-a-bout. There are several round-a-bouts in Buffalo including several on Richmond Avenue, Gates Circle, and Lafayette Square. A traffic circle with the ideal size for this intersection in Kenmore would be Ferry and Symphony Circles on Richmond Avenue. These circles are ideal for traffic flow, and have enough space for public use without disrupting the existing environment. Looking outside of Buffalo, and Western New York, one sees a traffic circle trend taking place in Maryland, Missouri, Georgia, Indiana(60 new circles since 2001), and Washington State (600 circles since 1973). Once constructed, the Kenmore traffic circle would serve as a focal point for the center of the village, providing a more structured and interesting space with a stronger identity. The circular greenspace in the middle of the circle could be beautified with landscaping, including grass, trees, bushes, and a flower bed spelling out Kenmore. If the traffic circle has sufficient space, it could potentially have a small water fountain. To further strengthen the attractiveness of the new village center, a connection from the circle to Mang Park would be established, transforming the existing Lincoln Boulevard into a parkway similar to Bidwell Parkway in Buffalo, but on a smaller scale. The new Lincoln Parkway will start at the traffic circle head west into Mang Park. The parkway will take the existing boulevard and make a few changes to enhance the street to stand out from the other roads in Kenmore. The street will be widened a few feet by removing the patches of grass between the sidewalk and the curb. This will create room for a new median space that can be shared by the public. From curb to curb it will start with one lane of onstreet parking, next to a bike lane, next to one lane for automobile traffic, next to the public green space in the center of the parkway, seen in Figure 2. On the other side of the green public space will be one lane of automobile traffic in the opposite direction, a bike lane, and a lane for on-street parking. Heading west, Lincoln Parkway terminates at Mang Park. To soften the end of the parkway, and enhance the entrance to the park, there will be a new park entrance with an identification sign, and a walkway/bike path entrance. There will also be a small place for parking cars and bikes that doesn’t interfere with the aesthetics of the park entrance. University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


The third component of the new village center is the creation of a direct and efficient transportation route to Downtown Buffalo. Downtown Buffalo holds more jobs than any other single place in Western New York; thus many people from Kenmore travel downtown for work, and have for decades. The establishment of an express transportation route will help reconnect Buffalo to its historic streetcar suburb. The ideal transportation type would be Bus Rapid Transit, which according to the U.S. General Accounting Office, describes a set of elements that include exclusive lanes, technological and street design improvements, traffic signal prioritization, better stations and or bus shelters, fewer stops, faster service, and cleaner, quieter, and more attractive vehicles. The best attribute for the BRT system is the traffic signal priorities buses have. Through technology, the buses, when approaching a traffic light, will have the ability to have the light change in its favor. This technology makes the BRT system similar to rail, but much cheaper. Throughout the nation, Bus Rapid Transit is becoming more and more popular in cities. Some cities that have implemented BRT are Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco Kansas City, and Pittsburgh, which will be examined. The Pittsburgh Bus Rapid Transit System can be a good example of a successful public transportation system that can be modeled for the Kenmore BRT route. Buffalo and Pittsburgh share many of the same attributes, and characteristics. The initial focus for Pittsburgh was to link its downtown area to other neighborhoods, such as Oakland. As early as September 2010, a convention was held in Pittsburgh to discuss the possibilities, and economic development. The route starts in Downtown Pittsburgh and heads east to connect several different neighborhoods, and regions within the City of Pittsburgh.


D el



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Figure 2 traffic circle in 2035

Lincoln Parkway Legend BRT Line Town Hall Bike Path Green Space BRT Stop


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

Delaware Avenue


Figure 3 Bus Rapid Transit route in 2035

Kenmore Avenue

Delaware Avenue Bus Rapid Transit


Delaware Park

Allen Street

Niagara Square

University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop



Village Center


Village Center


Figure 4 New BRT shelters inclusive of heat and village branding

The Kenmore line would start at the Village Center where it would loop around the circle, and head south. It would have a few key stops including Delaware and Kenmore Avenue (at the city line), Delaware Park at Nottingham Terrace, Allen Street (close to the Medical Corridor), and finally at Niagara Square in front of Buffalo City Hall, where it would loop around the circle, as it did in Kenmore’s Village Center, and head back north to Kenmore, as seen in figure 3. The few BRT stops will create a very efficient travel time for the quickest trip. The new BRT route will need to differentiate itself from the current NFTA Metro buses, to help identify which is which. The new BRT buses will be a more modern style bus, with the name, and logo of the Kenmore BRT on the buses. The new line will also include heated shelters that are more modern and aesthetically pleasing, as seen in figure 4. The new shelters will be identified with the stop name, and a new modern identification post. This identification post will give riders information on travel times/stop, and prices.

