Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — One Region Forward, a collaborative, community-based regional planning initiative, is asking citizens of Niagara and Erie counties about the future of the area at a series of interactive “Community Congress” public workshops.
Two workshops will be held in Niagara County, including one at Starpoint High School, 4363 Mapleton Road, Pendleton, from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday; and another one at the Niagara Power Project Visitors Center, 5777 Lewiston Road, Lewiston, from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday.
One Region Forward is funded by a $2 million grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development through its Partnership for Sustainable Communities. That’s an interagency collaboration also involving the federal Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency.
At the workshops, small groups of participants will show graphically, with large scale maps of the two counties, how and where the region should grow over the next 40 years, in terms of housing, jobs, transportation and more.
Activities for families and children will be available through the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Buffalo Partnership.
The maps that citizens create will be consolidated by researchers at the University at Buffalo Regional Institute into several alternative scenarios for the future, according to Darren Cotton, an associate planner at the UB Regional Institute.
Those scenarios and their forecasted impacts on agriculture, transportation systems, economy and fiscal health will be presented at the next set of Community Congress meetings in the spring, Cotton said. Citizens will be allowed to reassess their approach and again voice their opinions on how they would like to see Buffalo Niagara move forward.
This community input will help shape a regional plan to advise how Buffalo Niagara and its local communities can grow sustainably over the next 40 years, Cotton said. It will offer guidance for how to use land for economic growth, coordinate housing and transportation investments, prepare for climate change and make it easier and cost effective to grow and distribute food locally.
A completed plan will give Buffalo Niagara priority status for federal dollars related to transportation infrastructure, housing and community development, cleaning up the environment and promoting economic development, Cotton said.