City Electronic Recycling

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News reported that the city will be establishing an electronic waste drop off site to comply with an expected state law.

The city intends to offer recycling of electronic equipment, such as computers and TV sets, when it begins its privatized garbage collection and recycling system this fall.

Dawn M. Timm, Niagara County environmental coordinator, said that a free drop-off facility for electronics is to be placed at the Youth and Recreation Department headquarters in Altro Park on Willow Street.

The city will be paid 5 to 6 cents per pound, depending on the volume of material dropped off.
Timm said the service will bring Lockport into compliance with an expected state ban on disposing of electronics in regular trash.


Mayoral Candidate Forums

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News reported on two upcoming Mayoral forums, both of which Mayor Tucker cannot make.

Mayor Michael W. Tucker said Wednesday he will not be able to attend either of the major candidate forums before the Sept. 13 primary.

Tucker said he will be in Albany on both occasions:7p.m. Sept. 1, when a taxpayers’ group is holding a forum at City Hall, and Sept. 8, when the League of Women Voters is sponsoring a debate to be broadcast on WLVL-AM Radio.

Tucker has a Republican primary against Phyllis J. Green, while Alderman Jack L. Smith Jr. and Michael J. Pillot are running on the Democratic side. All three challengers are expected to attend the forums....
 May the best generalizer and character assassin win! Or can we hope for something beyond the norm?


Budget 2012 - Part 1

Posted by MJ


Buffalo News reported that the council was given a capitol project list by the city treasurer that needs to be addressed during the upcoming budget process.

The city needs to borrow big money for big projects, City Treasurer Michael E. White said last week.
White said he’s got a list of more than $5 million worth of urgent purchases and repairs, and he said he wants the Common Council to decide how much it wants to approve before it passes the 2012 budget.
That’s so the amount of principal and interest payments can be inserted into the final version of the spending plan, on which the Council is scheduled to vote Oct. 5.

“It probably would be the most opportune time to borrow in a long time,” White said, pointing to the low interest rate environment dictated by the Federal Reserve Board.

“We haven’t been to the bond market in four years, and in that time the city’s credit rating has improved,” Mayor Michael W. Tucker said...

It's here already. The city budget is the perfect way to kill time between Labor Day and Halloween. Being a mayoral election year, it should be even more entertaining even if it is at the cost of actually accomplishing something.  The Buffalo News reported:
Common Council President Richelle J. Pasceri said Wednesday that the Council will begin work on the 2012 city budget Sept. 7

The City Charter requires the Council to vote on the spending plan at its first regular meeting in October, which this year falls on Oct. 5.
I'll do my best to track everything here. 


DT Noise Rules

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News reported that the council is discussing the possible change of noise rules for DT.

The Common Council wants a quieter downtown area late at night.
Although no vote is scheduled until the Sept. 7 Council meeting, the aldermen decided at a work session Wednesday that they want to alter the city noise ordinance to curtail outdoor music.

At the moment, the city noise ordinance doesn’t apply in the downtown area until 2 a. m.
Some bars, including Lock 34 Bar & Grille, formerly Taboo on Main Street at Ulrich City Centre, have been offering live bands outdoors until 2 a. m. or even later.
The Council wants to prohibit outdoor music after 11 p. m. Sunday through Thursday and after 1 a. m. Friday and Saturday nights...
 I feel the proposed changes are a fair balance of "seize the summer" outdoor noise and residential concerns. If we had more facades that could open up to the outside it would be much easier to enclose the noise once the magic hour hit without having to move everything.



Restoring Confidence

Posted by MJ

Here is a two-piece article (1-2) on the gradual loss of confidence in a neighborhood, it's effects and the things that point to pre-existing capitol, that while ignored or missed, can lead to a turnaround.

 They are a slower read but I found them to be interesting and possibly quite relevant. They break down a lot of what we see and experience and put it into words. For those truly interested in a turnaround here, it makes some nice points to contemplate, especially for the one-thing-fixes-all crowd.

