Taxpayers Revolt

BY Steven Malanga - New York Sun

February 23, 2005

Fed up by 30 years of a declining economy, rising taxes, and a swollen public sector, the folks of Erie County, N.Y., have risen up and rebelled, swamping their elected officials with read the rest of the story...

On a related topic....

Read what Steven Malanga has to say about former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey's fight against suburban sprawl.


Artspace needs a hand...

I've been writing about Artspace since December. It's another "puzzle piece" for this side of Main Street and can best be seen as part of the rapidly developing arts and educational community in this little part of Masten. Here's an example of the positive smart urban planning taking place over here.

Here's the deal. Spoke with Laura Krolczyk in Senator Hillary Clinton's office this afternoon. She's the point person on the Senator's staff heading up this project. We have a February 18th deadline to get letters of support to New York State as part of a petition to demonstrate that there is significant interest in the project here in Buffalo to justify some very favorable NYS financing that comes in the form of tax-credits.

I've got a model letter here, that you should review. All the addresses and contact numbers, too.

Artspace plans went belly-up in Plattsburg, NY a few years ago because there wasn't sufficient interest in supporting the financing involving low-income housing tax credits.

Spread the word. Let's help make this project work here in Buffalo.
Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
Writing the CityWoodlawn Row HousesTour dé Neglect - 2006


Additional Pictures...

Recently Craig Clarke and I did some exploring. We had the unexpected opportunity to visit and tour the former J. N. Adam TB Hospital in Perrysburg, NY.

Here are Craig's pictures.

This is the site that Perrysburg Town Supervisor Myrton Sprague would like Tom Trathen of The Trathen Group to buy. He's been working on the deal for years. Seems like everyone except Common Council President David Franczyk would like this deal to be succeed. I've written about this a few times.

Last weekend Craig and I had ventured out once more and had the opportunity to visit David Franczyk's Fillmore District. I've written about this place, too. The Wollenberg Grain Elevator was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. Currently there is no admission price. A couple of the pictures clearly show that the Wollenberg Grain Elevator's residents probably have a pretty good claim that could be filed with the Erie County Health Dept. Bring a flashlight and watch your step...cool views.

Here are Craig's pictures.


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

Joel Kotkin suggests that here in the United States there are actually two different kinds of cities, Euro-America cities and cities of aspiration. His latest essay makes for some good reading over here.

Kotkin is the kind of guy that can piss you off and offer a completly different perspective than "smart urbanism" provides. He takes issue with the energy driven apocolypse scenerios that James Howard Kunstler embraces. I first wrote about Kunstler over here. He still publishes his Cluster Fuck Nation Chronicle.

Kotkin is the guy who wrote Rule, Suburbia a few weeks ago. I lifted it from Urban Futures. It's where the "smarter urbanists" hang out.


BAVPA Reconstruction...

I'll be chronicling the progress of the Performing Arts High School reconstruction here. Make sure to visit the following:
Reconstruction Archive
ArtspaceBAVPATour d'Neglect - 2007Woodlawn Row Housesfaqmy flickr
the creativity exchangeCEOs for Cities
BAVPA gets a New Home...

It's official!!!

Doors will open in January 2008. A $28, 000,000 renovation of the building that used to be known as Buffalo Traditional High School is planned. Funding is in place and construction bids are being secured. Phase II of the Joint Schools Construction Project establishes a permanent home for the Buffalo Academy of Visual & Performing Arts (BAVPA).
The trees in the third drawing represent plantings along Ferry Street.
bavpa bavpa bavpa bavpa
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Here are a few maps to orient you to the site.

Local architects Kelly Kulp and Carol Case-Siracuse of Cannon Design have created a signature school that students, teachers and neighbors will find amazing, uplifting and transforming in this little corner of Masten. Complimenting BAVPA's dynamic and nationally recognized academic and arts program, the emerging synergy between The Apollo Theatre, the African-American Cultural Center and the Robert Coles inspired Erie County Library under construction a few blocks away, along with the developing Artspace and existing programs at Canisus College, will place this little corner of Masten firmly in Buffalo's arts and educational community for decades.

The transformative quality of the decision to locate BAVPA here in this little corner of Masten should not be underestimated. It is the long awaited bridge between the two Buffalos. This nascent arts and educational community is the connection between Buffalo's East side and the already well developed arts, educational and retail neighborhoods of the West side. The Ferry Street corridor is the link. Intelligent urban planning is the reason.

*** New ***
3/20/05 See what School Board President
Florence D. Johnson has to say about this development!!!

Drew Kelley, the President of BAVPA's PTO describes what happened in City Hall Wednesday morning over here.


Writing our City...

I'll collect good solid pro-active writing here that is helpful in understanding where we are how we got here and what we might be able to do about it. I'll call this feature "Writing our City," in part as transformative social change begins with ideas. You can access it in the left hand column under the "learn about" section.

First piece: Charity Vogel and Jay Rey's essay which first appeard in the Buffalo News on January 2, 2005. "Our Incredible Shrinking City: What to do about it." Here it is.
New Schools & Vacant Houses...

We learned yesterday that The Mayor and City Planner Timothy Wanamaker approved an order to demolish 242 Koons Avenue which sits 50 feet away from the new Emerson School. Michele Johnson's work was featured in this Buffalo News story yesterday that I archived. As you can see the 242 Koons was demolished this morning. While this is good news, there are so many unanswered questions here that demonstrate just how broken our system is.

