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Buffalo Rising contributors come up with a “Wish List” for 2020

I asked Buffalo Rising contributors to jot down a wish or two, as per what they would like to see transpire in Buffalo in 2020. Here are their responses:

David Theriault

1) I’d like to see more collaboration between different groups in Buffalo. Street artists working with businesses, writers working with musicians, etc., to make things bigger and more unique.

2) I would love a classic style arcade to open up in Buffalo.


Uniland unveils something fitting for post office site

Jemal snags more tenants

Main Place Mall gets a new owner

Bradley Bethel

I wish for Buffalo to adopt a bolder, more proactive government!

I really, really want to see a developer propose a super awesome project to fill the empty lot at Main and Edward.  This hole in the city is a travesty and it is a golden opportunity to weave the city back together at a crucial corner (lead image).


I would like to see a new plan to remake the 198 corridor into Buffalo’s version of Boston’s Emerald Necklace, which is a series of landscapes that Olmsted linked together with a network of parkways and paths. Our “Emerald Crescent,” if you will. The posts I’ve been researching and writing for two years now suggest it’s an approach that’s both doable and desirable. Olmsted gave Buffalo an incomparable legacy a century and a half ago, especially in the Scajaquada corridor. We need to restore the landscape that we’ve lost, and build on it by extending it westward. That’s the opportunity we need to seize.

John Szalasny

1) A public ideas forum to help prepare the City of Buffalo for its near future role as a Climate Sanctuary.

2) Ban plastic water bottles at all public events.

Mark Lazzara

1) I would love that someone in Buffalo could resolve the homeless crisis. 

2) More Autistic people would find work in Buffalo than elsewhere.

3) No children would be hungry.

Holly Metz Doyle

As a new business owner downtown, I realize the untapped potential of the city. I would love to see free parking options to get people more enthused to drive in, some anchor stores to motivate people to come downtown, and a walkable corridor to include Main St, Chippewa, and Delaware full of shops, restaurants, and businesses.

Cole Hastings

My wish for Buffalo is to make hip hop shows more prominent at popular venues. The hip hop scene in Buffalo is on the rise right now and there’s a lot of great talent here.

My other wish for buffalo in 2020 would be more fully vegan restaurants!

Sarah Maurer

I hope to see more Buffalonians using the unique skills they have to do something positive for their communities, and collaborating with others along the way. Organizing an event, teaching a class, starting a community garden, creating art, volunteering, etc. Even if it’s something seemingly small in scale, that doesn’t necessary mean the impact will be small.

Doug Sitler

I would like to see increased funding for Visit Buffalo Niagara. Compared to other cities of the same size, VBN is woefully underfunded. With bare bones funding, the organization has done an exceptional job the past 10-15 years selling and promoting our city through innovative marketing and by bringing meetings and event business to town. They have a proven track record of success. Just think what they could accomplish with more resources? 

Dr Rehab (John Straubinger)

Continued economic growth as well as development… and the Green Code NIMBYs taking a permanent vacation. I understand that they weren’t happy with the Council agreement about the Elmwood Crossing PUD and intend to go after the 20 townhouses proposed for West Utica.

George Besch

Regional governance may not be possible in NYS, but an authentic regional planning effort that includes all 8 counties would be a wonderful start.

Integrated City of Buffalo, Metropolitan and Regional transportation. Revive the old trolley system that functioned so wonderfully starting in the late 1800s through the early 1940s. It served well-beyond the City and Metropolitan area. We’ve regressed.

Bring some equality in education by adapting a county-wide system like some other states. The differential between most City of Buffalo Public Schools and the suburban schools is obscene.

John Nussbaumer 

More music festivals in the summer

Jeff Wilber

Unity. Civility. Vision.

Andy Morin

My hopes for 2020 would that Buffalo’s music and film community organize and develop into a leading industry, the extent to redefine the economical dynamic.

