6/28/2010

Outwater Fireworks - 6/4

Posted by MJ


From the mayors mouth (keyboard?), the 4th of July fireworks will be at Outwater Park on July 4th at dusk. We'll probably see some area firework listings in the Buffalo News or The LUSJ by the end of the week.

Long term forecast is looking nice!

UPDATE 6/29/2010:
LUSJ reported on it.

6/28/2010

Bountiful Parking

Posted by MJ

Some food for thought:

...But one quote in particular stands out: “‘Downtown can’t begin to compete with suburban office parks without convenient and affordable parking,’ said Schmand, whose nonprofit agency represents the interests of downtown stakeholders and residents.”
To the uninitiated, this may sound reasonable, except for one thing. Downtown can never compete with suburban office parks on the basis of convenient and affordable parking. To compete successfully on that basis would mean the destruction of all of downtown’s remaining (and emerging) value.
By definition, downtown can never out-compete the suburbs on suburban, automobile-based terms. By necessity, parking takes up a tremendous amount of land, creating lots of dead, open space, which the suburbs have plenty of. In fact, that’s the suburbs’ main asset: lots of open space. A city’s main amenity is not open land, but density, walkability, a diverse mix of uses, and the quality of the streets and other public spaces. These are the areas in which the suburbs cannot out-compete downtown. These are things cities...need to focus on to be successful.
From: Chuck Banas: Putting Parking In Its Proper Place. I'll grant you the we are not NYC, or even Buffalo. I use the quote to highlight the importance of parking placement, sharing, etc to maintain a DT environment that is worth visiting and living around. Site plans such as Family Video, Walgreens, etc only further hinder the use of our assets (urban, walkable infrastructure). Isolated, single-use, set-back, drive-in-drive-out pods will only hold back long term valuable growth in DT Lockport.

Unfortunately we knocked down a lot of our asssets 50-60 years ago. We could use this open land as a positive to rebuild with a nice balance of pedestrian and vehicle amenities. Ulrich City Center with its "hidden" parking and continuous street fronts is the prime example. Though more often than not we appear to miss the mark for no particular reason other than "that's the way it's done". Or in other words, our bulding and zoning codes allow (or mandate?) that we get the weakest buildings and site plans.

Time for a change?

6/24/2010

City Skatepark

Posted by MJ

LUSJ reported on city funding some repairs at the Outwater skatepark. I'd like to comment on the location of the park. At first thought locating it in an existing park is a good idea. The problem is it comes up short in regards to spin off growth and local store spending (if the park is located far from them).



If the park was located in a lot DT, we'd have a number of people patronizing the skate park who would have the opportunity to walk/skate over to a store/restaurant to spend some money. We'd also have another piece of a livelier, more interesting DT. Many of my summer days as a youth were spent skateboarding in the pocket park at the corner of Cazenovia and Seneca streets in the City of Buffalo. We'd be there from 10am until dinner time. Each day we'd pry spend $10-15 each day for drinks, snacks, lunch etc. at the stores along Seneca St.


Conversely, I had a second stint in my early 20s going to Bikes Blades and Boards skate park in Wheatfield when I went through my roller blade phase (nothing quite like a kid half your age taunting you to drop in the 16' half pipe for the first time). My point to highlight here was that there was nothing much was around it. We'd park, skate and leave with no money spent nearby.


Children should be an integral part of the activity DT. They have money to spend and we should be creating within them a vested interest in the city to ensure they continue to care about it and someday hopefully choose to invest in it

6/23/2010

Mixed Use Canal St.

Posted by MJ

It seems there are others out there share the ideas of some of my recent posts on Canal St.. As reported by the LUSJ:

...The block of four city-owned buildings, overlooking parallel old and modern sets of locks near the Pine Street bridge, seems like the logical center of a heritage tourism district, they say; but the fact the touring season only lasts six months a year means the block should not be reserved exclusively for tourism-related uses.

Mixed-use development — first-floor retail appealing to visitors and locals, and guaranteed year-round users of upper floors, say offices and/or residential lofts — would be the best strategy for Greater Lockport Development Corp. to pursue as it is soliciting building tenants and/or buyers, business owner Mike Murphy and Canal Task Force volunteer Jane Whitmore both suggested...
Now only if the city would present what its ultimate vision is we could probably move forward in a more orderly fashion. And I will ask the question: what is considered "tourist related"?

