Campaign for Greater Buffalo v. Public Bridge Authority in Federal Court Today

The Campaign for Greater Buffalo will be heard in its fight
against the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority (PBA) in Federal
court today. The lawsuit will be heard by the Honorable Jeremiah McCarthy at
the new Federal Courthouse on Niagara Square, with opening arguments beginning
at 2 pm.

The lawsuit is an attempt by the Campaign to prevent the
demolition of a row of historic buildings along Busti Avenue that have been
threatened by the new massive Duty Free store planned. One of the properties
the Campaign is hoping to save is the Colonel Samuel Wilkeson house, which is a
designated city landmark and dates to the Civil War era. The long-term goal is
to prevent the demolition of Thorton Hall, the Hutchinson Chapel, and the
grounds of Episcopal Church Home, also a designated city landmark.

With an expanded plaza, the PBA would be able to accommodate
a large duty-free gas station like Detroit has done with the Ambassador Bridge.
Considering the amount of health problems related to the idling trucks that are
already present, the gas station would only exacerbate the situation. The U.S.
Customs Screening has recently been move to Fort Erie in an attempt to cut down
on the vehicular pollutants, but it is unclear if this will be permanent. The
PBA maintains that their land acquisition and demolition plan is to help the
neighborhood by creating a buffer zone.

During the proceedings the court will hear the Campaign’s
position that the PBA is subject to New York State law, as it was created under
NYS and Canadian statute and approved by Congress. As a result, the PBA must
prepare an environmental review for the proposed demolitions under the State
Environmental Review Act. The position of the PBA is that the organization is
not subject to these laws and does not need to gain permission for the
demolition of designated landmarks.

The Campaign is also seeking preliminary and permanent
injunctions against the demolitions along Busti Avenue.

About the author  ⁄ david steele

74 comments
whatever
whatever

In this thread's 2nd comment from top, Resurrection said the main house with historic significance looks not able to be moved because a section of it is in near collapse.

Up and coming
Up and coming

Also, I was reading an article the other day about false build environment. It was talking about how some placed are building areas to look old, but they just end up looking like crappy fake new builds. I hope this isn't the destiny for Canalside?

Pegger
Pegger

I stil say these buildings need to be moved to Canalside to make it more authentic as part of a destination scheme.

whatever
whatever

ricciazzi>"You're asserting that we can't change anything "

No, you're again showing very poor, imprecise reading skills.

Matthew.Ricchiazzi
Matthew.Ricchiazzi

Republican is not the same as Tea Party.

Jane Jacobs = Tea Party

Robert Moses = Democrat machine/ Republican placeholder candidate for NY governor

Makes perfect sense to me.

saltecks
saltecks

'She had no time for ideology ... and felt that many who invoke her name “cherry-pick ideas to suit their purposes.

Matthew.Ricchiazzi
Matthew.Ricchiazzi

Regardless, I would still assert that we should push for proactive policy changes that mitigate environmental, public health, and negative economic impacts on the city of Buffalo.

You're asserting that we can't change anything, so we should sit down and shut up.

That's really counterproductive logic.

Matthew.Ricchiazzi
Matthew.Ricchiazzi

I'm familiar with the quote. It's ironic, because her most lauded publication, "The Death and Life of Great American Cities", was a deeply reactionary text in its posture and tone -- a scathing criticism of prevailing big-government top-down central planning. Libertarians have branded her work "market urbanism". She supported privatization of utilities, frowned on subsidies, and loathed government intrusion. And her 1992 book, Systems of Survival, was largely libertarian political theory.

But she's eminently pragmatic and refuses to be a purist, which you've got to respect. In 2001, Reason (a libertarian publication), named her one of "35 Heros of Freedom".

http://reason.com/archives/2001/06/01/city-views

Clearly, her publications on economics (Cities and the Wealth of Nations 1984; The Economy of Cities 1969) were boldly capitalist articulations of expansion as an economic process.

whatever
whatever

Agree about entertainment, and contradictions/irony that a different (or maybe some overlap?) set of urban progressives for how long advocated for a 6-lane 'signature' bridge…

But about plaza project funding, won't it be funded by user fees, a.k.a. tolls & rents?

real>"huge taxpayer funded mega-project"

Higgy said user fees, not general taxes...

http://higgins.house.gov/archive/newsroom_ARTICLE3116_6985_PG_7.shtml

"The construction of the new bridge and plaza will be financed by bonds issued by the Public Bridge Authority (PBA). The bonds will be financed by PBA revenues from tolls collected from users and from rent from various tenants, including CBP, as a significant component of the Peace Bridge project is for new facilities for CPB."

