Italic (Image 79 Canal St on Google Maps)
The LUSJ has an article on the city filing for a Niagara River Greenway grant on behalf of Beautiful Visions LLC to create the "Wine Emporium"

The city is asking Niagara County for $100,000 to help launch a Wine Emporium on
Canal Street.On behalf of Beautiful Visions LLC, the city earlier this month filed an application for a Niagara River Greenway grant to complete the purchase and furnishing of 79 Canal St.

Beautiful Visions, a separate company by J. Fitzgerald Group partners Jack Martin and Carmel Cerullo-Beiter, would rent the building to Margo Bittner’s Appleton Creek Winery LLC as a satellite winery.According to Martin, the Wine Emporium would sell all Niagara County-produced wines and a host of other locally grown and created goods.

His ambitious vision has the emporium serving both tourists and residents,
jump starting redevelopment of the long-dormant Canal Street block and
strengthening Niagara agribusiness all at once....

I had a similar thought as I was contemplating a Niagara Wine Trail post for later this spring. I envisioned a start/stop point in downtown Lockport for the Niagara Wine Trail. People would be able to grab maps, purchase the all access passports and find out about special events.
The big plus would be the one-stop-shop for all of the wines on the trail. Personally I would enjoy being able to mark down wines I enjoyed on the trail and then having a location to pick them up at the end. Some of the hardest choices are deciding to buy or not at initial winery stops before you have had the chance to sample others. Also to pick them up at a later time, etc.
I'd love to see an outdoor patio off to the side if there were to be tastings etc on site. Though in the long run infilling the area between this building and the old Harrison Building with new development would allow more development to natural work its way down the street. Lockport needs to continue to fill in its missing teeth.
I'm torn on the use of the greenway grant. The original vision of the greenway grant was to use the money pried from the hydro plant relicensing to create a Niagara River greenway from Youngstown to Buffalo similar to what exists on the Canadian side of the river. As the process went along special interests off of the river started to dilute the chances of reaching the original goal by allowing "inland" projects. I guess if they're going to be allowed, we might as well "get ours"...


Good luck. I'd love to see this come to fruition.


The Buffalo News reported last week on the recommendations of the 4 experts that the National Trust for Historic Preservation sent our way under the Main St program. Some of the high lites were:
Schuette said Emmanuel United Methodist Church should be asked to allow use of its parking lot at Chestnut and Washburn streets for a Saturday morning farmers’ market, perhaps also including art, as a companion attraction to the Niagara County Produce store across the street. He also said Route 78 should run from North Transit Street to Main and Market streets instead of bypassing the business district. “It really is the route that would tell your story,” Schuette said.

I think both ideas have some merit. I've always wondered why Rt 78 continued on to N Transit and through the residential streets over to Clinton. I wouldn't run it down Main St though since running tractor trailers down it is probably not optimal. If it were ran continuous with Rt 31 from Transit then hooked a left on Locust and then on to Market It would still give more of a sense of DT. Or it could hook a left at Pine then onto Gooding and then Clinton where it currently ends up. This would take traffic through one of the more scenic intersections of downtown and right over the Locks. Having the Locks located right on 78 would also make for easier tourism directions.
As for the "Farmers Market" I think it would be a better fit somewhere else than its current location on Walnut St. next to Molinaro's toward the rear of the lot. In a separate article it was noted:
It <<the city>> authorized the farmers’ market daily from April 1 to Nov. 30 in the municipal parking lot on Walnut Street west of Pine Street. Consultants on downtown revitalization had suggested moving it to the parking lot of Emmanuel United Methodist Church at Washburn and Chestnut streets, but Tucker said, “We’ll keep it where it’s been.”
To be honest, I didn't even realize that what was set-up over there last summer was actually a farmer's market when I drove by. There is really no synergy with anything else near it. The tie in with Niagara Produce is a nice idea though I doubt EUMC would want a part of their parking lot tied up all summer as the farmer's market is daily. It is too bad that there is not another municipal lot available that would put the farmer's market a little closer to some action. I wonder if it would work over by the restored buildings on Canal St. It would add some life over there and add interest until they get rented and maybe draw some people over who are visiting the locks. A city sign for what it actually is may help a bit too.
The consultants also gave thier input on the ramp redo:
The National Trust crew said Lockport does not make enough use of the canal through its heart. Schuette suggested a water-powered elevator to lift people from the locks and the Canalway Trail to Main Street. Elise Tinsley of the National Trust’s Washington office said that when the city demolishes the crumbling Main Street parking ramp and replaces it with an underground garage, it should lean toward the park like option for the top of the garage, leading to the canal overlook.

