Discussion: Ideas Vs People

Posted by MJ

"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people."

Well, the 3rd B-day of the blog has passed (2nd). Over that time the views increased 100% again but that unfortunately was hindered in a rapid drop in etiquette which resulted in removing the ability of anonymous visitors to post.

I was on the Christmas Holiday break from the blog but I got one of those "gossip" emails trying to "teach me" about someone. As many times as I try to reiterate the purpose of this blog it always seems to get lost no matter how many comments I have to delete and explain.
"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people."
Remember this. This quote is not meant to be mean but rather to show where I desire the conversation here would lead. We, as a citizenry, can spend our time actually discussing the merits of ideas or continuing to waste our time in school yard behavior by forming into cliques and trashing others who are outside of them.

People will come and go. Ideas we institute, or conversely those we fail to, will long outlast the people we try to knock down.

For those with more interest in discussing people, blogs are free to create for such a purpose.

I wish you all the best this holiday season. See you in the new year.



Proposed NFTA Cuts

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News reported on the proposed NFTA service cuts. Although it does not specifically note Lockport in the article the linked PDF pretty much shows all Lockport services being eliminated.

#44   Lockport  Service eliminated past Cross Point to Lockport
#55   Pine          Service eliminated between NCCC and Lockport
#64   Lockport  Express to DT Buffalo eliminated
#201 Lockport  Metro Link around City/Town eliminated

That a public transportation authority serving Niagara and Erie counties would cut off a population center of 40k people of which a good portion of the residents are lower income seems very irresponsible. So much for those of meager income reverse-commuting to the burbs for work or having cheap reliable transportation to educational opportunities.

...Still, just about all authority commissioners acknowledge some other method of sustaining the operation is needed, especially because decreasing state aid and proceeds from the local mortgage recording tax paint a gloomy fiscal picture for the years ahead.

Minkel said commuters will have a chance in the new year to participate in required public hearings that will be held in various locations around Erie and Niagara counties.

NFTA spokesman C. Douglas Hartmayer emphasized that route eliminations and layoffs will result only after the public has weighed in on the draft plans unveiled Monday...
Is this an attempt to grab attention from state/local government? Either way local users and government better speak up.

UPDATE 12-21-11

The LUSJ reported on the subject and noted contact information for the NFTA.
...Written comments can be sent by e-mail to planning@nfta.com, or by regular mail to Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, 181 Ellicott St., Buffalo, NY 14201, attn: Service Planning Department.


Credit Cards for City Bills?

Posted by MJ

Please let it be done. It has been annoying in the past to go to city hall only to have to run to the ATM. The Buffalo News reported.

The City of Lockport soon may join the list of municipalities that accept credit card payments for taxes and bills.

The Common Council’s financial task force, headed by Alderman Kenneth M. Genewick, discussed the matter Wednesday and discovered that it wouldn’t cost much to make credit card payment options available....

...That firm told Genewick it would charge the city $100 for each card swipe machine, $20 a month for its services, and would add a user fee of 63 cents plus 2.8 percent of each payment to the bill of the person paying.
For large payments, it offers an electronic check service that would cost a flat $2.50....


Lockport's Awarded State Funding

Posted by MJ

Lockport gets $660,000 portion of the $100M in extra funding coming to WNY. The Buffalo News and The LUSJ reported. reported. Summary PDF of the individual projects is here.

For years, the Harrison Place building on Walnut was a sign of Lockport’s economic success, as radiators were pumped out every day for General Motors vehicles.

Now, the building’s usage could be another sign of economic improvement for the city.

The Western New York Regional Council was one of the four winning councils in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s revamped program for allocating state dollars for economic development projects. The Regional Economic Development Council program gave the Western New York grouping $100.3 million, $8.7 million of which is heading to Niagara County projects.

The City of Lockport had two of the local winning projects, which involved Harrison Place and the home ownership program.

“We’re very excited,” said Lockport Mayor Michael W. Tucker. “It’s going to allow us to do some great things.”

Locally, the development of Harrison Place is a $260,000 project that will lead to the creation of 23 jobs, most of which will go to low- to moderate-income individuals.

Plans for Harrison Place include designing an entrance for Building 1 on Washburn Street. There’s also the creation of a permanent home for the Challenger Learning Center...

Update 12-12-11
Article from The Buffalo News focused on Lockport's share of the funding.


Nuisance Law Update

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News and The LUSJ reported on the possible public comment session on Jack Smiths sponsored nuisance law which as been hibernating since early 2010.

Lame-duck Alderman Jack L. Smith Jr. said he has revived his proposed public nuisance law and will try to get it passed at the Common Council’s final meeting of the year Dec. 21

Smith, D-2nd Ward, ran into trouble with the proposal Wednesday, however, as none of his colleagues would second a motion to call a public hearing. Smith’s usual Council ally, Alderman Andrew D. Chapman, R-4th Ward, missed the meeting.

Council President Richelle J. Pasceri, R-1st Ward, said no hearing should be called until the full text of the law was in the hands of the aldermen.

A special Council meeting next Wednesday will consider calling the hearing, although Smith said he will give up the plan altogether if Chief Building Inspector Jason Dool feels it places too great a burden on his staff.

“I probably wasn’t going to bring it back before I left [office], but the pre-election process and the people I met showed me we do have some problems we have to attend to,” said Smith, whose run for mayor failed in the Democratic primary. “I think there’s a couple of incidents this would have helped.”....

The document is here on Scribd.


SLP Meeting December 13th.

Posted by MJ

From the press release:

Save Lockport Housing would like to invite the public to attend an informational meeting on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 7pm at the Old Post Office located on the corner of Main St. and Elm St.
Save Lockport Housing is a citizen based advocacy group whose primary focus is to work toward the elimination of blighted and nuisance housing on the City of Lockport using public resources for economic development, social intervention, and neighborhood revitalization.
Everyone who is concerned about housing and how it affects our daily lives is encouraged to attend and be involved.


Zoning - Salvation Army and DT

Posted by MJ

Last Monday's planing board meeting (12-5-11) agenda included the expansion of the Salvation Army at 50 Cottage St. It is a prime example of what I've learned on the planning board. The rules we have set up (60 years ago?) do more to hamper the reemergence of a sense of place in and around DT Lockport that anything else. It can be a depressing experience when new buildings are constructed to see another opportunity lost. Regarding the Salvation Army, while it is not a commercial store etc that most people will be interacting directly with, it is still a structure that we will interact with as we drive or walk by. This does not count what uses the building may see in the future.