As a tourist myself, I may seek out a local attraction or two to highlight the day but the rest of the time I look for the amenities that any local resident would look for. Diverse shops, places to eat, people watching etc are part of the background that makes a trip fun but that may also go unnoticed. I do not seek out T-shirt shops, cheap tacky gift shops, etc. I do not look forward to hopping in my car traveling parking lot to parking lot or conversely walking past a bunch of nothing for long stretches.

From my point of view, the best street to offer to tourists is the same street that would be best for residents: diverse, full of mixed use buildings and thus ultimately full of people. Make the smallest building near Pine St a small welcome center and fill the rest of the street with places that people are drawn to in general. Throw in some residents to have lights on and bodies around 24-7 and off we go on a journey from just being a place to visit to also being a place that worth seriously considering living in.

6/23/2010

Concert Food Court.

Posted by MJ

LUSJ reported today that a "mini food court" will be set up on Locust street featuring local food vendors.

...Ulrich confirmed his development company is organizing a “mini food court” on concert nights featuring all-local restaurant operators. Seven Lockport restaurants are signed up to participate in what Ulrich said he hopes is an opportunity for local businesses to showcase themselves to a large, unfamiliar audience. The concerts draw attendees from around Western New York, southern Ontario and, depending on the main act, other states...

The article mentions that one local charitable cause per week will be allowed onto the premises to raise money. Both are nice additions.

UPDATE 06/24/10

LUSJ reported the plug is pulled on both. I say swallow the pride, don't worry about the additional shows, move the food court into the first row of parking in the lot and lower the fee. Life is about compromises and changes. Use this as an opportunity to make a good idea (local food court) and make it better and a little more open.

UPDATE 06/25/10

LUSJ reported than main promoter will still be hosting non-profit fundraisers. Though is only charging $100 flat fee instead of Ulrich's 50/50 split take.

6/22/2010

"Package" Tickets for attractions

Posted by LoneWolf

Greetings Lockportians and guests to Lockport~

Like last year , for those of you that were aware, there was a "Package Ticket Deal"  for 3 historical attractions in Lockport.

It consisted of the following "pay one price admission" of in and around 20$
  • Lockport Cave
  • Erie Canal Discovery Center
  • Lockport Locks and Erie Canal Cruises
This year its a little diffrent:

 Right now( as of lasat week) its starting out as a "2 Admission deal" for the following :
  • Lockport Cave
  • Erie Canal Discovery Center
After July 1st (as far as I have heard) it to the "3 admission deal"
  • Lockport Cave
  • Erie Canal Discovery Center
  • Lockport Locks and Erie Canal Cruises
The price.. like last year.. is AROUND the 20$ mark (might be around 25$  or so) .. .. I'll know more as things go on and will update this thread as I find out more info in the next week or so. The tickets are good for a THIS FULL TOURISM SEASON ONLY . (like last year)  So you DON'T have to go to all 3 attractions in one day , you can make a day or 2 or 3 , out if it , depending on what you would like to do and how yout time allows but they MUST BE USED this season.

Considering how "money wise" things are going for many people, its not that bad of a deal if you think about it .

You get AT LEAST  3 or 4 hours of rich history and stories about Lockport, as well as a "staycation"  . For under 30$ .

Just like last year, your ticket purcahse , can be done at any of the 3 attractions I listed above, as well as a Trolly ride  to take you from point to point.

Come out and enjoy some Lockport History .. and see parts of Lockport that you MAY not have seen before.

Take Care all.
I'll keep you all updated  in reagrds to Ticket prices for this "Pacakge Deal"  as updates become available.

~Jeff



Update : Bumped from Below.

Tickets for the "2 Pack Deal" (Discovery Center and Cave Tour)
  • $12 for Adults
  • $8 for children
Available at either the Discovery Center OR Lockport Cave Ticket office ( 2 Pine Street, Old City Hall), until July 1st.  On/After July 1st. it swtiches to the "3 Pack deal" for admission to : Discovery Center,Lockport Cave, and Erie Canal and Lock Cruises respective ticket offices. Price unkown at this time.


