11/26/2008

Flight of Five 2011 Opening?

Posted by MJ

(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.
http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/niagaracounty/story/502593.html

"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
http://www.eriecanalcamillus.com/aqueduct.htm
City of Buffalo commercial Slip unearthed and functioning as docking:
http://buffalowaterfront.com/Erie_Canal_Harbor_Officially_Opens.php

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"?
http://www.ottawa-information-guide.com/rideau-canal.html
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
on.


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?

11/23/2008

Smart Growth v Walmart

Posted by MJ






(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

11/20/2008

Nostalgia - City Life

Posted by MJ

(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?



11/19/2008

City Streets Winter Conditions

Posted by MJ

(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?

-lockportmom





11/18/2008

Lockport Schools: Capital project

Posted by MJ

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

from the LUSJ:

http://www.lockportjournal.com/local/local_story_322231505.html

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
project

• 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
project.

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

11/17/2008

Parking Ramp Replacement

Posted by MJ



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



From the LUSJ:
www.lockportjournal.com/thecity/local_story_318020055.htm
l


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...

(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:
www.lockportjournal.com/local/local_story_325231843.html


11/14/2008

A Police Dept Move?

Posted by MJ

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


From: LUSJ

http://www.lockportjournal.com/archivesearch/local_story_313010500.html


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.
http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/niagaracounty/story/493344.html
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.
http://www.artspacebuffalo.org/
http://www.artspace.org/



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.)




11/13/2008

Union Station Grant Denied

Posted by MJ


From the Buffalo News:
http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/niagaracounty/story/492266.html

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.

UPDATE:
Link to the Davidson's website about the project:
http://www.nytrainstationrenovation.com/Union_Station/Welcome.html
Thank you Lockport Mom

11/12/2008

Welcome

Posted by MJ




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.


MJ