Sunday, March 30, 2014

Front Park awaiting a blast from the past

             It has been nearly 150 years since the end of the Civil War, but remnants of the war can be found in the most unlikely of places.
The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy experienced this very phenomenon in 2013 when it stumbled upon two Civil War cannons in a field near the South Park lift bridge.
“When they were discovered we immediately thought about being able to restore them and return them to Front Park where we knew they had been from the photographs we have,” said Tony James, park architect for the conservancy.  
The two cannons, known as Parrott Rifles, were originally part of a set of six located at Front Park. A photograph in the conservancy’s archives dates the cannons to the park before 1897.
After their re-discovery in the fall of 2013, the two surviving cannons were shipped to Cannons Online in New Windsor, Md.,   and were restored to their original condition.
The base that holds and transports the cannons, known as the carriage, had to be fabricated by Steen Cannons in Ashland, Ky.,   since they did not survive the years.
Both the cannons and carriages remain in storage locations, awaiting good weather.
“We have poured new concrete foundations for them ,” said James. “We do not have a particular date in mind, but they will be celebrated with a dedication sometime in the near future.”
According to an April 1938 article from the Buffalo News, the cannons were sold for scrap money during an auction held by the Buffalo Common Council. The council deemed the cannons, along with 200 cannonballs, “junk”, and sold the relics to nine different metal companies throughout the city.
The cannons, which weighed 6,700 pounds each, were sold at $7 a ton, the cannonballs at $9 a ton. By Sean Brock and Ally Rotundo

Club upgrades coming

Executive director of the Butler-Mitchell Boys and Girls club of Buffalo, David Collins anticipates alterations to the children’s library and learning section of the club. The gym, courtyard, front entrance, kitchen and library of the clubhouse, 370 Massachusetts Ave.,  will undergo renovations this July with funding from a $150,000 New York State grant through Senator Tim Kennedy and Assemblyman Sean Ryan. By Peter Murphy and Bill Schrutt

Construction hindered by harsh weather

A high demand West Side housing project that will provide sustainable housing is being delayed due to this year’s harsh winter conditions. 
The People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) is beginning its latest project called the Massachusetts Avenue Sustainable Housing.  The project involves the rehabilitation and new construction of five apartment units in three locations. The goal is to bring high quality rental space at an affordable rate to the community. 

Britney McClain, PUSH spokesperson on MASH:

            PUSH organizers are implementing a community benefits agreement  with a local general contractor, Savarino Construction Co. The agreement between PUSH and Savarino will require the use of target-hiring strategies to employ laborers from the West Side.  Three laborers already have been recruited for their services and in return will be paid a reasonable living wage.
            Due to the high demand of these properties, there is a rental waiting list.  Applications are available in three languages: English, Spanish, and Burmese.  Paper applications are available at 271 Grant St. and 456 Massachusetts Ave.  Online forms and more information can be found at   
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on March 3 at 99 Chenango St., one of the three locations that are going to be rehabilitated. By Jamie Hall, Kamesha Jones and Jazmina Rivera

Saturday, March 29, 2014

DEC focuses on PCBs in Niagara St. lot

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has discovered a number of contaminants in a vacant lot on Niagara Street, located 150 feet from a residential area.
According to a Proposed Remedial Action Plan found on the DEC’s website, soil and groundwater beneath the lot at 1318 Niagara St. near Lafayette Avenue contain concerning levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. PCBs are an organic chemical compound used in electrical apparatuses and in coolant fluids in machinery. Exposure to them can result in adverse skin conditions and has also been linked to cancer.
In order to develop the property for commercial, residential or industrial use, the action plan states that more than 2,500 cubic feet of contaminated soil must be excavated from the property and replaced with clean soil from an off-site location. The new soil must then be covered with pavement or sidewalk.
The estimated cost of the cleanup is over $1.4 million, according to the action plan.
From Feb. 4 through March 20, the DEC accepted comments on the action plan from the public.
Anthony Lopes, an environmental engineer with the DEC and primary recipient of project-related questions, declined to comment as the DEC reviews the public comments.
The vacant lot was home to a brewery from 1909 to 1987. According to the action plan, private owners used the site for unknown purposes from 1987 to 2004. By Jeff Pawlak and Brittney Singletary

IN DEPTH: West Side street names a matter of history

          Street names on the West Side in some cases reflect the country's and the city's history and in others, the whims of its political and business leaders. What's in a name? Read the full story by Sashana Campbell and Andrew Manzella.

Rowing iced for now

West Side Rowing Club Director of Boathouse Operations Miles Schwartz and Junior Program Head Coach  Justin Farrington discuss how winter has delayed the season and what it means for their athletes. This winter's high snow total and extreme cold have affected much of Western New York, but particularly its rowing scene. The club, located off of Porter Avenue, is usually on the water around this time, but has been relegated to indoor workouts until the three feet of ice on the Niagara River melts. By Angelica Rodriguez and Brandon Waz

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

IN DEPTH: $3 million medical office planned for W.S.

