By Alan J. Bozer, originally published in The Buffalo News on 12/25/15.
Another Voice: Creek’s History and Environment Must be Preserved
The Scajaquada Creek Corridor is much more than a concrete and steel passageway. Travelers of the corridor already speed by museums, parks, colleges and other cultural attractions in the Olmsted Crescent, but the corridor includes other interests in land, water and air that local groups have come together to restore and to promote. The corridor can be a strong attraction not only for cultural, but for historic and eco-tourism.
For ages the Niagara River end of the corridor has supported one of the largest and most diverse concentrations of gulls in the world. Not even gas and diesel fumes completely deter them from flying up Scajaquada Creek, as indicated by the hundreds that can be found most mornings on the fourth fairway in the Meadow of Delaware Park.
The waters of the creek hosted a Navy yard 200 years ago when Buffalo was part of the war efforts defending against His Majesty’s imperial forces. Cars now fly by the wartime harbor at speed on the expressway. Still, the intrepid Scajaquada Canoe Club paddles its waters, and fishermen are found at its mouth. Ducks and aquatic life are still to be found in its waters. Hope for a cleaner waterway continues.
In the middle of the Meadow lies a boulder marking the final resting place of 300 men who volunteered to protect Buffalo. And along the creek banks in 1814 a battle raged as invading British forces marching toward Buffalo (they had already burned it once) were repulsed. The bloodstained battlefield lies below the trucks and cars hurrying by obliviously on the expressway.
The Jesse Kregal Pathway visits these wartime sites and ultimately leads to the burial place in Delaware Park. In other areas of the country, sites of this kind are parks or monuments, properly recognized for what they are – historic testaments to the making of America. We deserve the same treatment.
Robert Moses had a transportation vision years ago that carved up our city (and other urban areas). We need vision now – an urban planning vision that highlights not just the Olmsted Crescent that features educational and cultural highlights, but also our history and ecologic heritage while being mindful of the environment.
It is our time and our responsibility to provide an environmentally sound plan that serves our community and our heritage for future generations. It is not transportation planning we need for the corridor so much as urban planning. Properly planned, green space and roadway can come together to develop our cultural, historic and ecological treasures.
Alan Bozer, a partner with the law firm of Phillips Lytle LLP, is chairman of the Long Range Planning Committee of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and a committee chairman of the Scajaquada Corridor Coalition.