The Western New York Land Conservancy is developing The Riverline based on a vision created by the community. The Riverline will transform the elevated former DL&W rail corridor along the Buffalo River into a string of vibrant and engaging experiences in nature that everyone can enjoy—right in the city, only minutes from downtown.
The Riverline will be an inspiring gathering place that connects people to water, nature, and one another. It will prioritize native plants and animals, public art, and community; it will inspire curiosity, connections and exploration; and it will help build a healthy, inclusive, and opportunity-rich city with vibrancy in every neighborhood.
These designs provide the pathway for taking The Riverline from idea to reality. (Click thumbnails to enlarge.)
Funding for the Concept and Schematic Design phase comes in part through an Environmental Protection Fund grant (EPF#180842) administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. Additional funding is provided by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York Blue Fund; KeyBank in partnership with the First Niagara Foundation; Moog Inc.; the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor's IMPACT! Grant Program; the East Hill Foundation; Kathy Lasher and Scott Bieler; Peggy and Jay Elliott; Nancy and Tom Smith; and other individual community donors. The Land Conservancy continues to seek additional funding for The Riverline.
The Western New York Land Conservancy began working with the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and many other community partners to reimagine the DL&W rail corridor near downtown Buffalo. Through an ongoing community engagement process, a vision emerged for a nature trail and greenway, stretching from the DL&W terminal near Canalside to the Buffalo River across from the Tesla Gigafactory at Riverbend.
Based on a year of outreach and engagement activities, the Land Conservancy created a Community Vision Plan that includes a vision statement, guiding principles, and strategies for creating a vibrant, safe, and welcoming space for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds to connect with each other, with nature, and with the waterfront throughout the year.
The Land Conservancy worked with a professional competition adviser and community engagement consultant to launch an ideas competition for The Riverline’s design. The competition solicited design ideas from local, national, and international individuals and teams.
A jury of design experts and community leaders awarded prizes to their favorite design ideas. The nearly 100 proposals submitted sparked conversations and highlighted community preferences for the design and development of The Riverline.
We requested proposals for Concept and Schematic Design (EPF #180842, DL&W Linear Park and Multi-Use Trail Design). Proposals were due by 5:00 PM on May 29, 2020. Once a contractor is selected, ongoing workshops and community engagement events will guide the design work. Funding for this project comes in part through an Environmental Protection Fund grant administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. KeyBank in partnership with the First Niagara Foundation, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York Blue Fund, and individual community donors.
The Land Conservancy, in partnership with community members, local organizations and agencies, the University at Buffalo Regional Institute, and Make Communities, has developed an Equitable Development Framework for The Riverline. This document is a framework to promote equity—working to ensure that all residents, regardless of race, ethnicity, income, age, or ability, can benefit from investments in The Riverline and nearby neighborhoods.
W Architecture and Landscape Architecture has been selected as the design firm that will lead the Concept and Schematic Design phase of The Riverline over the next year. A woman-owned business founded in Brooklyn by Barbara Wilks in 1999, W Architecture specializes in reimagining urban spaces by integrating natural systems to help communities unlock their potential for positive change. They have assembled a team of firms that will work together in this design phase, including Hood Design Studio, a minority-owned business founded by MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Walter Hood; and urban ecologist Steven Handel from Green Shield Ecology.
The Western New York Land Conservancy and its design team will display early concept designs for The Riverline during a livestreamed YouTube event at 7:00 p.m. on February 24. During the event, the design team will be live polling our audience. If you open this link on your phone or in a separate window, you'll be able to respond in real time: https://pollev.com/theriverline012. If you're not able to participate in the live poll, there will be other ways to respond after the event.
The Riverline is coming into focus with a design concept now emerging. The Western New York Land Conservancy and its award-winning design partners W Architecture, Hood Design Studio, and Green Shield Ecology are at the midpoint of a community centered conceptual design process. Building on four years of engagement, as well as community feedback from February’s initial concept designs, plans for The Riverline are taking shape as a place of refuge where nature has reclaimed this former rail corridor.
The Land Conservancy and its award-winning design partners W Architecture, Hood Design Studio, and Green Shield Ecology will present their concept designs for The Riverline at a press conference at the Tewksbury Lodge Pavilion on July 19th at 11:00 a.m. These concept designs are the result of four years of public engagement, as well as community feedback from February’s initial concept designs and April’s first drafts.
The Western New York Land Conservancy has named Jeff Lebsack of Buffalo as The Riverline Director. The hire follows a nationwide search to fill the new position for the planned nature trail and greenway near downtown Buffalo. With more than thirty years of experience in community-based engineering, design, and planning, most recently as a Senior Project Manager at Mott MacDonald, Lebsack brings a wealth of experience to the job.
The Riverline was awarded $900,000 in federal funds in the recently approved federal budget, as announced at a press event on March 14th, 2022. The event featured New York State Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand; Congressman Brian Higgins; Mayor Byron Brown; Thomas George, Director of Public Transit at the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA); Jeff Lebsack, The Riverline Director; and Nancy Smith, Executive Director of the Land Conservancy.