The Riverline joins the High Line Network of infrastructure reuse projects

The Riverline by Abby SonginThe Riverline by Abby Songin
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The Riverline announced today that it is one of 15 new members of the High Line Network, a community of nonprofit infrastructure reuse leaders. Since its start by High Line co-founder and Executive Director Robert Hammond in 2016, the Network has grown from an initial group of 11 leaders to include 39 projects, showing the growing trend of transforming underutilized and abandoned infrastructure into new urban landscapes. Redefining what a park can be, these hybrid spaces are also public squares, open-air museums, botanical gardens, social service organizations, walkways, transit corridors and more. Members of the Network also commit to building truly equitable spaces for their communities.

Bringing together projects across different regions and stages of development, the Network provides leaders of these spaces the opportunity to share ideas and practical strategies on improving urban wellbeing. New members bring more gender, racial, geographic, and organizational diversity than ever before to the Network, including La Mexicana Park in Mexico City, the first Mexico-based project, and Destination Crenshaw in Los Angeles, which celebrates a 200+ year history of Black activism through art and cultural placemaking.

In Buffalo, the Western New York Land Conservancy is developing The Riverline based on a vision created by the community. Once completed, The Riverline will transform the former DL&W rail corridor along the Buffalo River into a vibrant and engaging nature trail everyone can enjoy — in the heart of the city — connecting people to water, nature, and one another.

“The Riverline is the next step forward in the redevelopment of Buffalo’s historic waterfront and restoring public access to our waterways,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The railroad industry helped shape Buffalo into an economic powerhouse, and now The Riverline will transform our industrial past to help protect and save our environment for future generations. Congratulations to the Western New York Land Conservancy for The Riverline joining the High Line Network — you are creating a lasting legacy that will soon be a symbol of the new Buffalo.”

Congressman Brian Higgins said, “Under the stewardship of the Western New York Land Conservancy, The Riverline has emerged as a unifying project — bridging together people and nature, our history and future, Buffalo’s neighborhoods and waterfront. Inclusion of The Riverline in the High Line Network builds additional connectivity to premier projects across this country and beyond. We are thrilled to have The Riverline recognized in this way as momentum continues to build on this destination project.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to see The Riverline become a member of the High Line Network,” said the Land Conservancy’s Executive Director Nancy Smith. “High Line membership puts The Riverline — and Buffalo — in a continent-wide conversation. Member projects are instrumental in reshaping the landscape of our cities, offering residents wonderful new natural spaces to explore. But an enormous amount of work goes into planning, developing, and funding these projects, and it can be a challenge to find innovative ways to bring each project to life. Although we have plenty of work left to do to make The Riverline a reality, as a High Line Network member we look forward to exchanging ideas, knowledge, and inspiration with our peers from across North America.”

New members were selected through the Network’s first ever open call this spring in response to a growing recognition of the infrastructure reuse field as a powerful tool for increasing public green spaces across urban cities. Infrastructure reuse projects can bring tremendous and much-needed social, health, environmental, and economic benefits, and new members were chosen based on their commitment to building the Network’s leadership to address these goals across North America. The High Line Network provides both practical implementation support and inspiration for members to build these positive impacts for as many people as possible, especially longtime residents of their neighboring communities.

“This is such an exciting opportunity for The Riverline and for our extended team,” said The Riverline Project Manager Anthony Armstrong. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the ongoing time, effort, and commitment that community members continue to dedicate to this project. Being a member of the High Line Network means that we’ll be able to bring additional ideas and energy to The Riverline, and we’ll be able to amplify all we continue to learn working with our neighbors in the Old First Ward, Perry, and Valley neighborhoods as we work to grow an equitable model of community driven, dynamic and welcoming public space.”

The Land Conservancy’s selection to the High Line Network also coincides with the release of The Riverline Equitable Development Framework (available at theriverline.com). The Framework outlines strategies for ensuring The Riverline benefits surrounding neighborhoods. It is the result of a year-long collaboration with the community, many non-profit and agency partners, Make Communities, and the University at Buffalo Regional Institute.

“I’m particularly thrilled that our new members bring exceptional experience on equity and equitable development. They will contribute greatly at this critical time to our collective ability to address health, social, and other inequities in the Black and Brown communities many of us serve. The Network will continue to support and challenge members to drive actively towards dismantling the impacts of historic racist policies and systems,” said Asima Jansveld, vice president of the High Line Network.

New projects bring new and diverse voices to the Network, including its first member from Mexico and second Canadian project, as well as further diversity across the United States. They also all bring significant expertise and experience addressing equity to the learning community.

