Hi (Bye) Mom! - Gambino Ford Closing

Posted by Anonymous

The Buffalo News is reporting that Gambino Ford on Rt 78 in the town of Lockport is closing.

Gambino Ford in the Town of Lockport is closing, under a program Ford Motor Co. is using to consolidate its dealer network. The dealership, located at 6157 S. Transit Road, will probably close its doors next week, owner Patrick Gambino said Tuesday. “The offer was on the table for any dealer in the metro [Buffalo] area to raise his hand,” Gambino said. “They’d like to close more.” However, Gambino said the Ford incentives to sell a dealership are now off the table. Other area Ford dealers bought out the Gambino dealership, Ford corporate spokeswoman Marisa Bradley said. The terms were not disclosed.

Mr. Gambino has taken a Ford buyout offer under its dealership consolidation plan. For example Ford has 4,000 dealerships to Toyota's 1,000. Sales profits spread around 4X the number of dealers make for weaker dealers overall. Especially in today's world of consolidation and high volume - low per piece profit. I always expected some other Ford dealer would go first, like the one up by 78 and 104 since Lockport is a more central location. But I also thought Gambino could be one of them since the # of vehicles in the lot had drastically reduced since the late 90's/early 00's.

Gambino was the first dealer I ever noticed to give little tag lines in their adds. "...Come on down. Hi mom." At least 10 years before Mr. Fucillo brought his "Huuuuuugggggggeeeeea" to this part of the state. I bought my first vehicle from Gambino back in 1998 and it was my first experience in Lockport (living in Lancaster at the time). Heading to a mountain bike ride I swung in to look at a vehicle in the used lot. That '97 F150 4x4 gave me 155k miles before I sold it due to gas prices and some parts starting to wear out. 5 days of price dickering gave me an OK deal for my first ever vehicle loan. I miss that truck ;)

UPDATE: 01-06-09

Ki-Po, which operated on the old Gambino used car lot next door had recently cleared the lot out. The Buffalo News is reporting that Ki=Po has not closed the location and will decide to either move used vehicle operations back there, or open a yet to be named new care dealership on the site. I'm curious what brand they wold be considering? I'm also curious if Toyota will end up buying the Gambino property to expand their lot size and use the new-in-2000 Ford service center building for their own.


Molson Canal Concert Series

Posted by Anonymous

(Image - Molson Canal Concert Series Security - Lockport NY Jun '08)
The LUSJ is giving the Molson Canal Concert Series #2 on its Top 10 of 2008 list. There were a few good threads on this topic on the LUSJ forums which have since reached their expiration date and are no longer around.
Initially there were many posting about grid lock and ticketing sprees due to lack of parking, drug dealers from the other side of the Harrison Complex taking over from the south, Urban Tower residents taking over from the north, among many other exaggerated pessimistic premonitions which all failed to come true.
I was there for the first show, Lou Gramm, and was initially concerned about the turnout until things really picked up by the time he went on as the main act. Two contributing factors I could see were Lockport being a rather unknown location and that the concerts were being held on a day when a majority of people work until 5pm. My initial feelings were the concert should have stuck to Sat evenings creating "day long" atmosphere possibilities and that the Moslon Concert Series website could have done more than showing a picture of a moving truck announcing a move to "unknown" Lockport. A picture or two of the venue could have gone a long way to initially selling the series here.
The Friday nights grew on me as the series went along. I've always enjoyed trips to Thursday in the Square in Buffalo but it always carried the downer of knowing that I had to return to work the next day. This series made for a very nice "Friday Night Happy Hour" experience. Being a 4 block walk from my house was a great bonus. As the series went on I noticed that 97 Rock would highlight the performer that night as their "Artist of the Day" and promote the show.
Through out the series I was amazed by the variety of people attending. Families with kids in strollers, kids on shoulders, teenage kids, the 20 somethings, middle agers, and the elderly were all present and any that I had the opportunity to strike a conversation with had nothing but good things to say. The police/security presence was always noticeable but never felt over bearing. Locating vendors one "long block" away over on Elm seemed to be too far to gather them a lot of traffic. If they could be found some space on Locust or the lot on the other side of it both the vendors and the concert goers would both make out. Subdelicious seemed to do very well located just across from the east entry next to the stage.
I was able to attend Lou Gramm, Nazareth, Riders on the Storm, REO Speedwagon, and Jeff Martin. Lou Gramm has lost a bit of his voice but the rest of shows had above average sound quality for an outdoor venue that was not designed for acoustics. The only show I could hear from home was the Riders show and it was only if I put my head out the window and focused on it.
I look forward to next summer's shows. This will be the second year of a three year agreement to host a minimum of 8 shows per summer. LUSJ reported that the Charlie Daniel's Band has been shown to be confirmed for the 14th of August. His website confirms this as of now. I'm not to familiar with most of his work but I shall see how good Devil Went Down to Georgia sounds live.
Overall I found it to be a very positive experience. And at a rough cost of $0.50 per resident per "free" show in city tax money, quite the entertainment value and promotional tool.
When industry boomed, thousands of people mulling around Main Street was an
everyday thing. Suffice to say, it’s been a while since “busy” and “downtown”
went into the same sentence routinely

This is way over simplified. Mass demolition urban "renewal" blunders, lack of regional planning, etc had a lot more to do with the massive decline of DT activity than the loss of some industry. There is also no reason it can not be planned back in and recreated if residents truly want to see it happen again. Those are topics for other days. ;)


Lockport Church Mergers

Posted by Anonymous

(Image - Transfiguration Church, Buffalo NY)

Back from the holiday break. I hope yours was as wonderful as mine was.

The LUSJ had the Lockport parish mergers as #3 of its 2008 top 10. I guess two issues emerge in my head during these church consolidations.

The first is the effect of forcing closures upon a parish, especially ones that show relative health and those that show a solid base of parishioners with the will and drive to be given an opportunity to build things back up. Upon various visits to churches on the east side of Buffalo I've met some of the most dedicated people I've ever met attempting to preserve not only structures but a history of the parishioners that came before them. The church would be better off helping these people, willing to give up their time and fight for a cause, to succeed instead of alienating them.

It would be nice to see the diocese itself give St. Mary's its own fate back with the growth they have shown instead of falling into "absolute" decision stances that have set the church back in the past. Why push aside 150 years of history? They are not running a gov't or corporation. There is no need for the church to become merger happy. Efforts would be better placed at keeping the church relevant in our society and our neighborhoods while keeping up with technology at connecting with people. Internet social sites, forums etc show the need for society to connect with each other is still there and largely suppressed in our day to day activities in faceless conglomo-land and household isolation.