As the site currently stands the building is built up to the city right of way along Cottage and Genessee streets. It does a great job of mimicking the placement of the houses on Genessee to the west and the Verizon building across cottage to the east.

The unimproved lot at the corner of Walnut and Cottage is just begging for a structure built up the corner to compliment the buildings at the other 3 corners. As is common, zoning is there to make sure it doesn't....

 Here is proposed site plan (click on for larger):
The zoning of B-5 requires a front yard (setback) of 30 ft (Cottage) and a side yard (setback) of 15 ft (Walnut and Genessee). Maybe it's my eyes but every structure on that block and at adjacent corners already has zero setback. So why the zoning designation requiring something totally out of place? Why 30 ft setbacks one block from Main st on a secondary commercial street? The zoning board was wise to grant a variance so that the Cottage St facade could at least match the position of the existing one. This does nothing to help out the placement along Walnut.

Another side effect of these "setbacks" is that instead of resulting in a nice "yard" etc they result in asphalt parking since there is now no where else to put the parking on the site since the structure is forced toward the back. As seen above all of Walnut is now parking spaces up to the intersection instead a structure complimenting the ones located on the other three corners. Here's a small post on the importance of corners. Our zoning should be requiring buildings to hug the corners in DT if we want to see any signs of life in it as opposed to making them illegal.

The community center designation would require 79 parking spots (1 per 200 sq ft). Fortunately the zoning board has granted a variance for 20 spots considering the users of the facility and that there is a city lot on the other side of the Verizon building along with street parking. But as noted above, they are along Walnut instead of at the rear of the building. Nothing could be finer than walking along stunted 2' boxwoods and a parking lot.

A another zoning requirement is  5% parking area landscaping. The importance of 2' tall boxwoods  amongst 20x more asphalt is lost upon me. In the spirit of the 5% law, replanting decent street trees would probably be a much better means to the end. One could require to re-tree in any open plant-able street side plot and plant in one nearby for every plot already containing a tree.

Maybe someday we'll get a legislated master plan and complimentary zoning code instead of our current (forgotten?) non-legislated master plan (circa 1998) with a an outdated conflicting 60 year old zoning code that most likely was copied from somewhere else "just because".

Update 12-12-11
Article from Buffalo News.


Recycling's Continued Success

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News reported on the new city recycling program's continued strong start.

City officials say Lockport’s participation in recycling since the city began privatized garbage service has far exceeded expectations.
Dawn M. Timm, Niagara County environmental coordinator and a prime mover in the new program, said the amount of trash land-filled in the first four weeks of the new system was 33 percent less than in the same period in 2010, a figure she called “incredible.”...
What a huge reduction in the amount of land-filled waste. The large wheeled recycling tote is the biggest factor for me. We have filled it to the top before every pickup and our 94 gallon garbage tote is usually only 1/2 filled because of it. Past experiences with the small recycling crates in Lancaster showed them to be a PIA since all cardboard had to be completely broken down to fit and they quickly ran out of space resulting in a lot of recyclables heading to the trash.

I have noticed several of the smallest garbage totes overfilled every week. Those users will most likely start to get some bad news in the near future in the form of warnings and tickets. The best solution to me is to be friendly with your neighbors and share extra space when needed on a rare basis for free as opposed to buying tickets for extra bags. Otherwise take the free switch to a different size tote. The $5 a month between the smallest size and largest should not be too big of a burden.
...Besides the savings on the landfilling, which costs the city $30.73 per ton, the city will earn about $1,500 for selling the recyclables collected in the first month of the program, Timm said...
While a small sum in terms of the overall budget, I'd love to see these "green" proceeds going to a dedicated purpose such as new street trees etc.

As a reminder the city refuse and recycling website is here. It does note this is the last week for free "extra" item placement. As of December 5th, all extra items placed to the curb will reqiure an “Additional Item Tag/Sticker”.


No Cave Tour Office at Canal St.

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News and LUSJ reported that Lockport Cave and Underground Boat Tours will not be purchasing or, as they later requested, leasing the east most buildings.

The city’s deal with Hydraulic Race Company Inc. to turn Canal Street property into the base of a tourist attraction is off.

Hydraulic Race Company, the corporate owner of the Lockport Cave & Underground Boat Tour, last month informed the city that it no longer wished to purchase 79 Canal St. for various reasons. Instead, it proposed entering a long-term lease with Greater Lockport Development Corporation, which has a long-term master lease on all Canal Street properties.

GLDC’s board of directors has declined to negotiate property rental with the tour company, GLDC’s attorney, John Ottaviano, informed the company in a letter dated Monday.

Further, the purchase deal offered by the city, signed by Mayor Michael Tucker this past April but not signed by either Clancy Burkwit or Thomas Callahan, the shareholders in Hydraulic Race Company, should be considered null and void now, Ottaviano’s letter said....
While a nice fit in that area, I was a little hesitant to see 1/3 of the limited store fronts on Canal St. taken up by a seasonal business. A couple years back they sought variances to build on the land they own across street along the canal where the Holley buildings used to be but it sounds like they do not want to own. While nice to have their base close to the caves entrance, having it a little farther away increases the chances that visitors pass, and visit, other businesses.
...He said there are two companies whose proposals will go before the Greater Lockport Development Corp. board Dec. 15. One is interested only in 51 Canal, while the other wants both 51 and 79 Canal.
The only occupant of Canal Street is Trek Inc., the Medina-based maker of electrostatic measuring equipment. In February, it leased two floors of 57 Canal, the largest of the three buildings, for $90,000 a year..
Meanwhile, Burkwit said Hydraulic Race is looking for an alternative in downtown Lockport to its current Lockport Cave headquarters in Old City Hall, 2 Pine St....

In a little over two weeks we shall here who the other two interested parties are. As a side, note I'd love to see some signage for Trek on 57 Canal st to advertise that there is indeed life there.


