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Ron Rienas Responds

It turns out that the PBA’s anti-spam filters didn’t let Artvoice email through last week—something neither Ron Rienas nor I could have supposed—so Rienas never received my requests for comment on this article about the PBA’s intention to demolish several homes it owns on Busti Avenue.

After some back-and-forth on that matter, Rienas identified the problem, instructed his IT department to open up the servers to Artvoice email, and provided me with this response to the article:

The City asked us to comply with a violation notice and that we be in substantial compliance by May 1, 2009. They did not say that the buildings had to be repaired. In fact, the structural engineer’s report, approved and agreed to by the City, called for the demolition of three of the six vacant structures (a seventh house is occupied by a federal entity involved in border enforcement). We advised the City that it was our intention to demolish the identified 3 in accordance with the engineer’s report and to also demolish the remaining three as there is absolutely no intent to restore and reoccupy houses immediately adjacent to a congested, poorly functioning plaza and it is irrelevant if the capacity expansion proceeds or not. The City agreed with that approach.

The City also recognized that there was a 2004 legal agreement entered into by the previous Mayor and Common Council whereby the City was to demolish these houses. This was part of a much larger agreement related to reconfiguration of the US plaza wherein the PBA contributed $2.5 million dollars in improvements Front Park and vicinity. I don’t know about you Geoff, but legal agreements do still matter to some people. In the interests of addressing the concerns from neighbors who wanted to see the houses demolished and reacting to the City which was dealing with neighbor complaints related to the condition of the houses, the PBA offered to proceed with demolition at its expense. Feel free to walk around the neighborhood within the proposed Peace Bridge project area and come to your own conclusions as to the position of the residents.

The delay in not meeting the May 1 deadline related to the City determining what, if any, approval process the Peace Bridge was subject to. The Peace Bridge is not a private property owner. While there may still be a legal question as to whether the PBA is a state agency or a federally constituted bi-national compact entity, under either scenario it is established law that the PBA, just like any other federal or state entity, is not subject to municipal jurisdiction. Not surprisingly, the City has confirmed that. Notwithstanding this exemption, The PBA does it’s very best to work with the City and neighborhood groups on both sides of the river to address concerns and to be sensitive to issues as they arise – just like we are trying to do in this case.

We have not yet issued the RFP for demolition. We need to do the asbestos survey and abatement before we proceed with any demolition.

  • John Q Blogger

    Reinas and the Buffalo and Fort Erie Peace Bridge Authority leave our community alone! Get Out of Buffalo you bum.

  • Diesel Emissions

    I am curious as to why the properties haven’t been considered for demolition either by the City or the PBA for the past 14 years? It wasn’t until the hazardous complaint was filed, with the purpose of saving the historic properties from demolition and falling into worse disrepair, that it has even been considered. I believe Rienas has spoken in the past that the demolitions could not happen until a record of decision was made. Who can believe anything the man says!
    Rienas keeps saying that the previous Mayor (Masiello) made some agreement with him about the demolition. I find that hard to believe, since Mayor Masiello always said he would not approve of the PBA crossing Busti Avenue!
    Show us the agreement…prove it!
    Rienas and the PBA’s arrogance proves how they have been holding this community hostage for long enough! You caused the blight and you should take responsibility for it!

    The plans change day by day and the public doesn’t even get to know which plan is on the table at any given time.

    What a bunch of baloney Rienas says about working with the community. He has no conscious as to what he and the PBA are doing to this neighborhood, the community at large or more importantly the health of our children. After all, he goes home to Port Colborne everyday!
    As to coming to your own conclusions about the position of the residents:
    I am not sure what you mean about this Rienas….
    We know that those that want out are synonymous with either GREED or MOVE TO the SUBURBS. They might as well make a sign that says it and post it on their lawn!

  • peterjoe

    How long do you think it took him to come up with that (spam filter) excuse? Reminds me of Nixon after Watergate. What’s going to happen to the house, still privately owned and occupied (#775 Busti), that sits right in the middle of the demolitions site, “immediately adjacent to a congested, poorly functioning plaza”?

  • blightme

    Don’t you just love the way this guy dismisses the white elephant in the middle of the room. The “Authority” doesn’t recognize any governmental regulation but bases approval of the ill-fated “Rienas” expansion project on a walk through the neighborhood where cash hungry dwellers display signs paid for by Rienas: Build the Bridge Now>>>Further Delay = Further Decay. How transparent.

    He lectures the rest of us on how legal agreements still matter to some people, just not him. Has anyone ever counted the number of agreements, laws, regulations, jurisdictions, city & state governments and countries this guy says the bridge authority doesn’t have to recognize?

    I think that when someone refuses to believe the reality of what is happening to to their bridge building schemes- it’s called denial.