Update on the "3-Pack 'Passport' " :

  • As of July 1st Admission prices are as follows for the "3 Pack ' Passport' "
  • $26 for Adults
  • $16 for Children 
  • Tickets will be avialable at ALL 3 Participating Attractions ( Discovery Center, Lockport Cave, Erie Canal and Locks Cruise.

6/21/2010

Home Owner Walmart Opposition?

Posted by MJ

An interesting article in The Wall Street Journal about the money and voices behind some of the Walmart resistance across the US.

Robert Brownson long believed that his proposed development here, with its 200,000-square-foot Wal-Mart Supercenter, was being held hostage by nearby homeowners.
He had seen them protesting at city hall, and they had filed a lawsuit to stop the project.
What he didn't know was that the locals were getting a lot of help. A grocery chain with nine stores in the area had hired Saint Consulting Group to secretly run the antidevelopment campaign. Saint is a specialist at fighting proposed Wal-Marts, and it uses tactics it describes as "black arts."...
A good read for those around here who always felt that Tops was funding the resistance to the reuse of the old mall site as a Super Center.

6/18/2010

"You Can Tell By The Size Of..."

Posted by MJ

"You can tell by the size of their McDonald's sign how affluent a neighborhood is."

This line was a semi-joke by the person from the Dept of State. He was one of two who were conducting the zoning/planning board training earlier this week at NCCC (board members are required 4-hours of training annually).

It is another one of those comments that hit you upside the head with how "obvious" they are. The sad part here is that the task at hand, no huge obnoxious signs, does not depend on how affluent a municipality is. It only depends on how defined the local zoning/planning/sign/etc codes are.

Maybe it is just as simple as the more affluent communities having the courage to enact the limiting codes with the knowledge that "businesses will still come". I submit that businesses would 1) still come and 2) be willing to spend some more money/and or do things differently if they were assured that everyone was playing by the same rules. This would give added security in the additional investment while also making the area look more desirable.

As I have mentioned before, large backlit highway pole signs especially do not belong in a 30 mph urban area with pedestrians. They serve no legitimate purpose ( I am not trying to find them from a half mile away at 55 mph) and cheapen the look of the area.

If we want to improve our area we just need to legislate what we want and have the courage to do it.

6/17/2010

Garbage Reform Update

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News reported:

The Common Council decided Wednesday to seek proposals from garbage collection and recycling companies using a format that would give residents their choice of three sizes of city-sanctioned garbage cans.

President Richelle J. Pasceri said the bidding envisions a system of “utility-based billing,” whereby the cost of garbage collection would be taken out of the regular property tax and billed separately to each property owner — including those who are tax-exempt.

However, the bill would vary based on the size of garbage tote each resident chooses: 35, 65 or 95 gallons, Pasceri said. The figures will depend on the prices quoted by the contractors servicing what is called the “variable cart” plan.
This is the plan that I prefer. The uniform totes look much better as the curb, the built in lids keep the trash in place and each residence pays relative to how much they dispose of. All I'd ask for is a dark green or black color to look nice at the curb and alongside the house. The extra recycling tote will be a PIA at first but I can vouch that a good portion of our trash now is cardboard, etc.

I also agree with Jack Smith in getting the garbage responsibilities out of the city's long term costs:
Alderman Jack L. Smith Jr., D- 2nd Ward, said he wants to privatize collection because the city won the right to do so in the new contract approved late last year with the city’s blue-collar union, which includes garbage workers.
“That’s what the whole contract agreement was for,” he said
.

6/15/2010

NYS Water Trail System

Posted by MJ


The Buffalo News reported the recently annouced Water Trail System created by the State Canal Corp.

The state Canal Corp. has created a trail system of 100 launch sites for boats and paddle craft across New York, officials are announcing today.



Dubbed the "Canalway Water Trail," the effort is aimed at improving existing sites by making them more user-friendly, Canal Corp. Director Carmella R. Mantello said at a press conference this morning in Mayor's Park.