The second is what to do with the buildings themselves. The image above is of the Church of the Transfiguration on Sycamore in Buffalo that was closed in 1993 and then subsequently sold. St Mathews on East Delavan is facing a similar slow death by decay after being sold to a smaller congregation that could not afford to upkeep it, then taken in foreclosure by the city of Buffalo and then sold at auction only to continue to sit there. St Gerrard's on Bailey is among others that are new to the ever growing list of magnificent old churches cast aside in the disposable society we have become. It appears that the diocese is still clueless on what to do with the ones in Lockport longer term too:

St. Joe’s has been retained as an oratory and citywide religious education
center. The disposition of the merged churches has not been decided. Nothing has
been sold, and St. Mary’s parish has been growing since the merger announcement
in 2007.

These structures are one-of-a-kind and unlikely to ever be constructed again. Just look at churches built in the last 30 years: is it a church? an office building? a store? If closure is the only option, the church needs to ensure these structures are able to be sold and reused in a capacity with minimal restrictions that allows them to be profitable in their new uses. Those who in the past put their heart and souls into building them in the past deserve nothing less.

I'll pre-emptively end my ranting here ;)

(Image - Flight of Five Detail)

Buffalo News had an Update on the Flight of Five project today.

“The stars are in misalignment. The stock market is in the tank, and the state budget is nowhere,” Welsby said. “Perhaps for that $1.8 million we can restore two complete locks. We can work our way up. In the meantime, we don’t give up our hunt for money.” The current investment woes hurt the availability of money for foundations, just as Flight of Five decision makers were planning a push to solicit grants from Erie County foundations. Toward that end, the city hired Full Circle Productions for 7,500 to produce a seven-minute promotional video, which was shown at Monday’s meeting.

This tiered approach makes sense to me. Even two locks would work well in defining the lower approach to the locks and showcasing how the older manual locks worked. I'd think locking through all 5 would be tedious and time consuming for a tourist anyways. This also puts off having to immediately deal with the flat concrete access bridge over the top lock.

I'll also try to see if it is possible to get a copy of the video or get a link to it if it ends up posted elsewhere. I'll have to ask later though since the delegation is of to Albany today:

The recommendation from Welsby’s engineering firm, Wendel Duchscherer, to limit the project comes as a city delegation drives to Albany today to meet with officials of the State Canal Corp. to try to settle a wide range of issues that have impeded the project, the city’s top tourism development priority.

The delegation includes Mayor Michael W. Tucker, Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano, City Treasurer Michael E. White, Welsby and David R. Kinyon, chairman of the Flight of Five Committee. One of the issues to be debated is a legal tangle over whether the city needs a long-term lease to gain access to the state property for the restoration work, or whether a short-term permit will do.

Original post here:Flight of Five 2011 Opening?


SPCA Winter Guidlines - Slow News Weekend

Posted by Anonymous

(Image - our mutt in holiday decor)

Slow news weekend so I'll bring up the LUSJ article on winter guidelines for pets.

No major revelations there except maybe:
Dog owners should never let dogs off their leashes on snow or ice, because dogs
can easily lose their scents and get lost during a snowstorm. They may panic and
run away, Chille said.

Prior to winter I did some Internet searching on this topic and came away with our new dog needed booties because walking her in the snow was similar to me walking barefoot in the snow next to her. Well 3 out of the 4 booties shown above were MIA within one block from the house on the first snow walk. We have since reverted back to no booties, but instead take much shorter walks than those in the warmer months. Looking back over my life, I can not recall one dog amongst family or friends that used booties. Guess I was suckered into being over protective? ;)

LUSJ Article

Buffalo News Article

Ulrich placed a final bid of $61,000 to eclipse the bids for individual pieces of the property. Thankfully this keeps the interior intact and holds out hope to try to lure a new operator in. City made out with $54,000 after auction fees.

With the net auction proceeds, the debt is down to about $321,000. Ottaviano said the city will seek a judgment against Calieri in court to try to go after any real property or businesses that are held in his name.

The Village Eatery is owned by Lockport Village Eatery Inc. “We’d have to find out who owns the shares of that corporation,” Ottaviano said. Calieri did not return a call seeking comment.

I figure the GDLC would have searched out who owns what etc to actually establish what is backing up the loans before giving them out.

Whatever may end up in there, I hope they have offer up a nice range of specialty drafts.

Original thread here: Default on Metropolitan Bar and Grill


Empty Main St? - Parking Garage Editorial

Posted by Anonymous

LUSJ Editorial on parking ramp preliminary concept sketches.

As nice as the park and overlook is, retail/mixed use and park/overlook would have been even better, but agreeably the bigger risk. Thankfully the surface parking is sparse and behind Ulrich’s building in the current preliminary proposal sketches. For a public project I am pleasantly surprised with these initial visions.

But I offer a counter point to some things about retail and parkland. To this day it is a common held notion that parks and open space are positives for creating development when the opposite is more readily seen in practice. I used to also think parks were always an easy obvious answer (should have seen my Sim City creations ;) )

Where someone usually finds a busy and successful park it is usually immediately surrounded by existing dense mixed use streets that provide a constant amount of people to the park. It offers a “boring” restful break from the interesting and busy streetscape. Unfortunately a park does not work in reverse. If nothing is there and the street is boring, a boring park will not add much to the surroundings but some boring high maintenance greenery. It will also feel less safe and inviting with less people around discouraging use. Look at Ida Fritz Park where West Ave turns into Main. It is busy for activities like Cruise Night and Taste of Lockport but rather empty otherwise with no retail spurred around it.

Just how many empty street level store fronts are on Main St? The south side of the first block seems in good use but then you have the uninviting wasteland of the wide bridge and then Friendly's (some how miraculously built to the street). The other side is half full and along with City Hall pretty uninviting. The big bridge pretty much cuts off the first block from the rest of Main St to the east.

Next block the Mason's Building (full?) a big street side parking lot Papa Leo's Plaza (full/almost full?) and the NCCC building (non-retail). Other side of the street is the Scrito Building (full?), small parking lot gap and then Locks Plaza (full?) but with the retail unfortunately pushed away from the street/sidewalk. Overall the block is pretty full put with street facade gaps.

