FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Kirstie Hanson; Phil Haberstro
Phone: (716) 851-4052
Livable Community Awards Celebrate Western New York Progress
By: Kirstie Hanson, Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo
Buffalo, NY – On Thursday September 28th, the Partners for a Livable WNY presented the 2017 Livable Community Awards that honored organizations and individuals who have made and continue to make a distinct impact on the built environment of their communities. Livability stems from innovation and activism that allows people to enjoy the communities in which they find themselves.
Keynote speaker Jeff Belt, co-chair of Western New York’s Regional Economic Development Council, spoke to his personal and initial inspiration involving the battle of the Peace Bridge and the hole that begged to be filled through civic activism. From there, Belt’s journey led to the central idea of “smart growth,” in which past investments can be utilized through “placemaking” with the critical necessity of being an optimist. Specifically, he mentioned the grass roots story of the Buffalo Renaissance that fostered the governor’s support and funding. Belt commented to the crowd that, “you’ve achieved a renaissance few would have bet on 20 years ago.” The recognition of prior success met with the night’s celebration gave Belt’s closing remarks the vitality to spark future projects.
Awards and honors were divided into four main categories being government, special service, urban innovation, and community activism. Honorees included the City of Buffalo; Village of Hamburg; Donn Esmonde; Mark Goldman; Canalside; 500 Seneca; Hotel @ The Lafayette; RiverWorks; Larkin Square; Remington Lofts; Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus; Justin Booth; Brian Kulpa; City of Olean; and Rocco Termini.
While videos displayed the remarkable impact of each and every organization, municipality, and individual, a panel of judges with architectural, urban, and environmental design backgrounds visited each site and chose winners. Larkin Square, more affectionately called Larkinville, won the award for urban innovation and Justin Booth and his GoBike Buffalo non-profit – that doesn’t just move traffic, but moves people – won the community activism award.
Partners Board member Phil Haberstro commented, “the positive energy of success that flooded the ballroom is sure to inspire future health-enhancing developments in the Western New York Region.”