An overview expressed by them:

Capping a three-day visit to the city, the experts brought in by the National Trust’s Main Street Program said Lockport residents have to get over their memories of the pre-urban renewal downtown and blaze a new trail based on historic preservation and authenticity. “You’re in better shape than the community thinks it’s in,” said Kent Schuette, associate professor of architecture and historic preservation at Purdue University.

I think we are in good shape and are taking those small steps to fill our DT back in. We do need to gradually fill in the gaps and introduce residential sooner or later if we want it to be more than a few stores with parking lots. We should cherish are memories of what was there, but instead of hopelessly ending our effort there, we should use it to guide us as we build it back up: a walkable environment, small store fronts, a variety of uses, etc.

3/16/2009

Father Gary on "Irish" and St. Mary's

Posted by MJ

Very interesting interview with Fr. Gary in the LUSJ on the topics of his Irish heritage and on St. Patrick.

The Rev. Gary Kibler, the pastor of St. Mary’s Church, knows a bit about the patron saint of Ireland and St. Patrick’s Feast Day which is Tuesday. Kibler’s mother is Irish, his grandparents came from Ireland and he’s traveled the old sod.
I had the honor of meeting Fr. Gary about a month ago in my long quest to photograph Lockport's churches. I chose St. Mary's first since they were (and are still) appealing the closure instituted by the Buffalo Diocese. Older post is located here. Father Gary is one of the nicest and most welcoming people I've ever met. If you ever get a chance to stop in, check out the church and say hi, be sure to do so. You will not be disappointed.

Some images from our visit:





More Lockport church images here.


The Buffalo News is reporting on the city's filing for a $2.5 million dollar grant form the state that can only be used for one project. The ice arena was chosen over the parking ramp/park.

The city last week sent Albany a letter of intent to apply for a $2.5 million grant that can be used for only one major project. Mayor Michael W. Tucker said the city chose to seek a Restore New York grant to be applied toward construction of the new Lockport Ice Arena.


The choice was made at the same time the city is considering the $8 million demolition and replacement of the closed Main Street parking ramp. “As far as community benefit, the rink is better than the ramp,” Tucker said. “It’ll be a draw.”


Along with a Dormitory Authority grant and a $186,000 contribution from the Grigg-Lewis Foundation, $2.5 million would give the rink project almost enough capital to
construct its first sheet of ice. That price tag is estimated at $3.9 million, Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano estimated two months ago.



I agree that the Ice Rink would be the better use of the grant money near term. It would bring more people, activity and money to downtown than a "ramp", even considering the park-like feature. The article also mentions that that the 1-year to opening a single ice pad is still the plan.

LaGrange St Transfer Station - Lockport NY


Clinton St Transfer Station - Buffalo NY


The LUSJ is reporting on last night's DEC meeting at City Hall pertaining to NYSEG's clean-up of the old Lockport Light Heat & Power Co. manufactured gas plant: CITY OF LOCKPORT: LaGrange cleanup plan spelled out.

I was considering going to the meeting but never made it. It was great to see the "beautification" of the site brought up. I think everyone can agree that the clean-up is great. Many also would like to see the extra step taken to enclose and spruce up the site as it is one of the first views coming into DT and is located across the street from where the city is studying placing the "upper marina." This conversation was had over on the LUSJ forums preceding the meeting as also mentioned in the article. Moving the substation was also mentioned but, at least personally, seemed more of a dream than an obtainable reality.

Potential traffic snarls on Transit and the tearing up of nearly a block’s worth of LaGrange and the blight of heavy machinery at a city gateway did not seem to be on the minds of the eight or so residents who attended the hearing.

Instead asked was a question that’s popped up on a US&J Web blog about the cleanup: Why doesn’t NYSE&G relocate its substation?

In that vein, Mayor Michael Tucker met separately with NYSE&G officials Tuesday to talk about beautifying the site at least. According to Tucker, the NYSE&G representatives committed to moving a fence along Transit 20 feet back into the property, and planting shrubbery in front of it, when the cleanup project is done.“They’re not opposed to landscaping it. Not with flowers or anything they’d have to maintain, but they’re willing to put in some trees so we’re not just looking at fencing on Transit,” Tucker said. “I asked them about putting up a facade too. They said they’ve never been asked that before ... but they’re willing to look at it.”


