pro·ac·tive (adj.)

2 Jul

Some have misinterpreted my closing comments in this post:

One hopes that the preservation community (and community-at-large) might prioritize buildings that may not be designated landmarks, are endangered and need saving. Perhaps they could take lessons learned from the Livery fiasco and be more pro-active rather than re-active when it comes to saving buildings deemed important. These things shouldn’t have to happen at the point when emergency injunctive relief is required to prevent demolition. A plan. Priorities. It would do a lot to not only save buildings, but dramatically improve the reputation of the preservationist community. By being pro-active rather than re-active, they lose the “obstructionist” epithet altogether. Just a thought.

Some assail my comment because, they claim, preservationists are being “proactive”. I disagree. Calling the tip line isn’t enough. Calling your councilman isn’t enough. That may arguably be literally proactive, but it’s passive. I’ll let Prodigal Son explain:

The definition of pro-active is “getting involved before the building is crumbling.” I’m sure some well meaning people called the city tip line to complain about the Livery for years. But obviously, no support was galvanized until crisis mode hit. If anyone in the preservation community (whomever that is) could get everyone organized before it got to this point, that would be progress. Lets have a vigil, signatures, BRO articles and media frenzy about the AM&A’s building (to pick a random one). Doesn’t happen. Tim Tielman tried to get people organized for his “Save Our Churches” campaign, and that never got farther than one meeting.

Buffalo – a shrinking city of 280k-ish people – has at least two grassroots preservation activist organizations. Cynthia Van Ness’ Preservation Coalition and Tim Tielman’s Campaign for Buffalo History, Architecture and Culture. The missions are similar enough that these groups could be joined. If governments can be expected to downsize in response to a shrinking population, so can nonprofit activist groups.

If they joined forces, then it would be fantastic if they selected, on an annual basis, five buildings that they want to save each year. They could hold fundraisers, teach-ins, solicit investment, file legal action, etc. Whatever it took to focus on private and public properties that are at imminent risk of destruction but are in some way worth preserving. They could set the agenda with respect to preservation issues and shed that public perception that they have of being reactionary obstructionists, and instead re-cast themselves as the proactive protectors of Buffalo’s heritage before the building starts crashing in around them or some owner decides he wants to raze it to add more surface parking.

Because in my mind, the heroes of the preservation community right now are named “Savarino” and “Termini” and “ESD”. Applying the law of Larry the Cable Guy – they get it done.

If the building is privately owned, such as Freudenheim’s Livery, the group could file for injunctive relief – the building is an imminent harm to its surroundings and is a public or private nuisance. If the building is privately owned, perhaps they could get the city to take the property by eminent domain for the greater public good. If the building is publicly owned, then they could partner with friendly engineering and architectural firms to draw up plans and raise funds to actually get the buildings structurally sound and rebuilt. It would be like Buffalo ReUse writ large – instead of saving fixtures from homes for resale, you save the building itself.

So, what would be the five most endangered buildings in 2008? Proactively prioritize, proselytize, and repair.

19 Responses to “pro·ac·tive (adj.)”

  1. Chaz July 2, 2008 at 9:24 pm #

    Hindsight is as they say 20/20. It must be nice to be a blogger who sits back and criticizes other people without really ever helping to change anything.

    You always end your posts dixi.

    Have you ever tried to help save a home, a building or work on a preservation issue? Unless when you try to save your glass house I presume.

    You throw out uneducated slings at people who have done more to help Buffalo then you could ever hope to imagine with your silly little blog.

  2. Buffalopundit July 3, 2008 at 7:08 am #

    Chaz: Who the fuck are you and what have you done?

    It must be nice to be a commenter on a blog who sits back and criticizes the blogger without revealing his identity or really ever helping to change anything.

    So, tell us who you are and what you’ve done, or else piss off.

