I Didn’t Know About It, Therefore It Didn’t Happen

16 Nov

kool-aidman.jpg

That’s essentially the argument of the “we hate the Southtowns Connector a few weeks and years too late” set over at Buffalo Rising. Best comment pair:

Just listened to the Higgins Podcast on WNYMedia.net. I spent the entire time shaking my head. I started shaking my fist when he talked about how this project was open to the public… for public review. WHEN??? I never heard about it. Show of hands… who was aware of the public review period for this project? I don’t recall seeing that on the news.

And reply:

I typed “DOT public comment Route 5” into Google and found the answer to your question.

http://tinyurl.com/34zzdy

July 25th, 2005 it was released. Now I don’t monitor the NYSDOT webpage either for such events, but there are a number of organizations that should, like many of the politicians and community groups protesting now. Like I said, this is a terrible mistake, but this is the natural result of citizen apathy when it counts.

Bingo.

The only reason this got on anyone’s radar screen is because, as Denizen puts it at BRO:

Perhaps this DOT plan is not the best possible plan, but it’s a little to late to completely change it because John Norquist waltzed into town a month or so ago with his own vision for what should be done.

Seriously, who died and made John Norquist the ultimate arbiter of all things good and bad when it comes to transportation planning?

If you want an excellent summary of why a bermed Route 5 running parallel to a boulevard-style Fuhrmann Boulevard, I’ll point you to Geek’s post from yesterday:

The City of Buffalo, Erie County, New York State, and the City of Lackawanna have spent hundreds of millions of dollars remediating brownfields in the areas immediately surrounding the area in question. Development investments have been made at the Union Ship Canal, Lakeside Commerce Park, and reconfiguration of several acres of the old Bethlehem steel site as an area for future industrial use. The regional plan is to reinvent the outer harbor as a destination for manufacturing, multimodal transshipment, and industrial use. So, I ask you, why do we want to subvert all of that planning and funding to plop down an at grade 35 MPH boulevard in the midst of an area that will require major road capacity?

So now that the DOT is pushing through a plan that it took almost 20 years to maneuver through a very laborious, open, and transparent process, it faces threats of a lawsuit and the most vicious epithet the non-professional urban paraplanners can come up with: invocation of the name of Robert Moses. They argue that the current plan “separates people from their waterfront”.

How?

Which people?

Who’s living in the outer harbor right now?

How does a bermed Route 5 that’s about 1/2 mile inland adversely affect anyone’s access to anything? As a matter of fact, that roadway will act as a nice barrier to prevent people along the waterfront to stare at remediated brownfields that are being turned into industrial parks and warehouses on the east side of Route 5.

Furthermore, the time for advocacy was during the public comment period. I didn’t hear a peep out of anyone – certainly no multiple posts-cum-petition drive on BRO. During the comment period, a petition drive would have actually had an impact, and public opinion could have been mobilized in favor of a particular alternative. That didn’t happen. It’s happening now – a day late.

If there is something – anything – that the DOT did improperly, then there’s grounds for a lawsuit. A lawsuit is the only way to block that project, and you need to show an imminent threat of irreversible harm, and a likelihood of success on the merits. That means you need a reason to sue – a cause of action. I’m unaware of any.

Screaming and yelling 2 years too late isn’t going to do a damn thing.

Either put up (file your lawsuit and order to show cause) or move on. Maybe take a ride down to the Outer Harbor and come back and tell me who’s down there who’s going to be “separated” from their waterfront.

(Incidentally, the header image is poking fun at a comment that BRO contributor Elena Cala Buscarino left here).

52 Responses to “I Didn’t Know About It, Therefore It Didn’t Happen”

  1. Paul Francis November 16, 2007 at 10:41 am #

    Pundit, you are buying Higgins spin that there has been a 20 year “process.” No such process existed in that time period. That only marks the first time a DOT official uttered the phrase “Southtowns Connector,” and that same DOT official, now retired, says the idea all along was getting rid of the elevated Route 5.

    It’s simply an idea that’s been circulating for about as long. Higgins is lying that the process itself has been 20 years in the making. In fact, it’s been longer. Frederick Law Olmsted first proposed a waterfront parkway on the Outer Harbor over a hundred years ago. Today he is rolling over in his grave at hearing Higgins call his suburban arterial known as Furhmann Boulevard an “Olmstedian” parkway. An arterial next to a noisy, ugly freeway is nothing Olmsted ever had in mind. Higgins is being very disrespectful to his legacy. People aren’t buying it!

    Pundit, if you’d ever attended the endless waterfront planning meetings that happened here in the late 1990s and early 2000s, you’d notice the overwhelming sentiment to remove the elevated Route 5 and the Skyway as barriers to development on the water’s edge. Where were we? We were everywhere, all the time!

    The Record of Decision (ROD) was issued in January of this year. That’s how long this issue has been around. The various alternatives came to light and the true consequences of keeping Route 5 are now clear. We brought in national experts to take a look at the issue, the entire Common Council questions DOT, and a coalition of groups is banding together to stop this plan!

  2. Tatonka November 16, 2007 at 11:05 am #

    Residents were free to make comments at the appropriate time.

  3. Buffalopundit November 16, 2007 at 11:14 am #

    I would have loved to have come to the “waterfront planning meetings” in the late 90s and early 2000s, but it would have been an inconvenient hike from Boston to do so.

    The point, as Tatonka points out, is that there was a comment period all set out for this, and that was the time to yell, scream, get petitions signed or online, and otherwise try to convince the community, the DOT, and Higgins (and anyone else) that a 6-lane at-grade boulevard > this proposal (or the other one on offer).

    This is too little, too late. This is emotion over substance. This is not the disaster some are making it out to be, and on top of that, it has nothing whatsoever to do with demolishing the Skyway.

  4. nycnyc November 16, 2007 at 11:18 am #

    did i see that right from Geek? our waterfront should be dictated by industrial and manufacturing use? That’s great, the most underutilized asset the city posses should be dictacted by a dying sector of the economy. And therefore the ‘industrial’ infrastructure, the skyway, can continue dictacting how we experience or – don’t – experience our waterfront. welcome to 1950. now we have 50 more years of decline ahead of us..thanks.