Next Block you have Ulrich's building (non-commercial) with Mill's jewelry next door, old ramp and big gap, Urban towers and The Bewley (almost all full last I looked) on one side; Chinese food building (1/2 full) Ulrich City Centre (Full Until Metropolitan Closed) and the old empty bank perpetually for lease by Granchelli. This block is also pretty full for the most part. Though another negative is that most of the UCC complex uses the rear entries off the parking lot and covers the Main St windows ( a big thank you to Wilhelm and Ashe for their wonderful street front displays)

Next block the Ulrich Building with no street side retail on the one side, F&M building perpetually for lease by Granchelli while it dies thru decay, Victory Christian Center building which is a big blank wall with who knows what's inside and then HSBC bank on the other. Basically a dead block inviting no one to pass either way across it. It is about as valuable as the wide bridge in luring people to continue on. At the same time it doesn't really have any retail opportunities at this time.

Next block: Palace Theater with both storefronts in use. Social Services building (no retail) and then the Rite aid (plaza?) which is pretty full on the retail street level (but once again separated from the side walk by a parking lot) Other side of Main St: Old Post Office which is very cool with some places inside but they are hidden from street life and discovery. YMCA and Library are next. They offer no retail but are at least up to the Street to keep the flow and in use. Next two buildings are in use on the retail level. Then we have the First Niagara building with no retail.

So where is the huge vacancy problem on Main? For how separated and disjoint it is I'd say it is doing relatively well. Small business turnover should be expected, especially in a fledgling area. How many people here would go to a mall and keep walking past huge sections that weren't stores or past sections that were parking to get to ones that were 50 yards or more away and keep doing that over and over? One could bring up the rehabbed buildings on Richmond (Canal St.) as being empty but those also suffer from being separated by a block long gap. Luckily the gap is the Locks which give them long term hope.

What Main St needs is a continued push for developments such as UCC to fill in the gaps on Main St. Make sure that zoning requires them in DT. Get people there and once there continually lured up and down the street by having interesting open store fronts etc. Once they are tired of the stimulation they could rest at the park or over by the locks. Every development is a small part which when added up makes a huge difference. They need to be done properly in line with what is desired of Main St.

Main St's plan should be infill built around occupying existing gaps with
1) Mixed use buildings up to the street/side walk
2) Permeable Store fronts that grab people's interest and invites them in.
3) Parking behind the buildings and street side to not alter the flow of people from store front to store front along the sidewalk.

Some mixed use above the parking ramp along Main would have went toward that goal while still allowing a park and over look behind it. It would have offered "eyes" to look over the park with for example a restaurant patio at the rear and apartments above. A much bigger risk yes but only because an empty park would still seem like a positive with never ending potential where as an empty store front(s) would not be given the same optimism.

The parkland and hidden ramp are 100x better than what is there and is very commendable. I was pleasantly surprised by it. But it could be even better with another missing gap filled in similar to what UCC did across the street to continue to unify Main St once again and reverse the disjointed wastelands urban "renewal" efforts created. The more opportunities you have for businesses to be close and build off each other, the more you will see things grow, the more people you will see and the more you will see any created park space being used more. Or if this is desired to be park land and parking, then have other plans to fill in gaps close by on Main St. and stick to them to make it all work.

People will point to malls as examples of success. Malls are an inside out old Main St. Main St moving forward must return to what would now be considered an inside out mall: Continuous and inviting where people draw people and storefronts endlessly draw people on. Then you can worry about the parks and open spaces (little fountains in malls) where people will rest from all the action that drew them there to begin with.

As the paper quoted the Mayor, this is a 50 year decision. It should be reflect how we want DT Lockport to function and look in 50 years. But regardless of if the safer option is chosen, I’ll be enjoying the overlook from time to time as I do now on my walks and it will only improve.

Original parking ramp post with more sketches

LUSJ reporting a possible softening stance. That the council decided to tell the traffic board to let them decide seems out of place. Noted this portion:

After a weekend drive around the city really looking at residents’ parking arrangements, he added, he may go next to the zoning board and ask it to not treat every front-yard parking variance request the same.

Please do not allow zoning variances for front yard parking. Street parking way before front yard parking should be a given every where but one lane alleys.

If there are to be more permits handed out. Make sure the fees go to street improvements.

Updated original topic here: The Great Over-Night Street Parking Debate . Please comment there.

(Image - Kayaking thu Lock 34 in Lockport NY)

Buffalo News: Editorial

Buffalo News Article 1 and Article 2.

There will be elements that might bother purists —a wa - ter wheel, for
instance, and recreated canal locks that serve an important practical function
but were not used at this end of the canal — but there are elements of delight
as well. The Liberty Pole is back....
My question here may be a little premature since the plan is preliminary, but why are they discussing placing recreated canal locks in Buffalo's inner harbor? Especially when 30 mins north here in Lockport you have the real deal in two operating electrical locks and a push to restore the old northern Flight of Five locks? If this was private investment I would say good luck. But having a very heavy public investment, would it not make more sense to put some of the state money toward the Flight of Five restoration and then cross promote both places and the region as a whole?

WNY's cultural/tourism push has been based on having the "real deal" to offer. A prime example of which is the $50 mil Darwin Martin House restoration and another is the unearthing of the Commercial Slip on the site in discussion. Why are we then putting money into "fake" pseudo-historical artifacts when we already possess one of the marvels of early 19th century American engineering? It is smart of Buffalo to use its historical place as the Western Terminus of the old Erie Canal. It would be even smarter for all relevant portions of Erie and Niagara county to use their portion of the Erie Canal history as part of a team instead of trying to tell the whole story them self.

And as a side note: the image above has me wondering if there is anywhere to rent canoes or kayaks along the canal in Lockport? Locking thru in one of them is a fun and unique experience while just paddling along the canal is nice and relaxing in itself.

Older topic here: Flight of Five 2011 Opening?

From Buffalo News:

Polls will be open from noon to 9 p. m. Tuesday. Voting sites include the high school for those who live outside the city limits.
Voting will also take place in Washington Hunt Elementary School for the 1st Ward; the Board of Education offices for the 2nd Ward; Anna Merritt Elementary for the 3rd Ward; Charles A. Upson Elementary for the 4th Ward; and Roy B. Kelley Elementary for the 5th Ward.

Article also further explains funding:

Coder said that’s because of the rules for the state building aid on which the district is depending to pay for the projects.

She said the athletic complex “would not be aidable if it passes on its own, because [projects eligible for aid] have to be connected to work in a building.”

Schrader said even if everything passes, there’s no guarantee the project would be built. The district will have to send a formal funding request to the state Education Department, which isn’t required to say yes.

