UB Announces Strategy to Bolster University Community

By Sue Wuetcher

Release Date: October 10, 1997

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo today reaffirmed its commitment to the City of Buffalo and the region with the announcement that it is investing $100 million over 10 years in its South Campus and will spearhead new efforts to bolster housing, safety, education and economic development in the neighborhoods surrounding the South Campus.

The university’s South Campus Master Plan and the University Community Initiative (UCI), a collaborative partnership led by UB, the City of Buffalo and the Town of Amherst to stabilize, rebuild and revitalize the neighborhoods surrounding the campus, represent one of the most ambitious community-development initiatives ever undertaken in Western New York.

“As Buffalo’s university, we can provide services and commitment to bring our partners in governance and the private sector together to make our city and region stronger,” UB President William R. Greiner said at a press conference in Harriman Hall on the South Campus.

“The South Campus Master Plan is just one step toward fulfilling our commitment to being a good neighbor in the University District.

“As the nexus of city and suburb, UB’s South Campus has the potential to inspire cooperation, dynamic growth and development of stable businesses and residences,” Greiner continued. “The University Community Initiative has already gone a long way toward building opportunities for real growth, development and long-term investment in this area. We look forward to working with our friends, neighbors and partners to continue to provide the services our region needs.”

As part of its strategy to make the South Campus and the adjacent neighborhoods a thriving gateway between the city and suburbs, UB is investing $100 million over 10 years to develop the campus into a premier health-sciences education and research center, improve the physical appearance of the campus and improve recreational facilities and quality of life for students on campus.

In addition to the Master Plan, UB is reinforcing its commitment to the community by spearheading the University Community Initiative.

Based in the UB Center for Urban Studies, located in Allen Hall on the South Campus, the initiative aims to structure an environment that leads existing residents to remain in the community, encourages outsiders to make the area their home and stimulates new business and economic investments.

The “University Community,” as defined by the initiative, is broader than the immediate University Heights section of Buffalo where the UB South Campus is located. It also includes the Buffalo neighborhoods of Kensington-Bailey, Bailey-Delavan and a portion of North Buffalo and Central Park; the Kenilworth section of the Town of Tonawanda; the Eggertsville portion of Amherst, and the Cleveland Hill section of the Town of Cheektowaga.

The initiative is headed by Project Director Henry Louis Taylor, Jr., UB associate professor of American studies and director of the Center for Urban Studies.

“The University Community Initiative is a bold strategy that focuses on the social, economic and physical development of a unique border community,” Taylor said. “It is a collaboration that creates a venue, that enables residents, business, government and community and economic developers to plan and work together.”

UB’s role, he said, is to “foster collaborations, coordinate activities and stimulate projects that will stabilize, recreate and invigorate the community.”

Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello agreed that collaboration is important.

“None of us -- city dweller, suburbanite or campus resident -- exist in a vacuum,” Masiello said. “We are all interrelated and interdependent. The sum of our collective efforts will always be greater than the sum of individual initiatives.

“A strong city will mean a stronger campus community and a more vital neighbor for suburban communities,” he added. “This administration will continue to accept and cultivate an expanded University at Buffalo in the work of building a better Buffalo.”

Susan J. Grelick said that from her perspective as supervisor of the Town of Amherst, “the most exciting aspect of the University Community Initiative is the transformation of borders into bridges between our communities.

“Residents of Eggertsville and the University District have always been neighbors,” Grelick added. “This initiative will make us partners.”

University District Councilmember Kevin J. Helfer added, “The regional partnerships that have been forged through the University Community Initiative will reach further and have wider impact than any one of these entities could ever imagine. The University District, at the heart of this impact, stands to gain far into the future as the project unfolds.

“It is satisfying to know that this partnership between the City of Buffalo, the University District and the University at Buffalo is only going to become more tangible for the community,” Helfer continued. “From enhancing its borders to funding and supporting the University Community Initiative, the university is maintaining its investment in the City of Buffalo.”

After a three-year planning stage, UCI is moving forward with several inaugural projects. They are:

• The Corporate Partnership, a collaboration with local businesses to underwrite a real estate development corporation that will acquire, rehabilitate, finance and sell houses to middle-income residents. Fifteen corporations, including numerous banks, have expressed enthusiastic support for the effort. Fleet Bank, it was announced at the press conference, has contributed $30,000 for a study to assess the market for what has been called the first large-scale housing renovation project in the history of Buffalo.

“Fleet is proud to be the corporate leader supporting the redevelopment of the University Community,” said John J. Larry, executive vice president and market manager of Fleet Bank. “With this strategic and comprehensive approach to housing, the neighborhoods have an excellent chance of not only surviving, but thriving.”

• The Regional Community Policing Resource Center, an unprecedented, cross-jurisdictional collaboration among police agencies from Buffalo, Amherst, Cheektowaga, Tonawanda, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority and UB. Located in Room 100 of Allen Hall on the UB South Campus, the center will create a venue where police officers will work in partnership with residents, businesses, government and social-service agencies to prevent crime and address community problems that impact on public safety.

• Educational initiatives provided through a range of pre-college elementary and secondary activities, and adult education and training programs. An alliance of organizations, agencies and university departments has been forged to address myriad educational challenges, including mastery of new academic standards, career education and job training, welfare reform and self-sufficiency, and capacity building in public schools. Activities include after-school enrichment programs held on the UB South Campus for approximately 500 Buffalo school students; special summer residential programs in math, science, technology and general academic courses; partnerships between UB and schools in the Buffalo and Amherst districts, and the America Reads literacy program.

• Economic development. Two separate projects involve commercial improvements to the Main Street commercial strip and the commercial section of Bailey Avenue between the Kensington Expressway and East Delavan Avenue.

The Main Street project consists of the installation of new water mains and sidewalks, adoption of design standards for storefronts, ventures to assist property owners in making exterior and interior repairs, increased accessibility to micro loans and other forms of capital and activities to assist homeowners to make repairs to their properties.

UB has worked with, and will continue to work with, such private-sector partners as Benderson Development, Tops Markets and Walgreen Drug Stores.

The Bailey project includes landscaping and streetscaping, developing design standards and encouraging facade improvements, and a “paint-up, brush-up” campaign on adjacent side streets.