WNYMedia Canalside Input

18 Nov

The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation is taking a pause to listen to the community. Outstanding. Through out this process, clearly the one event that has not taken place enough is a public hearing.  However, they are hosting a series open houses over the next several days as we reported earlier this week.

WNYMedia has been your reliable source covering the courtship of Bass Pro, the lawsuits and protests, the development silver bullets and missed shots, the demise and fall from grace. And while opinion has always been part of our reporting, we have never sought direct input.

That changes now.

At the upcoming hearings, well-meaning ECHDC board members will hear a variety of extremist views, from “Elimate the Incentives” libertarians to pro-Union, living wage activists. They will hear very little middle of the road, pragmatic, grounded, practical advice that is actually achievable. Which is where we step in. Consider this the input of the Coalition of Enough Already, whose only agenda is to get something built that is fun, feels like Buffalo, and is a good place to take out-of-state family when they come to visit.  After five decades of it being a parking lot, “kinda nice” is a huge improvement.

Brian Castner’s Input:

1) If a canal used to be there, dig it back out. If it didn’t used to be there, don’t make one up. Fake canals are fake. Real canals are fun to skate on in the winter time. Ask Ottawa.

2) Put in underground parking. Most people drive cars, and will into the foreseeable future. Underground parking is better than ramps, and there is a giant hole already dug in the ground. Duh.

3) Cobble streets are fun to walk on. Keep those. But build a bridge to the Outer Harbor. I can see the lighthouse from the Marina – I should be able to walk there in less than 2 hours.

4) Canals and cobble streets are fun to sit next to and eat dinner. Ask San Antonio. Make sure there is room for restaurants, and places to get ice cream, and a couple non-Elmwood shops, and coffee on a cold day. This is what we mean about somewhere to take the family.

5) Buffalo has great parks. We have great parks on the waterfront. We have new green space around the commercial slip, big enough to hold concerts. We don’t need more parkland. We need more stuff to do. No more green space please, except as a place holder to more stuff.

6) An Aquarium of the Great Lakes sounds like fun, but 1.2 million people don’t need, and can’t support, two aquariums. Open one at Canal Side if Niagara Falls will close theirs. Make the one at Canal Side look like the Wild Center in the Adirondacks – the kid’s love it. Why should Niagara Falls have to close their aquarium and move their animals to Buffalo? Because we’re a region and should start acting like it. The Niagara Falls aquarium is old and smells funny, and before they invest a bunch of money in it, we should do better at Canal Side. Niagara Falls has a great casino and waterfall and 5 million visitors – they aren’t left in the cold.

7) A Mall of Museums sounds like Main Place Mall – empty and FAILy. A museum related to the Erie Canal makes sense. So does the aerospace museum to coordinate with Naval Park. But every homeless museum doesn’t need to set up shop at Canal Side. Putting a picture of Irv Weinstein next to an old bike and couple used accordions doesn’t like fun.

8 ) Public Markets are fun, but hard. Pike Street Market in Seattle is old, covered, and heated. Saturday Market in Portland is under a bridge (Skyway bonus!), but closed half the year for the weather. Start small, on the existing park space, because we don’t need a replica of the Broadway Mausoleum on the waterfront.

9) Waterparks are tacky. Like really tacky. And not the kind of destination that really fits with Canal Side. We already go to Great Wolf or Darien Lake for that. Let Niagara Falls have their fake snowslide, and leave well enough alone. See #6.

10) Build the whole thing using the new Buffalo Smart Code. Because the old code is really . . . old.

This is the most reasonable advice you will hear the rest of the year. Please write it down.

Chris Smith’s input:

The short answer: Finish implementing the approved and funded Tim Tielman 2004 master plan, fill in the hole where the Buffalo Auditorium once stood, run commercial grade sewage and utilities, plant some grass, throw down a bench or two, zone it with the upcoming form based code, cobble the streets, escrow the currently available public monies, offer incentives to developers (i.e. tax free zone) and call it a day.  All done.