Election Update

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News reported on the corrected election results:

...On Election Night, Tucker was reported the winner over Democratic challenger Michael J. Pillot by 200 votes, 2,297 to 2,097. But in the 2nd Ward, District 4, and the 4th Ward, District 3, Tucker’s vote was undercounted and Pillot’s was overstated. Correcting the errors makes the totals 2,345 for Tucker, 2,048 for Pillot. Absentee ballots have yet to be tallied.
Also closer than first reported was the 4th Ward alderman contest. Democrat Patrick W. Schrader was reported the winner over the GOP’s George A. Waskosky, 633 to 212. But two of the four districts in the ward reported wrong figures. The real result was Schrader winning 500 to 346...
The erroneous reports were first reported by the Buffalo News here.
They said the inspectors, many of them elderly people who just completed a 16-hour work day, incorrectly copied the totals from the ballot scanners onto forms that were used to generate the Election Night results posted on the board’s web-site

“It should be easy, but they make mistakes. That’s why the results are unofficial,” Casamento said.
plus swinging open doors....
Meanwhile, the commissioners said no ballots were lost or stolen in an incident Election Night in which several ballot bags fell out of a truck hauling them to the Board of Elections storage site in Newfane.

A Lockport police report said an officer found four bags at Market and Exchange streets and opened one, finding votes inside. Smith said five other bags were found by a Market Street resident.


Garbage Bill to be $147...

Posted by MJ

...with 60 days to pay. The Buffalo News reported.

All City of Lockport property owners will receive a$147 garbage bill by the end of this month, City Treasurer Michael E. White said this week

The bill is the same for all properties and must be paid within 60 days, White said. The charge covers the cost of the city-run garbage pickup service from Jan. 1 until Modern Disposal took over Oct. 10. That cost was left out of the 2011 city budget and the taxes that were levied this past January.
However, the city’s general fund had to front the money to pay for the garbage service and now has to be repaid, City Clerk and Budget Director Richard P. Mullaney said at Wednesday’s Common Council meeting. White said the privatized garbage service will operate on an October- to-September fiscal year and the user fees will be billed semiannually, with the first bill expected in May.


Housing Visions Subcontractors

Posted by MJ

Here is a document (PDF) I recieved from Jack Smith on the local subcontractors being used for the canal homes housing project. Also shows the processes for seeking bids, etc.

Direct mail was sent to the 200+ contractors that are licensed with the City of Lockport, local retail businesses were asked for references and legal ads were posted in papers for several weeks.

List showing firms chosen so far:


2012 voting results

Posted by MJ

In the mayor race Tucker is ahead by 200 votes at the close of polls. About 275 absentee ballots still need to be counted but the lead should hold.

Even though Pillot did not have much of a platform, the assessments (not controlled by the city), privatization of garbage (change is scary?) and the Hoffman job removal mess had me figuring it would be close.

If nothing else, the close primaries and actual election votes hits home the importance of voting.

In alderman news from the LUSJ:

City voters returned incumbents to the Common Council by sizable margins Tuesday. First Ward Alderman Richelle J. Pasceri, 5th Ward Alderman Kenneth M. Genewick and 4th Ward alderman- elect Patrick  Schrader, who served in the seat for 10 years, are returning to the Council table on Jan. 1. They’ll be joined by  veteran Alderman at Large Joe Kibler, newly elected 2nd Ward Alderman Anne McCaffrey and newly elected 3rd Ward Alderman Kathryn “Kitty” Fogle, who had no opposition to fill seats in the 2012-13 Council.
Entire Niagara County race results are at the County Board of Elections website.

Article from Buffalo News.

LUSJ Posted on the mayoral race and the other ones favoring incumbents.


Tucker - Pillot II

Posted by MJ

The LUSJ posted their detailed article on the mayor race. Some highlights:

“The city’s a much different place than it was eight years ago. I think there’s a lot of things that we can hang our hat on, that I’m proud of,” Tucker said. “The next four years are going to be extremely difficult years, when you look at the expenses the city incurs and the revenue it brings in, there’s going to be some very difficult decisions. I think I’ve proven I can make them.”
As I constantly mention, the cities budget solution must be increased investment in the city. Any cuts that start to (if not already have) hampered that will only set us back.Union concession will be huge since as the article states, 82% of our budget is salaries, health and pension.
The public  <refuse> program cost about $1.5 million a year inclusive of employees’ wages, equipment and fuel expenses and landfilling fees. Administration estimates privatizing will save the city $10 million over 10 years....

...In order to cut city spending, administration had to get its employees’ consent to farm out bargained-for work. The pact Tucker worked out with AFSCME in 2009, in which it agreed to let the work go, along with 10 union jobs through attrition, was “unprecedented,” Tucker said....
...Pillot says he’s “100 percent for recycling” but questions whether the Modern deal was the best or cheapest way the city could finally land it.

He points to the Town of Niagara’s deal with Allied Waste Services, which he says pays the town $200,000 a year and picks up trash and recyclables for free; trash is burned and the heat is converted to electricity for businesses...
 Getting the union to give up 10 jobs (albeit through attrition) is huge (do many unions give away bargained for gov't jobs?) and long term the city saves money. I find this a hard topic to make the "big" stand on.  The reason that the town of Niagara gets paid by Allied plus gets "free" trash pick up is that part of Allied's dump is in the town . The other part is in the city of Niagara Falls. It is basically a payment in lieu of taxes agreement. Unless we want to create a Allied run land fill in our city, I'm afraid we will not be getting this deal. Either Pillot did not research that deep (took me a 5 minute internet search) or is not fully explaining things to rouse up voters.
Pillot, a city retiree, said he’s support privatizing city services and/or getting the city into shared-service agreements if they “can save the taxpayers money.”
Number's we've been shown show a savings in privatizing garbage. Does he have other numbers?
...The results of revaluation were mixed for residential properties. Some values were raised a bit, some more than a bit and many more not at all. Overall, values stayed the same or were reduced on two-thirds of all residential properties. Since the city tax rate is decreasing in the 2012 budget, those properties will get smaller tax bills.

Pillot says revaluation was “not fair to many of the residents. With home equity dropping 23 percent, the worst drop since World War I, and Niagara County being one of the highest-taxed counties in New York state, how can you justify the assessments?” ...
Seeing that the assessments were 10 years over due it should not be shocking that some changes were "shocking". Even if everyone got a feel good reduction of 20% tomorrow we'd all still be paying the same in taxes. Either he feels those on top were bumped up too much or those on the bottom were reduced too much. Which groups votes does he want grab?Or does he just want us to have a flat tax of some sort?
Pillot is opposed to taxpayer subsidy of the <Molson Concert >series, especially since it’s held on private property, and he says North Tonawanda, the city that used to host it, got paid by the series promoter instead. He doesn’t like the setup in the City Centre courtyard either; chairs are banned and concert-goers have to stand throughout the shows.