If that isn't how they're doing it, they should go back to an approach of exclusively user fees. Then people opposed can just not use it.

whatever
whatever

The Niagara Bridge Commission is appointed in the same way as the PBA.

Both boards are binational 50/50 proxies for the policy wishes of Cuomo and Ontario's Premier.

Members of both will obey their bosses the gov and premier, or will be replaced by people who will.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niagara_Falls_Bridge_Commission

"The Board of Commissioners has eight members, four appointed by the Ontario Premier and four by the Governor of New York State.

The authority is a class D New York State public benefit corporation, and a bi-national agency."

saltecks
saltecks

When Jane Jacobs was asked about the tendency of some people to describe her as a libertarian Jacobs commented:

I'm highly in favor of helping the poor and of giving everybody as good an education as they want and can use — not what they can pay for. I think health care, not tied to money, is terribly important. … But as for not wanting to help the poor or saying "let everyone stand on their own feet," no, I don't believe that at all.

grad94
grad94

so we agree: he didn't want to end racial segregation, he wanted to perpetuate it.

LouisTully
LouisTully

This Richiazzi cat is about as tolerable as the NHL and NHLPA.

Matthew.Ricchiazzi
Matthew.Ricchiazzi

I don't care about the make up of the PBA's Board. We need to eliminate the authority and transfer the bridge to the niagara bridge commission.

Let's start getting rid of these redundant and excessive machinations of government. Moynihan proposed eliminating the PBA in the 1990s. Let's get it done already.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

Matthew is correct, the elections were not a referendum on the Peace Bridge Plaza, few outside the immediate neighborhood are aware of the real and documented health threat posed by the fine particulate generated at the Peace Bridge. Ignorance is bliss as they say and most of the electorate including those in North Buffalo, Black Rock, and the rest of the West Side are unaware of the impact this diesel exhaust hot spot has on their immediate and long term health.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

Moses was indeed a Republican, he embodied the elitism, racism, sexism, classism, and arrogance that continues to define much of the party today.

"Realist"
"Realist"

I ordinarily get a kick out of the contradictions that come from these BRO Peace Bridge articles. Some of the usually "conservative" commenters turn and run from their principals and embrace a huge taxpayer funded mega-project that tramples private property rights.

What's even better about this article is the nasty rift that has erupted between two factions of self styled conservatives. On one hand, you have the the Robert Mosesian side led by whatever and his toadie Upandcoming/BurchJp/kangdangalang,championing a project that they would certainly embody "government excess and overreach" if it didn't result in demoed homes and continued subsidized car culture.

On the other, the (I dare not associate them with Jacobs as Salt' pointed out she wouldn't approve of their class-ism and union bashing) Richadazzi-Christylou faction making a surprisingly principled argument against the obvious waste of the PB, and support of the non-"week willed" people of the PB neighborhood.

Who's right? Who cares. I'm just enjoying the battle.

whatever
whatever

Nope, I'm not saying this at all -

ricc>"you're making the point that we should have no ability to positively influence policy outcomes in favor of the city?"

I'm saying (1) the Ricchiazzi definitions of which is the 'positively' side of any issue is your opinion not always shared by majorities, and (2) the ability to influence is of course available to you to try as a citizen, just like for those who disagree with you. I pointed out some contexts of the PB issue.

ricc>You're point makes no sense. I'm the bad guy for…"

No, your reading skills are off.

I never said or implied that you're a bad guy. I've no idea on that. It doesn't matter. I disagreed with your arguments.

ricc>If the Canadians don't like it, tough sh*t."