The long answer:
I’m in favor of progress, but I’m opposed to the dictatorship of a community. What does that mean? I’m opposed to groups who claim to represent “the” community when they actually represent “a” community, a group of like-minded associates who share an ideology.  We currently have a group of people and organizations taking up the majority of the planning time and discussing what they want to see on the waterfront, based on their own likes and dislikes.  There is nothing inherently wrong with that, it only becomes a problem when they deign to say they represent “the community” writ large.  They do not.

I’m hopeful when local development projects are announced, but I know that ideas and plans in this region must endure a Bataan Death March style process if they are to become reality. I also know that any idea will have to withstand the microscopic criticism of thousands, the planning board, the political process, the talk shows, the blogs, the demagoguery of activists and usually face some sort of legal challenge if it is to become anything more than a dream.  We’re currently in the midst of that march right now on waterfront planning.

A basic place to begin the discussion is to ask a simple question.  Is this a sensible or reasonable way to run a city?

Thousands of words and tens of thousands of man-hours have been spent contemplating what should happen on our inner harbor. We have Buffalonians looking to start the whole she-bang from scratch in order to crowdsource ideas for waterfront development…because we definitely need more ideas that come without capital or a group who would implement such a crowdsourced plan.

Isn’t that our problem, in a nutshell?  Instead of an established or formalized hierarchy of decision makers in this town, we have lots of people with their ideologies and -isms trying to have their ideas heard when none of them have the capital or resources to get in the game.  Most of these people mean well, but in a local economy which lacks widespread wealth generation, we have a lot of underemployed smart people using their ideas and positions as capital.  It creates a battlefield of ideas, with everyone screaming from the rooftops that their idea is the one we should adopt.  It’s a cacophony of nonsense and it’s tough to make sense of the future when all we do is argue about the present based on what happened in the past.  It’s time for a compromise.

So, what’s next?  A refreshing attempt to wipe the slate clean and allow the market to decide what goes on the waterfront in a regulated and form-based process. Last time we tried “development” in a similar manner, we got the historic waterfront of the late 19th century everyone pines for today. Maybe we should try it again.  I encourage you to post your ideas here and we will submit them with our statements or send your support for this “zone it and get out of the way” plan to the ECHDC.

Alan Bedenko’s Input:

Frankly, I agree with everything Brian and Chris wrote.  But I’d add that no matter which side of this you’re on, this project is going to involve some form of retail goods and services.  That means Canal Side will immediately be competing with the Niagara outlet mall and the Walden Galleria, not to mention the McKinley, Boulevard, and Eastern Hills Malls.  What gets built and how it looks is only part of the problem – the real challenge is to get people to come down there after the initial public curiosity dies down.

We can tout the wonder of the inner harbor and its rich, sordid history all we want, but if you look at the empty blocks of nothing surrounding Niagara Falls, natural wonders and rich history don’t automatically equate to success.

What Canal Side – and possibly more of downtown – needs is a sales-tax free zone.  When it comes to retail, there is practically nothing downtown nor has there been for many years.  Taking the 8.75% sales tax and getting rid of it would be a big draw for locals, suburbanites, and Canadians alike.  There would be an outcry that this is unfair to other retailers, but the argument can easily be made three ways: (1) it’s no more or less fair than shopping on an Indian reservation or downtown exclave; (2) it’s no more or less fair than the duty free at the border.  It’s also unfair but a fact of life for local retailers when the Canadian dollar isn’t at par – I fondly recall shopping in Canada all the time because the rate was 65 US cents for one Loonie, and I could get the GST back on many purchases at the border (those days are long gone).

I attended the first ECHDC public hearing yesterday afternoon, and I was pleased that most of the speakers took the time to thank it for holding them and taking the demanded “pause”.  People came with good ideas – festival space, green construction – and one guy came dressed like a tree and regaled those present with a lengthy missive about the region’s Indian folklore, history, and mythology.

The modified plan that ECHDC put forth is quite reasonable and not widely known because they haven’t put it online.  Bass Pro is now simply the “Aud Block”, and there will be a central canal for skating in the wintertime, and an interpretive, landscaped “little Buffalo Creek”.   The criticisms of opponents against “faux canals” and “parking” are silly and need to be countered.  The “faux canals” track the exact path of the Canal as it existed in that area in 1825, and cannot be made authentic thanks to the Hamburg Drain.  It makes for a charming promenade along the side of the Canal (hence, the project’s name).

