|Date:||April 14, 2023|
By Sarah Wooton, Rose Thomas, and Regine Ndanga
Each week, PPG summarizes important takeaways from the major Buffalo Common Council meetings. We also include information from Council meetings related to our Community Agenda items.
This week's summary focuses on three meetings. The Legislation Committee focuses on local laws, ordinances, and general legislation. The Finance Committee concerns all matters about the budget and contracts. The Community Development Committee focuses on real estate transactions, economic development, and other neighborhood initiatives. In this summary, we abbreviate “Council Member” as CM and "Council President" as CP.
In the Finance Committee, a representative from the Buffalo Police Department (BPD) spoke about the department’s desire to hire someone to do the BPD’s social media. The rep said that this position, if approved, would help the BPD get body camera footage out to the public more quickly, would help with recruitment, and would try to change the public’s perception of the department. The committee sent the request forward to the full council with a recommendation for approval.
A resident of the Marine Drive apartments spoke about her appreciation for Braymiller Market. Before Braymiller’s existed, she would wait to get a ride up to Wegmans to shop for groceries, despite living downtown. The resident asked the council to give Braymiller Market the grant funds that the owner is requesting.
In the Community Development Committee meeting, Dr. John Bodkin and his colleague came to speak to the council about their Western New York Medical Scholarship program. They have a new initiative to bring primary care physicians to underserved areas in the City of Buffalo (e.g. Lovejoy) where there are physician shortages. They asked for the council’s support for the program. In general, the council was supportive, though they had a few clarification questions. CM Golombek asked council staff to draft a support letter for the group.
Later, Vice President of Operations at Shea’s Performing Arts Center, Robert Brunschmid, and another representative came to give an update on Shea’s management changes. The City of Buffalo owns the Shea’s building, so CP Pridgen asked for updates on the building. Brunschmid explained that it will cost $3 million to replace the roof. Shea’s will be using $700,000 of the $1 million it received in American Rescue Plan funds toward the roof. It will request the remaining $2.3 million from the City of Buffalo’s capital improvement budget.
In the Legislation Committee meeting, representatives from Bottoms Up and Venu—two bars on Chippewa St—requested permits for events that would be open to people aged 18 years and older. This kind of age 18+ event is called “co-mingling.” The representatives explained that they’ve done these events for years, and they have several measures to prevent underage drinking. Chris Ring of the Chippewa Alliance, a non-profit group that works with businesses and residents to create a vibrant Chippewa St, came to speak on the issue. Ring said that he’s seen many problems with these co-mingling events, such as 18-20 year olds drinking alcohol in parking lots before going into the bars. Ring advocated for any co-mingling events to end by 10pm. The Executive Director of Buffalo Place agreed with this stance. Two other people, a resident of the area and a lawyer representing businesses in the area, also spoke against co-mingling. CP Pridgen pointed out that these speakers were complaining about issues with youth in the streets at night already, but these co-mingling events haven’t been approved in years. So, CP Pridgen explained, it sounds like there may need to be a larger conversation about youth on Chippewa. However, CP Pridgen noted that he doesn’t receive many complaints about this issue on Chippewa now. CP Pridgen wants to discuss this further with everyone involved.