  3. Mike Miller July 3, 2008 at 8:28 am #

    Alan, for what it’s worth, I am in 100% agreement with you on this post. As I’ve mentioned before, there are more than a few local preservationists in Buffalo who recognize the need for consolidation and a comprehensive preservation plan.

    As President of the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation, I’ve offered my support and assistance for a merger of all the various preservation groups in Buffalo and western New York. I’d be grateful for a governing body, with some actual teeth, to help us save the terminal.

  4. Mike Miller July 3, 2008 at 9:02 am #

    “So, what would be the five most endangered buildings in 2008?”

    This may have been rhetorical, but it bears stating. In my opinion and in this order:

    1. Central Terminal (no it’s not “saved” yet)
    2. Richardson Complex (not “saved” yet either)
    3. Polish Union Hall on Fillmore Ave. (desperately in need of roof repairs)
    4. Transfiguration Church on Sycamore (may be beyond repair)
    5. The entire list of closed Catholic churches (no preservation plan at all)

  5. reflip July 3, 2008 at 10:21 am #

    Great post, Pundit. Dare I say…proactive? It sounds like a good idea to have both organizations come together and bring in stakeholders (community groups, appropriate City government officials, area funders, building owners, etc.) to discuss plans for future preservation and rehabilitation efforts. Has that type of thing been attempted before?

  6. Mike Miller July 3, 2008 at 10:28 am #

    Don’t forget the preservation board and the Landmark Society, plus all the individual building preservation groups like us, Friends of St. Ann’s etc. There have been years of lessons learned for some of us and this experience can help greatly with formulating a successful business model for preservation in the city.

  7. Chaz July 3, 2008 at 3:56 pm #

    What have I done?

    Michigan Street Preservation Corporation
    CityView Properties
    Buffalo Public Schools’ Renovation Project

    Want more, I will gladly share.

    WTF have you done?

    Save Santa’s Park
    Write a blog
    Love Jon Powers

    You are a real go getter who argues like Sean Hannity.

  8. Colin July 3, 2008 at 8:21 pm #

    1. The dick wagging about “what have you done?” is pretty tiresome.

    2. I think what Alan proposes is right on.

    3. That said, I don’t think it bears any relation to the issue that brought it up — the attempt at saving the Livery, which wouldn’t have been on anybody’s top 5 (or 10) list, in all likelihood. There are huge, long-term projects that need to be undertaken. CTRC is the best example of that kind of “proactive” effort. But the great bulk of preservation fights are still going to be over much smaller and more obscure buildings, and those fights are unavoidably “reactive” according to Alan’s definition.

  9. Chaz July 3, 2008 at 10:04 pm #


    1. The only dick wagging that appears to be going on is when yours is in front of BP.

    2. What Alan proposes is not right on.

    3. That said, what Alan has proposed has been proposed before and most notably by David Torke. Nice rip BP. There has to be the will to do it too. But as with other issues in Buffalo, people argue about what is the right way to put something like this together.

    4. The Central Terminal is an entirely different beast than the Livery. What works for the CTRC won’t work for other preservation issues.

    5. Each area of Buffalo has different preservation needs. The city or whomever would be best served in having groups established under the umbrella of a larger organization. Each smaller group would devise a preservation plan that fits its distinct area of Buffalo.

  10. Colin July 4, 2008 at 12:02 am #

    “The Central Terminal is an entirely different beast than the Livery. What works for the CTRC won’t work for other preservation issues.”

    Uh, yeah, and that’s why I drew the distinction between the two.

  11. Chaz July 4, 2008 at 12:30 am #

    Uh duh, really

    I was backing up your distinktion.

    The problem in this town is people like Pundit sit on there asses and point out the woulda, coulda, shouldas to people. That is easy to do.

    The hard work is done by actual people who spend time trying to come up with solutions and then they get their hands dirty. But when they are done they have asshat uno aka Buffalo Pundit shit on their heads. That is the tru definition of pro·ac·tive (adj.)