Parking is necessary, and not a necessary evil.  If it’s to be built, build it underground where it won’t bother anyone or harm the project’s aesthetics.  Large swaths of Boston’s Common and Public Garden are above a massive multistory parking ramp.  No one complains because no one can see it, and no one cares.  Given the choice of seeing parked cars and not seeing parked cars, I’ll take the latter.  To the people who point to existing surface parking and say there’s plenty there already,  I’d prefer that surface parking be consolidated into one multistory lot to let other plots be built upon.  Furthermore, those lots are packed from 9 – 5 Monday through Friday.  If you want out-of-towners to take the train, that’d be a great idea, but the closest Metro Park & Ride to the I-90 is at the LaSalle stop.

We focus a lot on the built environment, and the project’s design should be as similar as possible to what existed during the canal terminus’ heyday.  What we don’t focus on is actually getting people to keep coming down there.  Give downtown and the inner harbor a fighting chance by giving people a tax-free incentive to open businesses, and patronize them.

And here’s the plan for the Aud block.  Re-create the street grid that used to be there, above the underground parking lot.

From gapfel.com

Downtown Buffalo 1895

35 Responses to “WNYMedia Canalside Input”

  1. BobbyCat November 18, 2010 at 8:39 am #

    First read.

    * Why does everybody sound so angry? Leave the attitudes at home, please. They don’t help.

    * Forget the cryptic/arcane terminology. If you have to define your terms, use different, simple terms.

    * Use full names. It’s presumptuous (and clubby) to think that the readers,or the Harbor Commission, will know yall by your first names.

  2. al l November 18, 2010 at 8:51 am #

    although it is definitely aesthetically much better, but im guessing that underground parking could be very expensive so close to the lake. im no engineer, but the water table seems likely to be not too far below grade in sandy soils.

    obviously, anything *can* be built for a price, but id have to hear more about a pricetag and alternatives before a ringing endorsement.

  3. Brian Castner November 18, 2010 at 8:55 am #

    @ Al – I’m glad you posted. I saw your comment back to Alan on the internets yesterday, and I love the idea of a National Park Service office and Visitor center at the terminus of the Erie Canal. As a country-wide traveler, I look for the NPS visitor center everywhere I go first, and it would be a huge magnet. Please repost your argument here, if you can, for the record (so to speak). And I hope you have formally submitted it to the ECHDC as well.

  4. Mark November 18, 2010 at 9:00 am #

    I don’t find this advice more “middle of the road, pragmatic, grounded, practical” than anyone else’s. It’s just you three speaking for yourselves. Which is fine, but I suspect that those “pro-Union, living wage activists” that you think are extremists also think that their advice is just logic and common sense.

    Having said that, I don’t disagree with most of what you wrote. I do think that there has to a very tight rein on any involved developers. I like the idea of the government providing the infrastructure and business filling it in, but people can’t be allowed to build whatever the hell they want. There need to be strict architectural and environmental standards — not impossible ones, just strict ones. I’m not sure exactly what is in the “smart code,” but if that’s what it gets us, then that’s fine with me. What I am not interested in is seeing a few prominent, well-connected firms getting preferential access.

    Also, that tree guy is awesome. Put him in charge of protocol or something.

  5. al l November 18, 2010 at 9:23 am #

    @Brian,

    I appreciate it. I did fwd it to the ECHDC, the Mayor, Congressman Higgins, a few CC members, etc. Nothing really has come of it, and I dont really have time to dress like a tree and advocate for it. But I really think its a good, affordable idea, so here goes:

    As plans for an the new Canal District move forward, there is renewed opportunity for a National Park Service Visitor Interpretive Center adjacent to the re-watered Erie Canal.

    A National Park Service Visitor Center provides an anchor tenant which is able to draw out of town visitors without large local subsidies or land investments.

    The National Park Service (NPS) has 391 units, including the Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor. Locally, the NPS works in cooperation with a nonprofit to operate the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site on Delaware Avenue.

