Wow. Firstly, thank you to all Buffalo Rising readers who responded en masse to my recent posting “Five Things Buffalo Needs to Move Forward”. I was thoroughly impressed by and grateful for the number of people who took the time to share their thoughts and post their feedback about the piece. For me, the breadth and depth of responses shows one thing for sure: Buffalonians care passionately about their city and are not shy about expressing their feelings. That my story prompted such an outpouring of opinion is clearly indicative of a healthy, engaged citizenry who care about where Buffalo is heading.
The magnitude of the replies, inspired me to write a follow up piece to highlight five more things I would like to see in place in 2018 when it’s expected that more people will be moving into Buffalo with the opening of the downtown UB medical school and Women and Children’s Hospital, not to mention the other big projects that will be up and running by then. So here they are, not in any order…the five more things I’d like to see in place in 2018:
Let’s begin where I left off in my last article – car sharing on Main Street. It’s wonderful not only to see cars and transit and bikes sharing the road on the 600 and 700 blocks (and soon to be 500 block) of Main Street, but to see how it’s spawned new life already in the area – new retail stores, new restaurants, new residential units… which all mean one things… more people. And more people downtown means more money is being spent downtown. Which means a more prosperous city.
It was unfortunate therefore, that Buffalo’s bid for more federal aid to extend car sharing to the 400 block was rejected. However, this past spring, a new request for federal aid to continue car sharing expansion on Main Street has been submitted to the Federal Transit Administration. The only catch is, that the segment of Main Street eligible for these funds would be between Exchange and Perry Street, because state aid might be available for this stretch of Main Street redevelopment as well. I’ll be happy if Buffalo gets that money, because it keeps the momentum going and bodes well for future federal aid to address car sharing between the 400 block and Exchange Street.
Buffalo Public Schools – Hope on the Horizon?
Many people commented in my last article about this and felt that this is one area that needs to be in place by 2018 if we are to attract talented people to Buffalo. Agreed, that this is a big issue that needs attention. However, I don’t think that the state of the city’s schools would detract anybody from accepting a lucrative job offer, for example, by the new med school or the new Women and Children’s Hospital. Let’s be honest, the nation’s public schools are failing coast to coast; be it in small cities like Buffalo or Rochester or major ones like Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York. Yet, this fact hasn’t stopped people from taking good jobs in big cities with bad schools. The good news is that Buffalo is poised to hire a new School Superintendant, with from what I understand, overwhelming support from the typically fractious School Board. Perhaps this is a harbinger of hopeful things to come so that in three years time, the schools may be making sufficient progress to actually become a selling point to prospective residents.
A new Amtrak station please?
Let’s play Jeopardy. This was the name of the fictitious hick town where the 1960’s TV sitcom “Green Acres” took place. The Jeopardy question is, “What is Hooterville?” And if you are coming to Buffalo for the first time by train and get off at that downtown train shack, you can be forgiven if you thought you landed in Hooterville. Because if that one horse hick town had a train station, it would look a lot like Buffalo’s. Simply put, there is only one word I can use to describe the state of this station – shameful. A city like Buffalo that is experiencing a zeitgeist unseen in at least half a century, is worthy of a station that befits its new image.
That’s why I’m heartened to read that city leaders and representatives of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation are in the nascent stages of discussion on a new train terminal at Canalside. With the added support of Congressman Higgins, hopefully Buffalo might see a new rail road station that won’t leave a first time train visitor to the Queen City thinking, “THIS is Buffalo? C’mon.” If Niagara Falls can build a modern, gleaming new train station, so can Buffalo.
What’s a golf course doing in Delaware Park?
No knock on golf. It’s a fine sport. But it belongs on a golf course. Not in an urban park designed as a tranquil respite from urban living. Can you imagine Central Park in New York or Hyde Park in London with a golf course? Perish the thought. So why is there one in Delaware Park which when conceived and for many decades later had no golf course, and never suffered for the lack of it. It’s time to get the golf course out and the restored open spaces for all to enjoy, back in.
Truth be told, I love the downtown public library building. Sure, it doesn’t hold a candle to the gorgeous library built in 1887 that once proudly stood downtown. But, it is in its own right a classic example of mid 20th century architecture. And with the mid 20th century built low rise office building on Delaware that was just reskinned, we should all be more appreciative of the library’s style of architecture. Perhaps finally, it will now be getting the respect it deserves. That said, the plaza out front of the library is the epitome of wasted space. What were those planners thinking in 1963? That’s why, again, I’m heartened to learn that Buffalo’s recently announced Downtown Master Plan includes making the public library more accessible and lively. And not a day too soon.