One of the goals of the project is to have a launch site every 10 to 15 miles, Mantello said. Some sites along the trail are for motorized crafts, while others are for non-motorized. Some existing sites where camping is available are also included.


There are two sites in Erie County and seven in Niagara County that are part of the first 100 sites in the system. The site in Erie County are the Tonawanda Wall in the City of Tonawanda and the Amherst Boat Launch in the Town of Amherst.
The Niagara County sites include Nelson C. Goehle Marine Park and the Upper Terminal Launch in the City of Lockport; the Botanical Gardens, Mayor's Park and city launch in North Tonawanda; the Gasport Launch in the Town of Royalton; and West Canal Park and Marina in the Town of Pendleton.
Interactive map is here.

6/14/2010

Mom+Pop Canal St.

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News and The LUSJ have both reported on the attempts of small-business to land on Canal St.

Does a “small” business person have a prayer of landing a piece of Canal Street?


A few who’ve tried believe they do not, especially once a bigger entity like inLighten or, now, Ulrich Development Corp., enters the picture.
But the city’s development arm says they are not playing favorites and will consider all offers currently on the table....
This is the highest profile section of street along the Canal in Lockport. The biggest issue here is the city's lack of a plan for the street. If there was a plan in place it wouldn't matter if there were separate entities or one trying to develop the block. Though with the money needed to finish each building and create in-fill to make it successful, I'd say a large developer and their money is needed.

I've mentioned the current draw backs:
-No thru traffic in a pedestrian light area.
-Only two or three street level store fronts separated by almost a city block.
-No continuous street frontage to draw pedestrians down it.
-No plan to ensure it has the best chance of drawing people year round to make it viable.


This should be a signature project. Anything less will sell the street and the city short. It should one-up Ulrich City Center and pick up on what was missed over there. Offer tax-breaks etc to offset the investment needed in exchange for a mixed-use development that should set the precedent for future development downtown while showing visitors a progressive city. Invite successful developers from Buffalo and Rochester to sell them on the opportunity and then bid on it. No one bids well enough, increase the incentives and repeat...

 

6/11/2010

Parks vs. Buildings

Posted by MJ

Came across one of those quotes the other day that solidify a thought in one's mind that always there but never quite able to be stated eloquently:

think the knee-jerk reaction towards "green space" is because people have no faith anymore in architects or developers to create buildings worth caring about.

James Howard Kunstler frequently gives an example of this in Saratoga Springs. The city was redeveloping a vacant property that was originally a beautiful hotel that had been demolished for a supermarket or strip mall. The best idea the locals could come up with was "a park", even though there is already an historic Olmsted-designed park right across the street! People just weren't able to even consider that an urban-scaled building could be constructed that would complement the street. Their gut reaction was that any development would necessarily be a detriment to the city, based on decades of experience of that being true.
 
JSmith -buffalo rising
Seemingly all we can wrap our heads around today are parks and attractions. While important they will never float a sinking city ship the way a critical mass of employed citizenry will.


An editorial appeared in the Buffalo News today about the success of the Larkin Building and surrounding area in Buffalo. No parks or bells and whistles to attempt to sow seeds of development. No carriages put before the horse. Just an unique offering of history and the hope for the return of an urban neighborhood that has already been mostly demolished.


We have a similar building. But we also have a semi-functioning Main St a block away, intact housing/neighborhoods to the south and a historic canal and lock system 4 blocks away. Where is the drive to secure a grand vision built from a strong foundation of non-retail jobs? Get people nearby with well paying jobs and homes and the retail will happily follow, mo arm twisting necessary.


...Howard Zemsky is an investor and preservation-minded developer—no, that is not a contradiction in terms—whose family owned Russer Foods. He and partners Joe Petrella, Bill Jones and Doug Swift started it all eight years ago by buying the vacant Graphic Controls building. Despite “no way” warnings from timid skeptics, they pulled off a$30 million transformation, filled its 10 floors with tenants and—with a nod to history— reclaimed the Larkin Building name. It stands as architectural eye candy for thousands of daily commuters on I-190...
...There are different ways to rebuild a neighborhood. This may be the quickest. Zemsky and partners have, he said, spent “several million dollars” buying and rehabbing buildings. Investment attracts investment. First Niagara kicked in $1.5 million for a streetscape face-lift. Architects bought the four-story Kamman Building. Neighborhood homeowners are getting fix-up dollars. There is talk of a new owner—and new life—for the drab, eight-story monolith next to the Larkin.