Some highlights:

...Lacking confidence that the market is getting better, or at least stable, owners conclude any subsequent investment may be an over-investment. The result: a pullback and the denial of investments both essential and, paradoxically, affordable. The irony is that in weak markets these behaviors make property owners their own worst enemies...
...Even much smaller amounts add up to real money. A very down-on-its-luck Michigan town of just 20,000, with 7,000 households averaging an extra $42 a month not going for housing contains $3.3M a year in "withheld confidence in itself". A weak but still stronger western New York market of 30,000, averaging an extra $75 a month per household contains $9M a year in such withheld confidence...
...Our most cost-effective work as community developers is thus to mobilize communities to see the upside of investing in themselves. We do not have to ask for much. Small amounts of withheld resources - just $40 a month - can have a lasting impact on the condition of a home. A new mailbox, porch light, and screen door make all the difference. They show that someone is home, and possibly that the light is on. Of course, very few homeowners look at this cash as "extra." The money is spent, frittered away in third car payments, trips to Atlantic City or the Sandusky Ferris Wheel or Wegman's sushi bar.

What can local governments, community developers and foundations do to shake loose some of this spare change, and, even more importantly, the family's social capital on their block and in their community?...


Concert Series Pros-Cons

Posted by MJ

Well the 2011 Molson Canal Concert Series has drawn to a close. Since it is always ripe for debate, lets brain storm all the pro and cons.

Please bullet list each side in your comment. If you are honest, you can find both. If you can not, your comment will be removed.

No debating one another yet (if you do, deletion ;). Just state your list. I'll tally them up and then we can discuss which way we feel the scale tips.


CAGE Model

Posted by MJ

At one time I spent 6 years instructing snowboarding. Part of the AASI (American Association of Snowboard instructors) teaching model is the CAGE system:

Goal Set

Go top to bottom and repeat. If you want to have a conversation with someone, especially if it involves some sort of critique/criticism (constructive or not) it is best to start off acknowledging what was done right and the effort put in. Especially if you are looking to reach some type of result. You'd be surprised the willingness of that person to work with you or at least hear you out.

Come out in attack mode where the person/group is doing everything wrong and/or is the root of all evil and don't be surprised when your input is marginalized or ignored. Feel free to use it in both your professional and personal lives. It works wonders with the old and young alike. Think of how you respond to those initial inputs.

One can go along way to being taken seriously when they have the self-security to at least admit what the other person/group has done right and the self-control to avoid exaggerating the point they wish to make.

Separating into groups/mobs with all or nothing mentalities moves nothing forward. Pro-Tucker, Pro-Smith, Pro-Pilot, Pro-Green or anti- any of them should not preclude everything they have done 100% good or bad. One should be able to discuss issues facing the city on their own merits while secondarily relating any actions of the people involved.


Be Happy and Take It

Posted by MJ

The Buffalo News reported on the green light given to a proposed Aldi's in the economically depressed area near the Broadway Market in Buffalo.

...A month ago, city planners told Aldi's project manager to go back to the drawing board and revise his design so that the store is closer to the street and does not have parking in the front. The goal, planners said, is to foster pedestrian access.
When Project Manager Christopher V. Kambar presented revised blueprints today that moved the store 30 feet closer to Broadway and reduced the number of parking spots in the front lot from 21 to nine, Planning Board members said it wasn't good enough. The store would still be 60 feet from Broadway.
"It seems like no effort has been made," complained board member Frank A. Manuele, a former city planning director. "There has been lip service paid to moving the building a paltry few feet forward, and there's still parking in front."
Kambar, who is with the Victor-based firm of APD engineering & Architecture, said he struggled to find a compromise between Aldi's desired design and the site plan that city officials want....
Even in this area of Buffalo where a vast number of residents own no personal transportation "parking in the front" is still pushed through like some necessity. This also somehow ignores the current Aldi's near LaSalle Metro Rail station on Main st in Buffalo which was built with no front parking. Somehow residents in older poorer neighborhoods miss out on a number of other small box stores around that are built to a higher design standards and site plans (see the new CVS in East Aurora which is built to the corner and has actual windows along the facade instead of bunker walls.). Does placing the same building at the street even cost anything more?

Maybe what these other places have is the willingness to institute design standards and stick by them. Being an older urban area such as "Lockport" should not preclude us from standing up for our selves and our built environment by demanding (thru code) a higher standard of building and site planning. We don't need to be the runt that us pushed around and told "be happy we are even here".

Create a quality environment and other quality projects will come. Allow everything to be built to the lowest common denominator and expect only more of it to come.

Current Aldi's on Main St.

Proposed Aldi's on Broadway

Somehow reality usually turns out much more oil-stained cracked black than the green space in picture makes you hope for.


