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Paris Plage… Buffalo. Why not?

When asked what sort of improvements were going to be looked at for the Erie Basin Marina, Mayor Brown answered that The City was working with Tim Tielman (Campaign for Buffalo History, Architecture and Culture) to research ideas. Moments ago I called Tim to see what sort of ideas he had in mind. As usual, Tim was full of all sorts of suggestions:
“We’re thinking of ways to connect Erie Basin Marina to the Canal District and the parkland surrounding the lighthouse. One idea was to build a pedestrian drawbridge from the lighthouse over to the marina. The bridge could be operated by hand during the summer and left down in the winter. We need to make sure that people can get to different places without getting into their cars. There is a little store at the base of Outlook Tower. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get a cup of coffee or a loaf of bread there? Now that there is a push to open the marina in the winter, it would make sense to offer more goods.
“It was brilliant of the Labatt people to bring hockey to that area. Some cities are experimenting with temporary parks to draw people to different urban areas. We should look at different draws in both summer and winter months. How ‘bout paving parking lots green (see what Pratt students did) and adding picnic benches and umbrellas? If people take to it, then you find ways to make it a permanent park area. Lounge chairs, water tanks, misters, boardwalks…. There is a double divided highway that leads out to Erie Basin Marina.

“Before 1970 Erie Street ran from Main Street (Shelton Square) in a straight line to where the guard booth is. It was a straight shot. Then when the marina was connected to the mainland, the planners created the double driving loop with a median. You could get rid of the roadway closest to the water. Why not turn it into a sandy beach with volleyball tournaments? Take a look at photos of Paris Plage (see photo). Tell me that we could not do this instead of a second roadway. Why not? We should take half that road and turn it into a functional park. On a side note, there should be another Lookout Tower at the NFTA Small Boat Harbor. There’s all this parkland and not much to get people excited about it.
“There’s a great book out there called The High Cost of Free Parking. You get a lot of cars when you offer free parking. If you charge for parking you can utilize the benefits of what is called a Parking Benefit District. The moneys that are raised could go toward park improvements. The people using the roadways pay for the neighborhood improvements. Instead of losing that money outright, the people parking (and paying) would know that the money goes towards the park that they are enjoying. Maybe people who don’t want to pay for parking might take their bike… or walk instead.
“Did you know that The City is planning on removing 1300 parking meters around the city? That’s 2600 possible bike locking posts if they leave them and convert them to bike racks (see BRO post). This is a big deal and we must let The City know that we are losing out on a golden opportunity. Just look at Toronto! Don’t remove those parking meters… there are places all over the city where bikers cannot lock their bikes. This is an easy solution that should be a priority as we approach the biking season.”
*Bottom image: The green overlay shows the contiguous parkspace created by closing off the southern roadway of the 1970’s rerouted Erie Street.

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