    The National Park Service brings potential advantages over other museum and non-museum alternatives:

    – A nationally and internationally known, established, credible, and respected brand
    – Well paid, skilled jobs
    – Project capital
    – Availability of NPS’s extensive technical and historic assets
    – A proven record of quality museum development
    – Potential symbiotic relationship between other nearby NPS Units
    – Ability to attract visitors
    – A sustained, and independent funding source
    – Experience with administering and interpreting canalways: Chesapeake & Ohio, Ohio & Erie, Illinois & Michigan

    National Park Sites have a record of creating and attracting economic development. A study of potentially similar NPS National Heritage Areas found that 34% stayed in hotels for an average of 2.2 nights, and that heritage visitors spend $2.5 million in the local regions per twenty-five thousand visits. The direct impacts of this spending are $780,000 in wages and salaries, $1.2 million in value added and 51jobs.1

    See: http://www.nps.gov

    1 http://www.cesu.umn.edu/projects/reports/Heritage%20Area%20Summary%20Report.doc

    Please see:
    http://www.nps.gov/erie/

    http://www.eriecanalway.org/

  6. Hank November 18, 2010 at 10:03 am #

    Brian et al. Well done. More on Alan’s Blog

  7. BobbyCat November 18, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    My Two Cents

    A huge skating rink (or 2) should be built that could simultaneously accommodate a hockey game (leagues) and free skaters. I think there is an enormous market for skaters. After a Sabre’s game, some fans would feel like strapping on their skates. Others would skate for relaxation, as in Rockefeller Center. It must be a short walk for Metro riders. Security cameras to BPD would be constantly monitored/patroled. You would need places to warm-up, eat and drink. In warm months the large venue could be converted to street hockey, basketball courts, tennis courts, wading pool etc. or all of the above. Small shops and restaurants -and yada, yada, you know the rest.

  8. carlsbad November 18, 2010 at 10:34 am #

    can someone explain to me how this system of faux canals costs $33 million (from the MGPP)? these “canals” are 18″ to 3′ deep — yes, picture it: this is a very, very expensive reflecting pool.  will $23 million dollars in gold be buried underneath, for some sort of treasure hunt attraction?  if we want fake water attractions why not put together a system of kiddie pools and slip and slides?  we could go really wild for $5000.  

  9. Jesse November 18, 2010 at 10:47 am #

    Curious, most of what Brian and (particularly) Chris wrote are not incompatible with what they’ve decided is an “extremist” libertarian view…

  10. BuffaloGirl November 18, 2010 at 11:21 am #

    Who cares about a National Park Service, one word “boring”! Bring shopping, restaurants bars and an entertainment district period.

  11. Chris Smith November 18, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    @Jesse

    I don’t speak for Brian, but I’m not an across the board ideologue like the local glibertarians. Sometimes, a market based approach is warranted, other times community driven dialog works best and sometimes, a hierarchical decision matrix from the government works best.  Different projects require different approaches.

    I am someone who sees the best compromise between the warring factions, as a market-based approach in which Mark Goldman-esque form based zoning code is implemented to protect against abuses. The ECHDC can prep the area for business and use their funds/clout/connections to lure business to serve a community which will develop around the open space.

    If we don’t settle on a middle of the road approach, this open suggestion box of ideas will continue ad infinitum and resentments will only grow.  We need to make progress and opening something to the market in a regulated manner is just the right amount of incremental progress that will make everyone happy enough.  Compromise means that neither party gets everything they want, right?

  12. JohnnyWalker November 18, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    Divert some of that money earmarked for Bass Pro. Use it to accelerate the rehabbing of Main St. in the downtown core. What a pathetic, sad, desolate eyesore.

  13. al l November 18, 2010 at 11:49 am #

    I kinda think shopping is boring. Actually, it boarders on torture to me. But that doesnt mean it should be precluded, primarily since they are not mutually exclusive of one or the other.