...Were it up to him, he said, he’d get the private sector bankrolling the stage and security, and/or change the setup so independent vendors, local businesses and charitable organizations could get in on the concert night hawking act. Currently, the promoter picks the vendors....

...“How can you justify, to the taxpayers, paying ... for a concert when they are struggling to pay their taxes?” Pillot asked. “I talked to a business owner who stated that the concert has lost them business because their regular customers have no place to park...
Anyone know a business open past 6 DT on a Friday? ;)  And technically while held on private property it was the city's initial agreement for the construction of the UCC to allow the parking lot/courtyard to be used for city events. That was while the concerts were still in N. Tonawanda. I'd have no problem with the city trying to find businesses to sponsor it's sponsorship of the series. Perhaps advertising outside the venue? The main issues with the Vendors inside is they are, along with the beer sales, how the promoters pay for the acts. I for one find it huge to get 400k people into what I've always heard as "Lostport" from many people in Erie County, etc. If we are failing on marketing during this opportunity, shame on us.
...In media interviews and trips to the microphone at Common Council meetings, <Pillot> questioned every aspect of the city’s agreement with Modern Disposal Services for private trash and recycling collection, denounced the results of revaluation as unfair and suggested City Hall can’t afford to shed any more employees. Residents have not been well-served by heavy-handed administration, he thinks...

....Still, 82 percent of the city’s projected spending in the 2012 budget is for personnel: employees’ pay and fringe benefits including health insurance and pension contributions.  “Obviously,” Tucker said, “this is where we’ve gotta go next.”...

...Pillot’s response: “Everyone knows they have to pay taxes to cover vital services, but we have to look at lowering the tax rate before we tax our residents right out of the city....”
So we have to lower the tax rate but we can't afford to shed more employees? Yet they take up 82% of the budget.  Does Pillot have an answer in there somewhere?

The removal of Hoffman / his job title was mess but other wise I have faith in at least a steady ship with Tucker. The city looks like a better place since I arrive in 2004. As for Pillot, I am not sure what he is trying to bring to the table. Besides trying to listen to all of us, who if they are the usual vocal minority, would equal no change at all, what could we expect?

Get out and vote tomorrow.


Save Lockport Housing

Posted by MJ

Guest Post

No matter who you speak with in the City of Lockport there is a reoccurring theme when the conversation turns to housing. Everyone wants to see the blight eliminated, and the owners of the property held responsible for it’s repair or restoration.

Neglected and Nuisance housing has been put on the back burner for far too long in the City of Lockport. In 2008 an effort was made by a small group of homeowners to bring blighted and nuisance housing problems out of the shadows and expose it as the social “Black Eye” that it is. A minimal amount of progress was made in 2008-09. Some of the same properties and the same problems remain unresolved to this day.
The prime culprit continues to be multi-unit income-based housing where landlords (mostly from out of the region) continue to neglect their property and thumb their nose at the legal system. That by no means ignores the fact that there are single-family houses that are in a comparable stage of funkiness. Unfortunately along with the neglect and the blight comes the proliferation of drugs, crime and more blight, as the scourge continues to seep into the surrounding areas.

As citizen advocates we have always preferred to work along side and in chorus with Government. It has become clear however that unless pushed and prodded, the City has difficulty maintaining any momentum when it comes to dealing with nuisance housing.

Here’s what Save Lockport Housing expects to accomplish.

§  Take care of the worst Housing problems first and bring them to a final conclusion
§  One year maximum on boarded up buildings before repairs must begin
§  Reward homeowners when they improve their property with TAX incentives
§  We are requesting a 3 year moratorium on conversions from single-family into multi unit
§  Assist the elderly and disabled with a helping hand
§  “Help a Vet”  housing program for returning veterans
§  Equal application of the law to all citizens
§  Sponsor “City of Lockport Clean-Up Week” the first week in May

 In most cities the initiatives being introduced are civilian-based with assistance from government and local agencies. It’s important to realize that the government can’t do all of the work. It’s incumbent upon every citizen to do his/her part. We have many initiatives that we plan to introduce. We will be seeking Common Council sponsorship, and help from private citizens, groups and organization, to join together to Save Lockport Housing.

Save Lockport Housing believes that we can find strength in numbers, and that we will make a greater impact if our membership is large. We are looking for a wide range of skillful people who want to become PART OF THE HOUSING SOLUTION!

I urge everyone to visit or web site savelockporthousing.com. , Facebook at Save Lockport Housing, or you can email us directly at savelockporthousing@gmail.com.

We plan to hold our first meeting in November. Watch for details.




2012 Election - 4th Ward

Posted by MJ

The LUSJ has the start of the article on the front page today. Unfortunately they have not been posting any of these articles on line.

Some quotes on the Waskosky - Shrader election for 4th Ward alederman.

...In a recent joint meeting with the US&J Editorial Board, they both professed belief in the city's need to cut  costs without gutting essential services, youth services among them. Both approve of privatized refuse and  recycling collection, and both have doubts  about the efficiency of turning police and fire radio work over to the sheriff’s department....
Nothing major here. My biggest gripe is still the chief saying the LPD would do it for "no cost" but then once it was transferred to the LPD the union start asking for compensation for the "extra" work.
...Waskosky identified property values as a factor working against city growth. As he’s been out walking the new 4th Ward, he says, assessments are the issue that many voters raise first to him. “I’ve been talking to  homeowners who say they can’t sell their houses for what they’re appraised at. They say, my house, I pay  one-third on the mortgage and two-thirds on taxes. The question we have to ask is, are we basically pricing the  city out of an evolution of growth of home ownership?” Schrader hears the fury too, he said, but he knows  from prior experience, “assessment isn’t controlled by politicians. They have no say in the numbers...
They both ave some points but the main point is the city has a budget and it has to be paid. Right now assessment of properties is the biggest chunk. Moving around assessments just shifts the burden from one owner to the next. Cutting more services reduces the draw of the city. The biggest change in most local government taxation would come from changing state laws and unfunded mandates. In the meantime the city need to search out creative was to promote investment.