Again, this returns to the q I asked you yesterday:

me>"Tell us - even if we momentarily ignore the opposition on this side of the border to a PB cargo trucking ban - how would you suggest unilaterally forcing that change onto Canada & Ontario against their will?"

As my link a few minutes ago showed, the PBA is binational by a US-Canada agreement long ago, with 50% appointed each by NYS govt and Canada/Ontario.

Even if you can convince the whole NYS govt side of this to agree with you against nonlocal trucking on the PB (which btw would be very difficult), that would still be only 50%.

How would you suggest forcing your "tough sh*t" viewpoint onto the other 50%?

whatever
whatever

Excuses. Not good ones either.

Sounds no better than some people who make excuses why Obama won.

Matthew.Ricchiazzi
Matthew.Ricchiazzi

None of those elections were referendums on the peace bridge issue -- and the public hasn't been fairly informed about the health impacts of the bridge, and the PBA's logic has not been critically questioned in any meaningful regional discourse.

Matthew.Ricchiazzi
Matthew.Ricchiazzi

So, you're making the point that we should have no ability to positively influence policy outcomes in favor of the city? That seems antithetical to the purpose and intent of our democracy.

The PBA, as an institution, isn't worth respecting. We should be talking about consolidating the PBA with the Niagara Bridge Commission, not respecting the unnecessary and duplicative machination of government.

You're point makes no sense. I'm the bad guy for wanting to develop a pricing system that mitigates cancer impacts on the most densely populated part of the region?

If the Canadians don't like it, tough sh*t. It's our city; our lungs; our neighborhoods; our quality of life. They can drive their trucks over the other damn bridge.

whatever
whatever

"Put government on the side of the people."

Sounds nice, but not all people agree with your side of issues - banning PB trucking, or spending crazy amounts to expand light rail here, or removing the 190, etc.

You no more speak for "the people" than I do, or anyone does.

Imperfect as they are, we have things called elections by which the people choose who decides these issues.

For example as I mentioned, your side of the "oppose Peace Bridge plaza expansion and ban nonlocal trucking on the Peace Bridge" issue had candidates on the ballot this past Fall for both the assembly and state senate in districts that include the Peace Bridge neighborhood. Both lost very badly - Mascia & Coppola.

If the voters had elected those 2, or even 1, or even if it was a close defeat, it could've been a small start in the direction you advocate. Instead, voters chose Ryan & Grisanti, both who strongly support expanding the PB plaza and continuing trucking over the PB as currently allowed.

whatever
whatever

ricchiazzi>"toll trucks at the Peace Bridge at a rate 3x the toll at Lewiston"

Again, the PB is a binational bridge. That's why the PBA board who sets tolls is half appointed by Canadians and half by NY state's govt.

What's any evidence that Canada/Ontario doesn't _want_ the current amount of nonlocal trucking over the PB?

Some people in NYS/WNY/Buffalo want that too - but even if we ignore that for now and pretend there's American consensus agreeing with you (which there isn't), that wouldn't be a majority on the binational PBA.

Even with all 5 American votes for tripling the truck tolls, which I doubt you'd even get, that would be a 5-5 stalemate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_and_Fort_Erie_Public_Bridge_Authority

"The authority is a New York State public benefit corporation as well as an Ontario Crown Corporation, and a bi-national agency.

...

The Bridge Authority is led by a 10 member board with 50-50 split of US and Canadian members.

Of the five US members, two are appointed by the Governor with confirmation by the State Senate. The remainder members are representatives of various state or local agencies:

New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner

Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Chairman

New York State Attorney General Office.

All five of the Canadian members are appointed by the Governor-in-Council as per recommendation by the Ontario Minister of Transportation. ..."

whatever
whatever

Buffres - thanks for clarifying it wouldn't be residential, but aren't those alternatives impractical too?

The PBA is unrelated to Border Patrol or Customs - those are federal agencies who'd demand to have very modern customized buildings, even for 'auxiliary' official facilities. That idea sounds like a non-starter.

Although having a welcome center near the PB could be an ok idea, for that use to be effective and law-compliant wouldn't the Wilkeson need so much modification that it would defeat the preservation goal anyway?

