Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 10, 2013

Breathing new life into Main Street topic of discussion during Saturday symposium

Breathing new life into Main Street discussed during Saturday symposium


Niagara Gazette — “We know that most jobs today come from small businesses,” he said. “The old smoke stack chasing, the old economic development model, it just isn’t working.”

Lydon is an urban planner who literally helped write the book on what is known as tactical urbanism, the implementation of small changes in a community that end up having an outsized economic and social affect.

Lydon said tactical urbanism is not about putting together huge projects that will last for decades, but about experimenting with smaller changes and seeing what works for each individual community.

“It’s hard to address everything all at once,” he said. “Being willing to be nimble and deal with things as they come up in a systemic way is really, really important.”

Lydon said that by planners and citizens taking small measures to improve communities — sometimes even outside the bounds of city codes and laws — bureaucratic red tape can be avoided and, if those changes create a positive change in the city, local officials are often willing to overlook the small transgressions.

“For too long our processes have been either too top down or too bottom up,” Lydon said. “The two have to meet.”

From the Rapids Theatre, attendees — about 100 people showed up — moved on to hear presentation on preservation, pop-up parks and vacancy strategies at sites along Main Street on a sunny March afternoon.

Bernice Radle of Buffalo’s Young Preservationists took a post in the Earl W. Brydges Library to talk about how the work her group has been doing in Buffalo could be applied in the Falls.

“Every building that’s vacant that you see, think of it as an opportunity,” she said.

Radle, who grew up on Cedar Avenue, said that Niagara Falls has an advantage over Buffalo in that there aren’t entire blocks that have been destroyed.

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