Above are two images, one of the Lockport LaGrange Site and one of the City of Buffalo Clinton St site. I forget who owns the Buffalo site (Niagara Mohawk?) but the entire city block is surrounded by a brick wall/facade. So there is precedent, especially in urban areas. This area is amidst residential directly to the south, Trinity Lutheran to the east, residential/downtown to the north, and the canal and Tranist Rd (main south entrance to DT) to the west. The bright sun in the Lockport image hides how ugly the site actually looks.

The Buffalo image is not without its flaws as it does still create and long hard empty facade for an entire block. The 20ft set-back mentioned in the article with greenery would be great when done in conjunction with a wall. The same should be done along Saxton also. Odds are the parishioners at Trinity Lutheran would be willing to upkeep some green space across the street to beautify the view when exiting the church.

This is the sole provider of our utilities infrastructure. The city should not settle for a new chain link fence after 2 years of upheaval and clean-up. I wonder if there are any city codes for these types of sites?

3/03/2009

Parking Ramp Update:

Posted by MJ

(Image: Current Parking Ramp Looking Toward Main St - Lockport NY)

LUSJ has an article updating the parking ramp process: CITY OF LOCKPORT: Parking garage planning is ramped up.

...Preliminary design would better indicate the project cost, which the consultants currently estimate to be $8 million. That ballpark figure assumes $3 million to demolish the existing parking garage at Main and Pine streets and redo Fountain Park, and $5 million to construct a new garage...

...Stakeholders are whichever groups the city committee decides should have a voice in the project outcome: Lockport Business Association, Urban Park Towers residents and management, area developers, community and civic groups, the state Canal Corp., preservation interests and/or the general public, including tourists.Input desired on aesthetics, accessibility...


Park security and upkeep already are topics of debate within the committee. Tucker is pushing hard for a gated park, monitored during the day and locked at night, to keep out loiterers.“Look at what we’ve got now (in Fountain Park). You can’t use it,” he said. “The same people sit there all day, every day; there’s broken glass everywhere, and in summer it’s an ashtray.”Fourth Ward Alderman Patrick Schrader said he won’t support measures that strictly limit public access, however. The city can simply ban smoking and other behaviors that deter usage — and enforce the bans, he said. Schrader also is advocating for construction of small retail spaces, to be occupied perhaps by tourist-related ventures, to raise money for park upkeep.“I hate to be the one to say this, but we already have 26 parks in this city that we don’t take care of,” he said.

Older post here with images of the site plans: Parking Ramp Replacement (2008-11-17)


I have to agree on the parks issue. People always want more parks while a majority of parks remain underused. They are also prone to throw in things like concert spaces, etc into a lot of projects until there are way too many around and users are diluted if not non-existant. The parks are pretty to drive by but they are expensive to maintain and invite undesired users due to the initial lack of use. It creates a downward cycle.

If there is a place for a park on Main St. I guess this would be it with the views down the lower canal to the upside down bridge and the bend in the canal at Upson Park. Located along Main St. it would hopefully, in the longer term have the vibrant primary activity around it drawing users into it. The other open space nearby on Canal St. which was supposed to get a "concert gazebo" would be better suited for infill to create more connectivity long term along that street and the locks area as the economy turns around and it eventually finds tenants.

Going back to the park issues above it ties into the comments of "the same people" above. Most likely these are Urban Park Tower residents. It makes sense they are the only ones to use it since they are the only real users around there. The canyon created by the current two above ground levels and the towers doesn't help the area feel inviting either.

The small surface top deck with a majority of it park and the resulting open views down to the viewing area below should help this along with the better connectivity to Pine St and the locks. But what is really needed is a more transparent Main St. with more users mingling and coming into the park. All the resulting eyes will be self policing without the need to pay someone to "shoo" away loiterers.

This is a large exciting project and will be fun to follow and give input on.

3/03/2009

YWCA Update

Posted by MJ

(Image: YWCA Main St. Facade in Ulrich City Center, Lockport NY)

Update on the YMCA facade:

I was informed that the window treatments were put up because of reports that some of the residents from Urban Park Towers were staring through the windows from across the street watching the woman working out and it made them feel uncomfortable.

While I find this a logical reason, it still underscores the poor planning and lack of street side facade regulation. Why put the "sensitive" use facing Main st? Why not put the Main Entrance and reception area facing Main St. with the workout area at the rear facing the "private" property parking lot? I'm not fully aware of the interior layout so someone who uses the facility could chime in. All I know for sure is the vibe it gives along its Main St frontage is counterproductive to a lively functioning Main St.

Safe streets have eyes everywhere. Locals, strangers, transparent frontages all contribute to self-surveillance. Building little forts only make the perceived threats outside the fortress walls all the more possible.