Dianne Bennett and Bill Graebner

Encourage more immigration

Build out a top fiber-optic network; make the city a wifi/internet leader

Northland: make it permanent and market it along the lines of MOMA’s PS 1

Enforce housing laws; get rid of the current housing judge who has been detrimental to Buffalo’s housing stock

Open a new development – ala PUSH/ West Side Bazaar/Mass Ave Project on the West Side – on the East Side (get the East Side politicians to get out of the way and let non-East Siders come in)

Fix the city streets! Delaware Avenue is a mess.

Bring more international wall artists to the city to do signature works, sponsored by the A-K; note especially the Australian silo artist Guido van Helten.

Let’s have more dance parties (ala Buffalo Rising/The Terrace’s NYE party and some independent ones at Allen St Hardware)

Create a more vibrant club jazz scene (auditorium jazz and Pausa are insufficient)

Get the Statler finished or get the city to turn the development over to someone else

Lorne Opler

Federal funds to bring cars back to the 300 and 400 block of Main Street. The desolate condition of Main St. outside the Hilton Garden Inn should not be the first thing out of town visitors should be seeing  when they walk out of the hotel lobby

More reliable Metro Bus service

Kiosks in the underground subway stations (like in Toronto and NYC) that sell food, snacks, magazines, etc.

Judith Frizlen

A children’s clothing store in the Elmwood village

Better snow and ice removal at intersections on Elmwood

A writers’ networking event or celebration

AKAG construction updates

Ongoing list of child friendly restaurants and events

Angela Polimeni

1. More compassion + peace

2. Have Buffalo be a leading sustainable hub where daily needs are met with less use of toxins + pollutants and sets an example of a peaceful + inclusive society that promotes compassionate awareness for people, animals, + the planet

Michael J. Billoni

My one wish for 2020 is for all of Buffalo to follow the lead of Phil Haberstro, the city and county’s wellness czar and the long-time director of the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo, and truly make this a walkable community. Phil and his team launched WNY Walks! in 2019, held its first Walkable Summit in June and sponsored weekly lunch time walks downtown.  He has established the foundation for local government, businesses and individuals to follow for our community to become healthier in 2020 and beyond. Phil and his team are truly taking steps to become healthier as a community and I hope we all can embrace WNY Walks 2020!

– Mike Billoni, who truly needs to walk more to become healthier in 2020.

Darren Cotton

A regionally integrated rail trail network!

Charlie Abbott

More jobs

To see them actually finish Canalside

Carolyn Batt

The continued development of Allentown, “dead zones” of Main Street and the Elmwood blocks between Utica and North, along with the paving of Main Street between Hertel and Tupper. More repurposing of old buildings and forgotten areas for present use.

Evan Thompson

I’d like to see a Tesla museum/pub/information center in the works. People don’t realize how important this is. And how it could become a destination for pseudo nerds everywhere.

With that in mind I’d like to see a push in marketing Buffalo tourism. If we can swing the Chinese through here for a day (from Niagara Falls or Toronto), our economy would blossom.

Jim Kupczyk

More bike lanes in Buffalo. We are not even close to having the safe infrastructure that we need – there are crucial streets that need to be addressed for connectivity. The City talks a good game, but when it comes down to it, talk is cheap… we need real action.

Vilona Trachtenberg

More development opportunities for people professionally and personally

Happier Facebook’ing! People need to lighten up 🙂

More acts of kindness

More organizations/cafés having monthly meet-ups – more book-type things

George Johnson

World peace, act civil.

Steven Appler

Not to sound like a hippy, but more love and less hate for each other nationally. Locally… more trees in residential neighborhoods, less litter along roadways, empty lots and fields.  We don’t make a great first impression from visitors in cars and buses.

Peter Hall

My wish is that the planned Hispanic Heritage Cultural Institute on the West Side will provide both a permanent home for Raíces Theatre Company and a place for all cultures to mix and thrive.

Zoe Oleshansky

I would love to see Main St become more populated with stores, restaurants, and commercial spaces… filling in all of the vacant properties. It would be cool if it becomes more of a destination street sort of like how Elmwood is, especially Main (south of Chippewa).

Jessica Marinelli

A real roof top garden!!! We have so many asphalt roofs. They are just calling for a great garden and some bees.