Figure 5 Current Mang Park Design


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

STRATEGY: MANG PARK RE-DESIGN Parks are built for people of all backgrounds, providing places where they can go any time to rest, play sports or enjoy nature. Therefore, parks must provide a comfortable feeling and a good image. In order to create a better community, a successful public park is a good strategy. Mang Park, with boundaries from Military Road to Elmwood Avenue and Mang Avenue to Victoria Blvd, is one of the few parks in the Village of Kenmore. As seen in figure 5, the park already contains two water pools, playground, tennis courts, and baseball and softball fields. However, the size is small and it is not really a pedestrian friendly park—it is mostly sports fields. To create a successful park in 2035, Mang Park will provide comfort, accessibility, activities, and social places for village residents. Figure 6 Proposed re-design of Mang Park in the Village of Kenmore.

The main purpose of the park redesign is to better use space as well as to create welcoming feelings and openness. Therefore, the new park will replace many

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existing facilities with green space (trees and flowers). The new gateway, signage, and water fountain (replacing an existing pool) on the east corner of the park will welcome visitors. Following along the pathway/bike lane from the parking lot, there will be a redesigned baseball field instead of the Kenmore Senior Citizen Center. Moving to the middle section, basketball courts will be added right next to the tennis courts. Two softball diamonds will be replaced by open space (pathway) that people can walk or ride bikes along. The small swimming pool will remain and be reused as a skating rink during the winter time. And the baseball field on the west corner will be replaced by soccer/football field. Flowers and trees will help make the park look more attractive. Enhanced pedestrian level lighting will facilitate use of the part during dawn and twilight hours. The Kenmore Senior Citizen Center, currently located inside the park, will be expanded and relocated outside of the park on Elmwood Avenue. The new location will provide Mang Park with more open space, provide residents with a new and enlarged community center, and provide Elmwood Avenue with a new anchor that may also stimulate the redevelopment of underutilized commercial parcels. A major facility change is the proposed skating rink, which is currently advocated by a citizens’ group called Friends of Mang Park. This skating rink would be built in place of the old swimming pool since winter in Buffalo is significantly longer than summer and sports like ice hockey and ice-skating are very popular in Buffalo. Revenues from the skating rink would be used to offset the facility’s costs, and provide a revenue stream for other improvements at the park. STRATEGY: PUBLIC BIKE SHARING PROGRAM Public bicycle sharing programs have been increasingly popular strategies around the world in recent years. It is mainly operated in dense metropolitan areas where there is high demand for relatively short daily trips like shopping, dining, or trips to libraries and post offices. It allows people who do not own bicycles to use bicycles that are made available for shared use. It also allows people to have bikes ready for use anywhere they feel they can use a bike to fulfill short-distance traveling needs. Public bicycle sharing programs usually resolve three problems of owning a bike: parking, theft and maintenance of the bicycles. As bicycles are powered by humans, they do not consume any fossil fuel when they are used. Thus, it not only eliminates the cost of fuel used for short trips, but reduces air pollution and improves cardiovascular health. For a first ring-suburb like the Village of Kenmore, with a relatively dense population, bicycling has the potential to become a major mode of transportation. Bike sharing is actually a very feasible option in this neighborhood, given its current composition and travel habits. First of all, this portion of Kenmore is adjacent to the City of Buffalo, the biggest urban center in the region. The village itself is a densely populated area that could make bike riding both within the community and to the city fairly easy. People in the Village of Kenmore generally work in places close to them. About 90% work within Erie County. About 8 % of the people work inside the Village of Kenmore, putting their places of work within a 5 minute ride, assuming an 18 mph bicycle speed. The current median travel time to work is between 15 to 19 minutes; this is very minimal comparing to hours that commuters spend on the way to work in the suburbs of major metropolitan area like New York City and Los Angeles. This neighborhood, however, is very automobile-dependent, as automobile use exceeds 94% of all trips to work.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

The success of the operation of the public bike sharing program in this neighborhood would largely depend on the whole area as most bike sharing programs are operated throughout major urban centers. There are already many successful operations of bike sharing programs in foreign countries. Bike sharing systems have become successful in many different cities in Asia, Europe, Australia, and United States. Paris has the “Velip” program which offers over 20,000 bikes with bike sharing stations every 300 meters. In North American cities, Montreal, Quebec, Denver, Minneapolis, and Washington DC already operates bike sharing systems. Also, London is planning to launch a big bike sharing program in Central London offering 400 bicycle docking stations, 10,200 docking spaces and 6,000 bicycles. The system will reduce problems of traffic congestion, parking, theft, noise, and air pollution. The most successful bike sharing program is the one in Hangzhou, China, the first of its kind in the country (Figure 7), and one that should be replicated in Kenmore and the Buffalo area. Currently, the Hangzhou system has 2,177 bike racks in operation throughout the city and the daily ridership exceeds 20,000. The slogan of the system, “The last kilometer to end a transit trip,” reveals its goal of bringing connectivity between public transit stops and individuals’ homes. Kenmore’s bike program is going to follow the model of Hangzhou with a few revisions. Like the Hangzhou program, this is going to be a government-run program because it involves making connections with the public bus system. Because of the focus in providing the last link in the public transportation and people’s homes, a large portion of the bike racks will be located near the bus stops, specifically along the NFTA bus routes along Kenmore, Delaware and Elmwood Avenues. AAAAAAAAAww/j8OufH64Qms/s1600-h/hangzhou.jpg