  5. nyc November 16, 2007 at 11:20 am #

    it has everything to do with demolishing the skyway.

  6. Tatonka November 16, 2007 at 11:24 am #

    I was actually trying to make a joke; I couldn’t resist the urge to make a Douglas Adams reference.

    I don’t know enough about this issue, so I can’t say whether the process was open and transparent as BP says.

  7. frieda November 16, 2007 at 11:41 am #

    Lets see , the last 20 times I walked down those bike paths you could count the number of people on one hand, and we were all in one group. They are desolate. All of a sudden everyone has taken such an avid interest in South Buffalo . NYC – go back to NYC, Norquist – go back to MIlwaukee, South Buffalo SECEDE.

  8. Paul Francis November 16, 2007 at 12:06 pm #

    PUNDIT…

    Read the EIS. Only the government agency usual suspects and Uniland/Opus favored the so-called Modified Improvement Alternative now preferred by NYSDOT. The citizens in attendance largely favored the Boulevard Altenernative that brings Route 5 to grade and consolidates the waterfront roadways into a single right-of-way, freeing up over 300 acres of waterfront land for private investment that would, in the current plan, be devoted to redundant freeway infrastructure.

    The public supported a waterfront boulevard THEN, NOW, and IN THE FUTURE. Nothing has changed. It’s all in the EIS. There are no Johnny-come-lately’s here. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

  9. Christopher Smith November 16, 2007 at 12:24 pm #

    Paul, generally speaking, I am avoiding the timing issue and instead focusing on the merits of the approved plan.

    What in the current plan
    – Disincents development?
    – Does not provide for abundant waterfront access?
    – Precludes future demolition of the Skyway?
    – Separates people from the waterfront?
    – Disenfranchises the poor?

    Nothing.

    Also, the idea that an at grade boulevard will be any less obtrusive to development is a total canard and completely unsupported by facts. 40,000 cars per day with increasing industrial traffic will make that road a nightmare.

  10. Paul Francis November 16, 2007 at 12:45 pm #

    40,000 cars a day is not a lot. Hell, Elmwood Avenue, at two lanes, carries 24,000 cars a day in the middle of a pedestrian environment.

    Octavia Boulevard, a six-lane, multiway boulevard that replaced San Francisco’s elevated Central Freeway, was highlighted on Buffalo Rising a few weeks ago. It carries 46,000 cars a day very comfortably.

  11. nyc November 16, 2007 at 1:04 pm #

    frieda,
    you’re right. we don’t need more people on the waterfront because if we did you would need more fingers to count with and we know that’s not possible. That’s a good urban planning strategy, never have more people in one place then you can count with your fingers. building the current dot plan, we will be sure to keep 10 or less people on the outer harbor at any one point.

  12. nyc November 16, 2007 at 1:07 pm #

    and wait a minute, the outer harbor is not south buffalo frieda.

  13. Paul Francis November 16, 2007 at 1:09 pm #

    The elevated Route 5 – noisy, unpleasant and ugly – has been a disincentive to development for years just as it has for any urban waterfront with an elevated freeway lining it. Imagine this road tranferred to the Seine in Paris. That will add value! Then look at San Francisco, New York and Milwaukee – removing highways has attracted millions of dollars in new waterfrotn investment to those cities.

    The earthen wall of Route 5 splits the waterfront in two and consumes hundreds of acres of development and recreation-ready property. All that can be consolidated and brought to grade, and a street can be created that can allow development to build up to the street.

    Rebuilding the elevated Route 5 that leads up to the Skyway perpetuates the Skyway. It’s common sense. What are you going to do? Tear down the Skyway and leave a freshly rebuilt elevated Route 5 that comes to a dead end around the General Mills Plant?

  14. nyc November 16, 2007 at 1:16 pm #

    Christopher Smith –
    there will be no increasing industrial traffic once the skyway is taken down. Your two points contradict each other – industrial traffic will not be able to connect to the 190 without detouring through downtown if there is no skyway. Industrial traffic will take the tiff street connector that is planned to the 190 directly.

    so if the skyway is taken down, you do not want an isolated section of highway on the outharbor that does not connect to anything. so why reinforce what’s there as the dot is doing if the ultimate goal is to remove the skyway as the dot claims.

  15. STEEL November 16, 2007 at 1:19 pm #

    Is this story about Buffalo Rising ? or Buffalo Rising commenters? Or The waterfront?

    And

    Are you advocating for spending money on construction of this plan even if it is ill conceived just because money has been spent on its conception?

    Also you said you were not in town during and did not attend the public meetings so that might explain why you have not heard any commentary that was against the DOT plan.

    And also again: I have this question. Higgins has lobbied quite a bit for removal of the Skyway bridge over the Buffalo River and we are now going to build a historic olde time village under that bridge with the hope that it at some point in the future the massive superhighway would go away. How would this bridge be removed if the superhighway attached to it further south is still in place? Seems to me this ST connector plan locks the skyway bridge in place for a very long time.

    And finally. does the Tift street arterial not address the issue of commercial traffic into this area? 40,000 cars a day does not justify a superhighway.

  16. Andrew Kulyk November 16, 2007 at 1:46 pm #

    On behalf of the community of BRO commenters, allow me to add the following takes to this discussion:

    “The beige vinyl siding and small windows for those new condos in Freeer Queen building are HIDEOUS and don’t conform at all to the neighborhood.”

    “If only we went with the Boulevard Alternative it would be just like the Champs Elysees. I can see myself now, sipping my espresso and enjoying my fresh piping hot croissant at my tableside perch in that Cool Fuhrman Bistro.”

    “When are we going to get IKEA?”