I'd still like to see something that is the average assessment on the block. Those investing wouldn't get as hard of a hit. Those lacking in investment would still be paying more so possibly there would be incentive to invest.
...Regarding economic development, Waskosky shows impatience with the same old approaches. City officials ought to look at what’s working in other communities and consider emulating it, he said. “The problem is  there are not any real brand new ideas, there are ideas out there that people have done and tried. We should look at others,” he said. “In Georgia, there’s a one-industry town that transformed its downtown into an  Internet-commercial area...
I mentioned this back when Yahoo was announced. Part of the requirement should have been bringing in the super high speed Verizon lines into DT up to Harrison place.It could have been an incubator or more for business relying on real time connections for there businesses.


Candidate Sites

Posted by MJ

Does anyone know of any sites for candidates in local races? I'd like to place them here. In today's electronic age I'd figure everyone would have one.

Here is a link to all of the races as listed by the Niagara County Board of Elections which runs all of them.

Niagara County - 13th district
Andrew Chapman
Keith McNall

Lockport City Mayor
Micheal Tucker
Michael Pillot

City of Lockport Alderman 1st Ward
Shirley Nicholas
Richelle Pasceri

City of Lockport Alderman 2nd Ward
Anne McCaffrey

City of Lockport Alderman 3rd Ward
Kathryn Fogle

City of Lockport Alderman 4th Ward
George A. Waskosky
Patrick W. Schrader

City of Lockport Alderman 4th Ward
Bret E. Pabon
Kenneth M. Genewick

City of Lockport Alderman at Large
Joseph C. Kibler


2012 Budget Approved

Posted by MJ

Here is a PDF copy of the budget as it stands.

Proposed 2012 City of Lockport Budget .

It list income - costs back as far as 2005 line by line through 57 pages. I won't have time to look at it until lunch. I'll give some thoughts then. Thank you to to Alderman Chapman for getting it to me.

The Buffalo News reported on last nights approval of it by the council.

Angry taxpayers verbally pummelled the Common Council on Wednesday as it voted 4-2 in favor of a 2012 city budget that increases the amount of taxes to be collected by 9 percent.

Voting for the budget and for a measure to lift the state’s 2 percent tax cap levy were Council President Richelle J. Pasceri and Aldermen Joseph C. Kibler and Kenneth M. Genewick, who are running for re-election, and Alderwoman Flora M. McKenzie, who is not.

Opposition came from Aldermen Andrew D. Chapman, who is running for the County Legislature, and Jack L. Smith Jr., who lost a bid for mayor in the Democratic primary.

Chapman said the city would have had to lay off 23 employees to avoid overriding the tax cap.
There were no layoffs; the budget actually adds one job, a $36,699-a-year housing inspector.
“The intent of the property tax [cap] law was to produce meaningful reform in local government,” Smith said. “There just wasn’t any meaningful reform in this budget.”

Spending in the budget rises $1.84 million, or 8.6 percent, to $23.3 million. Most of the difference comes under salaries and benefits...
...Mayor Michael W. Tucker, who is
running for re-election, said the exceptions the state put in the tax cap law doomed any hope the city would have had to comply with it.
“Pension costs are the biggest one,” Tucker said. “Even if we had no increases in anything else, the pension costs would have put us above the 2 percent.”...
 Similar to the school system the legacy costs of employees is the largest burden. Until real reform comes to how they are structured both budgets will continue to grow grow grow and we hack at away at items which would probably serve us well.

For example, the owner of a $100,000 house whose assessment was unchanged will save $52 on his taxes. But if the $100,000 assessment was raised to $110,000 this year, the tax bill will rise by $95. 
It seems those owning houses over 100k get an increase, those under get a tax decrease.


Small $$ Big Effort

Posted by MJ

Buffalo Rising and The Buffalo News reported on the increase in investment in the area west of Richmond Ave in Buffalo. Once written off as a dead war zone it has shown signs of growth and reinvestment as people who were priced out of the neighborhoods lining Elmwood Ave forged a new frontier. On one block alone housing values raised from 2k to 150k. Home ownership from 50% to almost 100%.

A few quick points:
  • The city is hardly involved. Why it is nice when the city gets things correct, the change agent will be us.
  • House by house civic groups bring people together to be change they are looking for.
  • The example house shown above is much better than a vacant lot. It shows commitment to the street and it adds another good property owner to the street. I'm more prone to invest when I see investment (house being updated) than disinvestment (demolition). The 10k to demo the house could easily be used as matching grants to someone willing to reinvest in it.
  • A walkable shopping/living area is acting not just as a catalyst for the surrounding 3-4 blocks but its effects continue to reach outward.
  • Volunteer effort is king. Be it parks, home updating, eyes on the street etc. Neighbors who know each other and work together great things, once thought unthinkable, happen.


Budget Update

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News and the LUSJ gave updates last week on the city budget.

Except for a few fine points, the 2012 city budget appears to be done, carrying a tax levy increase of 10 percent despite a tax rate decrease of 2.55 percent.

At the Common Council's second public hearing on the $23.3 million spending plan Wednesday, Mayor Michael W. Tucker said the Council will reconvene at 5 p.m. Tuesday for a final budget review.
The Council is to vote on the spending plan at 6 p.m. the next day, after a public hearing on a proposed law to override the state property tax cap.
The 2 percent cap applies not to the tax rate, but to the levy, which is the total amount to be collected in property taxes.
Spending in the budget is rising by 9 percent, or almost $2 million.
There are no layoffs, and one new job, a $36,699-a-year housing inspector, is being created.
City Clerk and Budget Director Richard P. Mullaney said the budget is balanced with one-shot moves and heavy use of reserve funds.
 As mentioned above the public comment period will be this Wednesday. Earlier Smith gave me a copy of the initial spreadsheet but I have yet to get my hands on PDFs of the latest revision like I did last year.

UPDATE 11-02-11

The LUSJ gave an update on last nights pre-meeting.

So long as a majority votes to override the state’s so-called tax cap, the Common Council will also vote tonight on adoption of a 2012 city budget that calls for a 3.4 percent tax rate reduction.

There were some disharmony in the Council meeting room Tuesday night, as the aldermen convened to go over the proposed $23.2 million budget one more time, line by line, with an eye on cuts.

Fourth Ward Alderman Andrew Chapman and 2nd Ward Alderman Jack Smith were pushing for more bigger line cuts, in areas including staffing, because while the tax rate may be decreasing by 52 cents per $1,000 of property value, the year-over-year increase in the tax levy — the amount of city spending being covered by property tax — is still 9 percent...