6/08/2010

Lockport Trolly

Posted by LoneWolf

                             Personal Photo taken at July 4th Parade 2009


The Lockport Trolly Rides again this year.

Date of Start: This month  not 100% sure of the date

For those of you unfamiliar with this tour.

This is a FREE guided tour (however donations are appreciated) on a Trolly that has been "outfitted" for normal street driving.

The tour itself takes ABOUT 1 hour   to 1 and 1/2 hour (depending)

The tour takes you through the city and shows you quite a few historical and interesting places in Lockport. Even for some "seasoned" Lockportians it shows you places you might not know about.

The "trolly guides" (Stan and Jon last have heard)  are quite knowledgeable as to the history of the buildiungs you will see on tour, and are willing to answer any questions you may have while on tour with them.
There are 8 "official" stops along the route, they are as follows:
  •  Erie Canal Discovery Center
  • Colonel William Bond House
  • Niagara County Historical Society
  • Lockport Inn and Suites
  • Holiday Inn
  • Kenan Center
  • Lockport Locks and Erie Canal Crusies
  • Lockport Cave and Underground Boat Ride
The Trolly arrives at each "station" at approximately the 15 and 45 minute mark of the hour. (or can be called "on demand" depending on the "station" you are at)

Hours:  9 am - 6pm (subject to change)

Personal note:
I have been on this tour quite a few times and it is VERY enjoyable Jon and Stan do a great job of making history FUN to learn.

Having only lived in Lockport for 12 years, and being a tour guide for Lockport Cave... I learned ALOT  on this tour.. it DEFINATELY  gives you a "diffrent perspective"  of Lockport History .. I HIGHLY recommend this tour to any one who lives in Lockport  OR may have family or freinds visiting from out of town as long as they are "engaged" with history .. this will be quite enjoyable for you and them.

Enjoy folks .. and see some rich Lockport History
~Jeff

6/07/2010

2010 Molson Canal Concert Series

Posted by MJ


Another year and another summer of concerts to come. Here is where we will track the line up of the 2010 Molson Concert Series in Lockport NY. This is the third year of the concerts and it has been recently announced (LUSJ - Buffalo News) that the concerts will be extended for three more years with 9 shows per summer.

Performers in the 2010 series lineup have not been announced by the promoter yet. Tucker said he’s been told the names of a few headline acts, booked or close to booked, but he’s sworn to silence until all nine shows are confirmed.

“I can tell you this: If the lineup shapes up like (Paradowski) wants it to, it could be our best season ever,” he said.
 I'm not sure of Mayor Tucker's exact tastes but hopefully his words ring true. Last summer's  Our Lady Peace and Queensryche shows were highlights for me. Last year's 2009 thread is here.

Artists will be added as they are leaked/found up to the official series announcement date which is usually early June. If anyone finds any information feel free to drop them in the comments below. Recent updates will be shown in red.

All shows are held outdoors at the Ulrich City Center downtown on Main St rain or shine and are free. Visiting Lockport and looking for other things to do? Look here: "Lockport on the Erie Canal"

UPDATE (05-18-10): It's Official: Molson Canal Concert Series Official Website

UPDATE (01-26-10) - 2011 thread is up!

2010 Molson Concert Series Lineup:

6/25 - Rusted Root  w/ The Funky Beets, The Ragbirds
7/02 - Our Lady Peace w/ Jimmy Gnecco of Ours, The Incurables
7/09 - Gretchen Wilson w/ Bareback Jack, Amanada Nagurney
7/16 - Three Dog Night w/ Leroy Townes, Rob Falgiano
7/23 - Blues Traveler w/ Free Henry, Automation, Bearhunter
7/30 - Rik Emmett w/ Wanted by the FBI, Friendly Fire
8/06 - Kansas w/ Reign of Kindo
8/13 - Tears for Fears w/ Missing Star, Pillagers
8/20 - Big Sugar w/ Johnny Nobody, Beggar's Best, Jeremy Hoyle Band

UPDATE (08-24-10): The series is over. How many shows did you see? Who was your favorite? Take the poll!