• Bergen Arches, Jersey City, NJ: The Erie Railroad’s mile-long, under-utilized railroad trench that once served four passenger rails, to be converted into a shared-use nature path on the East Coast Greenway.

• Brickline Greenway, St. Louis, MO: A public-private partnership project along the MetroLink Light rail line. Includes 20 miles of accessible paths and will connect St. Louisans’ to their schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and civic and cultural institutions.

• CicLAvia, Los Angeles, CA:Vibrant public spaces, active transportation, and good health through car-free streets. CicLAvia engages with people to transform their relationship with their communities and with each other.

• Destination Crenshaw, Los Angeles, CA: A 1.3-mile long outdoor art and culture experience celebrating the 200+ years of Black activism in one of the largest Black communities west of the Mississippi River.

• Grand River Corridor, Grand Rapids, MI: A waterway and the waterfront revitalization of Michigan’s longest river as it flows through the Grand Rapids community.

• Great River Passage, St. Paul, MN: A 1.5-mile promenade connecting a series of cohesive public spaces, civic landmarks and development sites along downtown Saint Paul’s river bluff, creating a vibrant riverfront and stimulating economic development in downtown Saint Paul.

• Hemisfair, San Antonio, TX:The 1968 World’s Fair site redeveloped into a series of three parks in the heart of San Antonio.

• India Basin Park, San Francisco, CA:A former boat building and repair yard, now a postindustrial brownfield will be remediated to form 1.5 miles of accessible shoreline along the San Francisco Bay linking to the Bay Trail and Blue Greenway and fostering better access to the water.

• Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Indianapolis, IN: An 8-mile biking and walking trail connecting all six of Indy’s Cultural Districts, reusing streets, former vehicle travel lanes and parking lanes to be a public and free to all linear park and bike path.

• The Meadoway, Toronto, ON, Canada: A hydro corridor in Scarborough transformed into a vibrant 16-kilometer stretch of urban greenspace and meadowlands that will become one of Canada’s largest linear urban parks.

• Memphis Riverfront, Memphis, TN:Five connected riverfront park districts of 250 acres of parkland as well as multiple rental and performance facilities.

• La Mexicana Park, Mexico City, Mexico: A 28-hectare park built on a former sand quarry known for its technological innovation and sustainable design.

• The Riverline, Buffalo, NY: The transformation of the former DL&W rail corridor along the Buffalo River into a vibrant and engaging nature trail everyone can enjoy — right in the city, only minutes from downtown.

• Riverwalk, Milwaukee, WI:A continuous network of public riverwalks to open up the waterfront to public use and reconnect the surrounding neighborhoods to the waterways that flow through their communities.

• Town Branch Park, Lexington, KY: The transformation of a parking lot into an unprecedented signature park in the heart of downtown Lexington.

A full list of all members in the High Line Network can be found at network.thehighline.org/projects/

SUPPORT

The High Line Network is supported by The JPB Foundation. The Riverline is made possible through generous support from M&T Bank, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds administered by the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York Blue Fund, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy through the Doppelt Family Trail Development Fund, numerous individual Land Conservancy members and donors, and the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP) and New York’s Environmental Protection Fund. The NYSCPP is administered by the Land Trust Alliance, in coordination with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The total funding raised for the project to date is close to $1 million.

ABOUT THE HIGH LINE NETWORK

Presented by the High Line, the High Line Network is a group of infrastructure reuse projects — and the people who help them come to life. As cities become denser and land for traditional parks becomes scarcer, residents are finding creative ways to bring greenspace to their neighborhoods. Projects in the High Line Network transform underutilized infrastructure into new urban landscapes. Redefining what a park can be, these hybrid spaces are also public squares, open-air museums, botanical gardens, social service organizations, walkways, transit corridors, and more.

For more information about the High Line Network, please visit network.thehighline.org.

ABOUT THE RIVERLINE

The Western New York Land Conservancy is developing The Riverline based on a vision created by the community. Once completed, The Riverline will transform the former DL&W rail corridor along the Buffalo River into a vibrant and engaging nature trail everyone can enjoy — right in the city, only minutes from downtown. The Riverline will be an inspiring gathering place that connects people to water, nature, and one another. It will prioritize native plants and animals, public art, and community; it will inspire curiosity, movement, and exploration; and it will help build a healthy, inclusive, and opportunity-rich city with vibrancy in every neighborhood.

For more information about The Riverline, please visit theriverline.com.

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