|Date:||November 18, 2022|
By Rose Thomas |
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 two meetings. The 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 Regular Meeting is the Common Council's primary meeting, where they make official decisions on issues.
During the Caucus Meeting, Jason Shell, Commissioner of the Assessment and Taxation Department, requested approval to enter into an agreement for street-level imagery services. He described this service as driving down different streets and taking high-definition images for later use during mass appraisal, as New York State requires this every three years. The City of Buffalo ("the City") last completed this requirement in 2015. Commissioner Shell hopes to get into a contract soon and begin the project in January. The anticipated budget for this initiative is $220,000.
The Regular Meeting focused primarily on selling parcels and portions of land and concerns regarding switching Spectrum's channels. Assistant Corporation Counsel spoke on behalf of the 7 Scott Street sale. The Erie Canal Harbor Corporation procured about $1 million to move all the utilities out of this area which informed the $1 purchase price from the City. The Assistant Corporation Counsel mentioned the parcel would be available for redevelopment use. Council approved the sale.
The abandonment and sale of a portion of Trestle Alley raised concerns for one resident. He asked if there is a process for an alley or any city property that isn't run through the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board. He wanted to ensure that land could expand for parks, greenways, or bike paths. Residents used the example of Rails to Trails pathway and how the City is anticipating an expansion to the East Side. This could be a potential opportunity for this parcel of land. However, it doesn't appear as a city-owned property but as part of a right of way on the Geographic Information System (GIS). Residents hope the City can become more transparent with the community about alleyways and land that can be valuable to the people.
This sparked discussion amongst the Council, with Council Member Wyatt asking how the City could sell property for $1 in some instances but not others. Assistant Corporation Counsel stated the City previously worked with the Erie County Development Corporation, one of its sister agencies. However, in this particular case, with the Trestle Alley sale, there was already an agreed-upon appraisal. With the Erie County Development Corporation identifying and procuring public money from New York State (not the City), it could relocate the utilities in that portion of the public right of way—informing the $1 price.
Council Member Wyatt wanted to discuss the miscommunication between the Common Council and Spectrum as it asked for updates on Public, Educational, and Governmental ("PEG") Access moving to lower channel numbers. He wondered if Spectrum has the authority to roll these channels without prior Council approval. Spectrum has been collecting PEG Access money since 2018, when it moved these channels, creating inaccessibility for residents. Wyatt is looking forward to meeting with the Spectrum services representative soon.
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