(for example - big bright signage, ADA disability access, etc.) ?

Since preserving the Wilkeson won't prevent plaza expansion and continued trucking, I'm not necessarily against it - but it just doesn't seem to me like there's a practical use for it related to the PBA. The idea of letting anybody move it using their own $ sounded fine, but your comment above says it's too unstable to be moved.

How about this as a compromise idea?

Some privately-funded group, individual, or business makes a serious public proposal to the PBA to take over the Wilkeson and do something with it? In exchange, the PBA (or NY state govt, same thing basically) then grants a long-term very low cost lease for the property and otherwise stays hands off about it - agreeing to provide reasonable car & pedestrian access to it?

Would any factions protesting against demo be willing to step forward with that kind of serious public offer?

If so, I'd think the PBA and NYS should consider it. But if the only demand is for the PBA/NYS themselves to do something with it, that might be unreasonable.

JSmith
JSmith

Robert Moses was a Republican, and ran for governor of New York in 1934 on the Republican ticket (losing by a landslide).

Yes, he was close to Democrats like Al Smith, but that is because he was extremely savvy at working with anyone who held the keys to the power he needed to achieve his goals.

Matthew.Ricchiazzi
Matthew.Ricchiazzi

Certainly it was a different time and she was in a particularly urbane context, but relative to the power structure of her day, I see a lot of libertarian anti-war, anti-government Ron Paul parallels.

Obviously, they don't see themselves in the same narrative, but on the pendulum swing between anarchy and tyranny that has defined the long arch of western civilization, she was a reactionary to government over reach and an excessive centralization of power.

saltecks
saltecks

Jane Jacobs Tea Party? Your kidding putting those two names in close proximity to each other. She was pro union , against the Vietnam War and marched on the Pentagon.

saltecks
saltecks

And what makes you think you know how to play the game?

Matthew.Ricchiazzi
Matthew.Ricchiazzi

Robert Moses was a card carrying member of the Democrat machine -- one of the most powerful Democrats in America at the time. He was Governor Al Smith's right hand, and he spawned all of the state agencies and authorities that we're now stuck with.

And no, he was not motivated by banks and mortgage lenders. He wanted to be able to spend big money without having to get approval from the New York State Legislature. So, he created and led port authorities, transportation authorities, power authorities... all for the purpose of engaging in massive borrowing and spending, back door taxation, and no public accountability... all the while filling the machine's patronage troth.

Jane Jacobs was the Tea Party movement of her time, just like the preservation movement here in Buffalo. It's a reaction to big government over-reach, driven by elitist government officials who think they're smarter than the populace and business interests who are trying to get their hands in the public pot.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

This reply was intended for the 12/17 12:24 pm comment on "mitigating the Peace Bridge impact".

Matthew.Ricchiazzi
Matthew.Ricchiazzi

You can't really extract Robert Moses from the New Dealer mentality in which he was immersed. Everything he did was an effort to affect society. He was motivated -- as the entire city politic was at the time -- by ethnic and racial territorialism. The suburbs were a deliberate spatial construct that has propagated socio-spatial segregation patterns for decades.

Black Rock Lifer
Black Rock Lifer

Of course Robert Moses was a Republican and in no way represented liberal interests. He was an elitist, racist, and power hungry, certainly more along the conservative line if anything.

As for the "failed 1960's liberal urban agenda", that is not accurate at all. The urban agenda that decimated our cities was of a conservative nature, all centered around the banks, mortgage brokers, home builders, highway builders, and businessmen eating at the public trough.

The 1960's "liberal agenda" did bring us Medicare, Medicaid, Voting Rights Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, Peace Corps, VISTA, Head Start, and immigration reform that removed quota's based on race. Can you provide a similar list of conservative achievements?, I seem to be drawing a blank in that area.

Finally Sarah Palin? your kidding right?, she can barely form a sentence let alone articulate a political philosophy.

grad94
grad94

actually, i don't think that robert moses had any desire or intention of solving social problems. he wanted to solve traffic problems and have highways that were the envy of the nation.

having said that, he never discovered the paradox of induced demand, namely that new capacity stimulates rather than reduces demand.

or as lewis mumford (i think) first put it, trying to reduce traffic congestion by adding lanes is like trying to fight obesity by letting out your belt.