    Move the Trucks. Use the current bridge for cars and pedistrians only. Restore the land to Front Park. Fix the houses on Busti you destroyed. Repay neighboring residents for 20 years of lost housing value and respect the history. Build a multi-modal transportation corridor north of urban populated districts. Give us a globally competitive transportation system that moves frieght not just goods, via water, train, planes and trucks. The unions will have triple the jobs and the region will truly benefit economically.

    Finally Rienas, If the public bridge authority can’t build an economically and globally competitive world-class system which enhances the surrounding territory, then pull the cord – but please stop whining!

  • Luis Clay

    Ron Reinas says, “there is absolutely no intent to restore and reoccupy houses immediately adjacent to a congested, poorly functioning plaza and it is irrelevant if the capacity expansion proceeds or not.”

    Does that mean that if the houses were put up for sale no one would buy them and restore them? How does Ron Reinas know these things?

    Perhaps he means, “the PBA has absolutely no intent to restore and reoccupy houses immediately adjacent to a congested, poorly functioning plaza and it is irrelevant if the capacity expansion proceeds or not.”

    Oh how weasel words from Ron pile up against this sordid project!

    It’s good to see Ron acknowledge that the expansion may not proceed. I for one would be happy to buy one of the derelict properties at a fair market price. Interesting to see what price the PBA would ask.

    Are the properties for sale, Ron?

  • Luis Clay

    blightme, I dare say it would be easier to shut down the PBA than it would be to stop Ron Reinas from whining.

    The Niagara Region deserves an integrated transport crossing mixing rail, trucks, road and Niagara Falls Airport. Such a strategy would create thousands of jobs, promote industry and transportation in a low cost area with great energy assets. The PBA has never once considered any objective better than getting truck traffic on its way out of Buffalo.

    Why unions and politicans don’t get this is a mystery. Too busy fussing about their next job, probably.

  • blightme

    Mr. Clay; It’s time to send your message to Gov. Paterson, Mayor Brown, Congressman Higgins and the Buffalo Common Council. There is sufficient public support against this plan. The PBA can no longer justify the need to expand the plaza let alone destroy a community.

    Traffic numbers have consistently declined since 2002. The PBA has already spent 60 million in plaza improvements by increasing the number of inspection booths, moving the location of the Duty Free store and shifting inspection operations over to Fort Erie. They have for years sent inspection related responsibilities off site without a hitch. That demonstrates that transportation facilitation doesn’t have to be located on the plaza.

    In early 2000 the PBA defied a court order by jumping ship to Shared Border Management (what was the reason behind Sam Hoyt’s eminent domain legislation in 2004?). Then they pulled a bait and switch claiming SBM was dead and a new mandate from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2007 was “making” them build a 45 acre traditional truck plaza in Buffalo.

    Yet to this day, the PBA refuses to turn over one document that supports the DHS argument. In fact, Ron Rienas has given a half dozen different scenarios as to why the rush to build a mega-truck plaza was so critical.

    Does anyone remember the rush to build a Signature Bridge from 1999-2004? All those countless community workshops and jury design meetings. All that wasted time and money. SB was put on mothballs too. Now any mention of a bridge is nothing more than a mere whisper. We only here about a truck plaza.

    Politicians and unions do get it. They think the public doesn’t. What we need is a get tough attitude like that of former Gov. Elliott Spitzer when he was Atty. General. He wasn’t afraid to nail authorities. That’s the kind of political will that will stop all this nonsense. Perhaps it will come from the Common Council since they have been bullied by Ron Rienas the longest.

    The bloated days of authorities, bridge or otherwise is over. That message needs to be sent to every politician from Buffalo to Albany to Washington. Transportation projects can no longer be floated by taxpayers. If there is not a legitimate transparent need for a project – then don’t build it.

    If political chronies need a job, they should learn how to get one the way the rest of us do.

  • Jim Kane

    The Great Publicly Funded — But Not Public — Bridge Authority

    After 20 years of threatening lifelong Buffalo residents with their “we are above the law” arrogance and powers of eminent domain – the great publicly funded, but not public, bridge authority has very little to show for $50 Million U.S. tax dollars it has foolishly spent trying to “expand” its bridge and U.S. plaza footprint.

    Year 2009 and $50 Million U.S. tax dollars later – they have no land to expand their plaza, no bridge design to build their bridge, no “Record of Decision” to account for their multi-million dollar taxpayer paid Environmental Impact Study, no environmental review even started on the Canadian side — and now, of course, they no longer have the $650 Million (their estimate) to build, buy, condemn or bond their “Bridge-to-Nowhere.”

    Talk about trying to “suck and blow” at the same time! The PBA has had 20 years and $50 Million of our dollars and there is less to show for it than when they started. It is well past time the political leadership put this rogue elephant back in its cage.

  • PB

    Reinas and the Buffalo and Fort Erie Peace Bridge Authority leave our community alone! Get Out of Buffalo you bum.