Figure 7 Hangzhou, China bike sharing station

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As for the concentration of the bike racks, there are about 2000 bike racks in Hangzhou, serving a population of 2 million. That means one bike rack currently serves every 1,000 residents. As the population projection for the study area in 2035 stands around 6,000 people, that would translate into six racks in the western part of Kenmore. However, because Kenmore is less dense than Hangzhou, there will have to be more bike docking facilities to properly service its population—at least nine. Locations with proximity to public transportation facility will be priority sites for these bike docking facilities. Two bike racks will be distributed along each of the major streets in the area, which are Military Rd., Elmwood Ave., Delaware Ave. and Kenmore Ave. In addition, there will be one bike rack located within Mang Park to enable more recreational riding. These locations will be linked to bus routes, and also to the roads where commercial activities are most concentrated, thus it will be a stimulating traffic and business around these docking facilities. Because they will be evenly distributed, people will be able to access them very easily. Distribution and names of bike docking station will be as following Figure 8 Proposed bike sharing station locations

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

Kinsey & Delaware (Connection to Bus Route 25) Municipal Building (East side of Delaware Ave north of Victoria Blvd, Route 25) Delaware Plaza (West side of Delaware Ave south of Kenmore Ave, Route 5, 25) Rite Aid (East side of Elmwood Ave north of Victoria Blvd, Route 20) Kenmore & Delaware (West side of Elmwood Ave north of Kenmore Ave, Route 5, 20, 79) Sherpard &Wilber (West side of Wilber Avenue south of Sherpard Ave) Tremeont & Military (East side of Military Rd North of Tremont Ave) Mang Park (In middle section) NFTA Branch Office ( West side of Military Rd, opposite to Hazeltine Ave)


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

This will mainly be a public-sponsored program. Thus, a large portion of the funding should come from Erie County, as this should also become a regional program. In order to raise funding for this program, there could be an additional “bike tax� created with the consent of the voters. Partial funding could also come from revenue collected from the user’s fee paid into the program itself. Private business could also help fund this program by putting their advertisements on the bike racks, which is how the Montreal model of the bike sharing is funded. STRATEGY: COMPLETE STREETS Complete streets are roadways designed to facilitate safe, attractive, and comfortable access and travel for all users. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transport users of all ages and abilities are able to safely and comfortably move alone and across a complete street. It has been proven that complete streets also create a sense of community and place and improve social interaction. Generally, improving the road conditions in a neighborhood can help improve the property value of the land adjacent to it, not only by looking better, but by making better connections between roads, sidewalks and businesses along the streets.

Figure 9 complete street redesign for Elmwood and Delaware avenues

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As areas become more attractive and balanced, land values increase. Some Complete Street projects have increased adjacent land values 30-100%. For instance, a complete street redesign on South Olive Avenue in West Palm Beach, Florida resulted in an increase in adjacent home values of $115,000 in just one year. Integrating sidewalks, bicycle lanes, transit amenities, and safe crossings into the initial design of a project spares the expense of retrofits later. In Kenmore, most of the streets are not complete streets because they mainly focus on the needs of automobiles. There are no bikes lanes in the area, the sidewalks are not well designed to give pedestrians security or comfort. They are sometimes in very bad condition. As many of the bumpy roads need much more improvement, the design and flow of the streets also needs to be changed in order to make the neighborhood an appealing place both for the residents and businesses. The three major northsouth oriented roads with two way traffic—Delaware Avenue, Elmwood Avenue, Military Road—all need to be remodeled in order to slow down the traffic and to “Complete” the street. This can be done in coming years as these streets are undergo regular reconstruction. The focus should be on Elmwood and Delaware, as these two streets are where most of the commercial and pedestrian activity occurs. Delaware Avenue currently has six lanes, with varied widths and lane configuration along different sections. It could be remodeled into a more consistent layout with two driveways, two on-street parking lanes, two bike lanes to accommodate the bike sharing program, and a green center median to slow down the traffic and to facilitate pedestrian crossings. Elmwood will have the same redesign, with two parking lanes, two lanes for car traffic, two lanes for bicycles and a center median. The driveway width will be reduced to 10 feet from 11 to help calm the traffic, while the median will be 10 feet wide, the bike lanes will be 5 feet wide (the minimum width New York State allows if bike lanes are not on the shoulder of a road). The parking lanes on the shoulders will be 7 feet wide. Military Road, where both sides have industrial uses, is the ideal route to direct faster-moving through traffic, though work needs to be done on the road’s condition, especially the sidewalks since there would be two bike racks located on this street. The east-west oriented Kenmore Avenue is where the both the road design and the road condition is the worst. The two-way traffic and a turning lane will remain; more traffic lights and crosswalks will be added to facilitate pedestrian and bike crossing. The travel lane will be shared by the cars and the bikes. Kenmore Avenue is a priority road for renovation when funding becomes available since its condition is the worst. The complete street project could start along Elmwood Avenue for demonstration. Much of the landscape design could be very similar to Buffalo’s recently rebuilt 700 block of Main Street. Bulb-outs will be added to reduce the length of crossing and to calm the traffic, street lights with higher light for the traffic and lower for the sidewalks will be installed to accommodate different lighting requirement. Benches will attract more people to sit down, while greenery in the median and along the sidewalks will not only calm traffic, but also improve the air quality. Bike racks will be available for both bike parking and for bike sharing.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