  17. Andrew Kulyk November 16, 2007 at 1:50 pm #

    But seriously, I was happy to hear the Congressman address the issue of access across the Buffalo Rver and that studies are well underway to lay out a new traffic grid into downtown. I’m no transportation planner, but I could envision a low rise bridge to connect the Rt 5 traffic right into some terminus like Delaware Ave. Add to that two smaller bridges, hopefully one right at the foot of Main St, that are walkable, and bikeable, to connect into the new Fuhrman, and youve got the best of both worlds.

  18. Buffalopundit November 16, 2007 at 1:59 pm #

    Route 5 has nothing to do with the lack of development on the outer harbor. It could have had the prettiest country lane, but it still would have been surrounded by land controlled by the NFTA.

    Higgins led the effort to reverse that.

    How is a 6 lane boulevard with a median going to make such a significant difference vs. a limited-access 4-lane Rt 5 to the east and a 4 lane blvd along the water?

  19. Jeff Brennan November 16, 2007 at 2:41 pm #

    This comment I made on another thread applies here too:

    Until the DOT recently chose their “preferred alternative” we didn’t know what the plan was definitely going to be. So we are late to commenting. So What? The reality of waterfront development has changed drastically in recent months and years. We believe the boulevard is just a better plan for that development than the DOT “preferred alternative”. It is not as if we are trying to close a road or prevent the first road from being built there. There are already two roads there. We are fighting for an option the DOT also considered and said would do the job just fine!

    Pay attention to these key points: side-by-side roads is stupidly costly and redundant. It also eats up more develop-able land. Most people would consider that a bad idea on what is likely to be a very valuable tax revenue producing bit of real estate. The current plan deprives the City of Buffalo of additional property tax revenue – weird how residents of other municipalities and the desire to not have their commute time lengthened by 2 minutes supercedes the authority of Buffalo residents to utilize space in the city to the fullest extent. What is the legal viewpoint on that? Additionally, how on earth is an elevated highway on the waterfront going to be useful once the skyway is torn down like Higgins himself claims is necessary. It will be an orphaned highway with regular access roads at both ends. The proposed lift bridges (by Higgins himself) to replace the skyway sure don’t make sense as the connection to an elevated limited access highway. So Pundit et at., please make a cogent argument to address these inconsistencies in the current plan. We sure can’t get these answers from Higgins or the DOT.

  20. frieda November 16, 2007 at 3:01 pm #

    NYC – oh I’m so speecheless and humilated . You’re just too clever for me. And yes that is South Buffalo , And suprise it is is south of the buffalo river. Try looking at a map. That is if you can read one. Now take your one finger and count one-one-one- and point to the small boat harbor and Tift street.

  21. hank November 16, 2007 at 3:08 pm #

    Alan said:
    How is a 6 lane boulevard with a median going to make such a significant difference vs. a limited-access 4-lane Rt 5 to the east and a 4 lane blvd along the water?

    I’ll be honest, Alan, I don’t have the first fucking clue.
    This is what I DO know.

    I’m 50 years old, which means the year I was born the St.Lawrence Seaway opened, and the SKYWAY BECAME OBSOLETE.

    Fucker’s still there though, even though the Reason for it’s existance–Clearance for Grain steamers, as Buffalo WAS the grain milling/transfer point from Great Lakes Steamers to Railroad Cars has been dead for at least 40 of those 50 years.

    Additionally, the rest of the area between downtown Buffalo and the “Route 5 Traffic circle” in Blasdell has morphed from Grain Storage/Transfer and Steel Production, to blighted Brownfields and stagnant, undeveloped waterfront over those 50 years.

    And Higgins is now the pivot man in a bureaucratic circle jerk
    of ridiculous proportion.

    If I have to hear one more overpaid, expecting their big Pension State “PLANNER” talk about another study, I’m just gonna give up on WNY altogether.

  22. nyc November 16, 2007 at 4:15 pm #

    oh, it is south buffalo, not part of the neighborhood but regardless it is. but i don’t know what your point is.
    and what do you mean one-one-one?

  23. Jeff Brennan November 16, 2007 at 5:17 pm #

    The current DOT preferred plan cuts off all of the City Ship Canal completely from any sort of access as far as I can tell so that only one side of the road will see any development. Because of this, the lakefront development area will be an island of development directly across the road from the wasteland we currently see around the City Ship Canal. That dooms that area of waterfront to ugly low grade use for 50 more years due to the elevated highway. A multi-way boulevard allows access everywhere, is high volume (can handle the traffic no problem according the DOT) and still doesn’t mix local and thru traffic! After the lakefront is developed (non-industrially) the natural next area is the City Ship Canal/Buffalo river area, but only if the plan is changed. The redundant roads eat up tons of land that could be developed with high value residential/office. Waterfront of any sort is valuable, this includes the City Ship Canal and Buffalo River side of Route 5. A boulevard will also encourage a denser, higher value development of more acres than the current plan. Building residential next to a highway is always less popular than a nice boulevard. Think real estate values and tax revenue to prop up the rest of us taxpayers.

    Besides, can someone please tell me what makes sense about a 3-mile elevated limited access highway on the outer harbor that has normal access city streets at both ends after the skyway is removed as advocated by Higgins ????

  24. Paul Francis November 16, 2007 at 6:09 pm #

    Pundit, you ask plenty of questions that are answered very cogently in the documents the CNU has on its website about the Buffalo Skyway. Read them, then comment.

  25. Good Grief November 16, 2007 at 6:25 pm #

    Pundit and the like….

    Didn’t you embarrass yourself enough with the whole “don’t question Bass Pro” debacle. Others knew how destructive the central wharf plan was and chose not to support it, but offer suggestions for something much better. Guess what?! We got it, a far better plan. It turns out that we didn’t have to just accept a preexisting plan and let it be rammed up our ass.

    SAME THING HERE. I’m sorry you enjoy picking apart the argument of every critic (esp the Buffalorising crowd) but you just consistently make an ass of yourself. You are clearly just someone who completely lacks vision. Just because a plan has been in progress for years, or because its already approved, does not mean its the right thing to do. You should have been elected, you’re a perfect politician for buffalo – 40 YEARS AGO. I’m sorry, but this community’s standards are better than this, we’ve turned the corner, we don’t have to accept any old crap, just because it might get done.

