For years, visitors to the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center have been welcomed to our fair city by this non-working embarrassment of a civic marquee.
Yesterday, during the third Erie County Legislature session of the year, a bond resolution was passed which included funding for continued renovations at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. Part of those proposed renovations? The replacement of FAILsign with a shiny new marquee to be placed on the front of the convention center. The line item totaled $1MM and work will begin this year. We may see this replacement marquee sometime this year.
Aside from the FAILsign, the only controversial item in the bond resolution was the $3MM requested to plan the demolition of 120/134 West Eagle Street, the current home of the Erie County Board of Elections. County Executive Chris Collins requested the monies in order to begin the process of expanding the current holding center.
The project is the first phase of a multi-phased design and construction project to rehabilitate and expand or construct a new jail facility. This phase will fund, but not be limited to, the design for demolition of 120/134 West Eagle Street buildings, design and construction documents for an expanded or new building and any necessary environmental reviews associated with the project.
The idea was first proposed back in 1998 and several issues with either building a new facility or expanding the current one using the properties on Eagle Street were noted in this Buffalo News story.
Architect E.B. Green designed the 64-year-old original section of the Erie County Holding Center, and this may present a problem to the planners trying to choose a site for a 400-bed expansion.
“Both buildings are considered contributing structures to the Joseph Ellicott Historical District,” said architect Joseph J. Lenihan of Kideney Architects, who is supervising the site study. “Obviously, a building by E.B. Green is more significant than one that isn’t.”
The Republican minority wanted this item included in the consolidated bond resolution, while the Democrats wanted it taken out for further study and to be financed separately. Before the start of session, negotiations were frantic as votes for the consolidated bond resolution were being whipped.
Prior to the vote on the bond resolution, the legislature adjourned for a ten minute recess (which turned into a near two hour recess) to negotiate in the backroom about the jail funding line item. There are other issues at play on future spending which influenced and informed the negotiations, but most of the discussions focused on the jail funding.
Ultimately, the Republicans voted against the amendment to remove the line item from the combined resolution, followed by a unanimous vote in favor of adopting the consolidated resolution.
As an additional note, Legislature Chairwoman Barbara Miller-Williams started session late, let the recess go on too long, and seems to not have a handle on parliamentary procedures which leads to a deterioration of decorum. Seriously, Yakety Sax should be the soundtrack of this legislature as they attempt to make motions or tally votes. It’s painful to watch, hopefully she gets better at this whole legislating thing.
Overall, a typical day at the Erie County Legislature. Some high school drama, some personal bickering, some backroom negotiating and some incremental governance.