Simultaneously occurring throughout the street reconstruction process will be incremental replacement and updating of sewer, water, power, and communication lines. This infrastructure updating will encourage new development and attract new homeowners while ensuring the stability of Village services for generations to come. KENMORE RE-VISIONING COMMUNITY COALITION Strengthening the village’s sense of identity can aid in creating a sense of community ownership. Historical themes, specifically of the 1920s-1930s, may be used in signage and public features to distinguish the village and complement its historical assets. A strong identity is useful in terms of visual attractiveness as well as instilling local pride and determination—a “this is our village, this is our home” mentality. While creation of community identity is important, it will not encourage physical development or deep rooted community ownership. What will is a public-private partnership dedicated to creating a sustainable and inclusive Kenmore. Such a partnership—a Kenmore Re-visioning Community Coalition—would be charged with the redevelopment of derelict and vacant properties which no longer serve productive uses. The primary goal of the Coalition is to re-vision vacant sites in Kenmore in a way that strengthens community identity, ownership, and collaboration, with the tangible goal of creating new community spaces. Mang and Thurston parks aside, the village is greatly lacking in areas available for informal community interaction. What these new sites will provide is an arena for dialogue and community activity, promoting cohesiveness and diversification. A demonstration of such a project would be the unused overflow parking lot for Kenmore Lanes Bowling Alley located on the corner of Kenmore and Wilbur Avenues. As of today the lot is an unattractive void on Kenmore Avenue. Presently the space cannot even function as a car park for the iron barriers about the perimeter. However the Organization could receive the property from Kenmore Lanes, who would no longer have to pay taxes on the unused parcel, and what was once a vacant lot would become a community gateway and interaction space. The gravel surfacing replaced with sod or permeable surfacing would provide much needed run-off absorption space as well as an aesthetically appealing alternative to the present circumstance. A line of coniferous trees along the far north edge of the lot would not only further the aesthetic value of the area, it would also provide a dust and noise barrier for the immediate residents. Community furniture, benches, tables, and some form of shade, would provide an outside interaction space. Pillars and ironwork coupled with signage will give the area a formal and iconic entranceway into the Village. Additionally movement of the bus stop from in front of the new gateway would give travelers a safe and appealing area to rest while waiting. Such community initiated and built projects will engage residents in caring about the state of the village as well as their fellow neighbors. In working side by side, community members will have chance to network, mentor, and generally actively engage in dialogue leading to growth of social capital resulting in a healthier neighborhood.

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The proposed coalition will require collaboration with the village government, local businesses, community residents and private institutions. While no existing program specifically outlines a procedure for the Coalition, inspiration from individual projects will provide a base for a solid procedural framework. The Comprehensive Plan for the City of Buffalo provides such example in its Good Neighbors Planning Alliance, which seeks inclusive planning efforts in community development initiatives. Integral to the GNPA is allowing citizens to have active role in shaping and controlling their communities. It would make sense to integrate the Kenmore Community Re-visioning Coalition into this program as a means of guiding its development. Buffalo’s Lexington Co-op, meanwhile, also provides a potential organizational and funding model. Founded in 1971, the Lexington Co-op of Buffalo is owned and managed by members of the Buffalo community. The co-op is open to any and all community members, who join by buying a share of the co-op. Co-op members are considered equal owners of the co-op and are entitled to a voice in co-op meetings and eligibility for election to the Board of Directors. The nine member Board of Directors is elected for three terms and cannot include any member of the paid staff of co-op offices. This model describes how communities may be organized effectively. The Kenmore Community Re-visioning Coalition can be structured similarly in that there would be a head council consisting of community members, private enterprise representatives, and public officials elected and responsible by and to the village at large. Community members can purchase stock to help fund projects, as well as volunteer time or skills toward building projects. In turn, members are able to elect Coalition council members, run for council, have say in community discussions, and have vote for approval or disproval of projects. All residents of Kenmore should be allowed to attend meetings and voice opinions on projects. However, only members who have bought shares would be eligible to vote in meetings.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035


Matt Murphy Adam Ricker Shaun Taylor

...there is a significant disconnect between the residential neighborhoods and the commercial strip malls with their acres of asphalt.

