BUFFALO — A major restoration initiative of a former industrial site and a degraded nearby river habitat in Buffalo was recognized with the National Project Award by the 2023 Phoenix Awards.
The Phoenix Awards, presented during the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Brownfields Training Conference in Detroit on Aug. 9, recognizes outstanding public, private and nonprofit projects and professionals for the progression of brownfields redevelopment — brownfields redevelopment is restoring, renovating, revitalizing and reusing contaminated property.
The Buffalo River Restoration Partnership led the effort to restore the 42-acre Buffalo Color Park industrial site and nearly six miles of contaminated habitat along the Buffalo River. WSP, a leading engineering, environment and professional services consultancy, provided engineering and professional services supporting the investigation and cleanup of the uplands portion of the site under the New York State Brownfields Cleanup Program (BCP). WSP also provided design services and oversite related to asbestos abatement and building demolition; and supported investigation and ecologic evaluation of the river.
“We’re proud that this work has received this recognition, and to have supported this wonderful project,” said Pat Pontoriero, resilient environments manager and a senior vice president for WSP in the U.S. “This is an area that has faced numerous environmental difficulties, including poor water quality and contaminated land over the years. To see this rejuvenation come to fruition and benefit the Buffalo community is extremely satisfying.”
Located in an area designated as a “disadvantaged community,” the former Buffalo Color site was a manufacturing plant since the late 1800s, with groundwater flowing towards the Buffalo River. The plant was sold to Buffalo Color Corp. in 1977, who continued operations until its 2006 closure. The site contained many dilapidated structures and abandoned chemicals, as well as waste byproducts and contaminated soil and groundwater.
The Buffalo River was extensively contaminated and designated one of 43 Areas of Concern under the 1987 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement with the U.S. and Canada.
In 2008, OSC Holdings acquired the Buffalo Color site parcels through South Buffalo Development and partnered with Honeywell to remediate and redevelop the property for light industrial and commercial use.
One highlight of the new Buffalo Color Park is the Powerhouse. Constructed in the former Schoellkopf Power Station built in 1917, it is a stunning industrial space with high ceilings and arched windows that has become one of Buffalo’s premier entertainment destinations. The renovation was completed in 2019 and it now serves as OSC’s corporate headquarters and offers 26,000 square feet of event space, plus 12,000 square feet of office space and residential apartments.
The Buffalo River Restoration Partnership brought together Honeywell International Inc., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency/Great Lakes National Program Office, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper and New York Department of Environmental Conservation.
The $48 million river cleanup and restoration project removed about 453,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment, installed acres of aquatic and plant habitat and is considered to be one of the most successful revitalization projects in the Great Lakes region.
“To complete a project of this magnitude in less than eight years is an amazing turnaround for a major urban river cleanup,” Pontoriero said. “From initial investigation, design, public review approval and through the tireless restoration work, the partnership never lost focus on the important impact this project would have on the residents in this area.”
About WSP in the U.S.
WSP USA is the U.S. operating company of WSP, one of the world’s leading engineering, environment and professional services firms. Recognized on Fast Company’s Brands that Matter List for 2022 as a top Community-Minded Business, WSP in the U.S. brings together engineers, planners, technical experts, strategic advisors and construction management professionals who are dedicated to collaborate in the best interests of serving local communities. WSP designs lasting solutions in the buildings, transportation, energy, water and environment markets. With approximately 16,000 employees in 300 offices across the U.S., WSP partners with its clients to help communities prosper. wsp.com
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