  26. Size Nine November 16, 2007 at 6:26 pm #

    Removing the Skyway has been a Buffalo priority going back almost 20 years. So rebuilding the elevated section of Rt. 5 is nonsensical, given that it cements into place an unwanted, obsolete bridge.

    * Then-Buffalo Mayor James Griffin commissioned a study of tunnel alternatives and advocated for replacing the Skyway with a tunnel, “City studies tunnel link to waterfront,” Buffalo News, June 13, 1989.

    * Letter from then-Erie County Executive Dennis Gorski to the NYS DOT advocating, in part, for the study of alternatives to the Skyway, September 25, 1991.

    * Letter from Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello to the NYS DOT advocating skyway removal, November 8, 2002.

    * “Getting the Skyway out of the way,” Buffalo News Editorial, November 15, 2002.

    * “Skyway is unsafe, must be replaced,” The Buffalo News, Letter to the Editor by Robert J. Penders of the Buffalo Police Department, December 1, 2002.

    * Resolution of the Erie County Legislature calling for the study of Skyway alternatives, June 5, 2003

    * Resolution of the Common Council of the City of Buffalo, February 3, 2004

    * “Tear the Skyway Down” Business First Editorial, July 22, 2005.

    * Letter from me to then-Commissioner Boardman requesting a Skyway EIS, February 19, 2003.

    * “Milwaukee set example to raze Skyway” Donn Esmonde column, The Buffalo News, August 2, 2007

  27. TheRover November 16, 2007 at 8:21 pm #

    I had no idea Buffalo Rising had so many highway engineers…..
    …..or newspaper headline researchers for that matter.

  28. TheRover November 16, 2007 at 8:24 pm #

    Do you guys do driveways? Because I was hoping to do something really different with mine…….

  29. Buffalopundit November 16, 2007 at 8:27 pm #

    Didn’t you embarrass yourself enough with the whole “don’t question Bass Pro” debacle.

    Not at all.

    Others knew how destructive the central wharf plan was and chose not to support it, but offer suggestions for something much better.

    Well, we’ll never know just how “destructive” a Central Wharf building that replicates the Central Wharf building that had been there would be, now will we?

    Guess what?! We got it, a far better plan. It turns out that we didn’t have to just accept a preexisting plan and let it be rammed up our ass.

    Yeah, because nothing was (and nothing really is) finalized as far as that project is concerned. Unless you saw the agreement between ECHDC and Bass Pro. I haven’t yet.

    SAME THING HERE. I’m sorry you enjoy picking apart the argument of every critic (esp the Buffalorising crowd) but you just consistently make an ass of yourself.

    I’m sorry you’re sorry. As for my assedness, that’s somewhat subjective. For instance, I think you’re making an ass of yourself here.

    You are clearly just someone who completely lacks vision.

    And you are?

    Just because a plan has been in progress for years, or because its already approved, does not mean its the right thing to do.

    I don’t really think there is a “right” or “wrong” thing to do. I think its a roadway plan that will improve access to a waterfront that pretty much has very little. You just happen to think one implementation is better than another, and like many others in the community, you’re going all Don Quixote on it.

    You should have been elected, you’re a perfect politician for buffalo – 40 YEARS AGO.

    I wasn’t running in Buffalo.

    I’m sorry, but this community’s standards are better than this, we’ve turned the corner, we don’t have to accept any old crap, just because it might get done.

    How many of the public hearings did you attend regarding this project, and what did you say there?

  30. Good Grief November 16, 2007 at 8:30 pm #

    Great Analysis, Pundit, thanks.

  31. Buffalopundit November 16, 2007 at 8:32 pm #

    BTW: To those of you who obviously haven’t read what the Southtowns Connector is, just so you know I’m down with the whole removing the Skyway idea. (Size Nine, Paul Francis, nyc).

    It just so happens that the proposed Southtowns Connector plan does nothing to hasten or halt that process. It’s completely separate.

  32. Harvey Garrett November 16, 2007 at 9:05 pm #

    First, for the record, I’m in favor of the boulevard option and I’m part of the Waterfront Coalition that is driving much of the growing opposition.

    That being said I couldn’t have more respect for BuffaloGeek and BuffaloPundit. After a conversation I had with BuffaloGeek today (the most intelligent and informed reasoning I’ve heard so far in favor of the proposed option – in fact the only intelligent and informed reasoning I’ve heard so far – which I believe is a big part of the problem) I’ve concluded that none of us have all the information on this topic and that we are making conclusions based on the assumption that we do. Because we all care so deeply about Buffalo those conclusions are being communicated passionately.

    Although I’m no less sure that the Boulevard option is best for Buffalo (for all the reasons stated here already and more) I’m am far more aware of how little I know about why the opposing parties are so adamant that their position is best for Buffalo.

    I don’t think either side is hearing each other (I know that I certainly did a poor job of communicating my concerns to Chris since I didn’t appear to sway him much either). But BuffaloGeek and BuffaloPundit are no shills – they are informed on the issue and truly believe that the current proposed option is best for Buffalo. Until the two of them entered this discussion in opposition to the Boulevard option I was convinced that all the opposition must be uninformed and / or colluding against an open process.

    I suggest that we do something that I really don’t believe has happened yet to the extent that it needed to – a real face to face discussion with opposing viewpoints being respectfully considered.

    The Waterfront Coalition (around a dozen well respected organizations representing thousands of waterfront stakeholder members) were turned down by Brian Higgins when we requested a meeting to discuss this issue (yes, our elected official refused to meet with us which is an issue all on its own). The DOT refused to attend the Common Council proceedings were they were invited to discuss this issue. We met with Higgin’s staff once but the only reasoning they provided was that “Brian Higgins thinks that this is what is best for Buffalo’s Waterfront”. We’ve even been to several DOT presentations to other groups – but there is no objective discussion about the impact of the project or the valid concerns that have been raised so far – only a presentation of the plan as it exists and a request for support. It’s no wonder the Waterfront Coalition is suspicious of the process (and players) and feels the current plan isn’t defensible. It has been repeatedly suggested that all this opposition just started a week ago – in reality it has been going on for quite some time – it just hasn’t been as public until more recently.

