4/02/2007

(b)Ass Pro - Part I

Blogging provides a forum for both the collection and dissemination of ideas. I recieve email all day from people near and far who want nothing more than Buffalo, NY to become a vibrant place to work, live and play. While I very rarely stray from my perch here on the City's East side, just got to weigh in here on the biggest fish story we've ever heard in these parts.

Sunday evening I learned that what we're dealing with here in Buffalo, NY is echoed all over the country. Say-No-2-Outdoor-Retailsubsidies is full of information residents of Buffalo will need to regain control over the water front.
In the last few years, giant outdoors retailers Cabela's and Bass Pro have demanded that taxpayers foot the bill for their business expansions through direct subsidies from state and local governments around the country.

Economic development on a fair and level playing field allows good, old-fashioned competition to take place. By subsidizing one retailer over another, government is deciding which stores will reign in the marketplace.
Also learned this evening from a very reliable source that,
Bass Pro has been so disengaged from this process, Johnny Morris saw the renderings for the first time the day he was flown in for this fake "board meeting" they set up for the press on Thursday. Larry [Quinn] did the renderings himself the week before on a CAD program with the guy who puts together the Sabres website.
My source tells me that it feels like being in the twilight zone. I agree. I'd rather have 100 different vendors down on the water front than one major tenant. Not to mention that the environmental impact statement that was already completed will have to be re-done.

The Ol' Historic Fishing Store with attached parking garage...not in my 'hood. We can do so much better. Stay tuned. Make sure to check out the blog associated with Say-No-2-Outdoor-Retailsubsidies - right here. Amazing amounts of information.
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ArtspaceBAVPATour d'Neglect - 2007Woodlawn Row Housesfaqmy flickr

7 comments:

Gabe said...

I actually think Bass Pro, as a store, is a decent fit for the waterfront.

But I totally agree with you that the massive public subsidies are completely asinine.

AND...tacking a bigass parking structure onto a development that's supposed to recreate the ultra-human scale of the Canal Era...NO NO NO NO NO! Don't we ever learn?? Can't people can walk two fucking blocks (from where the much bigger parking garages will be) from where they park their Hummers?

Anonymous said...

I used to be anti-everything because I saw the value in preservation and doing things the right way. But alas, that's never going to happen because as we've seen with our new governor, chnage is impossible in the face of the "machine." And the longer we play the preservation fight, the longer we have nothing ad nothing to grow with. Sure, a Bass Pro where it's proposed is not exactly the greatest idea but when you're bleeding 13 people a day from the county and there are no other plans in the works and nothing happening, anything is better than nothing. Sure, that's defeatist but it's reality.

As for the subsidy, as long as the state and other agencies are giving $1m to places like Ford to make improvements, then don't blame Bass Pro. Don't hate the player, hate the game. Change the rules or forget it altogetehr because you can't say "Here GEICO, he's a couple million" and "No Bass Pro and no Buffalo Bills, there's nothing here for you." The predecent is set so either reverse of forget it.

The problem in this area is that developable land was and still is plentiful. It's much easier and cheaper to build in the burbs. The only way to flip that is to subsidize it. You want Buffalo to grow (the city proper I mean), then the loss of some cultural resources is inevitable. It sucks, but it's reality. You can't keep fighting over every property and building, it's chopping off your nose to spite your face.

The big problem in WNY is that everyone is reactive and reactionary rather than pro-active. Every project runs into a small group of very localized opposition who try to stop the project. So what happens?

Sprawl.... Disinvestment...Decentralization...
Let's start being real, these projects are based on investment and profit. Companies don't want long approvals and opposition. We can be altruistic all we want because it's not our money but they want to maximize profit. When you consider the profit motive and low land costs, you can see why sprawl happens here.

gabe said...

I actually think Bass Pro, as a store, is a decent fit for the waterfront.

But I totally agree with you that the massive public subsidies are completely asinine.

AND...tacking a bigass parking structure onto a development that's supposed to recreate the ultra-human scale of the Canal Era...NO NO NO NO NO! Don't we ever learn?? Can't people can walk two fucking blocks (from where the much bigger parking garages will be) from where they park their Hummers?

steel said...

Careful of believing your reliable sources. The models and drawings that I have seen published are much more detailed and thought out than what would be produced by a weekend exercise from a web guy. There are definitely architects involved and a lot of thought put into the scheme.

John said...

It's a rare occasion that I agree with Don Esmonde, but I echo his sentiments on this issue. This entire plan reeks of desparation on the local end and its sad that this city continues to settle in the face of every bit of hindsight and common sense that we should have aquired.

I've been reading this blog for a while now and I respect all that you're saying and trying to do for the area. Hopefully I'll be able to join you for the tour this coming saturday.

-John ("zenjaphy" on flickr and UER)

Bruce Beyer said...

All this money simply to outsmart fish? Buffalo really has moved into the 21st century!

As a reactive reactionary, I say stop spending money on fancy gear and bring back bamboo poles and worms.

Buffalo River Keeper said...

Dear Members and Riverkeeper Friends,

As many of you know, the Erie Canal Harbor Redevelopment Corporation announced that it finalized a development agreement with Bass Pro to site the store on what was supposed to be our newest waterfront park.

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper was actively involved with numerous other organizations in the development of the Erie Canal Harbor Development Plan. The plan took several years and millions of state dollars to complete.

Riverkeeper does not oppose the recent effort to bring Bass Pro to the downtown.
We do, however, oppose the siting of the new store on the Erie Canal Wharf Park site. In particular, the announcement was deeply disturbing because:

1) This decision will cause more delays. Erie Canal Harbor Redevelopment Corporation threw out a great plan for the site- one that took the best of our history and improved public waterfront access. Now, we have to start all over again with a full environmental review of the new plans. This process could take another year and will likely end up in litigation.

2) Another back room waterfront liquidation sale. In siting the Bass Pro store, the dealmakers traded the jewel of the Erie Canal Harbor project - the public park - in order to accommodate a corporation that has been on the fence for months. Riverkeeper believes deeply that local governments have a legal responsibility to protect public waterfront access for the entire community - not just those who have political access and money. And of course, all negotiations were in the back room - without public input - and without any competitive bidding. What is next - will they sell Bidwell Parkway, Father Conway Park?, LaSalle?

3) New park insufficient. In exchange for giving Bass Pro the Central Wharf park site, the new plan gives the community a smaller park located UNDER THE SKYWAY (better watch your head!) and with no access to the Buffalo River. The new park may also be too small to host the large community events (think waterfront version of Thursday in the Square) that were planned for the site.

This type of waterfront development process is unacceptable and seriously erodes public confidence in government redevelopment efforts.

Riverkeeper will be watching this project very closely over the next few months and plan to actively participate in the new project environmental review process.

Please help get the word out - this is not about Bass Pro. - this is about back room deals that sell our waterfront to corporate interests and ignore legitimate plans that involved all community stakeholders.

Julie Barrett O'Neill, Esq.
Executive Director
Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER
(formerly Friends of the Buffalo Niagara Rivers, Inc.)
Market Arcade Building, 617 Main Street,M108
Buffalo, NY 14203
(716) 852-RIVER (7483)
www.BNRiverkeeper.org
jboneill@BNRiverkeeper.org