“The state could refuse. Economic climate, whatever,” Schrader said.

Coder said the district plans to sell $26 million worth of 15-year bonds to borrow money for the project. The principal and interest costs of the bonds are supposed to be 90 percent covered by state aid.

The remainder of the coverage comes from slightly over $3 million in a district capital reserve fund and $940,000 from a state grant that’s already in hand through a program called EXCEL, for “Expanding Our Children’s Education and Learning.”

No matter what your choice, get out and vote tomrrow: Tuesday the 16th.

Older post/dicussion here: Lockport Schools: Capital project


The Great Over-Night Street Parking Debate

Posted by Anonymous

(Image - Small driveway on High St. Lockport NY)

The on-street parking debate has surfaced again. From recent LUSJ:

Article 2008-12-10

Article 2008-12-11

and Buffalo News:

Article 2008-12-11

A resident on Irving Street is arguing with city hall over street parking permits and/or being allowed to have a tenant of her 2-family house park on the right of way between the street and sidewalk. City hall appears to be very stingy in handing out the $40 street parking permits as LUSJ reports only currently 14 are issued. But they counter with the fact that those 14 are out of 17 requests.
The city code states:
§ 183-23. Parking prohibited.
9-27-1989; 6-18-2003]
No vehicle shall be left parked or standing on
any public highway in the City of Lockport between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and
6:00 a.m.
The parking of vehicles at any time upon such portion of a
designated street or highway within the City boundary with a pavement width of
less than 21 feet is hereby prohibited. The City Clerk shall keep a record of
such streets on file as determined by the Department of Engineering.
Parking between 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.
Effective September
1, 2003, no vehicle shall remain parked upon any street in the City's Central
Business District between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. unless the owner
has applied to the Traffic Advisory Board, and received from the City Clerk upon
recommendation of the Traffic Advisory Board, an authorized parking permit;
provided, however, that this section shall not apply to physicians while making
professional calls to or any ambulance or vehicle of a funeral director while
such vehicle is engaged in professional calls.
Authorized parking
permits shall be issued by the City Clerk upon recommendation of the Traffic
Advisory Board, upon verification that suitable off-street parking is not
available and that it is impractical for the owner to provide off-street
All permits shall be effective from January 1 through
December 31 of each year. The annual fee for such permit shall be $40. Payment
shall be in cash, check or money order drawn on United States funds made payable
to the "City Clerk." The fee is nonrefundable and will not be prorated. In the
event a check is returned for insufficient funds, the permit shall automatically
be revoked without further notice to the permit holder, and a penalty of $15
shall be charged. A replacement fee of $1 shall be charged for lost or stolen
Permits must be displayed from the rear view mirror of your
vehicle and may not be transferred from vehicle to vehicle. Failure to properly
display said permit shall result in the issuance of a parking ticket.
As widely seen, most municipalities in Erie and Niagara county have no overnight parking in the winter. Buffalo I know is one exception and relies on alternating sides. Growing up on the east side of Buffalo I was familiar with that system and the mess that it usually left throughout the winter. If residents of a municipality that prohibits on-street parking are able to survive the 4 months of Nov-Mar should they not be able to use the same system for the other 8 months?
I will admit it can be a 60-180 second pain in the ass to shuffle vehicles in the driveway. I also know I'd be more inclined to leave my rusty chore truck "out of my way" in the street while leaving the two newer vehicles in the driveway. But I do also enjoy the cleaner streets and the open night vistas that no on-street overnight parking allows. I do feel much safer walking the dog after dark without being wedged between a wall of cars on the streets and houses on the lots.
“We’re talking about a four-hour window,” Pasceri said. “For four hours, that’s
when all the streets would be plowed, when all the crime would happen? I don’t
believe it.”
This statement, while "true", does not fully represent reality. It is not as if the streets are filled with cars until 2AM and they are then moved to off-street parking. The no overnight ensures a vast number of vehicles are off the street long before the 2AM cut-off.
I am not expert in parking by any means. It is one of my more passionate subjects yet I have yet to obtain any books on it. Its value and correct implimantation is often misunderstood. I do look forward to obtaining a copy of The High Cost of Free Parking after I finish 4 books that I currently have queued up. If an area is not paved to hell and back it is often construed as inconvenient or not resident friendly etc. I feel that is a false assumption. We can see the type of environments that it gives us. This will pry have to be a topic I'll have to revisit down the road once I am able to read up on it a bit and become more informed.
There is pry a solution somewhere. One could pry involve higher permit fees to curb misuse (overuse) with the funds going back into infrastructure improvements on the streets they are used on. Possibly allow landlords to apply for them so they can distribute the cost of the permit over the 12 month rental period for their tenants? Your thoughts?
UPDATE: 12-15-2008:
LUSJ reporting that after deliberations the city decided to keep the parking system as is.
UPDATE: 12-16-2008
LUSJ reporting a possible softening stance. That the council decided to tell the traffic board to let them decide seems out of place. Noted this portion:

After a weekend drive around the city really looking at residents’ parking arrangements, he added, he may go next to the zoning board and ask it to not treat every front-yard parking variance request the same.

Please do not allow zoning variances for front yard parking. Street parking way before front yard parking should be a given every where but one lane alleys. If there are to be more permits handed out. Make sure the fees go to street improvements.


Google Street View has arrived in Lockport

Posted by Anonymous

View Larger Map

Well Google Street View finally has Lockport all "mapped" out. For those unfamiliar, GSV allows one to "virtually" walk down any street in an area where one of their vehicles has driven the street. A patented 11 lens roof mounted camera simultaneously takes hi-resolution images which are then stitched in software. More information here. You can even walk the streets of Rome.

There are also sights dedicated to "funny" images found in street view:
Best Pictures from Google Streetview

And of coarse there are several privacy related lawsuits on going over the use of this technology.
The picture of my house shows my front steps were yet to be stained, so I figure Google is still using the "at least 6 months old" imagery rule.

