Niagara Gazette — Politicians, civil servants and citizens gave their two cents to researchers working on a regional development plan Tuesday afternoon.
Organizers of One Region Forward, a collaborative effort to plan for land use in Niagara and Erie counties as far out as 2050, asked attendees to discuss their visions of land use across the region and map the areas they think would be best used as urban centers, villages, neighborhoods or farmland.
Kelly Dixon, a transportation planner with the Greater Buffalo Niagara Transportation Council, was part of the team leading the information gathering session.
She said that with the American population expected to significantly increase it's important to begin thinking about land and infrastructure in the region and how both might be used in the future.
"We have a lot of infrastructure that we've built over time," Dixon said. "We don't have as many people here to pay for it, so we really need to be focused about what we're doing going forward."
The planning program, funded by a $2 million grant from a division of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development called the Office of Economic Resiliency, is in its second year. A finished plan is expected by the end of 2014.
The plan will essentially identify the direction that the region should head in the next few decades, Dixon said.
"This is just sort of the road map to what we want to be when we grow up in 2050," Dixon said.
Councilman Andrew Touma was one of the elected officials participating in the meeting.
He said the people in his group shared many of the same ideas, agreeing that neighborhoods in the region's cities should be further developed and public transportation networks should be strengthened.
"This whole process is really interesting because you look at it not just Niagara Falls but as a region and what the region has to offer," Touma said.