Matthew.Ricchiazzi
Matthew.Ricchiazzi

See what I mean by uptight and touchy?

Don't hate the player, hate the game.

saltecks
saltecks

Actually, that was meant to be sarcasm. I don't believe your bi at all. Your right up their with so many conservatives who marry a beard and then use the the anti-gay schtick to get out the conservative vote. Your not BR's Limbaugh, your BR's Ken Mehlman , the closeted head of the RNC who ran the Bush re-election campaign. His fear tactics activated the religious right and at least a dozen states permanently encoded anti-gay legislation into their constitutions during that election. Now outed, he's trying to make amends. Too bad the damage is done.

Matthew.Ricchiazzi
Matthew.Ricchiazzi

I agree with the neighborhood: ban the trucks.

But as a compromise position, I would endorse paulsobo's proposal: toll trucks at the Peace Bridge at a rate 3x the toll at Lewiston.

That way, truckers will self mitigate their pollution by willingly crossing at Lewiston. That reduces truck traffic at the peace bridge without an outright ban. The polluters would be paying for their pollution, and new toll revenues can go to the neighborhood for improvements or to mitigate health and property impacts.

Matthew.Ricchiazzi
Matthew.Ricchiazzi

Finding the mailer "disgusting" is more homophobic than the mailer itself. There's nothing disgusting about it. The pictures were mild, soft, tender -- dare I say -- tame. Gay friends have found it hilarious. I understand that the gay community is often uptight and touchy, but you should really learn how to laugh -- it feels good.

That being said, in no way did I intent to offend prostitutes by comparing them to politicians. I'm sorry, ladies. You girls work hard for a living.

(even the village voice found it funny) http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/09/ny_pol_knocks_g.php

Matthew.Ricchiazzi
Matthew.Ricchiazzi

I wouldn't know how Rush gets his kicks. Live and let live -- it's called freedom.

Buffalo_Resurrection
Buffalo_Resurrection

No, of coarse not. I imagine 771 Busti as a stand alone structure renovated/restored into a welcome center for tourist entering the US via the Peace Bridge.

Perhaps even used as an auxilary office for boarder patrol or custom agents.

771 Busti's days as residential are long gone.

This one building may prevent the area from becoming a sea of asphalt.

saltecks
saltecks

Talk about living in LaLa land.

saltecks
saltecks

Is Rush Limbaugh bisexual too?

Travelrrr
Travelrrr

You are so full of #$$^ Matt. People found it disgusting, and you beyond low and pathetic for doing it.

PaulBuffalo
PaulBuffalo

It's an ideology as simple as the words of Governor Palin: "Put government on the side of the people."

Yep, that's pretty simple. (I'm getting a clearer picture of why you find ChristieLou brilliant.)

PaulBuffalo
PaulBuffalo

I dont know why. I catch alot of cr*p here for being a conservative republican....

ChristieLou, I couldn't agree more. I mean pointing out your racism, anti-semitism, and homophobia is one thing but how dare anyone get on your case for your conservative republican credentials.

P.S. Are you doing your anti-Merry Christmas campaign again this year? It was a hit on BRO last holiday season.

Matthew.Ricchiazzi
Matthew.Ricchiazzi

The elected officials that you mention are either statewide elected officials who don't take the time to delve into WNY policy issues because they are oriented towards NYC and only vaguely familiar with regional concerns (Cuomo, Schumer, Gilly).

Grisanti is a tool of Giambra, and they're both all about money. I don't know Ryan. I don't think Fontana and Rivera have the self confidence to talk to the Governor, let alone able to command a negotiating posture.

Voters have been poorly educated on this issue. The Buffalo News has been extraordinarily biased in its coverage of the PBA and their development schemes, and the media has long ignored the perspective of the residents and neighborhood.

I see the tide is turning though, and the media is becoming increasingly tolerant of criticisms of the PBA.

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