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  1. Why did it take housing activists to get this demo done? Despite the fact that Mayor's and Wannaker's "Livable Communities Initiative"(July 2004) call for prompt and monthly monitoring of such properties.
  2. Will the city actually collect the $7800.00 it just paid in demo costs?
  3. How far will Housing Court Judge Nowak be willing go to get owners Hamilton and Lidia Woods to acutally reimburse the city?
  4. How long will it take the city to remediate it's own property just 500 feet away from the same school?
Meanwhile telephone calls to the owners of 242 Koons Avenue, Hamilton and Lidia Woods, 3070 Hoover Street Redwood City California, go unreturned. Their phone number is 650-367-7784 in case you would like to leave a message. Here's the full story.
Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
Writing the CityWoodlawn Row HousesTour dé Neglect - 2006faq
A View from Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls Reporter, David Staba writes what the Buffalo News will never print. I've archived it over here.

I rarely include material that doesn't directly impact this little corner of Masten and the focus of this preservation initiative. I couldn't stop linking to David Staba's analysis and assesment of the larger context city and county elected and annointed have created.


Status quo...again last month...

These pictures were taken on Tuesday February 1st. Followers of this blog will recognize that I'm documenting and posting pictures here on a regular monthly basis. I believe this is what the Mayor Masiello means:

"each property will be monitored monthly for compliance accross all regulatory
and enforcement jurisdictions in an interdepartmental review."

That's from the "Mayor's Livable Communities Initiative: A Housing Strategy for the City of Buffalo" Here the priority is "problem properties" around schools and properties that have preservation status. It was published by the Office of Strategic Planning in July 2004 by Timothy E. Wanamaker, Executive Director.

During the past month we have received a generous gift for the purchase of plywood to properly secure the rear openings of the Woodlawn Row Houses. In cooperation with a local realtor and a few neighbors we'll be conducting a work day around the site.

You can see in one of the pics that the new youth center is beginning to take shape.


Artspace is Coming to the 'Hood...
...Sarabeth Artist Lofts

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First mentioned this development here, in December. Seems like the puzzle pieces are falling into place. Heard recently from NYS Senator Dale Volker's office that he's completly behind the project for Buffalo. He also wanted Common Council President David Franczyk to focus more on Buffalo and less on Perrysburg. About that...

This is another "puzzle piece" for the emerging arts & education community in this corner of Buffalo's east side.

In a related matter...I'll be joining the Buffalo Academy of the Visual & Performing Arts (BAVPA) Parents Group and Alumni Association this week in city hall to fianalize plans to move BAVPA to the recently abandoned "Buffalo Traditional" high school site. This is part of the Joint Schools Contruction Project and another significant "puzzle piece" here in this emerging arts & educational community in Masten. See this...

The full text of the Sunday's Buffalo News article about the Sarabeth Artist Lofts, is right here.
Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
Writing the CityWoodlawn Row HousesTour dé Neglect - 2006


On the Other Side of the Tracks from
Emerson High School

At one end of Koons Avenue we have a renovated Emerson High School. Students arrive in a few weeks. Michele Johnson has been involved in getting the owners of 242 Koons Avenue, 50 feet away from the school, to maintain their property. They obviously have no intention of doing so and Judge Nowak has a warrant for their arrest. Seems like it's not effective because they live outside of his reach, in Redwood City California.

At the other end of Koons Avenue, 500 feet away from the school is this.

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The Wollenberg Grain Elevator was last in buisness 15 years ago according to Stan who lives accross the street on Koons Avenue. In 2003 this structure was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. As you can see from the photos the complex is wide open. Stan told me this afternoon that the Buffalo Fire Dept often visits just to check on the place. I had the the unexpected opportunity this afternoon for an exterior inspection and an inside tour. Here the pics!

Click to enlarge
The City of Buffalo is the legal owner of this place. And according to Stan who spent 5 years in housing court dealing with relatively minor code violations - peeling paint and a roof for his shed - he's lived in his home for 35 years and works part time and like many of us money is really tight (his case was dismissed in a jury trial!!!) he was quick to point out that the city of Buffalo also owns the house adjacent to The Wollenberg Grain Elevator. This house at 122 Koons Avenue.

click to enlarge

While Michele Johnson is pursuing the folks who own the house 50 feet away from Emerson High School will someone please tell me what we are supposed to do with the other landlord down the street. I'm open for suggestions. Because the same landlord also owns this, 50 feet away from Buffalo Traditional High School.

Same streets, different landlords, same problems!

Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
Writing the CityWoodlawn Row HousesTour dé Neglect - 2006faq
Block by Block....It's Becoming a Movement!

Michele Johnson is doing what we used to expect of city and church officals. Last weekend while walking through parts of the Fillmore district I was in stunned disbelief. I didn't think it could get any worse than it was a few years ago.

See the short movie about 242 Koons Avenue

New...Reaching out to Redwood City California
via Craigslist, see notice

See What Happened in Housing Court
Hamilton Woods
Lidia Woods

3/12/05 Unfortunately the docket and court activity has been removed from the court's website...Judge Nowak, this is public information! Why can't we access it any longer?

This is the house located at 242 Koons Avenue that Michele & co. were working on Saturday afternoon. It's located 50 feet away from the entrance to the recently re-novated Emerson High School. It's owned by Hamilton and Lydia Woods of Redwood City California. Housing Court Judge Nowak has issued warrants for their arrest. Graffiti gone....front door secured!

January 30, 2004............................................... February 6, 2004

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The house at 242 Koons backs up to these houses on Goodyear Avenue.

Continue reading... to see things in Buffalo you may have never seen before...
Artspace ArchiveAnnals of NeglectBAVPAWhere is Perrysburg?Broken Promises...
Writing the CityWoodlawn Row HousesTour dé Neglect - 2006faq