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Originally published in the Buffalo News by  Natasha Soto of the Clean Air Coalition

Hoyt owes the residents of West Side an apology

Last month, the Peace Bridge Authority was allowed to go ahead and demolish eight homes on Busti Avenue, and in fewer than 12 hours the homes were mere rubble. During the coverage of this momentous event, Chairman Sam Hoyt said that the authority is “going to send a message [that] you’re not entering a ghetto when you cross into the great City of Buffalo.”

Hoyt owes the residents of the West Side an apology. If the West Side is a “ghetto,” it is because the Bridge Authority has made it so. It has owned those eight homes on Busti for more than 20 years and let them deteriorate.

It has created uncertainty in our neighborhood – no one knows what will happen in our neighborhood because the authority has been talking about expansion for the past 20 years. Our neighborhood has been disinvested in because no one knew what the future would look like; our sidewalks are unwalkable, our streets are undrivable and our people are uninterested. Not to mention the consistent lack of inclusion by the authority of the residents who live adjacent to and surrounding the Peace Bridge. Because of the ambiguity and lack of transparency displayed by the authority Hoyt chairs, it is becoming far too easy, and far too common for my neighbors to throw their hands in the air.

This is not what a community should be like. Neighbors should talk to each other, they should care about each other and they should care for their community. If the West Side, our community, is a ghetto, it is because the authority that Hoyt chairs made it one – and we should get an apology for it.

Natasha Soto

Organizer, Clean Air Coalition

of Western New York