A drive through sushi restaurant.

Alyssa Nicotera

More accessible grocery and transportation options for those living downtown

A Vince Lombardi trophy!

Elías Benavídes

A robust private sector economy. Jobs, neighborhoods rebuilt, prosperity creeping into forgotten neighborhoods.

Queenseyes (Newell Nussbaumer)

More environmental initiatives – permeable parking, more bike infrastructure, green roofs, bioswales, rain gardens, trees planted, recycling advancements, greener buildings, solar, litter pick-ups, more Maintained Meadow Areas (MMAs) and urban farming, better public transportation, combat urban sprawl… the list goes on, and on.

Large surface parking lots infilled with taller mixed use buildings

Raze all of the one-story buildings in downtown Buffalo that were built when this city was down and out

Urban road diets – there are too many streets that behave like highways

Paul Fanara

Lifelong Gen-X residents of this area don’t really have much of a concept of the “glory days” of Buffalo. Those days were before our conscious recollection; for the most part, far before our birth. We grew up in the recession, and oil crisis of the ’70s, watching the industries that both supported our economy, and destroyed our ecology collapse, bringing about the struggles, and stagnation of the ’80s, and ’90s. Watching all the bad decisions of those eras being made, watching how New York focused so many resources downstate while upstate wallowed, our current resurgence feels like we’re on the cusp of something incredible, yet, that glimmer of what could be still seems so far away.

Buffalo needs new industries to lead the charge, and new industry leaders to put aside their egos, and greed to develop community plans that benefit everyone. Unfortunately, even in the city of good neighbors, souls like that are rare, and often resources aren’t available to the most altruistic of us. We’re torn between a progressive resurgence, and a conservative political mindset that is trying to drag us back in time, rather than push us forward to new heights.

There are two industries that hold a lot of promise: The first is renewable energy resources. Solar farms, wind farms, and industry projects such as Tesla’s Solar City are viable, effective, and hold a bright future. However, I seem to find a lot more negative media rumbling regarding these initiatives. As those negative views get more exposure, people believe in these projects less, and less, resulting in criticizing our tax investments in them more, and more. Media needs to be honest, but that honesty has to go in both directions. The good, and the bad, so there is an honest assessment as to where things need to get better, and a positive outlook on how it is helping today.

The second is the film industry. NYS has their tax incentive which  has brought more of Hollywood to upstate, but there is a real opportunity for Buffalo to become THE CITY in upstate where Hollywood goes on location. But it isn’t going to happen without a real investment in the infrastructure, and supporting industries production companies lack when they decide to come to Buffalo.

Working in multiple rolls on two major films that have filmed here, The First Purge, and A Quiet Place 2, I was exposed to many of those shortcomings. Buffalo needs a REAL sound stage, or multiple. Large, sound-proof warehouse sized buildings where both major production companies, and small independent companies can build sets, and create what they need. Affordable resources for small productions are severely limited, and space that can be used repeatedly for TV series style productions is pretty much non-existent. Local supporting companies that major productions need here such as builders (84 Lumber, for example) couldn’t keep up with the sudden demand for supplies that large productions require. There are no high-level catering companies – both the Purge and AQP2 outsourced catering services from out of state. Because Hollywood level filming in Buffalo is a relatively new thing, there is a lack of quality crew for these productions to choose from locally, forcing them to bring in personnel from downstate or out of state. Programs to help get more people trained, and experienced with Hollywood level technical equipment locally would be a huge financial benefit to the region.

These are only two of the items on my mind. As I am again at a career crossroads, and job hunting, I see a lot of companies out there searching for highly experienced potential employees yet offering entry level compensation for those positions. I see companies that want their employees to invest in them, but that do not invest in their employees. It’s great that we’re the city of good neighbors, but in so many respects our culture needs to change in order for our good neighbors to thrive.

Ok Buffalo Rising Readers… feel free to add your own wish or two in the comment section, and we will revisit your thoughtful remarks and suggestions in one year’s time.

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer |

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