What do you think of this technology? I've found it useful when visiting new places. It makes it very easy to look for landmarks when on your way. With the imagery being at least 6 months old, I am not too concerned with privacy. Though if they had happened to have caught me landscaping in the front yard with plumbers crack showing, I'd be sure to request the image's removal.... ;)

(Image - Genessee facade of Grace Episcopal)
LUSJ Interview with Rev. William Winston

First off it is wonderful news to hear that Grace Episcopal now has a resident priest. It is hard to imagine a parish having to go that long without one. Being a product of 13yrs of Catholic/Jesuit schooling, I always found comfort and stability having a consistant "face" to the parish. Every band can use a good front man. ;)

This quote was a highlight for me:
We tend to be the folks, wherever I’ve been, across the nation, who go where angels fear to tread.

as was this one:
I think Episcopalians have a reputation anyway, in any community, of being extraordinarily active in the community, encouraging excellence, and working against the evil, the real evil in a community, and they’re addressing the real problems. I say “real” intentionally, because I know that sometimes people will make a big do about a problem that’s not a real problem, or a “safe” problem.

It made me think of the "Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays" crusade. It has seems to have quieted down a bit but it would appear to me that a lot of those efforts could have been placed in more focused efforts to do deeds that promoted Catholicism a opposed to "intimidating" people to say a certain phrase. Especially during a season that has had a secular relevance for quite a while now and is a season that is meaningful to a number of religions. I say inspire them to use it.

From Grace's "History Page" it mentions:
During the third fifty years the Church interior was renovated, the outside repainted and the Parish House remodeled. On February 2, 1975 the Church and second floor of the Parish House were destroyed by fire. Only the stone walls and the towers were left standing. The congregation voted to remain in the inner city and reconstruction began in April 1976. Our present house of worship was rededicated on Sunday, May 22, 1977.

Anyone remember this or have any pictures to share? It is wonderful that they remained committed to the site and the city and rebuilt.

I, along with my girlfriend, have been meaning to check out Lockport's parishes for a while now. Following Drew Ludwig at Lafayette Presbyterian Church on Elwood in Buffalo has reinvigorated my desire to be a part of a parish that is community based and all inclusive while also looking to push the boundaries of what a church can be for a neighborhood. Toward the end of summer I started shooting the front facades of a few of Lockport's churches. Grace Episcopal stands out with how it bookmarks Cottage St (before it bends at Genessee) looking from Main St. Once I finally have access to my new camera body on Christmas morning (such a tough wait for a great gift!!!) I plan to contact several churches to do a more thorough exterior and interior shoot of each with a concurrent goal of learning about each. If anyone is active in any of these churches and has an "in" for me, let me know. I'd be happy to do a little write-up here.

I also find it fascinating that we now have someone who is not only a friend of Stephen King but someone who has personally consulted on one of his books. I have been a big King fan since picking up the first "Dark Tower" book back in high school. I am sometimes let down by how he ends his stories (maybe because I don't want them to end?)but I never fail to become immersed in the worlds and characters he creates. He is one of the few authors who's words seem to effortlessly translate to a palpable word for the visual-tangible person I am.

Some more of my Churches of Lockport pictures.

This disregarded?

For this?

A great local example of my last post "Smart Code- Form Based Zoning" has just popped up in Buffalo. Here is the Buffalo News article. A 4 story highway off-ramp hotel with surface lots was chosen as the preffered option by the "Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency" while a 10-story mixed-use hidden-parking competing proposal was not allowed to present based on not meeting current zoning codes for the strip of land; even though the design nicely meets the goals for the site listed in the award winning Queen City Master Plan accepted by the common council in 2006 and preffered by the nearby waterfront condo owners.

Discussions/Images/Commentary on Buffalo Rising:

Zoning Inspired

Planning Inspired

Even though there may other underlying factors here (political insider/build the easiest/quickest before next elections, etc), the vote was rested on the current zoning requirements. It reinforces how all those "pretty" visions we routinely see in plans for an area almost never come to be. The Zoning is either against, or not defined enough, to produce what we plan and envision for an area. (See Chapter 3 of the Smart Code Slide Show)

It will be interesting to see what happens when it reaches city council vote since the three dissenting votes on the board came from city council members. It appears many residents are already writing in.

As Lockport moves ahead will our city codes give us more of the types of environments that we enjoy or will we continue to get auto-centric islands? If the ice rink, Flight of Five and any other future development ever give rise to a new hotel downtown, etc will we get an island off by itself or something that becomes a dynamic part of Main St./downtown/street scene?

We don't know what the future will offer us. but for now, we can help ensure if it does offer us something, our codes will help ensure it moves torward a "whole greater than the sum of its parts"


Smart Code - Form Based Zoning

Posted by Anonymous

Since I was young I have always been fascinated with the built environment around me. Growing up on the east side of Buffalo, I was cradled in a mix-use environment that was very stimulating and that still holds endless curiosity with me.

I, like many others, pine for the "old days" of a vibrant mixed use living environment (for me it was still there in the 80's ;). See my recent Nostalgia post. The question is how do we get back there? As we can see form recent development on Main St, current zoning can give us projects ranging from the people and car friendly Ulrich City Center to the typical auto-centric site plans of the Walgreen's and Family Video properties.

There is a push in Buffalo to institute a "smart code" to be ensure that the award winning city master plan that was adopted a few years back can actually be implemented. It is a form based code system which goes beyond the usual "use, density, and parking" defined in most typical zoning ordinances. The ordinances which have shown to give auto-centric site plans which consume vast amounts of land, offers little long term benefit to the area, and often depresses the value of the surrounding neighborhoods (NIMBY lawsuits anyone?).

I'd ask those interested in what our streets and neighborhoods look like to watch this slide show. It is put together for Buffalo and thus offers an example that is tangible to all of us. It gives a wonderful history lesson of development and examples from Buffalo's current "outdated" zoning and examples of successful form based coding in other cities. It takes about 20 minutes to skim through and get the jist of it depending on how fast you click through it. I found it easy to "study" many of the slides and took more time.

Please comment on what you think of the proposed code system and its goals and how you think something like this would apply here in Lockport. I sent this slide show of to Mayor Tucker also. Our DT was dismantled parcel by parcel (or block by block during urban "renewal") and it will also be put back together parcel by parcel. What do we want the sum of the parts to be? If you have a counter point link showing how great auto-centric planning is, please feel free to share it.

Lockport Zoning for comparision. I have yet to go completely through it.

Here are several quotes from the


Cities have to move to a new system. They should look at the streets they like and the public spaces they like and then write the rules to get more of what they like and less of what they don’t. Conventional zoning doesn’t do that. It just gives a us a use and a density and then you hope for the best.

In the US, types of form-based coding go back to the colonial days. The 1733 Plan of Savannah Georgia laid-out by General James Oglethorpe, is one of the most studied and celebrated city plans in the world.

Conventional zoning typically regulates three basic metrics: use, density, and parking. However, to produce great public spaces, regulating only these three things has proven insufficient. A fourth metric is necessary: design. Form-based codes add that necessary fourth dimension to the development process.

Unified codes are effective because they integrate different elements of a project usually spread across several municipal departments – agencies that often to not communicate with each other under the current system.

It is important to note that FBC’s do not specifiy any particular style. As along as the basic scale, proportion, and siting requirements are met, buildings can be any style….historic districts may have some finer control…”

UPDATE: 12/05/08 - Added sample slide images


Thanksgiving Lull

Posted by Anonymous

(Image: my first T-day back in 1976. Photo by my grandfather)

Welcome to December. I hope everyone had a pleasant Thanksgiving weekend. This discussion blog for Lockport has passed two-weeks old with few issues. Thank you to everyone who has visited (292 unique visitors since I started tracking). I'm pleasently surprised.

This started out as a place to avoid some of the lack of respect to posters found elsewhere and to be a place to preserve ideas where they will not be removed after a certain period of time. The biggest "complaint" so far has been the ease of finding new comments, especially for older posts. Most users who frequent forums are used to the threads with the most recent comments getting moved to the top. Unfortunately that is not an option in this format which is more time of post driven. For those registered to comment, you do have the option of following comments to that post by selecting "Subscribe by e-mail" which I show below highlighted in yellow. You can also un-subscribe thru the same process. Comments will appear in your e-mail without having to check here for them.

I also have the side bars showing 5 recent comments (not necessarily the 5 latest) and a link to see the last 25 comments posted to the blog. I also show which posts I have updated with new information/links/pictures/etc. If I can make anything else easier, please let me know by e-mail which can be found in my profile or leave a comment in this post Thank you to those that have given feedback so far.

As for the "lull" portion of my title, I did not come across anything post-inspiring in the LUSJ or the Buffalo News over the Thanksgiving break. I do have a couple topics non-article related which I will be posting on soon. If anyone has any topics, as always please let me know. I hope that more of those that used to post on the LUSJ forums will join back in. I enjoy conversing about where we live and what could make it better even if the veiws don't agree.


Flight of Five 2011 Opening?

Posted by Anonymous

(Image: Fight of Five Looking up to restored buildings on Canal St.)

Earlier this week the Buffalo News had an article updating the Flight of Five Restoration.

"Although questions about funding and construction access to the Erie Canal
locks have yet to be settled, program manager Peter J. Welsby last week offered
a new timetable showing a June 2011 opening for the Flight of Five project.
Welsby, of the Wendel Duchscherer engineering firm, said arrangements have
been made with the state Canal Corp. for enough access to carry out a pilot
project next May, restoring masonry and railings near the bottom of the five
19th century lock..."

Of all the projects going on, this is one of the most exciting to me personally. It's a blessing and a great responsibility to have one of the great engineering feats of the 19th century still in tact right in the middle of our downtown. Over the years I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of vehicles with out of state license plates parked around the locks on any given day.

I'd guess there are many out there who pry question the value of spending a large sum of money on a project like this. Most would submit that the money would be better spent elsewhere, etc. But here we have one of the most notable structures on one of the most notable human works in the early history of the United States. this should create the ability to secure funding on all levels. (the economy will return someday ;)

Other areas on the canal are in process of rebuilding their portion of our history:

Camillus is in process of restoring the Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct to working status
City of Buffalo commercial Slip unearthed and functioning as docking:

Lockport has the advantage of still having their notable structure still on the functioning canal system and dead center of DT businesses/other activities for actual spin off through interaction. Park once and walk to numerous other places. Add to it a new :hidden parking structure with surface park and overlook, possible "Upper Marina", great start/end point for the wine loop etc and we will have a critical mass to build up visitors and residents. We should be proud of what we have from those before us and do our best to preserve and use it to our best benefit.

For more year round interest: I wonder if we could do something similar to Ottawa who turns their DT locks into the "world's longest ice skating rink"?
Ottawa is on my list of "have to visit" weekend road trips.

While poking around I came across this site, which is wonderfully laid out for Lockport Tourism.
http://lockportontheeriecanal.com/welcome-erie-canal-lockport.html. A really really nice layout. Send it to everyone you know and post it everywhere ;)

The article also stated:

For $7,500, Full Circle Studios is producing a five-to seven- minute video to be
shown next month to the foundation and perhaps to other funding sources later

Will check to see if this video gets posted somewhere and if not I will see if I can get my hands on it to post.

How do you feel about this project?


Smart Growth v Walmart

Posted by Anonymous

(Image from report on Town of Lockport project info site.)

LUSJ reporting on the possible appeal from Smart Growth against the Walmart reuse of the old Lockport Mall site:
LUSJ Article
Here are the Town's pages on the project:
Town Wal-mart Information Page

Once upon a time there were a few good threads on this subject on the LUSJ forums. Unfortunately, those get removed after a certain amount of time. I'll relay out my thoughts on the project here and ask you to do the same, be it for or against the project. Please keep your comments respectful.

1) The Walmart building will still be smaller than the section of the mall that is being demolished.
Here is the link to the proposed site plan for the mall site:
Proposed Site Plan

2) I feel that the reuse of a property that brings new development back inward restrengthening the current town business district "smart growth". Walmart's usual plan of building on cheap land on the outskirts ends up pulling new development out to it, causing vacancies in older plazas. I was surprised when they took this development route.

3) "Made in China" arguments apply to all major retailers. Go into Target, Kohls, Kmart, etc and try to find "Made in the USA" items. Even in Tops, walk down the utensil isle and look to see where they are all made. Quite a few items in Walmart give options to pricier "Made in the USA" items and cheaper "Imported goods". I'm pretty certain that items like Bounty paper towels all come from the same place.

4) Traffic concerns seem to stem more from traffic management over actual traffic numbers. The signals 100ft apart at Shimmer and the HD plaza appear to back up traffic more than relieving it. As for accidents, it is a very basic intersection. The intersection of Rt 78 and 93 has its fair share of accidents too. Not much you can do with people who choose to ignore signals.

5)The existing Walmart site can be easily broken up to house some smaller businesses. HD plaza still has opening for businesses. The existing site can not house the Super Center though.

6)There will be basically no change in views for those living around the property:
Proposed View or Rear from Surrounding Properties
Being such a large building, it is best suited to be at the rear of the lot, with out parcels up to the street at the front of the lot. Only so much can be done with a 200,000 sqft building.

What is the true fight here? What are your thoughts?

