Dear Governor Cuomo,
I am writing because I believe it’s not too late. Current news stories have shown the position NYS is assuming regarding ‘pushing through’ development without listening to the people the development affects. There is time to do it right.
The fact that no new bridge has been built, no new plaza exists at the Buffalo location is extremely relevant. The people of Buffalo have been subject to changes in transportation with dramatic and destructive effect on our economy, lifestyles and community. None of those changes were ‘the fault of’ the people who live here; we have remained despite the changes that changed our city. Clearly, mass transit, fuel source, rail, ships, trucking industry changes were not controlled by locals.
We have watched as industries transitioned- and stood back with no input; here, now, our voices must be heard; our input must be recognized. Your advisers have been telling you differently. They are wrong. We must be heard- recognized- and actions reflecting our interests taken; doing that will be a feather in your cap as a leader, for future greatness; to not listen would have the opposite effect.In the case of Bridge expansion, Customs plaza expansion, a simple and objective view is easy to take; it’s a no-brainer.You have pledged massive monies and commitment to rejuvenate the Buffalo waterfront; yet to increase trucks, fumes, industrial effects into the waterfront has the reverse effect, opposite to your development efforts and investment. You wouldn’t build a park; then allow tractor trailers to drive through it, would you? You wouldn’t build a park, and have waste treatment flow through it would you? Yet- this is what we have here in western New york, in several parks.
These absurd facts exist; each and every time, those effects have been brought about NOT by the people who will use the parks, or waterfront; by individuals in positions of power who have had personal gain; at the collective loss of the people who are being served. The public who have elected you to make a difference in their lives.Merely seeing SOMETHING happen is not enough; the results of what happens maters even more.Here, the people who invest their assets and futures into the Peace bridge area of Buffalo have had their neighborhoods decline severely; merely as result of no actions being taken; homes bought up and allowed to decay; the community has suffered; property values declined; all as result of the GOOD intentions to make things better. Now, those historic homes and amazing church stand to be torn down for an expansion NO ONE would believe is a good thing; to make a bigger NON-TAX store, to sell cigarettes and alcohol? Where the public will not gain anyway? ABSURD.Increasing truck traffic at the mouth of the Niagara river; a setting with a gorgeous view of a Great Lake; fresh water flowing like nowhere else on earth; makes no sense at all. Maybe it did when America was young, with no expectations of effects of pollution; no bearing of health costs by the public; no responsibility for acts of industry as the public suffered. Today is different; we are informed; we have knowledge of outcomes, and responsibilities for actions and for development of what must be good for the people you serve. Truck fumes are bad. Poisoning the earth and cracking the sub-structure to get fuel is bad; we are no longer naïve. We know what’s bad, and we must avoid those who tell us it’s OK, just so they can personally gain.
Above all YOU must avoid them; and you are their target; as you have power to be their hands; to enact their will.Having said this, and looking at the situation with open eyes, ears and heart, what is the future you would want to be remembered for creating? I would suggest that future can be the renewed western region of your state. You’ve already shown you want that, with supporting assets to be spent on developing the wonderful waterfront here; which, unfortunately was polluted, cut off from public and now must be reclaimed; nonetheless, it can be done, and have a future to attract a future.The terminal point of the waterfront would naturally include a historic masterpiece, that no contemporary architect would have the funding, sources or aesthetics to create- the building is the result of massive investment in the heyday of the Pan-American Exposition, 1902, the Lackawanna Steel Company office building.
It is a marvel in anyone’s eyes; all too often those lacking vision see the ‘costs’ to restore, instead of the asset the building represents. You are a man with vision; seeing the waterfront you developed with windmills and a Historic Landmark at one end, and an Olmsted Park at the other is brilliant. Then add to that picture, huge trucks blowing pollution into the air and the noise they make driving through a park that represents the gateway to our COUNTRY? Absurd.The big picture for the future of western New York is the one that should be embraced for the future of the whole country. Do right by us here; it will be believed you will do right everywhere.We have stood back, seen as whiners; as our lives have been controlled by those in power for their own interests and gain, away and languish in our demise. Now we are joining to make the differences that will direct our futures, in the roles that were set for us to do so.
On a solution for trucking, here some quick suggestions of the issues and potential resolve:
1. Trucks are loud, noisy, industrial/commercial and polluting, not suitable for public places.
Answer: Design and build areas for trucks to have the least possible impact on communities. They are not stopping here in Buffalo, only passing through. Let them do that without impacting us here. There is a long border across the Niagara river to build a bridge; in no way is buffalo served by passing these transporting devices through our living rooms. Therefore, build a new bridge; efficiently, industrially, at lower cost, purely to allow trucks to pass. No passenger cars. Simple; efficient; no hassles; no repercussions from health issues and no whining public. Issue solved.
2. Trucks conceal their cargo. Homeland Security is NOT well served by allowing commercial vehicle to pass across a bridge the public shares with them. Bombs, chemical warfare; any number of toxic agents could be disseminated onto the bridge, the communities, and worst, the fresh water supply of the Northeast of America, as a truck dumps its load.
Answer: Design and build customs plazas with NO space restrictions; where a massive plaza allows easy turning, placement for inspections, detainment; BEFORE the trucks are allowed to cross the bridge. Another no-brainer. Given the statistics of trade goods entering vs. leaving the US, many more trucks wit cargo come in than go out. Therefore, logic places the larger facility on the Canadian side of the border. Canada, wanting trade with the US; and wanting to be part of increased trade transport should be willing to accommodate us in that request.
3. A world-class, Historic Landmark building has sat for thirty years decaying with no hope or purpose for the future. Despite sitting vacant, it has stood the test of time, and remained intact. Restoring the glory of the building will restore the glory of western New York; and the stature of the EMPIRE STATE. Ensuring that planners include the Steel building in the waterfront development is another no-brainer; yet difficult to see by many lacking vision.Please consider the points presented here; I write you as a local man, who has contributed to the area; for Tapecon, Inc. and Xerox indirectly, as their Process Improvement Director I designed two cleanroom facilities in the Larkin District, 701 Seneca building; valued at $1.1M and $350k, they represent investment into futures in an otherwise dead building; as you know, Larkin is now a success story, Tapecon is too- our waterfront can be as well. The waterfront MUST include all the area, from the windmills of Lackawanna to the Niagara River. To think anything less would be to lack vision. Mr. Cuomo, you do not lack vision.I thank you for taking the time to read this, and hope you will take actions that reflect these thoughts.
William A. Maecker, Silver Creek, NY