  12. Chris Smith July 4, 2008 at 12:20 pm #

    A combined effort amongst the private grassroots interests (preservation groups), the City of Buffalo, and non-profit foundations (CFGB, Oishei, Baird, etc) to fund a merger and work proactively to prioritize and preserve is absolutely necessary. Leadership on this issue is needed from City Hall to bring the varying interests together to form a united front.

    Also, I’d like to thank Chaz for all his great unsubstantiated work on critical preservation projects. Also, before my activism bonafides are questioned, I am responsible for the Ellicott Square building restoration, Babeville, Theater of Youth, and numerous other projects.

    Wow, it sure is easy to make crazy claims on a blog, eh?

  13. @Chaz July 4, 2008 at 8:15 pm #

    So you did the Buffalo Public Schools!!! WOW !!!that must have set you back a pretty penny.

  14. Chaz July 4, 2008 at 11:24 pm #

    What I shared are examples of projects I have worked on.

    Don’t believe it Buffalo Geek or BP, zip me an email and I will send you the proof.

    Please explain to me what exactly it is that either you have done besides your failblogs to tangibly make a difference in Buffalo?

    Buffalo Homefailcoming
    Saving Santa’s Park


    Ascendo tuum

  15. Veritas July 5, 2008 at 1:22 am #

    Anus Equi Volants

  16. Buffalopundit July 5, 2008 at 10:12 am #

    Gee, Chaz. The funny thing is that I’ve never claimed to be a preservation activist, am no big fan of the preservationist community in Buffalo, and frankly don’t really give a crap about preservation issues with the exception of the Central Terminal. I write about them, but have never claimed to be their champion, and have more often disagreed with them than not.

    Also, I have no doubt that your vast experience answering the phones at Ciminelli and CityView count towards “working on” those projects that you cite.

    Because I don’t sit here touting all the great and wonderful things I’ve done for Buffalo or WNY. I help when I can, but more often than not do nothing. Far be it from me to compare myself to a professional, but I don’t see Donn Esmonde going out and being an activist for every single thing he writes about in the News. I’ve never claimed to be even a mediocre activist. You, on the other hand, come on here anonymously and make wild claims about the projects you’ve “worked on” – not spearheaded, not funded, but “worked on.” That’s a pretty broad statement.

    And frankly, I don’t give a crap about any of it. You’re an anonymous troll who evidently has fun mocking me, and you’re entitled and welcome to do that from the comfort of your Chicago-based IP address. If you’d like to reveal your actual identity and provide proof of your bona fides, go ahead and do so. I frankly don’t care who you are or what you’ve done, so if you do it realize that you’re doing it to feed your own widdle ego.

    You’re also right that saving Santa’s Park wasn’t a big deal. I think Buffalo Homecoming is, so I’ll let Chris handle that one. Obviously, with your spoofed IP anonymity, we’ll never know who this is who is so much more effective at moving Buffalo forward.

    Not that this matters, because this isn’t a blog for some activist organization. It is a blog that is for my benefit that I write for me. You are a boil on its ass – occasionally lanced, but always recurring.

  17. Mike Miller July 7, 2008 at 10:55 am #

    Alan: “and frankly don’t really give a crap about preservation issues with the exception of the Central Terminal. I write about them, but have never claimed to be their champion, and have more often disagreed with them than not.”

    I’m curious about this statement. I’ve looked back at everything you’ve written about the terminal and can’t find one instance where you’ve disagreed with us or our plans. While you may not be our champion, your friendship and positive support has done a lot for us in the past few years.

  18. Buffalopundit July 7, 2008 at 11:07 am #

    Mike – I meant the preservationist community at large. I have never had a bad word to say about the CTRC, and never disagreed with any of its plans.

  19. Mike Miller July 7, 2008 at 11:28 am #

    I didn’t think so, Alan, but wanted to make sure! We’re working on some pretty big plans for 2009, our 80th anniversary, so stay tuned.

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