UPDATE: 11/25/08 - fixed links

UPDATE 11/26/08 - New Renderings 09/2008 from Town Website

Wal-mart Transit Road Elevation

Bonton Update Perspective

UPDATE: 12/04/08 - LUSJ +BuffNews articles stating decision on appeal expected by April.

LUSJ Article

BuffNews Article

Aerial View of property in 1966


Nostalgia - City Life

Posted by Anonymous

(Image: DT Lockport c. 1946 by Arthur W. Moreau taken from http://www.lockport-ny.com/)

HisSon brought up waxing nostalgic and noted that he located ww.lockport-ny.com in a comment under the Welcome thread. I though I would create a post around it.

Nostalgia comes from Greek nostos "homeward journey, return home" and algos "pain". Nostalgia describes a longing for the past, often in idealized form and maybe that is the real point. We are actually longing for an ideal and finding is most palpable in instances from our past. It would pry explain why someone who is not native and was not born until nearly 30 years after the above picture was taken can feel such a longing sensation when looking at it. Or conversely get excited at any development, no matter how small that may put a small piece of it back in place. That someone is me.

Being that it is an ideal, one can at the same time feel pain for what no longer exists in the aerial shot above while feeling an inner drive to recreate it at the same time. Forward thinking developments such as Ulrich City Centre show that we can rebuild from the mess of "Urban Renewal" to once again build a walkable street scape while still taking into consideration parking. Others such as Family Video and Walgreen's with their corner deadening parking lots show that we either don't fully get it or aren't willing to demand it. There are CVSs in East Aurora and a Family Video on Hertel in Buffalo proving that it can be done. Niagara Produce and the effort to get the ice rink up and running are adding even more to DT and all within walking distance to each other.

What is the "ideal" that you miss? What in the Aerial photograph above represents that? Why do you feel that obtaining it is possible/impossible?


City Streets Winter Conditions

Posted by Anonymous

(Image: one man snow plow on side street)

Post submitted by LockportMom

It appears that we are again going to have issues with salting the roads in the City of Lockport again. I understand many of the side streets are always the last to be done, but I was very disappointed in the road conditions surrounding the Lockport High School this morning. There is ice underneath that fine layer of snow, and it very noticeable at the stop signs with skid marks to the sides of the roads. Granted, we all need to be a little more careful wtih winter weather upon us, but it very disheartening when I take a left off of Lincoln to head back into the town due to all the traffic congestion around the school, and the minute I cross over to the Town Of Lockport, the streets are clear and salted.

This concerns me even more so because of all the student drivers heading over to the school. Then I headed over to North Park and road conditions were just as bad. Schools and roads surrounding them should be of top priority as the city has an abundance of walkers, and not an abundance of sidewalks. The city should be more proactive to conditions rather than reactive. Our road conditions here in the City are usually some of the worst.

I did not see a single truck out taking care of the roads, yet yesterday morning I saw four taking care of picking up leaves on the streets. What is the protocol of the city when it comes to salting the roads? Is this going to be a repeat of last year that when you head into the city from the Town of Lockport, or from the Town of Newfane that road conditions deteriorate tremendously?



Lockport Schools: Capital project

Posted by Anonymous

(Image: Locust St. Leading to Lincoln and Lockport High School)

from the LUSJ:


Meetings will be held at 7 p.m.
Wednesday and again Dec. 10, both at the high school auditorium, 250 Lincoln
Ave. Both meetings will include a presentation of the project details and a
question-and-answer session afterward. Residents will vote on the project from
noon until 9 p.m. Dec. 16 at their regular polling places for School Board and
budget elections.

• Proposition 1 includes some larger items, such
as a state-of-the-art performing arts center, art gallery and a fitness center
for gym classes. Smaller items such as new windows and new bleachers and padding
in the gymnasium are also part of the proposition. An elevator would also be
added, and bathrooms would be made handicap-accessible. The technology wing
would also be updated, the library would be renovated to make room for a
computer lab and bathrooms would be added nearby. Other improvements include
relocating the Locust Street bus loop, a parent drop-off site on Lincoln Avenue,
and improvements to ventilators and mechanical systems.The proposition also
includes a six-classroom addition, which covers the classrooms lost by adding
the fitness center, and a new entrance to alleviate some of the congestion in
the hallway. The proposition makes up about $23.5 million of the total

• Proposition 2 is the varsity stadium, which includes a
parking expansion, resurfacing of tennis courts and a varsity softball field.
The stadium includes bleachers that seat 2,500, locker room, concession stand
and an artificial turf field, which can be used by a number of school sports
teams. It makes up about $6 million of the

Anyone attending either of the meetings? Thoughts on the project? It of coarse comes with the "no increase to local school tax rates". ;) Has anyone here traveled to neighboring school districts and if so how does Lockport High School compare in facilities? I grew up on the east side of Buffalo and attended a small catholic school (90+ students total!) and then went to Canisius High School so I have no real experience with the schools around here. At my time at Canisius the athletic facilities were rather antiquated but they have since all been upgraded. New pool/gym going up this year. I was content with the facilities but was in awe of some of the ones we traveled to for competitions.I have yet to become a parent, so what do the parents feel about their children's school facilities? Should they be leading edge? Is the cheapest brick and mortar facility more desirable? Where's the happy medium?
Sort of on topic: It's nice that the city and town of Lockport share the same school district as it puts a halt to the flight to the school district right next door. It is nice to see that the city and town residents share at least funding and planning for one of our big service/tax districts.Niagara County school district map:http://www2.census.gov/geo/sd2007_rev/st36_newyork/maps/063_Niagara/SDA0736063_000.pdf


Parking Ramp Replacement

Posted by Anonymous

(image 4th level of ramp looking down to Main St access)

From the LUSJ:

What are people looking/hoping for in the new ramp?

I'll admit I am prone to desire (cost no issue) the two lower levels with buildings on top and park along the side and to the rear over looking the canal. Obviously cost will be an issue. While there may be no need for this space now, this is supposedly for our "next 50 years". I think there is enough room there for both a park-like features and other uses in the future. If one were to build new 10, 20 years from now, what better place than here with "the view" and the parking? Designing the structure to be able to hold something on top of it in the future could be a wise insurance policy instead of a 50yr blockade.

My one fear is a surface lot on top. Please no more surface lots at the street, especially on Main! If we were to end up with surface at the top level too I'd at least hope for the "park" feature on top with it to line Main St. and hide any surface parking.