  14. Mark Poloncarz November 18, 2010 at 11:55 am #

    Nice job on describing a common sense approach. I support underground parking, especially in that area. Why waste perfectly good downtown land (i.e. rentable/parkland) with above ground parking.
    And I have to disagree with Buffalo Girl as I believe bringing aboard the National Parks Service would make good sense, no matter the limited nature of its involvement. Having the NPS involved would open up the project to other funding sources and I personally know quite a few people who like to travel to National Parks. Even if the park was limited to the immediate commercial slip area and adjacent restored street, it would add a factor that this area is sorely lacking – the distinction of having a national park.
    Shops, restaurants, bars and entertainment districts only pop up where people want to go. You cannot fabricate an entertainment scene, people either want to be there or they don’t. Take the Cleveland Flats as an example. It used to be the example of how an entertainment district could help propel a city forward. Unfortunately, due to a number of circumstances that no one could control, its popularity dropped and now is a shell of itself. Give people a reason to come (I think in some sense it is already there with the Erie Basin Marina, Servicemen’s Park, Commercial Slip, & HSBC Arena which is a pretty impressive starting point) and they will come, and that’s when the entertainment function will grow.

    • Christopher Smith November 18, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

      Has the National Park Service been an overall plus or minus in Niagara Falls, NY? What lessons can be learned from Niagara Falls on how to limit or increase scope in order to best utilize the NPS in Buffalo?

  15. Brian Castner November 18, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    @ Jesse – Since the 50 year hands-off, free-market approach to that plot of land has yielded a gravel lot, I advocate for government provided investment in the form of infrastructure projects (canals, etc), direct grants (museums, etc), commercial incentives (for the retail) and developer hand outs (evil Benderson gets a slice). Oh, and I say use the new building code and not the old one. Everything I know about local libertarian views is that all of those things are bad.

  16. Andrew Kulyk November 18, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    Gents all three of you have framed some excellent recommendations and points and WNYMedia has consistently been a good steward and advocate for the buildout of the harbors.

    But the underlying problem here is there is an increasingly shrill and obstinant pushback from a noisy minority of allegedly do-gooder obstructionists, who want to see NOTHING happen. They demonize the ECHDC commissioners like they are villains, make up buzzwords like “faux canals”, as if replicating the ambience and energy of what they have in places like San Antonio, Ottawa or Oklahoma City would somehow be a bad thing. Regrettably, they have captured the top of the hill in the PR war. They have Osmonde pontificating in the News twice a week, they have this coalition of 40 faith based groups that they claim speak for all of us. The possible result will be inertia, failure, and windswept barren lots and a muddy hole in the ground for as far in the future as we can see.

    I’ve seen this all before. Back in 1988 I took my seat as a rookie Councilman in Cheektowaga, and a developer named Pyramid was at our doorstep, laying out a vision and plans for a state of the art, 1.2-million square foot shopping mall to be built in the heart of Cheektowaga. I was excited. Not only would the Town benefit from claiming the epcienter of retail vitality for this region, but it would change the image of our little corner of the world from taverns, bowling alleys and kiszka into something special and dynamic.

    The pushback from a small sector of the community was immediate, and it was fierce. Just like the names “Tielman, Fisher, Goldman” roll of the tongue today, the names “Giese, Regent, Isbrandt, Nader” were the leaders of the anti mall crowd then. Today’s “Coalition of 40- Faith Based Groups” was then named “Citizens Task Force Opposed To Another Mall.” These people stirred up the masses with their predictions of Biblical flooding, of traffic snarls, environmental cataclysms, of financial catastrophe to the town’s two other shopping centers (Thruway Mall and Appletree Mall, both since remade into prosperous commercial centers) children’s teeth rotting from buying sweets at the mall’s food court, planes crashing into the crowded mall as they approach the airport runway on a dark and rainy night. The public hearings were rancorous, sign waving crowds of “no no no”. And yes, there were threats of violence put forth towards any public official who dared to stem the tide and offer reasonable words of support for the project.

    The difference between then and now is that you had a well heeled and deep pocketed developer (Pyramid), who had withstood this same sort of avalanche of naysayers in other venues. They were able to get this done. In the case of Canalside, there is a vacuum in terms of the private sector developer with the wherewithal to make the vision happen. So if this is going to happen, we need government ( a la Higgins and a guy like Kennedy providing the Federal/State one-two punch) to say damn the torpedoes and get the bridges built, the canals installed, the other infrastructure improvements and use their mojo to attract the private sector interest.