Commenting FAQ

Posted by MJ

Since the comments for most posts end up being about commenting etiquette itself, I'm creating this FAQ post..

  1. Keep on the topic at hand. If you desire to relate it to another topic have the information/logic to back it up in the post.
  2. No personal attacks. Feel free to respond to a certain commenter to facilitate a conversation. Do not call names, make threats, etc.
  3. Do not make posts political. For a post about a certain person (i.e. Joe Blow Running for Mayor) be sure to have some substance in the post. Comments such as (Joe Blow Sucks) will face the chopping block. Resorting to name calling/etc pretty much shows any information in the post was not worth while.
  4. No trolling, baiting or trying to start an argument.
  5. I cannot delete line by line. Don't risk a valid post being deleted in whole by adding something stupid at the end of it. Whining that your comment was deleted will also be deleted.
  6. When comments are removed I'll usually make a "cleaned up" comment and possibly include a reason why.
I expect more than school yard banter in the commenting. I assume most people who come here to be full grown adults with some interest in the coarse of the city so I am expecting professional adult behavior. I take the time to provide a place for items affecting Lockport to be discussed. Please give the courtesy of taking the time read any information provided and making a proper comment.

I'll add this to the FAQ buttons to the left of the posts. I'll update it as issues arrive. Please place all comments pertaining to deletions, etiquette etc here.

Thank you.


Recycling and Refuse V2

Posted by MJ

I have uploaded the most recent iteration of the Recycling and Refuse Proposed Law. The LUSJ and the Buffalo News reported on it. The public comment period on this version will be next Wednesday, August 17th.

Some sticking points:

...The city is offering 35-, 64-and 96- gallon wheeled garbage cans, or “totes.” The larger the can, the higher the user fee.

Smith noted that a single-family home that needs more than one can must take two 96-gallon cans, not a 96 and a 35, for example. Every unit in a three-family dwelling must take a 96-gallon can for each unit.
“When you get to a [a two-family home], you get your choice. I don’t understand it,” Smith said. Mayor Michael W. Tucker said the Council can alter the rules later...
Kibler said he agrees with Smith on the multiple-can issue and also opposes charging snowbirds full price.
“There’s an awful lot of people in Lockport who are gone six months of the year. If you can put exceptions in for certain people, why can’t you compile a list of snowbirds?” Kibler asked.
I feel this should be voted into law so we can get it started. It's gone on long enough. Any tweaking can be done after several months of seeing how the system works. Nothing is ever perfect from the start.

I can see the desire to add a second smaller cart after reaching the 96 gallon size for a unit. The extra complication in pricing may be worth it. But the ability for a two unit to choose a different sizes to start for each unit is not that huge of an issue to hold everything up. Below is the portion of the law. Any units looking for multiple containers has to go with multiple 96 gallons. Any "unfairness" seems small to me.

Variable Cart Selection Options

Single, Two, Three and Four Family Residents/units and individual tenants will have the option to select from three varying capacities for disposal of solid waste on a weekly collection schedule:Single Family: 

Single container service of 35, 64 or 96. Multiple container service will not exceed four (4) total 96-gallon carts. Only 96-gallon carts are available for multiple container service.

Two Family: Property owner may select two (2) individual container sizes (35, 64 or 96 gallon).Service selection greater than two (2) refuse carts will default to three (3) 96-gallon refuse carts.Multiple container service is not to exceed four (4) total 96-gallon carts. 

Three Family: All units must subscribe to a minimum of three (3) 96 gallon refuse cart service,not to exceed four (4) total 96-gallon carts. 

Four Family units must either present appropriate documentation of service contract engagementto City or select a minimum of four (4)-96 gallon refuse cart service

As for the "snowbirds", they are paying for a year round service now (through general taxes) and I don't see the need for change. It's a novel idea but most likely not worth complicating the system.

Last trash discussion is located here: Garbage Rabble.

Reading over the mailer sent out, it appears the two family structures have the "same" options as the single family but doubled: two 35, two 64 or two 96 totes. There is no pick and choose (i.e. one 35 and one 96)

The wording of the law may need to be tweaked to make the intent clearer.

List of recyclables from page 6 of the proposed law to answer question in comments:


Return of Commenting

Posted by MJ

Well I'm back to posting.

I still have not decided what to do with the commenting yet. I'll open it back up next week as it was (no pre-moderation, anonymous allowed etc) to see how it goes but my guess is behavior will force me to institute some changes.