The budget went up 9%. The tax rate per thousand assessed value went down due to the increase of he value of property in the city over the last 10 years. About 1/3 of residential properties and 1/2 of business properties went up in assessment this year. They will see a tax bill increase. The other 2/3 of residential and 1/2 of businesses will see a smaller tax bill. It is what it is. More important is where the money is going and how it is being used. Yet all we see is the superficial arguing over statistics. We should be demanding a deeper conversation.

The public hearing is tonight at 6 at City Hall.


Walmart to Break Ground

Posted by MJ

Both The Buffalo News and LUSJ reported.

Work is expected to begin on the Town of Lockport’s Walmart Supercenter by the end of the year, according to what town officials were told last week.

Supervisor Marc R. Smith relayed the information to Town Board members at Monday afternoon’s work session meeting. The well known discount retailer’s public relations office spoke with Smith last week.

“We received word from Walmart that they are looking at starting site work no later than the end of December,” Smith said. “That would be water, sewer, electric and gas connections.”

However while additional details weren’t shared by Walmart with town officials, they should be available soon in the next few weeks, Smith said. The original timeline called for completion of the Walmart supercenter by November 2012....
 Only 8 years after initially announced. Not too bad...


Tucker - Pilot

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News reported on the Tucker - Pilot mayoral race.

Mayor Michael W. Tucker realizes that the city election Nov. 8 is shaping up as a referendum on him.
“The longer you’re around, your margin gets smaller,” Tucker said in an interview. “I think everybody has a shelf life. I haven’t reached mine yet.”
Tucker, a Republican who has served for eight years, is facing retired Police Officer Michael J. Pillot, the same Democratic candidate who opposed him in 2007, when Tucker rolled up 72 percent of the vote.
“I don’t think that has any bearing on this race,” Tucker said.
Of his last race, Pillot said, “I don’t think I did stuff the right way. I don’t think I talked to enough people. I didn’t get out enough.”

“I want you to ask yourself: Is the city better today than it was eight years ago?” Tucker said at a candidates’ forum Monday at the Dale Association. “I think we’re in a good place.”
Pillot doesn’t....
 Most of us know of Tucker's record the past 4 years. Anyone have a link or documents on Pilot's running platform? (besides100% bad garbage system and answering our calls at night?).

I grow tired of the hard-times smaller government platforms. No Duh. Does anyone ever run on more spending? How about some actual ideas and plans for getting this ship turned around? I'd be even more inclined to listen to someone running on such a platform since it would show some courage. If they actually have a plan for that spending I could possibly vote for them.

When it all comes down to it, the biggest change in the city will come from us, the residents. It will be our civic involvement that pushes forward our ides and desires for our city. The best we can usually hope for is not too much resistance from those we elected and vocal minority who seem opposed to almost any change.


Halloween Hours

Posted by MJ

The city's Halloween party out front of city hall and the merchant trick-or-treat walk will begin at 5pm Friday evening.

Halloween house-to-house trick-or-treating hours will be Monday the 31st from 4 to 7. 


DT Fix on the Cheap?

Posted by MJ

Over the past there have been some comments on DT, empty buildings, rent rates, etc. Here is great, albeit a tad long, article on a success story out of Newcastle Australia. No private money? No government plans? No government money? No problem?

Let me put a scenario to you. Say you live in an aging, fading industrial town. One that has been on receiving end of repeated shocks from earthquakes and natural disasters to the closure of its largest industries and mass unemployment. A city where an old urban core – a legacy of an era of trams and public transport long gone – has hollowed out and emptied. Retail has moved to the suburbs and a growing suburban sprawl. A city with dozens, if not hundreds of empty buildings in the old downtown. A place where the feedback loop has become so desperately negative that many of the shops and offices that remain are forced to leave by the growing vacancies around them.
How do you turn such a place around? How to bring life and people back to it? How to bring interest, curiosity and commerce? How to make it – or at least some of it – liveable and desirable again and to bring its decaying urban character back into flower?
Almost always, the answers to those questions are about physical things. They involve long planning process, research, workshops and facilitation followed by attempts to attract large amounts of capital to invest in new buildings, public amenities or to kickstart new industries.
But what if you can’t do that?...
...Renew Newcastle, the not-for-profit company that we established in late 2008 is a piece of software. It is a broker. It is an enabler. It is an interface between the aging, decaying, and at times boarded-up built environment and those who seek to use and activate it. It connects the many empty spaces in the city with the passion of people who want to experiment and try things in them. It has facilitated more than 60 projects in more than 30 once empty spaces in just over two years. It has done so without building, buying or owning anything other than some computers and some second-hand furnishings. It does not fund things – nor was it funded itself in its early stages – it just allows them to happen....
...Renew Newcastle started by hacking how much spaces cost and the terms they were available on. While there were over 150 empty buildings in Newcastle few if any of them were cheap or simple to access. They were bound up in complex rules – from bad tax incentives to complex, costly and long-term commercial leases that made it difficult to access them flexibly. Renew Newcastle traded cost for security. We created new rules, new contracts, and convinced owners to make spaces available for what was effectively barter – we would find people to clean them use them and activate them and they could have them back if and when they needed them. We stepped outside the default legal framework in which most property in Australia is managed and created a new one. We used licenses not leases, we asked for access not tenancy and exploited the loopholes those kinds of arrangements enabled. While such schemes are institutionalized in many European countries they have little precedent in Australia – in Newcastle, the entire scheme was devised, brokered and implemented directly from the community without the involvement of a government or formal development authorities still grasping at hardware based solutions. Only after the first dozen buildings had been activated did any funding appear. More than two years later any changes to rules and regulations – to the operating system – are yet to transpire....

It is all very thought provoking and shows how people with the drive and will can change things around them without waiting for the municipality or other large slow moving entities to change.


Refuse Bills

Posted by MJ

Are looking like they will arrive after the elections. The LUSJ and Buffalo News reported.:

The city treasurer’s office is looking at sending property owners’ first bills for Modern Disposal refuse service in 2012.

In late summer, Treasurer Mike White said the office might send two bills this year, one reflecting the city’s cost of trash pickup from January through September, and a second bill reflecting two months of user fees being charged for private pickup and recycling by Modern...

...The city refuse bill will be around $150 per property, White said...