DELAWARE-SHERIDAN The intersection of Delaware Avenue and Sheridan Drive serves not only as a busy crossroads of automobile traffic, but a crossroads of commerce as well. The current site is a series of generic strip malls that vary in size and age, but all require the use of an automobile to access them. The neighborhoods that are directly behind this commercial corridor contain a strong residential population. However, there is a significant disconnect between the residential neighborhoods and the commercial strip malls with their acres of asphalt (Figure 1). Though this area is home to a number of municipal functions, such as the Aquatic Center, police station/court house, and a school, it lacks the traditional downtown feel that is often associated with this combination of services and commercial activity. Some of the plazas in this area are beginning to show their age and are poorly designed to account for public transit and other alternative modes of travel, such as walking and biking. The current land uses in this area are very segregated with defined areas for residential and commercial development. This land use pattern is typical of suburban communities and leads to a lack of housing diversity. With an aging population, many elderly in Tonawanda may no longer want the responsibility of a single family home, but wish to stay close to their neighborhood in an apartment or condo—options that are relatively scarce. The current street conditions are easily passable by automobile but do not allow walkers and bikers to safely navigate the corridor, and the public transit options are not widely promoted or taken into account with the current road design (Figure 2). In the next quarter century, this area of Tonawanda will be plagued by aging and obsolete infrastructure that is unable to keep up with the needs and lifestyles of the town residents. To combat the out dated use of land, both commercial and residential, and roads designed purely for automobiles, action in the form of redevelopment with significant redesign needs to take place. This chapter considers the future transformation of a wide area surrounding the intersection of Delaware Avenue and Sheridan Drive (Figure 3).

Figure 1 Plaza parking lots

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Figure 2 Unsafe Pedestrian Conditions: Sheridan Drive

Figure 3 Focus area outline


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

VISION SUMMARY In the year 2035, the neighborhood surrounding the intersection of Sheridan Drive and Delaware Avenue is significantly altered from its appearance and function in 2010. The area has been redesigned, with the changing needs of residents in mind, to create a Town Center that is more diverse and easily accessed by most residents of the community, regardless of their mobility levels or choice of transportation. Perhaps the most significant and noticeable difference is the change to the streetscape. The streets once existed as imposing, multilane thoroughfares that were not easily accessible by pedestrians or cyclists, and were not ideal for users of public transit. The roads were dominated by automobiles, which represented the only truly safe way to travel. In 2035, the streets accommodate all forms of transportation and provide an aesthetically pleasing streetscape that adds character and a sense of identity to the area. The streets have designated bike lanes for cyclists to ride in safely without mixing with traffic or pedestrians. The sidewalks in the area have been redesigned to accommodate a heavier pedestrian traffic, making the streets and shopping areas walkable. Green buffers between the sidewalks and the street have trees that frame the streetscape and add to pedestrian comfort. All aspects of the redesigned streets have boosted land values and aided the neighborhood’s redevelopment. At the new Town Center, located on land at the northeast corner of Sheridan drive and Delaware Avenue, strip malls that once housed housed an array of big box stores have been transformed to incorporate a variety of uses, creating an environment more like an urban neighborhood. The Town Center includes traditional retail offerings, but also has a mixture of residential and office uses. The new, multi-level buildings at the Town Center have been pulled up to the street to provide an environment scaled to the pedestrian, with parking hidden behind. The new residential development in the Town Center attracts many young adults who enjoy the convenience of renting in a mixed-use environment, as well as many older residents who are also attracted by the site’s convenience and its diversity of housing options. The Town Center is also built to high environmental standards, with LEED Silver Certification. Property owners in the surrounding area have risen to the challenge to achieve similar standards in green design. By 2035, all of the area’s commercial buildings have been built or refurbished to LEED Silver specifications, while many older residential properties have made improvement to ensure environmental efficiency.

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STRATEGY: COMPLETE STREETS Today, the streets in the Delaware Avenue/Sheridan Drive are used primarily by automobiles. The goal for the future is to make the streets accessible to all forms of transport, whether by public bus, car, bike or walking. This task can be accomplished by incorporating “complete streets” principles into the area’s overall design. The streets are currently extremely wide roads with several lanes traveling in each direction—a nightmare for pedestrians and people on bicycles. With the complete streets design, traffic will be calmed to allow pedestrians and bikers to feel comfortable while also moving traffic more efficiently. To execute the complete streets design, it is important to continue the median that exists on Sheridan Drive and incorporate a similar feature on Delaware Avenue. The Sheridan median helps to give pedestrians a refuge when they become stuck in the middle of the street during signal changes. Medians also organize traffic by forcing cars to make U-turns or turn at a designated area, helping to eliminate congestion caused by scattered left-turning points. In addition to medians, bike lanes and enhanced transit service in the area will allow for multiple modes of transportation. Bike lanes should be incorporated along each side of the area’s major arterials: Delaware Avenue, Delaware Road, Elmwood Avenue, and Sheridan Drive. To connect these arterial bike lanes at the site’s northern and southern edges, bike lanes should also be implemented on Orchard Drive and Waverly Avenue (to the north), and along Harding Avenue and Westchester Boulevard (to the south). Besides creating a network of safe places for residents to use their bikes—whether for transportation or leisure— providing bike lanes will also promote healthier lifestyles. Figure 4 shows the proposed layout of Sheridan Drive and Delaware Avenue.