    Make no mistake though, this cabal of “no” will be fighting, obfuscating and obstructing every step of the way. If we are to see anything good happen in our lifetimes, sadly we will have to battle our very own fellow citizens to get it done. But the end result was we got it done in Cheektowaga. The freaks and macadamias disappeared into their spider holes and out came the throngs of shoppers and visitors from Canada and spinoff development which have helped the town prosper. As a new downtown resident who has made a sizable investment in buying a home here, fingers crossed that reason and broad, dynamic vision vanquishes the haters and the crazies,

  17. Brian Castner November 18, 2010 at 12:47 pm #

    NF, NY has a state park, not a national one. And I would argue that it is a cautionary tale, as programs and funding is at Albany’s whim, not Washington’s.

    • Christopher Smith November 18, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

      Gotcha, for some reason, I thought it was a national park. Looks like Al addressed my confusion. BTW, why isn’t NF a national park? Seems like it should be.

  18. al l November 18, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

    Chris –

    Niagara Falls is a bit different as a heritage corridor (like the length of the Erie Canal). It has no visitor center, nor does it have a much of an on site presence in the daily operations. Most of the management falls on NYS. For more on Heritage areas see: http://www.nps.gov/history/heritageareas/NHA%20brochure%20WEB.pdf

    NPS administered sites – historic ones in this case – operate a bit differently. Generally, they have visitors centers with museums/exhibits, interpretive programs, etc. Generally, they have a presence at the site year round.

  19. BobbyCat November 18, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

    This isn’t a zero sum game. The thing that kills these projects is the tribalism and name calling. The “us vs them” mentality is deadly. It’s not necessary to trash the other guys idea and promote yours. The labels are counter-productive. “Obstructionists”, “gliber-tarians”, et.al. It’s a short walk from there to “libs vs cons”. Enough.

    Re-read the Pononcarz comment. He begins with compliments and good fellowship. No name-calling. He welcomes your ideas (even if they smell like a flattened skunk). That’s the way to find consensus.

    My guess is that most ideas will be lame. Thanks for your imput but… no, we’ve seen enough water parks, maritime museums and Grover Cleveland memorials. Many ideas will be ok, but still cliches. Maybe one or two gems will be found in the rubble, or maybe none. On the other hand, lots of architects can design a building or a bridge, but only only a handful can give you a spectacular design. Sometimes a mundane ideas can be spectacularly implemented. A few simple notes put in the right order can produce a masterpiece.

    It has been proven over and over that most committees throw away the worst ideas but also the best ideas and compromise on something that nobody loves and nobody hates. And voila, you have oatmeal.

    Remember that the best inventions in history have always been scorned, initially. Then we wonder how we did without it.

  20. Brian Castner November 18, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

    @ Chris: Because its the oldest state park in the country and we want to keep it that way? Because we never asked the NPS to take it over? Because we like local control? Because we like political footballs? Because this is NY and we do everything different? I don’t know. But when you look at a national map of the NP system, there are two glaring holes in NY – Niagara Falls and the Adirondacks.

  21. Christopher Smith November 18, 2010 at 2:04 pm #

    Hey BobbyCat, what’s wrong with the compromise of essentially building nothing but a nice, properly zoned, commercially ready open space?  Then, if the market supports the ideas put forward by either group, the best idea wins.

  22. Christopher Smith November 18, 2010 at 2:05 pm #

    @Brian, I guess I never gave it much thought (as I generally ignore Niagara Falls), but you are absolutely right, Niagara Falls is a glaring omission from the NPS.

  23. eliz. November 18, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    You’d have to ask Frederick Law Olmsted. He and some more enlightened NYS officials led the Free Niagara movement to make it a state park, America’s first, in the 1880s. Maybe it was because he had NYS people as his allies.  Olmsted was successful in getting Yellowstone made the first national park at around the same time. 

  24. BobbyCat November 18, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    @ChrisSmith

    If there is money on the table and if there is a good idea, spend it while its available. I don’t think the free market will solve all problems. Sometimes government is needed to bail out a sinking ship, and Buffalo’s ship of state probably qualifies. Take the money and run. Build something. I’m partial to skating rinks – which are nearly vacant lots – but WTF do I know?

