School of Architecture and Planning

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The Idea of Heritage Development

Executive summary

Buffalo's Opportunity

The Economics of Heritage Development

Urban Design and Heritage Development

Exhibit of Historic Views

Heritage Development
- a Case Study

Group Discussion Sessions

A Summary of the Conversation

Content Analysis
(coming soon)


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As I mentioned, Kevin Gaughan has done a tremendous job at bringing together a wealth of expertise from many communities to focus on this opportunity that you have in Buffalo. Some would call it a challenge. I really think it’s an opportunity for the city. And at the end of the day, or at the end of the conversation, our hope is that Buffalo can come to a consensus about how to move forward. Our hope is that you all will come to some conclusion or consensus about the right way to handle this discovery of the western terminus of the Erie Canal and some of the remains of the building and the streetscape and fabric that surrounded that so that this community can go forward in creating the waterfront park and creating a place that is really special and very much about Buffalo.

My hope also is that the energy and enthusiasm that Kevin and his Canal Conversation has engendered in this city will carry forward and that you will work on other projects to make this a truly extraordinary place to be, for it really is. I mean, I think yesterday, as your guests came in from communities across the country, people who had never been here before and were given an opportunity to see something of the city, everybody was wowed with what you get to live with every day in Buffalo. It is really a wonderful place to be and thank you for your efforts to make it even better and Kevin, thank you for your efforts to lead everyone. You’ve been just superb. (applause).

Kevin Gaughan

Wendy, thanks so much. On behalf of all the Buffalo-Niagara Region and everyone who collaborated on the conversation, for all the thought and energy and time that you put into this small and modest effort, but most of all for putting up with me all these months, we have a small token of our affection and our esteem. Thank you so much, Wendy. (applause)

Standard Elevator - Patricia Layman Bazelon

Now to begin the first program and to get our work started we’re just deeply honored to have as moderator of the first program a great friend and a really powerful voice for collaboration here in the Buffalo-Niagara region, John Sheffer, a former State of New York Senator and John, Chairman, during your tenure, of the Heritage Tourism Committee and now Director of the State University of New York at Buffalo Institute for Local Governance and Regional Growth. John is an enormous asset and leader in the sweeping movement for regional collaboration to benefit not only our magnificent area, but principally the City of Buffalo. John is going to serve as moderator of our first panel. John. (applause).

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John B. Sheffer, II

Director, Center for Local Governance and Regional Growth, Moderator

Thanks, Kevin. Thank you. Good morning. I keep telling Kevin, “Kevin, decaf. Decaf.” (laughter). The purpose of this first session is to provide a context for thinking about the Erie Canal and for planning for our end of it here in Western New York. Our panelists have framed the topic in terms of discussing context, icons and impacts.

One of several reasons why I feel honored to moderate this session is that almost a decade ago, I had the opportunity to chair nine hearings across New York State, across the canal corridor, on the future of New York State’s canal systems. That was an extraordinarily interesting and instructive series of hearings. They were in anticipation of the constitutional amendment on the canals that was passed by the voters in 1991 and the Canal Recreationway implementing legislation that was passed in Albany in 1992. Those hearings for that legislation helped demonstrate to me, and to a lot of others, I think, what a compelling asset and resource the canals represent to our state and to our region.

I think there’s an important point there: that we have many terrific assets in this region and in this state. Many of those, however, are not truly distinctive to us and only us. They can be matched in some way or another by other areas of the country. I think that’s important because I believe so strongly that a region can build strength and character and attraction and competitiveness by focusing on assets and resources that are indeed distinctive and unusual and compelling.

That’s one of the reasons why this conference and the whole set of issues surrounding the Canal and the waterfront are so important. No other state can match 500 miles of canals. No other state can match the resulting potential to take that corridor and resource and do something wonderful with it. Take that infrastructure that was originally constructed for commercial purposes and is used in only marginal ways for those commercial purposes today, and re-invent it into an extraordinary recreation way, not unlike what they’ve done with many of the canals in Europe.

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