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Rivera Was Right – and it’s his district.

The following is a submission by Bob Franke (Grant-Ferry Association) regarding the recent decision to allow La Nova to purchase a neighboring lot for additional parking.
The Common Council voted 7-2 in favor of transferring the property to La Nova Pizzeria for parking. Joe Golombek and David Rivera were the only ones who opposed the transfer.
Michael LoCurto and Richard Fontana secured the victory for the forces of backward thinking by agreeing/making deals/marching in lockstep with the Mayor’s wishes by joining Councilmembers Brian Davis, Demone Smith and Bonnie Russell who already voiced their intention to vote for the transfer. In a remarkable display of political courage, Michael Kearns decided to vote in favor because he wanted to be on the winning side. None of these “legislators” represent the Niagara District, yet they felt no compunction about overruling the desire of the community and their elected representation.
As for whether parking is needed, an overhead map clearly shows this area is dominated by surface parking (highlighted). Rather than override the wishes of the neighbors in the immediate vicinity, 200 of them who signed petitions opposing the transfer, the proper approach would have been to work with all stakeholders, in this case Plaza Group, Gary Rotundo, Mr. Todaro, and the community to develop community parking.
When retail parking is dedicated to a single business, owners tend to discourage customers from traveling anywhere elsewhere on foot (if they don’t, their parking could quickly be filled by people shopping at other establishments and limit the convenience for their own customers). As a result, such shops are designed to discourage the pedestrian activity that is the lifeblood of the district. A shopping mall would never consider such an approach.
When retail parking is public, the reverse occurs. Because all customers arrive on foot, shop-owners are more likely to focus on making their establishments attractive and accessible to pedestrians. That leads to actions that contribute to the common good of the commercial district and the surrounding community, an idea that we have apparently lost here in Buffalo.
To take a path toward revitalization, the Grant-Ferry Commercial District requires significant improvements in its external aesthetic quality. Every terrible development decision is just another hurdle in this process.
Here’s a big thank you to all of you Councilmembers who’ve made us so proud of and confident in our leadership. Let us all hope your terms are short and your influence fleeting.
Councilmember Rivera attempted to get all parties to the table, but the Todaro interests, confident in their ability to draw nearly complete obedience from the powers that be, opted not to engage in discussion.
Sometimes, the best way to encourage discussion is to at least pretend to withhold approval until it takes place.

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