Figure 4 Proposed layout of Sheridan Drive and Delaware Avenue intersection


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

A new bus route, providing internal circulation within this area (and separate from the tradition NFTA service), should follow the same exterior path as the bike routes. The bus will act as a community shuttle, increasing mobility around the proposed Town Center and allow residents to travel to and between retail centers without the use of a car. The bus route and bike lanes will better connect the neighborhoods that are currently separated by Sheridan Drive and Delaware Avenue, and by the large unwalkable areas surrounding that intersection that make automobile travel a necessity. By facilitating a greater mixture of travel modes, these strategies would allow for greater interaction between residents of the area. The map in Figure 5 shows the proposed routing of the bus route and the network of formal bike lanes. Wider sidewalks (the current, narrow walks are more suited to residential areas), allowing pedestrians to walk more comfortably along this area’s arterials, should also be incorporated into this renewed streetscape with a landscaped buffer between the sidewalk and the curb. A buffer with trees would further protect the pedestrian from traffic, make an aesthetically pleasing street, and strengthen efforts to create a more mixed-use, transportation-diverse environment.

Figure 5 Proposed routing for bus route

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The Town Center will be located at the northeast corner of Sheridan Drive and Delaware Avenue, reshaping the current Tops Friendly Markets and Sears plazas, which are poorly organized and do not connect well to each other or surrounding residential areas. The current Tops plaza site has four buildings: a Burger King, two Bon-ton stores with an attached strip plaza, and the stand-alone Tops. Between these buildings, shoppers cannot travel easily without going in and out of one’s car to get to different stores. The parking lot in this plaza could be better organized. As of now there are three separate lots with the two larger lots being connected by a thru street. Tops also has a gas station in the far corner of the lot. This station is basically its own island. As for the Sears lot, it is a little better organized and is set up as many other strip plazas. The lot is anchored by Sears and an Aldi’s with several other smaller stores in the strip and a Mighty Taco that is off to the side. With these current conditions, it makes it undesirable to spend time in this area— instead, people grab what they need and then leave. In order for this to change, the area needs to become more welcoming and improve its relationship with the community. A Town Center in this area would help to make it better linked with its surrounding neighborhoods and would provide the community with economic stability. The Town Center would be a focal point for this area, creating a sense of place that will help to bring the area’s disjointed pieces together. The reshaping of these two retail centers should shift store fronts to the adjacent streets with parking hidden from Sheridan Drive, but easily accessed from Delaware Road. The new buildings would be L-shaped and would be connected by a pedestrian bridge over Delaware Road, making it easier for patrons to cross the street. A potential pedestrian bridge similar to the one at Roswell Park can be used to connect the two plazas, as seen in Figure 6. The Tops would remain in its same position but would get a face lift to match the design of the newly constructed and reconfigured buildings.

Figure 6 Potential pedestrian bridge to connect plazas


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

Figure 7 Proposed mixed use style

The reshaping of the area will also incorporate mixed uses into an area that today is strictly retail. This would enable some buildings to not only house commercial uses on the first level, but to have offices and residential units on the levels above. This means that someone has the potential to live, work, and shop all in the same area without using their car. Multiple uses will give the area a more dense and urban atmosphere (see Figure 7), something increasingly sought-after by both older and younger households in search of variety and convenience. Figure 8 shows the proposed layout for the Town Center, with the footprints of the new, mixed-use complexes forming L’s along Sheridan Drive and connected by the pedestrian bridge over Delaware Road. As a new civic focal point, gathering spaces must be an important part of the Town Center. Currently, the Aquatic and Fitness Center, located just off of Delaware Road, provides a well-used recreation facility for the area. However, space around the facility are mostly underutilized or wasted, including a parking lot that is much larger than is needed, and a large unused lawn fronting Sheridan Drive. The part of the facility’s parking lot closest to Delaware Road could become a small park, with a playground for younger children and perhaps even a small sports field, allowing active use of a presently inactive space. Figure 8 shows the layout of the Town Center with the bridge extending over Delaware Road and the building in the left lot of the Town Center is the Tops anchoring the two plazas. Figure 8 Layout of the new Town Center

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The green lawn in front of the Aquatic and Fitness Center, meanwhile, would be ideal for a community pavilion. Putting a pavilion in this area will transform an unused field into something useful. A pavilion in the area allows for better connection with the neighborhoods and would be able to host several small events such as concerts, movie nights, or perhaps a farmers market. With the transformation of the Sears plaza, the pavilion will be easily accessed via the new parking lot shielded from Sheridan Drive. The town center would be a major boost to the community’s sense of identity. Along with supplying necessary services and economic activity, the Town Center will also make the area more connected to the community instead of just being a place to shop. Instead of operating separately, the area’s different parcels and uses will work together to provide the area with a greater sense of coherence and place. STRATEGY: GREEN AND SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS Green design is also a vital part of the redevelopment of the area into a Town Center. As redevelopment in the town occurs, it is crucial that it take advantage of the opportunity to use green technology and build to the highest possible green standards. This goes for new construction and renovations as well. Green building is the ultimate strategy to ensure sustainability. Green design really ties all of these strategies together. The redevelopment of the Sheridan Drive and Delaware Avenue area is the perfect opportunity for the Town of Tonawanda to insist that new construction and renovations be done to high environmental efficiency standards. Green design is the ultimate in designing for sustainability, a key goal in the redevelopment for the area. Not only is green design the responsible thing to do, Tonawanda can also use it as a marketing tool to encourage people to move to the environmentally friendly area, creating a niche market for the town. In the redesigning of the area, any new buildings or renovations should be done in accordance with the LEED standards. Even if the buildings are not LEED Certified, Bronze, Silver or Platinum, it is important that the builders use the LEED checklists to ensure green design throughout the community. Many elements of the first two strategies are important aspects of the LEED Certification. For example, buildings get “LEED points” for being located within a short distance of public transportation stops. It is also important that residents be located within a walkable distance to many public amenities such as grocery stores, banks etc. If the buildings are located within close proximity to the amenities they too qualify for points towards LEED certification. The mixed use strategy would make the task of locating in close proximity very easy. Using green principals to redevelop commercial properties would create commercial areas similar to that shown in Figure 9, at the Potomac Town Center in Virginia.