...The timing of its arrival — probably no earlier than mid-November — has caused the treasurer’s office to rethink the billing cycle for Modern service.

The office sending property owners a bill for $150 in November, then hitting them with another bill in December for Modern’s services, is a troubling thought, White said...
It is nice that the city is trying to space the two bills out. It would of been even better if they would have sent us a half year bill around July as the change over was starting to drag longer than initially expected.

Still loving my recycle tote.


Tax Cap Override Hearing

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News reported:

The Common Council will hold a public hearing on budget adoption night Nov. 2 on a measure overriding the state property tax cap....

The Council called the hearing in a brief special meeting Monday, in effect acknowledging that it can’t meet the 2 percent cap, which Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said applies to the total amount to be collected in taxes, not to the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed valuation

City Treasurer Michael E. White said the 2 percent limit would equal a tax levy increase of about $193,000. The budget as it currently stands increases the levy by nearly $1.1 million, or 11.2 percent.

That comes despite a tax rate reduction of 1.5 percent, or 23 cents per one thousand of assessment.
White said if the Council didn’t pass an override of the tax cap and imposed the tax hike anyway, it wouldn’t be allowed to spend the extra revenue. Instead, it would be required to stash the cash in a reserve fund for future use....



Posted by MJ

The LUSJ reported on "irritating robocalls from the Democratic Party:

...A robocalling blitz, commissioned by the Niagara County Democratic Committee, is under way. The recorded messages, spoken by a woman, are aimed at Republican Mayor Michael Tucker.

A city resident called the US&J on Tuesday to complain about the number of calls she’d taken at her home, their negative tone, and the fact that when she called the number that popped up on her caller ID to request the calls stop, she ended up talking to a woman in Rochester who knew nothing about them....
 I'm happy I have not had a land line since moving out on my own in the late 90's. I do not miss these at all. It is bad enough sitting through them on TV much less being called. Interesting to note is that political robocalls do not fall under the "Do Not Call Registry" since they are not deemed telemarketers. It is too bad since they should be. They are still trying to sell me something :a candidate.
...One of the pre-recorded messages claims Tucker was the recipient of a large campaign donation from Modern Disposal Service, the city’s new refuse hauler. Another asks who’s “running” the city, Tucker, the Harris Beach law firm or, perhaps, deputy city attorney/Niagara County GOP Chairman Mike Norris. Yet another asks why Tucker is “violating the law” by not getting a 2012 city budget in place by early October, as the city charter ordains...

...The messages aren’t surprising to him, he said — but he is taking exception to the claim that he took campaign money from Modern. That isn’t an opinion like “who’s running the city?,” it’s just plain false, he said....
Does anyone know where the "Modern Rumor" started? Funny that a party is suggesting that another party boss "may" be running things. I do not see any democrats on the council too concerned about the budget being planned late to address union concessions etc. Does the Democratic Party have any robocalls alleviating our garbage system fears by proclaiming that Pilot is %100 against it?

Is there any hope for real dialogue or relevant information in politics? At least neither party will be robocalling me.


No To Term Limits

Posted by MJ

The council voted down term limits 4-2 last night. The LUSJ reported:

Andy Chapman’s term limits proposal for city office holders was downed Wednesday in a 2-4 vote by Common Council members.

Chapman, 4th Ward alderman, and Jack Smith, 2nd Ward alderman, cast the two “yes” votes for the proposal, which would have required the mayor to take a break from the office after serving two consecutive terms, and aldermen to take a break after three consecutive terms. The proposed law did not prohibit former officers from running again, so long as they sat out one term....
I could have went either way with this. I had not found to many supporting documents on the local level showing large benefits to term limits. In my mind, 2-yr terms for alderman and 4-yr for mayor are more than enough opportunity to remove someone from office. Personally I would not want to risk the chance to keep a "shining star" in if they were actually to be found.

As the levels of government go up, I can see the allure especially when someone we don't get to vote for runs things because of seniority. It turns replacing representatives into a "set back" as seniority is reset not allowing them to be as effective from the start even if they were full of great new ideas.


Civic Going Outof Business?

Posted by MJ

The Urbanophile has a relevant post on budgets and cost cutting for the sake of cost cutting:

State and local governments from coast to coast are making major budget cuts as they grapple with plunging revenues and years of deferred investment and maintenance. One refrain of some has been that just like with household budgets, government simply cannot spend more than it takes in. Thus painful cuts are the only option.
There’s no doubt this is true in the short term. Clearly, we have to make adult decisions about priorities and can’t spend money on everything, no matter how much shrieking about the end of the world every single special interest group on the planet makes when they are asked to step up to the plate and do their fair share to balance the budget...
...That’s the situation too many places find themselves in. They can’t afford to be cities, and so are really in the process of an extended civic going out of business sale. As with a company that has been issued a going concern warning by its auditor and is about to be delisted from the stock exchange, people smell the whiff of death about it, so it doesn’t attract many customers or investors. Which is to say that people aren’t moving there – they are moving out if anything – and businesses are staying away. Who wants to stake their personal or financial future on a place that might not have a future of its own?...
...This is something merely balancing this year’s budget isn’t going to fix. What’s really needed is to restore investor confidence. That’s going to take more than balanced budgets. Just as most companies don’t fail because their costs are too high, but rather because of the forces of creative destruction, excess leverage, poor product positioning, quality and customer service issues, a bad strategic concept, etc., most cities don’t fail because their budget’s too big, but because they are no longer relevant to the marketplace. They are selling an inferior version of a product that customers no longer want to buy...
...By all means budgets have to be balanced and spending bloat can kill you. Fiscal and operational matters must be attended to. But until these places take a hard, spare no illusions look in the mirror and develop a compelling reason for a person or business to hitch their fortunes to these places instead of thriving ones elsewhere, too many older cities will continue on the slow road to oblivion.
 What reasons would someone have to invest (financially and emotionally) in the City of Lockport at this time? What could/should a future version of the city offer?


