There are skeptics in the Columbus Park neighborhood, those who believe that the Public Bridge Authority is hellbent on taking homes and building a plaza; they’re not so sure the land grab is all for the purpose of a bridge.
In a series of public meetings, starting last Thursday and culminating yesterday, 600 or so people showed up and voted on their design of choice out of the five possible scenarios for a new Peace Bridge. No tally has been issued as of yet, though it looks like bridge # 3 (above) came out ahead. The local environmental group, Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, went on record as favoring that bridge as well.
Meanwhile, property acquisition will begin in about 2 years, adding to the list of PBA holdings in the footprint of the new truck plaza, regardless of preservationist protestations, and bringing the count of house demolitions to more than 80.
Our friends at WNYmedia.net were there shooting video (below) on day one. They’ve graciously shared it here, to give anyone who didn’t attend an idea of what was presented. Included a few minutes into the video, is a voiceover from Congressman Brian Higgins. He calls the bridge, plaza and improvements to Front Park a “transformative project that is vitally important to the life quality and the economic viability of Buffalo and Western New York.”
In the video, Higgins says, “…it’s not about trucks, it’s about people. It’s about people carrying with them from southern Ontario – money to support our shopping malls, to support our cultural institutions, to support our professional sports franchises, to blend in to the quality of life….” He recognizes the correlation between heightened cases of asthma in the current plaza, and makes the case that the new bridge will alleviate the problem of idling trucks because it will move traffic more quickly.
In this Buffalo News story by Michael Beebe. PBA General Manager Ron Rienas says, “The project is a bridge and a plaza. The bridge is an integral part of the plaza.”
The simple question remains then: If the bridge is the answer to moving traffic, is the greatly expanded plaza an integral part of the bridge?