Tonawanda Futures: 2035

Figure 9 Green principles used at the Potomac town Center in Virginia

The Dormitory Authority State of New York (DASNY) which designs and builds an array of housing and buildings of various uses for the State of New York, currently requires that all new projects at least strive to be LEED Silver certified, meaning that they do not require the physical certification due to the high cost of the certification, but they require the design to account for the checklist associated with the Silver certification. Similarly, in Tonawanda, the Sheridan Drive/Delaware Avenue area should be formed into a new “Green District” that has similar requirements as DASNY requires. This would be a similar concept to a historic district, any new construction or renovations to buildings that are located within the district (excluding single family homes) would be required to strive for LEED certification. The properties will be able to achieve many of the needed points simply by being located in the close proximity of transit and other amenities. The green design can’t stop on the interior of the buildings but needs to be carried out on the exterior and the landscape as well. One common exterior design feature for green design is the use of green roofs. The green roof is basically a landscape roofed that not only helps as an insulator for the building but also collect rain that would become storm water runoff. For example, a Burlington, VT, church has recently under taken a project that would take 700 sqft of their roof and convert it to a green roof that will have a variety of sedges and succulents that are very hardy. The roof will last approximately 40 years which is longer than the average shingled roof and help to insulate the church as well as capture 2 inches of storm water runoff. Projects such as this may seem small in size but are extremely valuable in terms of green design.

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STRATEGY: DIVERSE FUNDING MECHANISMS Funding Complete Streets The design and implementation of complete streets along Delaware Avenue and Sheridan drive in the town of Tonawanda is an integral component in ensuring the success of the Village project. Federal and state funds that would already be earmarked for regular maintenance and reconstruction of these state routes can be leveraged to help fund the complete streets effort. Additionally, the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program is a competitive grant for which projects in all modes of transportation compete based on their ability to meet national transportation goals. The U. S. Department of Transportation reviews applications for innovative transportation projects that can address economic, environmental, and travel issues. TIGER funds, as well as funds from other future federal programs, could be secured in order to help finance this portion of the project. TIGER projects must display multiple benefits for the community, and adding complete streets to the Tonawanda Village will help to improve public safety, enhance community livability, as well as improve the condition and state of repair of the streets. The construction and installation of complete streets in Tonawanda Village also helps meet TIGER objectives of stimulating economic reinvestment and developing sustainable transportation options. Complete streets will integrate pedestrian, car, bike, and public transportation modes into a single, seamless design. They also will encourage commerce and economic development, since they provide more and better access to businesses along the Village thoroughfares. Funding Green and Sustainable Buildings A variety of financial incentives, from tax credits and abatements to grants, can be secured in order to help fund the green components of this project. National Grid New York offers assistance to programs that seek to improve energy efficiency for the state. By renovating existing buildings along Delaware Avenue for improved residential and retail space, the Tonawanda Village project can convert older, costly, and energy inefficient structures into spaces that reduce energy use and also enhance energy productivity. National Grid New York grant funds can help to improve commercial and community buildings insomuch as these renovations also address environmental and energy problems for New York State. Green and sustainable design can also be funded through a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). $4.7 billion of such funds were allotted to more than 1,100 local and state governments in 2005. CDBG grants are awarded to projects that are consistent with national priorities for community development activities to address health and safety concerns. 104

