Buffalo Train Station Still Dividing WNY Leaders
From the Morning Memo:
The effort to build a new train station in Bufflao has turned out to be the year’s most polarizing project, dividing Western New York leaders since they began officially exploring the issue in the fall.
Some, like Rep. Brian Higgins, cried foul when outside consultants determined it would cost less money to build a new station downtown than renovate the historic Central Terminal – Buffalo’s original station and the congressman’s preference.
His tone didn’t change much yesterday after a selection committee tapped by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to study the issue and make a recommendation officially chose the downtown site. According to Higgins, the city is missing a once-in-a-generation opportunity.
“(The) new train station you’re building downtown Buffalo will be inaccessible to 65 percent of America,” Higgins said. “(It) doesn’t seem like a smart decision about Buffalo’s future.”
Meanwhile, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz voted against the downtown site, too. He made clear though, that his rejection of that site wasn’t a vote in favor of the Central Terminal.
In the county executive’s opinion, there wasn’t nearly enough information to make a decision, period, and he questioned whether a new train station should even be built in the first place.
“Should we be investing millions of dollars into a new station for 400 riders, basically, a day?” he asked.
Poloncarz said the community is still feeling the impact of bad urban planning decisions made a half a century ago. He doesn’t want to repeat those mistakes.
“All you have to do is look at the impact the East Side has as a result of the Scajaquada (and) 33 (Expressways),” he said. “(We) have to look at UB. Business leaders did not want UB in downtown Buffalo in the late 60s. I think we all realize that was one of the dumbest decisions made by people in this community.”
The state Department of Transportation is now tasked with deciding where downtown a new station could go. Just because the issue is out of local leaders hands, however, doesn’t mean it’s going away.
Buffalo mayoral candidate Mark Schroeder indicated he plans to make the train station a talking point in his campaign, sending a press release out shortly after the selection committee announced its decision. He said the process wasn’t sufficiently transparent, and he promised to fight a downtown site if elected.
“The hypocrisy is palpable,” Schroeder said. “Buffalo needs a leader that listens to its people instead of slamming the door in their faces. If I’m elected mayor, everyone will have a seat at the table.”
His primary opponent, incumbent Democratic Mayor Byron Brown, led the selection committee. He defended the decision, but promised to work with citizens who favored the other site.
“In selecting that downtown location, it does not in any way preclude us working together to invest in the rehabilitation, reconstruction, renovation of the historic Central Terminal building,” Brown said.
Brown insisted the new station will ultimately make the “visitor experience” in Buffalo even better.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Ryan Whalen on April 21, 2017 at 5:45 am, and is filed under 2017, Buffalo, Mark Poloncarz. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.|