The top of the old electric building already gives a great view, but the area itself is not kept up. And to be honest, there is something about the current ramp design that I find endearing. And that's rare for a parking ramp. Maybe it's the lucky horseshoe shape?

Big change is coming.
I'm trying to see if I can get the "sketches" that were shown so that we can discuss them. I will update this thread if I can.

UPDATE (11/21/08):
I stopped in City Hall and spoke with Mayor Tucker last night for a while and took some pictures of the renderings supplied by a couple of the architectural firms. These are the preliminary ideas laid out in the firms' submissions to be chosen to assist help the City of Lockport craft specifications for the design of a new downtown parking garage. Foit-Albert Associates of Buffalo won the honor.
Although these are highly conceptual and only a starting point, the project looks promising. Of these two I'm liking the "town square" look of the second one over the "concrete plaza" of the first. Each has a feautre in it mimicing the "Flight of Five". Mayor Tucker also commented on making sure the ramp integrates with the old power building in case a use is found for the building in the future.

UPDATE: 11-24-2008
Buffalo News reporting on project time line and initial design goals.
The city’s new parking garage will be paired with a park containing terraced steps to an Erie Canal overlook and perhaps an elevator down to the canal, city officials decided last week. However, the shaky state of the economy and the Wall Street credit markets may prevent work from starting in 2009, Mayor Michael W. Tucker said...


Default on Metropolitan Bar and Grill Loan

Posted by Anonymous

(Image of UCC during annual Lockport Arts Festival, Metropolitan 3rd facade in)
Buffalo News has an article today on the loans provided to Peter Calieri for Metropolitan.
In the Union Station post there was some discussion on grant money. I've always felt granting/loaning to non brick and mortar projects to be the most risky. Esp restaurants, etc which always seem to be hit or miss. And with no building to take possession of after the default, there is a big loss.
Calieri personally guaranteed repayment. “His corporation is now liable, and he’s personally liable,” Ottaviano said.
I wonder what the actual terms of the loan were relating to defaulting on it? If they were loaned to "him" instead of the "restaurant' do they still have grounds to be repaid seeing that the village Eatery is still in business?
Anyone eat at Metropolitan? I never got there. I have been to Taboo and was surprised by the lower prices given the more upscale interior. Nothing too fancy meal wise but I have enjoyed them. I always wish there was more warning when a local place was considering closing to give people a chance to at least try it once or to make a little extra effort to support something they enjoy. Even with the economy being bad, there are still no shortage of full lots at Olive Garden, Red Lobster, etc.
UPDATE 11/18/08:
Link for LUSJ article from Rocketboy
UPDATE 11/21/08:


A Police Dept Move?

Posted by Anonymous

(Entrance to Harrison Place at Elm and Walnut (Rt 31)

From: LUSJ


If they need the space I think it is a plausible idea that will keep there presence DT and central while getting a little bit closer to one of the areas of the city in need for more police presence. It would also use and update the existing building that the city is trying to find uses for. Plus they already use that location to set up a "mobile command" spot for the concert series. By the tone of the article, somebody is going to be needing more space.

The Buffalo news reports that they are close to funding a shower/locker facility for the women PO's in the basement of the current municipal building.
I find it hard to believe single sex facilities were still being designed in the 70's.

I always thought this building would make a great project similar to the Artspace project in Buffalo which has already shown to promote investment around it. Even to houses that were slated and marked for demo at one time. Rumor is they are looking to expand their presence.


Professional or Volunteer Fire Dept in City?

Posted by Anonymous

On another topic, the Council decided during a closed-door session with the Fire
Board to hold off on hiring a consulting firm to study the possible conversion
of the Fire Department to full or partial volunteer status.

from yesterday's article on Union Station. http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/niagaracounty/story/492266.html

I find it strange that they are still considering this. A discussion was held on the LUSJ forums about this a while back but I think it has dropped off the list into the black hole never to be seen again.

Is anyone in the city for this type of conversion? I have always considered a paid professional fire company a positive when deciding to live somewhere. Especially somewhere with many older homes all located in close proximity to each other. With the tragedy that happened with the three children recently it underscores the importance of the quickest response possible. I do have a few friends that are volunteer fireman and respect what they do for their districts. I just prefer and actual staffed dept.

The number I recall being thrown around was around $270 per year per household to staff the LFD. If true $20 a month seems a small price to pay. (anyone recall the actual number?)

( image from BFD engine in St. Patrick's parade.)


Union Station Grant Denied

Posted by Anonymous

From the Buffalo News:

Seems that the first bid for a state grant was "kicked to the curb" though the article is not fully clear on why. Maybe when the LUSJ reports on it there will be more info. They are moving ahead on trying to secure a different one.

Did anyone here contribute in the 90's to the old owner? I remember coming across things questioning where the money went.

This is a very cool structure. Even if it did not find a new life as a functioning building again, it could make a nice park similar to the St. Joseph's facade that was preserved and turned into a park in rochester: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/197/466661628_5d21af53c0.jpg?v=0 and could even function a train stop in that more simple form.

Link to the Davidson's website about the project:
Thank you Lockport Mom



Posted by Anonymous

Well fall has come and passed, and the LUSJ discussion forum has continued its free fall into something other than what is once was. That is all I have to say about that ;)

Moving forward I look for a place to where a respectful Lockport based discussion can be resumed. Unfortunately it appears that moderation is necessary to keep things relevant. Does this already exist elsewhere? If so, let me know where and I'll hop on board.

If not, I would suggest this blog as a possibility. I'd consider myself to be a benevolent dictator. Diverse opposing views are welcomed. From time to time even I play Devil's advocate and place opposing views (that I don't necessarily believe in) to fully explore that subject at hand. I believe most answers lie somewhere in between the opposing views. I, myself, am an expert in nothing.

To start off there will be no anonymous comments allowed. Comments will also initially be pre-moderated to discourage people signing up just to troll/bait others. Commenters will need a Google account (G-mail, Blogger, Etc) to comment. Sorry if you are forced to have yet another account somewhere. If you would like to start a post/topic e-mail it to me and I'll post it for the time being attributing it to you. Longer term, I can add up to 100 "authors" so that you can post directly the topics of interest to you. I have no desire for this to be a one man show as it would get boring.

So to all you "former" LUSJ commenters that walked away (even those I disagreed with) and to anyone new, comment on this post and let me know if you are interested. With today's technology "town halls" have moved into "the cloud". We all deserve a voice be it out of love and optimism or jaded hearts and pessimism and a place to do it free of school yard behavior.


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