Tonawanda Futures: 2035

In order to secure these grants, projects must hold public meetings in order to ensure that they are meeting the community’s most urgent needs, which will be crucial to the success of the Tonawanda Village project. CDBG funds can be utilized for community development, for the construction of public facilities and improvements (such as water, sewer, other utilities, and sidewalks), the construction and maintenance of neighborhood centers, public services, and economic growth. Funding the Town Center Construction costs for the Tonawanda Town Center could be offset through tax abatements offered by the Erie County Industrial Development Agency (ECIDA). ECIDA’s Payments-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) policy enables the agency to provide Non-Industrial projects, such as the Tonawanda Town Center, with ten years of abatement on the value that is generated through construction projects, as well as a five-year freeze on taxes associated with the acquisition of existing properties. These abatements could help developers to both purchase real estate at the proposed site and to lower renovation and construction costs of the new Town Center. ECIDA is also authorized to employ the PILOT policy’s more lucrative Industrial standards (fifteen years of tax abatement and a ten-year freeze on acquisition taxes) to projects that are deemed as or more beneficial than other Industrial projects, as well as the right to establish particular guidelines for mixed or multiple-use projects. Taking into account the magnitude and impact of Tonawanda Village, the project might thereby be in a position to take advantage of these flexible standards. Federal and state programs should be developed in coming years in order to support mixed-use, green redevelopment of older suburban areas, perhaps by arranging funding competitions for innovative projects. For example, Congress has proposed the Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act, which would authorize $445 million to be appropriated annually between 2011 and 2021. These funds would also be matched by federal assistance grants for projects that aim to rehabilitate existing, as well as develop new, community recreational infrastructure. Because the Tonawanda Town Center will incorporate the Tonawanda Aquatic Center as part of an effort to enhance community recreation, public health, and livability, the project could utilize these funds. In addition to its economic and commercial objectives, by improving health and recreation opportunities, the Town Center will help foster a strong sense of community and a greatly improved quality of life for residents of Tonawanda. With the implementation these strategies, the this part of the Town of Tonawanda can be transformed from a first ring suburban neighborhood of the 20th century to a modern suburb with an urban edge in the 21st century: a Town Center with multiple uses; new civic spaces on underutilized land; and everything connected and accessible by multiple modes of transportation. University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


BIBLIOGRAPHY Abbott, Pauline S. Re-creating neighborhoods for successful aging. Baltimore, Md.: Health Professions Press, 2009. American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). “Caregiving Resource Center: Assisted Living: Weighing the Options,” September 2010, relationships/caregiving-resource-center/info-09-2010/ho_assisted_living_weighing_the_options.html. American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). “Caregiving Resource Center: What Are Nursing Homes?,” October, 2010, caregiving-resource-center/info-10-2010/ho_what_are_nursing_homes.html Anderson, S. “Portland, Oregon: a case study in sustainability.” Government Finance Review, 12 Feb. 2002. Boyd, Susan. Placemaking Tools for Community Action: tools that engage the community to create a future that works for everyone. Washington, DC: US Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2002. Brody, Jane E. “Three R’s for Extreme Longevity,” The New York Times, October 19, 2010. City of Palo Alto. “Types of Zoning Codes and Formats: Discussion Paper,” =239#PAZoning Department of Transport (United Kingdom). “Killing Speed and Saving Lives.” Reprinted in Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, 1995. Drake Landing Solar Community. Durrett, Charles. Senior cohousing: a community approach to independent living - the handbook. Berkeley, CA: Habitat Press, 2005. Forbes. “Going Green? Here are the 10 Tax Breaks for 2010,” April 10, 2010. Good, Dan. “Local restaurants could lose business, as construction crews eliminate Somers Point traffic circle”. Press of Atlantic City, October 18, 2010. Harwood, Douglas. Operational impacts of median width on larger vehicles. Washington DC: National Research Council, 2010. Hsu, Charlotte. “Restoration of a Central Quadrangle Combines Beauty with Sustainability,” UB NewsCenter, August 13, 2010. news/11644. Hume, Christopher. “Trail breathes life into ‘dead zone’,” Toronto Star, October 30, 2009. Kavanagh, Sean. “Residents protest traffic-calming circles”. From CBC News; Kern, Richard. “Citizens Might Adopt Pocket Parks?”, October 13, 2010. 106

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Lingenfelter, Amy. “Public Schools in Urban Disadvantaged Communities: Buffalo, NY, USA.” Lecture from SOC 315 Sociology of City Life, University at Buffalo. October 20, 2010. Lum, H. “The use of road markings to in residential areas narrow for controlling speed.” Institute for Transportation Engineers, June 1984. Partners in Charity. “The Positive Effects of Home Ownership.” Seawell, Caesandra. “What's New at Buffalo ReUse.” http://www.buffaloreuse. org. Seattle Department of Transportation. “Participation in the Neighborhood Traffic Control Program." Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission. “Creating Successful Mixed Use Communities: Housing Action Agenda.” Morrow, James, “Round and Round We Go.” University of Washington, Department of Math, White Paper, February, 9, 2009. Town of Tonawanda, NY. Town Code. Town of Tonawanda, NY. Comprehensive Plan. "Types of senior housing and senior care" http://www. Retrieved November 20, 2010. U.S. Department of Transportation. Roundabouts an Informational Guide. Washington, DC: USDOT, June, 2000. Van Gelder, Sicco. “How to improve the chances of successfully developing and implementing a place brand strategy.” Placebrands: Places with Purpose, May 26, 2008. Verde, Zach. “Finding Grants for Green Construction.” http://ezinearticles. com/?Finding-Grants-for-Green-Construction&id=447495. Watkins-Miller, Elaine. “Filter the Water: Bioswales Offer a Green Option for Parking Lot Run-off.” Buildings, June 1, 1997. Wood Buffalo Housing and Development Corporation. The TaigaNova Eco-Industrial Park. Wyeth, John. “Take Note- Affordable Green Building is Possible.” http:// University at Buffalo Environmental Design Workshop


TONAWANDA FUTURES Transforming an Inner-Ring American Suburb Department of Urban and Regional Planning

PD 450 FAll 2011  

Environmental Design Workshop - Tonawanda Futures 2035

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