I'd prefer not too, so please do your best to keep on topic, leave out the B.S., refrain from personal attacks, etc. Or as some may see it as: grown-up professional behavior.


Garbage Rabble

Posted by MJ

During my break the city held a garbage system demonstration at City Hall to try to ease the crippling fears attributed to wheeled totes and a possible variance of $20 in the final garbage fee. The Buffalo News and LUSJ reported.

Interviews with a sampling of the 450 or so people who showed up at City Hall throughout the day, to learn more about the new Modern way of refuse and recycling, turned up a sense of relief by residents. What they’ve been reading about, or hearing by word of mouth, isn’t as complicated as they’d feared, some said...
The key word there is "word of mouth". Most of which could most likely be attributed to misinformation spread for political reasons.
Concerning the user fee that will be charged for Modern collection, the city has published these low-high ranges for residential properties:

• $112 to $135 per year for a 35-gallon refuse cart, which will hold three filled kitchen trash bags.

• $140 to $162 per year for a 64-gallon refuse cart, which will hold four to six filled kitchen bags

• $170 to $195 per year for a 96-gallon refuse cart, which holds five to seven filled kitchen bags
 Is the unknown of $1.20/month really a reason to be all up in arms? From my own professional experience, it is much better to just give the high estimate and justify it. If you can come in lower it will only be a bonus to those judging you. I understand the desire to be detailed, etc but as we can see it some how causes confusion and ends up a no win. My guess though is it would of been a no win regardless since someone would of spoke up that the city was either not accounting for the percentage of each tote chosen or was just going to over charge us.
Using the recycling cart means still more trips, and that’s not a pleasant thought, especially during the winter. Maybe she’ll just chuck her recyclables in the garbage, she said, or put the recycling cart out only when it’s full and not snowy outside.

“It’s not that I’m against recycling, I just don’t want to have to go out and get these things when the weather’s bad, I just don’t,” Helen said.

Then, with a cheerful wink, she suggested, “This all sounds worse than it really is. Older people are just set in their ways. We don’t like change.”
An understandable concern for the elderly and some reasonable solutions. Seeing that we are all supposed to clear our sidewalks or snow anyways, the carts should have a path.
A two-thirds filled, 64-gallon recycling cart was wheeled around the parking lot and people were encouraged to poke through the contents and see what all can go into it. Cardboard — even pizza boxes, ice cream boxes, egg crates, coffee cups — was in there, mixed with newsprint and ditto paper, plastic berry boxes, yogurt containers, milk jugs, cans and bottles, metal lids and caps, all in a jumble because no sorting by material type is needed. About the only material that Modern won’t take for recycling is styrofoam, according to company representative Joe Hickman
The amount and variety that can be recycled is surprising. If most choose to recycle a good portion of their trash they will be surprised how little true "garbage" they generate.

The LUSJ followed up with this piece: Refuse unknowns annoy 'users'. They summed it up nicely here:
Critics of the Modern plan, mostly candidates for city offices and their supporters, pecked away at it Wednesday night during the Council meeting. Pasceri, who bears the brunt as the Council’s member of the refuse/recycling advisory committee, met the complaints head-on from the dais.
Anyone challenging Tucker would be better off offering paths to progress than rabble rousing over $20 estimate ranges in garbage fees etc. My guess is we'll stick to the usual mob mentality of rousing the uninformed who like to do it for the sake of doing it. Let the status quo of politics continue...

Response to Anything: "Rabble Rabble Rabble"

UPDATE 8/29/11

Ease your fears. The Buffalo News reported that the city will allow a change to smaller totes once the system is up and running for a while:
The city will allow owners of three-family dwellings to switch to smaller garbage cans after the new privatized garbage system has been in operation for a while, Mayor Michael W. Tucker promised this week. The city has almost 200 three-unit homes, and the new garbage ordinance requires them to take a 96-gallon garbage tote, the largest and most expensive available, for each apartment. Owners of one-and two-family homes were allowed to choose among three sizes.

The program, which is to begin in late September or early October, will be rolled out with the 96-gallon rule for each unit of a triple.
“One of the things we’ve heard is, ‘I’ve only got one person in there; why do I need a 96-gallon [tote]?’ ”Tucker said. “After a couple of months, if it’s not working, we’ll make a change.