War and Peace Bridge
The alternate reality of segmentation
After a period of turmoil and uncertainty, the powers of New York State, Canada and the Public Bridge Authority have aligned with renewed purpose to implement a series of separate but dependent maneuvers designed, it appears, to create one big whole: the grand design for Peace Bridge Plaza Expansion–but without the messy adherence to regulatory protocol that had denied past expansion attempts.
The New York State Department of Transportation proceeds with its shadowy Gateway Improvement project, while the Peace Bridge Understanding document brings not only harmony to the Bridge Authority board but also restarts previously authorized plaza improvement, and The Empire State Development Corporation swoops in to secure the abandoned Episcopal Church Home for future consideration.
Will it all play out according to “plan”?
But, of course, there is no plan.
Or is there?
Peace, Love and Peace Bridge Understanding
Hostilities ended with the announcement of a Peace Bridge Understanding. This document (read it here), outlines the path to ‘progress’. According to the Understanding:
In general, the participants will proceed with three independent and distinct project areas immediately and simultaneously:…US Plaza widening; the pre-inspection pilot; and US Plaza improvement…
If all the pieces fall into place as ‘understood’, the New York State DOT Gateway Ramp Project shall proceed on and expedited basis.
In addition, Empire State Development [ESD] shall proceed with the acquisition of the ECH [Episcopal Church Home] property to remove blight from the area. Thanks! And incidentally, ESD has completed the environmental review [in secret?].
The plot thickens as PBA and NYS will cooperate on the purchase of Busti Avenue by New York State for the purpose of creating a neighborhood buffer and [are you ready for this?] potential other uses subject to further planning. Any guesses on these ‘future plans’?
Blight Made Right
State purchases former Episcopal Church Home
True to their word, the State quickly closed on purchase of the Episcopal Church Home (read all about it here). Everywhere else in the city former nursing homes are converted into highly desirable luxury housing, but here the only use even hinted at for this property is a Duty-Free store. And although a review by the State Comptroller found “that necessary state guidelines for property purchase had not been properly followed,” the Comptroller let them slide after ESD agreed to “adhere to proper reporting guidelines in the future.” that’s like the Buffalo Bills telling O. J. Simpson, “You kill one more person, and we’re taking your name off the Wall of Fame.”
Things to Come?
And so the deals are struck and the wheels are in motion. All the officials are back to their practice of obfuscation, cherry-picking seedlings of fact and replanting them to grow an alternate reality–one that will trample the West Side under the steady stream of diesel traffic.
Is it all ‘water under the bridge’ now?
(Photo credit: Brendan Bannon)