Check out the early concept designs for The Riverline in a virtual event next week

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Western New York Land Conservancy is looking to turn an unused railway corridor into a nature trail and greenway, linking South Buffalo and Canalside.

They want to plan it with the community.

“The Riverline is our way of trying to connect people with nature, right in the middle of the city,” Jajean Rose-Burney, deputy executive director for the Land Conservancy, said.

The plan for the River Line is a 1.5 mile trail through the Perry, First Ward, and Valley neighborhoods.

“We’d like to transform that into a new nature trail, doing it in communities that don’t have a lot of access to nature and in a region that doesn’t have a lot of access to the waterfront, and doing it in a way that’s equitable and planning it with and for the communities we’re working in,” Rose-Burney added.

W Architecture and Landscape Architecture out of Brooklyn is leading the Concept and Schematic Design phase on the project, and the firm has selected a team of firms to work together in the design phase including Hood Design Studio.

On Wednesday, Feb. 24, the Western New York Land Conservancy and the design team will show the early concept designs for the Riverline during a livestreamed YouTube event beginning at 7 p.m.

You can register for the event here.

“We hope to have a conversation with the community about the elements of the Riverline and how it can be made from these different segments,” said Barbara Wilks of W Architecture and Landscape Architecture. “We want to hear more from the community about some of these specific things and how they feel about them.”

The Land Conservancy recently requested the community send in photos to show what they’d like to see at the Riverline.

“We had more than 400 photos come in from all over- people in these communities along the Riverline, people showing examples of aspirational photos- a good, wide variety of photos and ideas,” Rose-Burney said.

Project manager Anthony Armstrong said the property where the Riveline would be built is owned by the NFTA.

“We’d be working with them to get a lease, and then start fundraising and construction,” Armstrong said. “What we want to learn through this process is, is this something the community can see being built all at once, or in different phases?”

He added that similar projects in places like New York City and Toronto can take years to plan.

“We’re hopeful to get the first pieces of this built as soon as we can, but this will continue to evolve and we look forward to developing it in conjunction with the users and people who reside there,” Armstrong said.

You can make a donation to the project here.

The pandemic has proved how important it is to have access to outdoor green spaces.

“Having places outside where you live, where you can go outside, walk, ride a bike- it’s important to keeping us all physically healthy but also giving us something to do,” Rose-Burney said.

Kaley Lynch is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2017. See more of her work here.

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