OFW Community Development Coordinator Matthew Fisher welcomes UB
Students Nate Aldrich, Matthew Shofett, Tyler Kuss, and Dr. Hiro
Hata of the UB School of Architecture as they present plans for the
SOUTH BUFFALO - The Old First Ward Community Center’s
monthly community meeting was held at the Larkin Building on
Exchange Street on Feb 18 for a special presentation.
Students from the University of Buffalo presented their plans
for retrofitting local greenway right-of-ways into a series of
movement systems that would potentially link the Larkin District
with the Old First Ward, Valley, Canalside, and the Buffalo River.
Some of the plans continued the movement systems into the downtown
and Broadway Market areas.
Students from UB’s School of Architecture and Center for
Urban Planning completed a three month study and planning period.
They presented their findings to community activists, businessmen,
local politicians and concerned citizens.
“I am here because I would like to see them focus on the
neighborhoods,” stated Buffalo City Court Judge Patrick M.
Carney, who presides over housing court issues and has been a
longtime community advocate, “Some of the houses need to be
restructured, and that needs to be considered. We need to bring
families and children back to the area.”
While the plans are still in their most preliminary stages, some of
the most notable names in the area took notice of the presentation
event. Howard Zemsky, known for his ever-growing real estate
portfolio in the Larkin area, was in attendance as was James
Sandoro, founder and executive director of the Pierce Arrow Museum,
located at 263 Michigan Avenue. Both men have a vested interest in
the way the greenway and pathway plans unfold in the
UB students involved in the study were divided into groups for
their urban planning projects and each group presented their
unit’s end result.
Some of the plans included walkways and parkways that would join
the areas allowing for safer bike routes and pedestrian pathways.
Others also included trolley cars that would traverse the areas,
providing easy access between the neighborhoods for
Laura Kelly, executive director of the Old First Ward Community
Center and Peg Overdorf, executive director of the Valley Center
were in attendance and seemed pleased with the overall
presentation, although they were interested in keeping the focus on
the positives that have already been put in place in their
The UB students assured the audience that noted recently improved
areas such as Mutual Front Park, which is home to a popular
kayaking launch area, and Red Jacket River Front Park at the foot
of Smith Street which is the starting line for the Buffalo
Riverfest boat race, would maintain their existence. The parts of
the area that are presently assets would remain what the students
referred to as “the jewels in the crown of the
UB Professor Hiro Hata oversaw the students’ research and
planned presentations. Professor Hata is a registered architect
holding a post-professional degree in urban design from Harvard
University and is co-author of “Redeveloping Inner-city Urban
Housing: Exploration of Potential in Buffalo,
The Old First Ward Community Block Group meetings are held the
third Tuesday of each month at 6 pm. The meetings are customarily
held at the Old First Ward Community Center, 62 Republic St.
Occasional changes in location can be found on the OFW Facebook
page or by calling 856-8613.
Organized by Executive Director Laura Kelly and Community
Development Coordinator Matthew Fisher, the meetings are a great
way to voice your ideas and concerns for the
The next meeting will be held on March 18 at 6 pm. All local
residents and business owners are welcome to attend.