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.