Saving History

Posted by MJ

Another Buffalo News article on the value of older structures in neighborhood turnarounds:

Buffalo's preservation success starts in its vibrant middle-class neighborhoods, where homeowners work together to protect, promote and develop a sense of community.
Private investment is key, but even vacant houses have the power to turn neighborhoods around, according to Harvey Garrett, who directs the West Side Community Collaborative
"Instead of knocking them down, take private investment and reuse them," said Garrett. "The East Side and West Side were both considered gone. Even the people living in the neighborhoods didn't see anything worth investing in.
"Today, we [the middle-West Side] have attracted millions of dollars in investment," Garrett said. "We've tripled the property values in the last 10 years. Businesses like the Urban Roots Garden Center and Five Points Bakery were started by people who live only blocks away."...
As I mentioned last week the city has the infrastructure intact to start a trend of growth. The biggest change will come from those living here taking the risk to invest and putting the effort in to civicly participate on behalf of their street and neighborhood. They will also most likely continue the first wave of businesses DT.  The inertia builds from there.

Historically government usually only gets in the way but there always remains the chance that those in charge will start to get creative. Lots of examples exist to get inspiration and to form plans from. From there is is taking a risk to try something new (to us) and watching how it works (or doesn't). 


Candidates Night

Posted by MJ

Buffalo News reported:

LOCKPORT—A candidates’ night for mayoral and Niagara County Legislature candidates in Lockport is set for 7 p.m. Thursday in City Hall.

Sponsored by the Concerned Niagara County Taxpayers Association, the forum is expected to include Mayor Michael W. Tucker and his opponent, Michael J. Pillot, along with Legislator W. Keith McNall and his opponent, Alderman Andrew D. Chapman

The LUSJ reported that Tucker and McNall will not attend this one.
Neither Mayor Michael Tucker nor county Legislator Keith McNall will attend the candidates’ forum being put on Thursday by the Concerned Niagara County Taxpayers Association.

Tucker informed an NCTA member he’s withdrawing after he received a letter from organizer Marge Swan of Cambria indicating the format is different than what he agreed to in a prior conversation with her...

...Tucker and McNall both said they will attend a candidates forum being put on by the Niagara USA Chamber next week.

The 7 p.m. Oct. 24 forum at the Dale Association is open to all candidates for Lockport offices who are in competitive elections, meaning candidates for mayor, 1st, 4th and 5th ward alderman and the all-city 13th District legislator, according to chamber spokesman Kory Schuler...


Plymouth Ave

Posted by MJ

A post in Buffalo Rising highlights the changes on a block of Plymouth Ave on the west side over the past 15 years.

For many years, the first block of Plymouth Avenue between Hudson and Pennsylvania streets was a sore thumb of blight threatening the more stable neighborhoods of Plymouth Avenue between Pennsylvania Street and Porter Avenue, Pennsylvania Street itself and nearby Orton Place and St. John's Place.  The crime and disinvestment found on the block was also a threat to the western end of the Allentown Historic Preservation District. 
According to neighborhood residents, the block was a hotbed of drug dealing and other criminal behaviors. It was not uncommon to find heroin needles lying about, prostitutes turning tricks on corners, or teenagers shooting up under streetlights.  Abandonment, decay, and sheer age have all taken their toll on this block...
I note it to pose that the opportunity of change in the Genessee St area does exist. It is not quick. It is never complete. But match people with great old housing, a walkable neighborhood and the presence of aggressive block clubs and there is hope.

This area next to DT offers an infrastructure that is no longer built (and usually deemed illegal by current zoning coeds). A type of area that a good number of people look for. Those same people are usually the type to put in all the "sweat equity" needed to start the turn around which will eventually make it feasible for more "contractor" based work to be done by future residents.

The city itself needs an aggressive policy to market these properties, provide proper incentives and complete the structural changes necessary to solidify the cities vision for it's future. A lot of people are filling to take a risk if  they see other area residents are vested. It is even sweeter when the city itself is on board and an active parter assisting in the transformation be it through investment, enforcement, incentives etc.

The area can remain fodder for the perpetual pessimists and tax base drain but it also contains the infrastructure for some hard working optimists to start a rebirth that could add to the tax base. More and more examples of reclaimed blocks pop up as people look to connecting with history and an environment built for people. What will be done here to connect with them?


Recycling Off to Good Start

Posted by MJ

Both the Buffalo News and the  LUSJ reported that the initially recycling pickup has gathered more material than initially projected.

Nearly 12 tons of recyclables have been collected in the first three days of curbside recycling in Lockport.

Dawn M. Timm, Niagara County environmental coordinator, said Wednesday that results have exceeded expectations..
She said she was hoping for an average of 3v tons of recycling per day. Modern Disposal began collecting trash and recycling Monday, as the city implemented its privatized refuse system with city-owned totes delivered to every household.
Recycling is being picked up every other week. Each of the five daily garbage routes has been divided into AandBsegments, with this week being an A week for recycling. Next week, those who live in B segments will have their recycling bins emptied for the first time.
The maps of A and B streets were included with the recycling bins. Information also is available at www.curbsidelockport.com ...

I believe that after a certain tonnage the city starts to get money back from recyclables collection. The more we recycle the slightly better off the city coffers will be. It would be nice to see this money (if any) dedicated to new trees or something similar.

My biggest debate at this time is where to put the recyclables until I take them outside.


Ulrich to Sell UCC

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News reported that David Ulrich is planning on selling the Ulrich City Center.

David L. Ulrich said Wednesday he intends to sell Ulrich City Centre, the downtown commercial area where Lockport’s Friday night summer concerts are held.

The apparent buyer is Timothy Gelder of East Amherst, an executive at Barden&Robeson Corp., the Middleport prefabricated housing manufacturer.
Ulrich said the deal is not yet complete. However, the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency on Wednesday transferred the tax break on the complex, which lasts through 2021, to 175 Walnut St. LLC, a holding company created by Gelder.
Ulrich said the 30,000-square-foot complex, which hosts a mix of restaurants, stores and professional offices, has not been profitable since it opened in 2005.
It was built on the South Block, a site on Main Street that had been vacant for more than 30 years, since the former businesses there were demolished under the federal urban renewal program....

I know headlines are supposed to grab readers but the "unprofitable" in the headline rubs me the wrong way. Ulrich may have not made much on it but if someone is willing to buy it there has to be a long term vision of profit.

The site itself is the closest example of great urban site development in WNY. Street side facades and parking in the rear are wonderful. The lack of front door use and no upper floors (residential etc) are some of the misses. But even today, what sits there is way beyond what I would have imagined when surveying the empty south block that existed when I fist moved here in 2003.

I wish the best of luck to the next owner.The Larkin building (and now district) in Buffalo show that anything is possible with committed owners with unique visions.

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