    As much as I do understand and respect the argument that all this opposition is coming late in the game, it is here, the concerns are valid and should be respected (both sides), and a project with this much of an impact on the future of our waterfront and our City (commercial, residential, traffic flow, recreation, property values, etc.) deserves to have a real public discussion before it is considered a done deal. For a lot of reasons, some but not all legitimate, this really hasn’t happened yet to the extent that it needs to. The discussion has started via these blogs – but obviously isn’t enough to really create understanding .

    The Waterfront Coalition has tried to open dialogue on this issue and has been repeatedly shut down because “it was too late”. It’s not too late. There is still time to discuss this issue in a meaningful way that can have an impact on it’s design. I for one would like an opportunity to have a real public discussion where we can better understand why the current plan is what is best for Buffalo and the proponents of the current plan really try to understand why we feel it would be a colossal mistake. This project really will impact us for 50 years or more – it deserves more debate than it is getting. Everyone wants this project to begin as quickly as possible – I imagine that we all could also agree that it needs to be done right.

    BuffaloGeek indicated to me today that WNY Media would be willing to host a panel discussion. We should consider this. If not through WNY Media, some forum should be found for a real public discussion. The larger topic should be the waterfront as a whole with Route 5 being an immediate, but not disconnected, component.

    Harvey

  33. Size Nine November 16, 2007 at 10:54 pm #

    Harvey wisely wrote, “It has been repeatedly suggested that all this opposition just started a week ago – in reality it has been going on for quite some time – it just hasn’t been as public until more recently.”

    Decades, actually. Anyone who has any kind of civic involvement knows that there are hours and even entire days when there are no cameras pointed at your committee and no reporters or bloggers breathlessly awaiting your next press release. /sarcasm off.

    Accordingly, I propose to change Pundit’s headline to “I didn’t see it in the media, therefore it didn’t happen.”

  34. Size Nine November 17, 2007 at 6:57 am #

    A href=”http://buffalopundit.wnymedia.net/blogs/archives/5947″>
    Subsequent Pundit posts make his position here pretty clear.. Anyone who thinks an auto show in LA is newsworthy in Buffalo, to the degree of uploading all that auto porn, is a probably a guy who can’t fathom any alternatives to a car-centered environment.

  35. Buffalopundit November 17, 2007 at 8:29 am #

    Size Nine, you obviously have no concept of how this blog works.

    This site isn’t written for you, or for Buffalo, and it doesn’t take into account what might be relevant to Buffalo. I post about whatever interests me. Cars, Zimbabwe, music – all kinds of things get posted about here, and has been for four years. I don’t purport to be some smiley-face “everything is great” blogger who only posts about one certain geographical area and pats the city on the back for doing a great job. I don’t post about the horror and shock that a long-planned roadway will become for – who lives in the Outer Harbor again – while ignoring actual, serious problems that affect real people. I don’t post about what’s relevant to Buffalo, and I never pretended to. You’re a troll, and a poor one at that.

    So, I’m a slave to car culture, eh? I note that you haven’t once mentioned bringing Metro Rail out to the outer harbor, yet that’s precisely what I did in this post (which I know you read, because you left a completely silly comment there insinuating that Route 5, and not the NFTA, was the impediment to Outer Harbor development):

    Let’s see – Hamburg commuters want to maintain a quick way into work that doesn’t involve the 90 to the 190. Assuming the DOT miraculously changes course and embraces the boulevard alternative, then there needs to be a limited-access road along some other route, or else there should be serious talk about extending a commuter rail system down to the Southtowns with handy park & ride plazas.

    So, I’m a slave to car culture, yet I’m the one who suggested we need commuter rail around here. Wow.

    Car posts are nothing new here. I love car design and seeing what sort of new things car makers are putting our or thinking of putting out. Cars exist around here, and we ought to figure out ways to get Americans out of them and into public transportation. That will never happen with a truncated Metro Rail and a disgusting, dirty, and poorly routed bus system. Where’s your post about that? Oh yeah. Didn’t see one.

    You and a few others who come on here primarily during any post concerning development are about as flexible and open-minded as a brick and a Cheektowaga septuagenarian, respectively.

    Have fun dodging traffic crossing your six lane boulevard + bus/bike path to get from weeds to the weeds across the street.

  36. iNdAbUFF November 17, 2007 at 9:02 am #

    The ultimate in public input…put the issue to ballot for people to vote on…

  37. Haterade November 17, 2007 at 10:18 am #

    “Southtowns connector” ? What the hell is THAT ? Why wasn’t I informed of such a ludicrous plan ?

  38. Snarky Snarkmore McSnarkamaphone November 17, 2007 at 11:48 am #

    I really don’t understand why you’re surprised that every new piece of development lately gets threatened with a lawsuit, when

    1) there is no comprehensive, community-input driven master plan for the area, or any part of it, and

    2) the people who we typically entrust to make good decisions for us are driven instead by personal (and familial/tribal) economic self-interest, yet are continually re-elected.

    The political culture around here–and by that I mean the people that vote (and don’t) as much as the available slate of candidates–is so amazingly far from progressive it’s shocking. Until and unless that changes, the only means people have to effect positive change around here is a lawsuit. As a lawyer, I can’t imagine you think that sucks entirely. And as a former candidate with a mildly progressive bent, I’m sure point 2 above is relatively lucid for you as well.

    for so long as what “the community” wants is indeterminable and even if it were, would go largely undone or done poorly, the terror of the (vocal and active) minority will absolutely continue.

  39. TheRover November 17, 2007 at 12:19 pm #

    Auto Porn? As in…..”look at the size of those headlights on that little honey”?