  25. Gabe November 18, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

    I generally agree with the prescriptions of Brian, Chris and Alan. Let’s keep it simple. Zone it, code it, park(ing) it, cobble it and build a few key public “anchors” like skating rinks and a festival market. If it turns out to be a place people actually want to hang out then the market will eventually do the rest.

    Though I do take a slight issue with this statement Chris makes:

    “Last time we tried “development” in a similar manner, we got the historic waterfront of the late 19th century everyone pines for today. Maybe we should try it again. I encourage you to post your ideas here and we will submit them with our statements or send your support for this “zone it and get out of the way” plan to the ECHDC.”

    No, we got that waterfront then because there were real, practical reasons for it to exist. Ships needed somewhere to dock and unload their goods.The sultry canal town was built up to accommodate and accessorize that economic activity. These days practically everything is shipped by rail and truck. Warehouses and logistical infrastructure can exist in the middle of nowhere (i.e. not dependent on water transportation nodes) Our waterfront has no practical economic function anymore.

    This whole redevelopment effort is based around the idea of creating a cultural monument that can rechannel discretionary commerce from a contextless, placeless spread into a centralized, culturally-meaningful organism that will do the region more good than harm in the long run. THAT is why we should be supporting a common-sense plan that respects the waterfront’s historical context and can actually get built according to economic realities.

    • Christopher Smith November 18, 2010 at 4:40 pm #

      If we can get Gabe “The WNYM Pinko” on board with our free market plan, anything can be accomplished.

  26. Leo Wilson November 18, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    I’d propose that, canalside or along the harbor, someone put up a 20×36 building with a bathroom, some phones, a couple of desks and a counter with scales and cameras. Couple that with a decent PR firm and some seed money for purses and start fishing tounaments for different types of fish at different times of the year. From walleyes to sturgeon, muskies to bass, trout to coho, in spring, summer, fall and winter, we could attract thousands of fisherman all year long. Those fishermen bring their families, rent hotel and motel space, take them to eat and shop (if there’s anywhere to shop!). Anything that BP said they could do, we can do better as a community without them. The competitors fish where the purses are, and pay entrance fees that would allow the tournaments to pay for themselves after boosting their startup. This is the kind of thing that should compliment other plans and provide a steady stream of outside money coming into our community to help those other plans succeed. It might even boost a local power base, the illegal sports gambling community.

  27. BobbyCat November 18, 2010 at 7:49 pm #

    Leo is right. Fishing tournaments need an HQ building where they weigh fish, give instructions/briefings etc.. I would think that the small boat harbor would be that place, but if you want more traffic, a few tournaments per year, why not? How many boats can the river handle? Is there enough docking in the immediate area? ‘South Towns Walleye’ could answer those questions.

  28. Mike In WNY November 18, 2010 at 11:21 pm #

    Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate;

  29. Leo Wilson November 19, 2010 at 7:34 am #

    Mike – its necessary until someone claims the idea as their own and actually gets the simplest thing done 🙂

  30. lefty November 19, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    I think everyone could come to an agreement on the “zone it, code it, park it, cobble it and build it” slow and steady model except for politicians. The reason is they can not sell it.

    What kind of press conference can you have to display a new curb and cobblestone street? Maybe a nice backdrop of 20ftx20ft print of the zones and codes, with the caption; it’s not sexy but it’s smart.

  31. BobbyCat November 19, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

    @Lefty

    You can sell it with some smart marketing. Find a historian/demographer to calculate/estimate how many current Americans can trace their ancestors as coming through the Erie Canal on their way west. Let’s say it’s about 50 million. They your advertising could say to 50 million Americans: ” In 1825, your ancestors stood on this wharf, on this canal, facing a perilous voyage across a savage Lake Erie and beyond, on their way west. Come and see where your family started their courageous journey.”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Canal Side: Joint Recommendations « WNYMedia.net - November 18, 2010

    […] recommendations for what should happen to Canal Side now that Bass Pro is long gone for the Yukon. You can read it here. Alan Bedenko posted this on November 18, 2010 at 8:35 […]

Contribute To The Conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: