In this story, PBA: Responsibility to a Neighborhood, SKarnath writes, There is something ironic and satisfying in observing the hypocritical righteous indignation of a public authority called to task by the public.
The unfortunate truth is that no one really gets satisfaction from what’s going on in the Columbus Park – Prospect Hill neighborhood. There may be a small momentary pleasure in thinking that finally, the PBA is starting to look like what many have said they are, an unaccountable, bullying force with no regard for a community, a neighborhood or the individuals in it, but in the big picture it doesn’t help us as a community.
Allow me to editorialize as The Buffalo News did here, but from a much different point of view. The News says it doesn’t make any sense to save the houses on Busti. They say build the bridge. They ask, Can anyone see in this lunacy why New York is a governmental and economic wasteland?
I wonder, did the author of this piece get the head-lowered, through-the-eyebrows talk from Ron Rienas? I did, in a coffee shop one day for 2 1/2 hours. When Rienas got up and left, the man next to where I was sitting leaned over and said, “Oh my God. I’m so sorry you had to speak to that awful man.” I swear it.
I don’t find Rienas to be awful so much as I found it hard to later corroborate things he said to me. He asked why I or anyone would want to cut Buffalo out of millions and millions in trade. (Based on a 20 year old study with inflated projections?) He explained about the beautiful berms the PBA would build around the proposed truck plaza, which he doesn’t like called a truck plaza; it’s the Peace Bridge Project. (In lieu of an Olmsted Park and neighborhood?) He told me he had a ratified document that stated that the City of Buffalo had to tear the Busti Avenue houses down. The city inspector begged to differ.
The 3 people who had signed the 2004 Memorandum of Agreement that Rienas called a “ratified document” were PBA President Paul Koessler, Mayor Anthony Masiello and Councilman Nick Bonifacio – deceased, defunct and defunct in that order, as of now. Rienas sent an email the other day in which he chided me for the article linked above, saying my point of view was inaccurate and denying that he said the Busti Avenue homes had no historic significance. This is a matter of course when writing about what Rienas says. Much of what he says can’t be verified or is outdated, and he later denies the parts written from interview notes.
As for Inspector Comerford’s quote, Rienas wrote: I don’t blame Mr. Comerford for not answering your questions directly. Why take responsibility for a previous administration’s agreement?
Now there’s a good question, and it may even carry a little understanding with it. I had asked Rienas, when he said that the City of Buffalo hadn’t upheld their part of the bargain in tearing down the Busti Avenue homes – as he said they were obligated to do, according to his ratified doc – why the PBA didn’t take them to court, make them take the houses down. “Well,” he answered, “we want to be good neighbors.”
So he says the houses are unfixable, but the truth is that they got that way under the PBA stewardship. A good neighbor would want to rectify a wrong to the neighborhood’s satisfaction.
Speaking of neighbors, Barbara Battista is one unhappy Prospect Hill resident. She lives near the rotting PBA owned houses on Busti, and she’s angry with the preservationists and neighbors who don’t want the houses down. Mind you, these are homes that the PBA bought in the mid 1990s – outside – of the footprint of any proposed PBA plaza project.
The purchase and subsequent neglect of the homes is what Kathy Mecca, a Columbus Park resident has referred to as engineered blight. It took a long time to let the houses turn in order to make them speak for their own destruction, but here we are. Who could blame Battista for not wanting to live next to the “rat-infested houses and fire traps”? The preservationist and neighbors and the rest of us who would like to see at least three of the houses saved don’t have Battista’s too-close-for-comfort vantage point. Still, the residents have different objectives; some want to stay in their homes, while some want to sell and get out of the sinking ship of a neighborhood – the hull of which took a cannon blast from the PBA when they purchased and subsequently neglected the Busti Avenue homes.
It’s quite the little hell in an area that was once a little bit of paradise with a killer view. Count the conundrums. The bridge, the houses, the community, the park, the stalling in every direction with the only visible progression being the damned rotting houses that no one wants the final demolition of on their own hands.
And no one, no one at all, has satisfactorily explained the benefit of moving trucks through our community. As for a new bridge – it has nothing to do with the destruction of a neighborhood for a truck plaza’s sake; the issues are separate.
So what is the task at hand? What’s left but to take stock and promise ourselves never again? Never do we allow an “authority” to call the shots in a most inequitable environment. Without shared borders, perhaps we should be making decisions, each to their own, about what happens on our respective sides until we can integrate. And what does the News know that we don’t about shared border management being dead?
It may be easy for the News to say the demolition needs to take place, but my guess is that most sane people are scratching their heads and wondering still, how we get out of this mess, and where are those who pledged to serve us?
Note: As an editorial, this post does not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other writers or the management of Buffalo Rising.