    New Urbanists, dictators for the 21st Century

  40. Denizen November 17, 2007 at 11:05 pm #

    Snarky Snarkmore nailed it dead-on.

    the people who we typically entrust to make good decisions for us are driven instead by personal (and familial/tribal) economic self-interest, yet are continually re-elected.

    The political culture around here–and by that I mean the people that vote (and don’t) as much as the available slate of candidates–is so amazingly far from progressive it’s shocking. Until and unless that changes, the only means people have to effect positive change around here is a lawsuit.

    And as long as the Buffalo area remains an economic backwater and the population remains stagnant the above quote will keep ringing true. There will be no outer harbor development (no matter which type of road configuration we get) resembling an uber dense/mixed-use yuppie-friendly urban utopia, There will be no “ye olde village” on the inner harbor. There will be no Cobblestone (parking) District packed to the brim with condos and offices. We we get will just be one half-assed pork-barrel silver bullet project after another cooked up and subsequently tainted by self-interest driven politicians.

    Living in Buffalo long enough will make most people cynical as fuck–I’m no exception. Watching the same shit happen over and over again will do this. Drinking the kool-aid (see pic at top of story) will only turn one’s Buffalo experience into a masochistic cycle of repeated letdowns.

    Any for all my fellow urbanist dreamers out there dropping comments, Any gains this city has to make with getting improved urbanism will be an organic, incremental process accomplished by energetic individuals and small business owners, not bloated masterplans involving massive public expenditures. The Elmwood VIllage’s amazing progress into what it is today (and what it may be tomorrow) has been a slow 40 year evolution.

    Putting efforts into realistic endeavors will be much more effective than wasting sweat on emotion-driven crusades.

  41. iNdAbUFF November 17, 2007 at 11:50 pm #

    Denizen says…

    Any gains this city has to make with getting improved urbanism will be an organic, incremental process accomplished by energetic individuals and small business owners, not bloated masterplans involving massive public expenditures. The Elmwood VIllage’s amazing progress into what it is today (and what it may be tomorrow) has been a slow 40 year evolution.

    Yes…yes…yes…yes….yes…

  42. STEEL November 18, 2007 at 2:09 am #

    Based on Pundit’s last comment I see that this story actually is about Buffalo Rising and not about route 5.

    Very odd how Pundit defends his “personal” choice of blogging subject matter by railing against the subjects chosen by others for their own Blogging.

    It really gets dull fast , Pundit when you and your ditto-heads go off on your BRO tirades.

  43. Buffalopundit November 18, 2007 at 7:48 am #

    It’s a little of both, Steel. On the one hand, it’s a post about people flipping out over something that is – at worst – an inconsequential maintenance of the status quo, and at best an improvement over it. On the other hand, it never would have been an issue at all were it not for BRO staking out a position on the issue, and then doing 3-4 posts on it.

    I find there to be a poignant irony that the website that posted a petition in support of Uniland’s condo, and sported lots of comments railing against obstructionist lawsuits, is now linking to a petition against this inconsequential road project, replete with people trying desperately to figure out how and whom to sue. I already suspect Uniland paid for its petition, so maybe that’s the difference.

    Buffalo Rising has staked out a very narrow beat for itself. City limits only. Positive stories only. I know that to be the fact because I was there at its birth. When it ventures outside city limits (and is inevitably negative, except when Great Lakes Motors pays for a Smart ad), I pounce, because it’s a double betrayal of its city-only-and-positive missions. When it stakes out a controversial position, its positiveness has relented, and it’s now open to criticism for that.

    I, on the other hand, never boxed myself in. I write about anything that interests me. Not what Uniland pays for, not within any geographical boundary, and I never said I’d post only happy things.

    It just so happens that almost all the Tielmanesque hyperbole I’ve read about this Route 5 project has been over at BRO. If half of those people gave half as much of a crap about, say, the state of education in the city or the continuing exodus of people from the region or the unrelenting poverty in certain parts of the area, imagine how much good might get accomplished.

  44. Harvey Garrett November 18, 2007 at 9:15 am #

    Buffalopundit,

    As I mentioned in my previous comment I have nothing but respect for you and Buffalogeek (and WNY Media in general). But as much as you are sure that the growing opposition to the proposed plan for route 5 is founded on misinformation and hyperbole – many of your comments lead me to believe that your position isn’t founded on 100 percent fact either.

    A few things you should know related to your comments above:

    1) Tielman is on the Waterfront Coalition but has not been a strong voice to date – in fact he’s been pretty silent. He’s one of a dozen groups, almost all of them taking a much larger role than C4GB. All of the Waterfront Coalition groups are well respected local organizations who are made up of thousands of members.

    2) The concern over this issue didn’t start with a Buffalo Rising story. The Waterfront Coalition, and it’s members, have been working on this for quite some time. It’s just picking up steam now because the bids were let.

    The Waterfront Coalition isn’t a bunch of boobs. It’s Buffalo Riverkeeper, Tift Nature Preserve / Buffalo Science Museum, The Preservation Coalition of Erie County, League of Women Voters, Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors, Landmark Society of the Niagara Frontier, Partners for a Livable Western New York, and others.

    These groups have been educating themselves on the issues and have been trying to discuss their concerns with elected officials and the DOT. We’ve brought in outside experts and looked to see what other cities are doing successfully. We’ve all come together to combat Buffalo’s history of fragmented community groups with multiple plans. We are trying.

    We’ve kept the media out of our discussions until recently when it became clear that very valid concerns weren’t being discussed openly. Buffalo Rising was one of many media outlets present at the Common Council meeting that started much of the more recent media debate – but there were many more who have reported on this issue. In fact I called a principle at WNY Media to discuss this issue and to invite you to the discussion but my call wasn’t returned. Although I’m sure this had more to do with your being busy than avoiding the conversation – it’s inaccurate to portray Buffalo Rising as singularly driving this issue.