Official series website: http://www.canalconcerts.com/
Originally posted 1/20/2009 with continual updates

Concert Venue Aerial - Click on for Larger Size - Lg

6/03/2010

Ulrich's Canal St Plans?

Posted by MJ


Seems Lockport’s (only?) developer David Ulrich is proposing something for Canal St. today. The Buffalo News and the LUSJ reported:


...David L. Ulrich is to meet behind closed doors today with the board of the city’s development agency to discuss the empty buildings along the north bank of the Erie Canal, which were renovated at a cost of more than $3 million, mostly in state and federal grants.

Proposals ranging from a wine store to the headquarters of a digital screen manufacturer have fallen through.
Now Ulrich, landlord of Ulrich City Centre on Main Street, will go before the Greater Lockport Development Corp. to make a pitch for a new project...
What would you hope to see?

I’d love to see the Niagara Wine Loop Shop come back in its original form. I’d be knocked silly if an actual residential mix was proposed. I may need shock paddles if mixed use infill development is mentioned.

UPDATE 06-04-10
Most meeting updates from The Buffalo News and The LUSJ with not much by the way of new information.

6/02/2010

Nuisance Law 1.2

Posted by MJ

Recieved an update of the Nuisance Law draft.

Notible updates:

The Nuisance Abatement Board is no longer made up of council members:

“Nuisance Abatement Board” – The Board shall consist of five (5) members (one from each ward) to be appointed by the Mayor, with the advice and consent of Council. Initial appointments to the Board shall be made as follows: Two members shall be appointed for a term of one year; two members shall be appointed for a term of two years; and one member shall be appointed for a term of three years. Subsequent appointments or reappointments shall be made for terms of three years. A vacancy shall be filled for an expired term in the manner in which the original appointment was made. A simple majority of the Board shall constitute a quorum.
There is now the path of a Nuisance Abatement Agreement
At any time and at the Board’s discretion, the City may enter into a written Nuisance Abatement Agreement with the property owner wherein the property owner agrees to take specific actions, as approved by the City, to abate, terminate or eliminate the public nuisance activity on the property in exchange for the City of Lockport reserving its rights and agreeing not to initiate any of its enforcement remedies pursuant to Section 255-45 of this article against the property during the term of the Agreement, provided that the property owner complies with the terms and conditions of the Nuisance Abatement Agreement and the conditions or violations causing the public nuisance activity on the property are abated, terminated or eliminated.
Also addressed are the removal of points based on time since the infraction:
The points assessed to the property shall remain on the property if:
(a) The property owner fails to request a reconsideration of the points by the Nuisance Abatement Board pursuant to Section 255-46B (3)
(b) Following the property owner’s request for reconsideration under Section
255-46B (3), the Nuisance Abatement Board determines that the points assessed to the property were merited; or
(c) The points remain on the property for approximately one year after the points become officially assessed against a property. After one year, the Nuisance Abatement Board shall remove the points assessed to the property.

6/02/2010

Jamestown Container Building Sold

Posted by MJ


Small tidbit buried in the Buffalo News:

...Also in Niagara County, an electronics company from Hong Kong paid $495,000 to buy a vacant manufacturing and warehouse facility at 85 Grand St. in Lockport from Jamestown Container Corp. The electronics firm, acting through 85 Grand Street LLC, bought the parcel from Jamestown Container Lockport Inc.


The 145,000 square-foot, three-story industrial building had been used by Jamestown and predecessor Great Lakes Container Corp. and Great Lakes Packaging Corp., and had been built up over time. It includes active rail siding, nine truck docks at the two ends of the building, and updated office space.

However, it has been vacant for about six months, after Jamestown Container moved the operations to other plants, said cqCammille L. Kantowski, the commercial real estate broker at Hunt Commercial Real Estate who handled the deal. A representative of the electronics firm could not be reached to comment...
Wonder what they would want with it and if there should be any hope of jobs attached anytime soon?