Partnerships and processes have been built to help Buffalo lead a growing national trend toward reclaiming abandoned urban industrial lands instead of consuming undeveloped countryside, Mayor Masiello told participants in a "brownfields" symposium here Wednesday.
"I think our future lies in what we were, in the past," he said during his keynote speech to a meeting of Buffalo and state geologists.
Buffalo, he pointed out, won funding for three brownfields reclamation projects in the first round of proposals approved under the state's new Clean Air/Clean Water Bond Act and expects "six to seven more in the upcoming round of funding."
Key to that effort was the city's early study and identification of likely "brownfields," abandoned and possibly contaminated industrial properties that can be cleaned up for new uses, providing jobs and energy for urban neighborhoods.
Masiello said it is also important to set up the processes for reclaiming the lands and to build partnerships with agencies, other levels of government and the private sector that can reverse an "environmental context (that) was one of contamination and neglect."
"We have listened and we've worked," he said. "The fact of the matter is, if you clean it, they will come. If you partner, you will build the kind of progress and job opportunities we need."
Major brownfields projects launched over the past three years include the American Axle-anchored Northeast Industrial Corridor, the South Buffalo Redevelopment Plan and the Main-LaSalle Center. Reclamations have ranged from huge tomato greenhouses on a former steel plant site to retail centers on former railroad properties.
Masiello spoke during a joint meeting of the Buffalo Association of Professional Geologists and the New York State Council of Professional Geologists at the Buffalo Hilton.