    In regards to the Common Council meeting as grand standing – the Waterfront Committee members of the Common Council went out to other cities who have removed their waterfront expressway infrastructure to see what could happen here. They’ve been educating themselves and inviting discussion with the DOT. The DOT has agreed to meet with them in private but won’t discuss this in public. I can understand some reasons for this – but it doesn’t help the case for public discussion and education on this issue. We’ve also met with other surrounding towns to assure that this isn’t just a Buffalo discussion (hence Hamburg’s involvement in our press conference a few weeks ago and their subsequent vote in support of the boulevard option.

    I respect your opinion and I’d like to learn more about why you are so adamant that the current proposed plan is “at worst inconsequential maintenance of the status quo” – I certainly fear that it is much more than that.

    As I’ve stated before – we all need to get together and discuss this. The blog banter back and forth, although entertaining, isn’t enough to educate anyone on the issues so they can come to their own conclusions and it continues to degrade into hyperbole and personal attacks. We need to bring this up a notch.

    Harvey

  45. Bagelguy November 18, 2007 at 11:18 am #

    By their nature, bloggers are a narcissistic lot, but BP . . . you seem to take the cake. You seem to have a hard time believe – or understanding – that the world is larger than your line of sight. In other words, there might be people and/or groups working on issues that you don’t see but just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they don’t exist. You first saw oppoisition to this project on buffalorising but that doesn’t mean buffalorising started it nor does it mean ‘they’ are the lone opposition. That’s right – the world is bigger than your daily view (and RSS feeds) so you might want to factor that in to future rhetoric.

    buffalorising seems to cover whatever someone drives by along with a lot of human interest shit and a bunch of reader submission stuff. Is it possible that they have adapted from being city only and positive only and just didn’t tell you? Again, you might want to hold on to something tight, but the world is bigger than your view. That you try to hold people and organizations to a static state is somewhat telling – and it’s good that you did it in a post where you offer support for the DOT status quo.

    Believe it or not, things change and – shock and horror – some people like change.

    And I love the ‘if they spent as much time on {insert real issue here like education, poverty, etc} as they did on {insert alleged fake issue here} we’d all be better off. I’ve ony read your blog for a few months so I acknowledge my own limited view, but I’ve seen more articles bitching about buffalorising than I have about public education in the city or any of the other [rea] issues you highlighted.

    Never mind what issues people focus on – if people’s primary objective wasn’t being glib, clever and snarky, maybe we’d all benefit from an adult dialogue.

  46. STEEL November 18, 2007 at 8:37 pm #

    WOW, Accusations of paid petitions as if BRO could not possibly be in favor of a high rise condo project or against a superhighway on the waterfront. Sounds like the kind of statement should be accompanied by some factual back up.

    Your obsession with BRO really drags down everything else you write about and comes off as very strange. You pump yourself up as someone who writes about what interests you while deriding others who write about what they are nterested in. Very odd

  47. Buffalopundit November 18, 2007 at 10:50 pm #

    @Steel – I said “I suspect” Uniland paid for the petition, because Uniland ads appeared almost simultaneously with said petition. We call that circumstantial evidence of astroturf. Nothing wrong with it.

    @Bagelguy – you have no idea what you’re talking about. Seriously. None.

    @Harvey Garrett – Since you’re the only person making any sense, I’ll try to respond in a way that sets out my position in a way that eschews nonsense.

    1. I have no problem whatsoever with community groups staking out a position and sticking to it. As a past president of a community group, I know how it is. I think, however, that this road pair at this location isn’t the unmitigated disaster that it’s being touted as.

    2. To not utilize the media to the fullest extent possible at an earlier date was a critical error, because it now looks like 11th hour obstructionism. A concentrated effort to publicize your coalition’s position as soon as it coalesced would have had a more positive impact not just in terms of effect, but public opinion. This Southtowns Connector project is not something that the average WNYer even thinks twice about, much less feels passionately about. And while some may wish to paint me as a zealous partisan in favor of the DOT plan, quite the contrary, I hold a vigorous ambivalence to the whole thing because I pick my battles, and this one doesn’t seem that significant to me. In my profession, if I miss a deadline, I’m screwed, and I’ve probably forfeited my ability and right to do something. I always look at the process first, because if it hasn’t been followed, I don’t have to get to the merits. No one made a peep publicly about this particular project until Norquist came to town. Not to say people weren’t up in arms about it, but it wasn’t really well publicized.

    3. I don’t know whom you contacted at WNYMedia to get _me_ involved, but the best way to contact me is to send an email to me. Or even just leave a comment here. This is the first I heard of it.

    4. The loudest arguments against this project have to do with cutting people off from the waterfront and that a limited-access Route 5 gobbles up too much otherwise-useful land. These are fine, but many of the examples brought up involve the Embarcadero in San Francisco and the Gardiner in Toronto. Both are examples of what the I-190 is – an elevated expressway separating the urban core from the waterfront. I took a ride down the Skyway towards Hamburg today, and let me tell you that Route 5 isn’t an impediment to anything. The problem is a Fuhrmann Boulevard that’s impossible to get to, and impossible to navigate. The northbound lanes are to the east of Route 5 and the southbound lanes are to the west, and the access is crap. The DOT plan maintains a limited access route 5, which is great in a community where we haven’t yet discovered sychronized traffic lights, and re-configures Fuhrmann Boulevard in a way that is rational and accessible. There is nothing in that proposal that will hamper outer harbor development. On the contrary, the biggest impediment was the fact that the NFTA controlled the property for 50 years and was too busy maintaining buses and airports to care.

    Also, as far as pedestrians and bikers and others are concerned, I see a benefit to a 4-lane boulevard bereft of rushing commuters and 18-wheelers. But that’s just me. The 6-lane boulevard alternative might, as Higgins points out, resemble a Niagara Falls Blvd or a Genesee St by the airport. Functional? Yes. Pleasant? No. Conducive to development and the New Englandy fishing village Norquist envisions? No more or less so than the DOT’s alternative.

    So, like with Bass Pro, maybe I’ll be proven wrong and the whole thing will go back to the drawing board and the real status quo will be maintained for an extra few years. I don’t consider that progress. After all, roads can be demolished and widened if the DOT proposal turns out to be not as great as envisioned.

