Well the Congress for the New Urbanism rolled into town nearly a month ago and I’ve finally gotten around to doing a quick post about it. There have been flurries of different reviews both good and bad, but even some of the bad points have merit. Buffalo put its best foot forward mostly showing off the west side and downtown while experts weighed in on the good, bad, and the ugly. Downtown had its fair (and deserved) share of criticism. While it has been improving in recent years it has a long way to go and most signs point to it getting done properly.
My biggest criticism was that the east side and other neighborhoods that could have benefited from the visiting experts were left out of the mix. While I understand that the way these go is for people to get as much of the “good stuff” as they can, there were plenty of neighborhoods in Buffalo that could have been great testing grounds for new ideas. It would have been great to see Jeff Speck and Andres Duany in Broadway-Fillmore talking about where and how to begin breathing new life into the distressed neighborhood. It was a huge missed opportunity to start a broader dialogue in neighborhoods that have practically been forgotten by our city leaders.
Due to my hectic work schedule I was only able to attend one of the official CNU events, Towards a Walkable Buffalo by Jeff Speck. You can check out his presentation in full here. Speck’s talk was loaded with interesting facts and statistics, but he didn’t hold back about downtown’s failures. It’s definitely worth the watch. You can check out eight other presentations by visiting the CNU’s Youtube channel here.
Thankfully, I was able to attend many of the CNU NextGen events, which were probably better than many of the official presentations. It was a great opportunity to talk to many of the presenters one-on-one and show the good and bad of Buffalo. The bar crawl with pedestrian superhero Peatonito, the gathering at the grain elevators, and the tactical urbanism event at the Hotel Lafayette stood out as my favorites.
I even gave a tour of Hamlin Park for about 50 people, half of whom were visitors to Buffalo having never set foot on the east side. Robert T. Coles stole the show when we visited his home on Humboldt Parkway. He discussed his attempts to stop the destruction of Humboldt Parkway and how his experiences trying to stop some of the worst urban renewal mistakes Buffalo made.
At the end of the week I was lucky to celebrate with the key players in the NextGen events after a job very well done by them all. For additional photos of my CNU coverage check out my Ipernity album here.