            The Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network is planning to expand its  primary care functions and provide a central location for its  eight-practice collaborative with a  28,500-square-foot building on 7th Street, between Jersey and Pennsylvania streets. The $3 million project is expected to begin soon, pending funding approvals. Full story by Angelica Rodriguez and Brandon Waz

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sprucing up

Construction continues on the structural deck of the Marcy Casino  in Delaware Park.  This historical building built in 1901 was designed by Buffalo architect E.B. Green.  The two-phase $288,000 project will include restoration to the building and the addition of an interior elevator, as well as an updated structural deck.  Construction started in early- 2012. The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy is hoping the project will be completed this spring. By Sean Brock and Ally Rotundo

IN DEPTH: West Side community supports Ukraine

The West Side Ukrainian community has staged protests, launched social media campaigns and hosted a protester who spoke of  first-hand accounts of that nation's fight with Russia. The community continues to be concerned about Ukraine's future and is standing by to help. Full story by Jamie Hall, Kamesha Jones and Jazmina Rivera

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Overnight parking ban lifts on April 1

The City of Buffalo ban on overnight parking on streets containing bus routes will be lifted April 1.
On the West Side, the streets and bus routes are:  
• Grant Street, Route 3
• Niagara Street and Kenmore Avenue, Route 5
• Baynes Street and Richmond Avenue, Route 7
• Colvin Avenue, Route 11
• Utica Avenue, Route 12
• Delaware Avenue, Route 25
• Delavan Avenue, Route 26
Every Nov. 15,  street parking is restricted between 1:30 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. to ensure that plows and buses can get through unobstructed. Noncompliance with the ban can result in ticketing with fines ranging from $35 to approximately $75 after 75 days.
“That’s what the whole [ban] is,” said Laura Rucinski, senior council clerk at City Hall. “So there will be no parking on the main drags, in order to get those streets cleared from curb to curb.”
Due to the possibility of a snowstorm still occurring in the Buffalo area after April 1, Rucinski encourages people who want their streets plowed to be aware of where they park even when the restrictions are no longer in effect.
“If there’s a snowstorm April 16, then people will just have to let the plow through,” Rucinski said. “It may happen this year, but you can’t get a ticket anymore after Apr. 1. So if you’re parking there, and you really want your street plowed, get your car off the street."
            Other restrictions such the alternate side rule, a traffic law that dictates which side of the street cars can be parked, will still be in effect after April 1 where applicable.  By Shana Campbell and Andrew Manzella

West Side nonprofits in online fundraiser

Beginning on March 20, several non-profit organizations on the West Side will be participating in United Way of Buffalo  Erie County’s second annual "Spring It On" online fundraiser campaign.
      The fundraiser will go on for a 24-hour period, starting at 8 a.m.   This event encourages community members to go online and donate money to different nonprofit organizations in the Western New York area.   
      "Our mission really is to connect people, resources, and services so it was just a natural fit for us to facilitate this kind of fundraising for agencies," Director of Brand Management Patty Olender said.
      This year over 200 agencies have signed up. The West Side non-profit organizations that will partake in this event include West Side Community Services, Westside Ministries, Bison Children’s Scholarship Fund, The Belle Center, Friends of Night People, Albright Knox, and the Junior League of Buffalo. 
      Donations will be accepted at By Oliver Colbert and Kim Hylton

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Cherry festival to mark Japanese culture

             Delaware Park will be the location for the first annual Cherry Blossom Festival, which will be held April 23 through May 4.
            The festival will feature 12 days of music, activities, Japanese cultural presenters and entertainment. 
             Some events to look forward to are the Japanese Tea Ceremony, which will open the festival, and the Cherry Blossom Ball.
            Buffalo’s own tea teacher, Atsuko Nishida-Mitchell, will demonstrate an authentic Japanese tea ceremony.
            Participants who attend the Cherry Blossom Ball get to wine and dine with event sponsors and are provided a scenic view of the cherry blossom trees. Tickets for the ball can be purchased online. The events that are in the Japanese Garden of Buffalo are free to the public.
            Events in the Buffalo History Museum are also free with admission to the museum.
            Japanese culture celebrates early springtime beauty by enjoying blossoms of cherry trees with picnics, art, music and poetry.  In Japan, warm weather after a cold winter is celebrated, as the edge of warm spring air moves from south to north. 
            “Since Buffalo is home to many diverse ethnic groups, in addition to our Japanese neighbors, we will enjoy cultural performances from many parts of the world,” said Trudy Stern, chairperson of The Annual Buffalo Cherry Blossom Festival. By Shatai Melvin and Elisabeth Tate