    Furthermore, any plan for the outer harbor that does not include an expansion of Metro Rail is, to my mind, fatally flawed.

    As it stands now, the only impediment on the Outer Harbor has been the NFTA, but I also agree with Denizen that I’m not so sure we have the demand in place. Look at the new condos at Waterfront Village – Paladino had to get them a 10-year property tax break in order to sell those $400,000 condos. This is a city that is developing a veritable prairie in large swaths. I also object to the misinformation. Route 5 is mostly bermed, not elevated like the 190. The DOT has explicitly stated time and time again that none of the alternatives in any way affects the ability to take the Skyway down later on. There is nothing on the outer harbor to be separated from the waterfront. We’re literally separating weeds from weeds – it’s just a question of getting people there.

    Certainly this community has made some mistakes in the past, and I applaud anyone or any group who wants to prevent them from being made again. But let’s make our points honestly, without making crap up.

    5. The DOT started this whole process in the late 90s, and responded to public concerns and criticism by changing the scope of the project. It is now this, as per DOT:

    The section of NY Route 5 will be reconfigured to provide direct access to a reconstructed Fuhrmann Boulevard through the construction of a new interchange just south of the Buffalo Skyway Bridge and a reconfiguring of the existing on and off ramps south of Ohio Street. Fuhrmann Boulevard will be reconstructed from the US Coast Station to the Union Ship Canal into a four lane parkway with landscaped median and includes a roundabout at the new interchange crossroad. A three lane road section is proposed from Michigan Street to Tifft Street with a generous amount of landscaping with a great emphasis of aesthetically pleasing design elements such as period lighting and architectural fascia treatments to the bridges under NY Route 5.

    South of the Union Ship canal, NY Route 5 will be reconstructed into to a widened landscaped arterial road in Lackawanna and in the Woodlawn area of the Town of Hamburg. Improved aesthetics through extensive landscaping including a multi-use trail are proposed.

    A new arterial road, called the Tifft Street Arterial will be constructed through the former Republic Steel site connecting I-190 at an improved interchange in the Seneca/Elk/Bailey area to Tifft Street just east of the railroad corridor.

    Ohio Street, a local City of Buffalo street is also proposed for reconstruction. The existing 2 or four lane configuration would be reconstructed into a riverfront arterial with improved aesthetics through extensive landscaping and will a multi-use trail

    It makes sense, does not shock the conscience, and accomplishes the stated goals of improving access and aesthetics by the waterfront as compared with the brownfields and weeds one sees there now. The problem was always “you can’t get there from here” – not “Route 5 separates the waterfront from ______”.

    Finally, if in the future demand for land on the outer harbor becomes so overwhelming that it makes sense to remove the bermed Route 5 and widen Fuhrmann, that’s possible, too.

    But let’s not let the tail wag the dog on this one. Let’s improve waterfront access first and then see what happens.

  48. nyc November 19, 2007 at 9:54 am #

    Pundit,
    WIth the expense they are investing in supporting the existing configuration of a bermed limited acces highway, I don’t know how they can then remove the skyway in the future. That is the big issue for many people. They basically say “trust us” but I don’t blame people for not trusting them. The DOT needs to develop a plan of how the hybrid option can result in the future skyway removal. Right now from looking at things, they will be investing substantial money into an existing configuration that, if the skyway is removed, will make no sense whatsoever. It will leave an isolated highway remnant on the waterfront disconnected from any other limited access road. This makes people believe that the DOT does not want to remove the skyway anytime in near future..

    The community has been vocal in the past about removing highways blocking access to the waterfront, the skyway a primary target. The DOT is not addressing that issue and that is their failing.

  49. STEEL November 19, 2007 at 1:21 pm #

    So pundit,

    Basically you are spreading rumors based on your own imaginings?

  50. Buffalopundit November 19, 2007 at 1:32 pm #

    If circumstantial evidence is an imagining, then many people have been convicted of crimes due to “imaginings”. Are you denying that BRO writes what Illuzzi calls “advertorials” for its advertisers?

  51. STEEL November 19, 2007 at 1:50 pm #

    As a lawyer you should understand that the term circumstantial evidence would rise to a standard that is higher than two things happening at the same time. There has to be circumstance involved not just coincidence.

  52. hank November 19, 2007 at 3:02 pm #

    I’ll agree with BP that Harvey Garrett is the only voice of reason of the commentors. Bless ya Harvey, from an expat who doesn’t have the balls to do what you’re doing, but respects you greatly.

    And I’m not gonna knock what Harvey’s saying.

    THERE’S TOO MANY COOKS (GROUPS) STIRRING THE DAMN BROTH. The Timeline I read here chronicles the last 20 years of NOTHING GETTING DONE. And the future of GETTING ANYTHING DONE seems not to damn rosy.

    Seems to me it’s time to do a “Group Trap”. Set up a meeting–Get all these organizations together in a room with the DOT and any other state or local agencies involved. Supply them with 5 days of food and water. Remove all cellphones and computers from the room.

    THEN LOCK THEM ALL IN, STATION A COMPANY OF MARINES OUTSIDE THE PLACE WITH ORDERS TO SHOOT TO KILL ANYONE WHO TRIES TO GET OUT UNTIL THE ISSUE IS DECIDED.

    I realize it smacks of “Banana Republic Junta” type reasoning, but of course that’s what WNY Governments are.
    If some type of the above meeting isn’t attempted, 20 MORE years will go by, and I’ll be asking Dennis Grace the Undertaker to take me over the fucking skyway just one more time, then do a 180 and take what’s left of me to Forest Lawn for a fucking dirt nap. Because that’s probably all the time I have left, and at this rate the Skyway will be still there, and the area from the foot of the Skyway to Blasdell will look exactly like it looks today.

    Which is what it looked like 20 years ago on this date
    Which is what it looked like 30 years ago on this date
    Which is what it looked like 40 YEARS AGO on this date.

    Pardon my negatvity but what else could one expect?

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