Buffalo Common Council Summary: Week of January 10, 2022

Buffalo Common Council Summary: Week of January 10, 2022

Date: January 14, 2022

By Elizabeth Quinlan|

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.

For this summary, we will focus on the Regular Meeting and Caucus Meeting. A Caucus Meeting is where members from a specific political party, in Buffalo's case, the democratic party, meet, but official voting on issues does not occur. The Caucus Meeting is held the day before each Regular Meeting to review the agenda. The Regular Meeting is the Common Council's primary meeting, where they make official decisions on issues.

During the Caucus Meeting, Mike Finn, the Commissioner of Public Works, Parks, and Streets, reported that snow removal went well during and after the snowstorm on January 6. Despite four hours of record snowfall in the morning, the evening commute was safe for drivers across the city. However, Finn said drivers who do not follow alternate parking regulations make it difficult for plows to clear the streets of snow. He encouraged Buffalo residents to call 311 with non-emergency snow removal concerns. His department will respond to complaints.

During the Regular Meeting, there was a special hearing and presentation by Scott Billman, Legal Counsel for the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency (BURA). He explained that the City of Buffalo Office of Strategic Planning wants the approval of the Council for the sale of all BURA-owned parcels located at 61 Terrace to Douglas Development Corporation. The parcels consist mainly of a parking lot under a highway ramp. Douglas Development wants to build a nine-story building there, which would include five stories of parking with four stories of residential units above and an interior courtyard space. An appraisal valued the parcels at approximately $1.5 million, so BURA would receive roughly $1 million of that purchase price. Councilmember Nowakowski mentioned that he worked with BURA to assure that there would be some affordable units on that property. The Council approved the motion.   

The Council adopted a resolution urging the New York Assembly to pass a bill that bans puppy mills and similar unethical and inhumane businesses from operating in the City of Buffalo. Councilmember Golombek, who sponsored the resolution, voiced his strong support for animal protections across New York State.

The Common Council adopted a resolution to halt Buffalo's demolition plans for the Great Northern Grain Elevator. According to the resolution, "The elevator is located along Buffalo's 'elevator alley' and at the time of its completion in 1897, the elevator was the world's largest and was also one of the first of its kind to run on electricity." The Buffalo Department of Permits and Inspections Services granted an emergency demolition to the owner, Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM). 

Councilmember Golombek spoke passionately in favor of preservation. He explained that since real estate developer Douglas Jamal expressed interest in saving the historic elevator, he feels confident in asking the Common Council to slow down the decision-making process to allow for a discussion among Mr. Jamal, various preservation groups, and the City of Buffalo. Golombek said the inside of the building "is like a 12-pack of pop inside a dispenser." While the cans inside are in great shape, the brick workings around them have problems that can be fixed. Golombek argued that the City of Buffalo should not destroy everything from the past and should instead preserve its unique grain-elevator heritage.  He said that architecture and historically relevant places are tourist attractions in Buffalo.

Councilmember Scanlon voiced his support for the resolution and described the Great Northern Grain Elevator as "a true testament to Buffalo's past." He noted his father was a grain scooper in the elevators. Councilmember Nowakowski said that Buffalo needs to preserve its historical footprint, with Councilmember Scanlon also agreeing that stakeholders need to discuss more and work together. Councilmember Rivera reminded the committee that many buildings in Buffalo deserve preservation. He called for the City to be proactive with securing them instead of "waiting for bricks to start falling." Councilmember Feroleto also voiced his desire to preserve local landmarks proactively. He called for legislative changes that would require regular inspections of local landmarks.

Need more than just a summary? Contact us at info@ppgbuffalo.org, or find full meeting information and schedules here: http://buffalony.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx.