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Build the Damn West River Bike Path Already!

Please Dont Bike

After attending a meeting of pro-Parkway partisans on Thursday night, taking a few drives, and finding out that there was a simultaneous pro-Bike Path meeting last Thursday, I decided to film a drive-by of the subject park lands. Councilman Mike Madigan tells me there is no way to build a bike path on the River, but instead wants one between two redundant two lane roadways.   Apparently, Supervisor McMurray favors converting the existing Parkway into a bike path, but the Parkway really isn’t on the river either.  

I am a biker, a scenic walker, and a cross country skier.   If I am going to transport to Grand Island for any such activity, I want to be on the Niagara River, not trapped between two roads, staring at some houses.   I can stare at houses in Amherst, North Buffalo or Clarence.   I don’t think anyone would build the West River Parkway today.   Neither the current pro environmental, anti-automobile attitude, or the traffic load would allow it.   But the Parkway is already there and a riverside bike path is not.   If the Parkway is a scenic route, slowing it down to 35 MPH from the present 55 would make it even more enjoyable.   But that won’t make it a safe pedestrian walkway.

My generation sent a man to the Moon and brought him back safely to Earth, using what now seems like Stone Age technology.   Therefore, in an effort to inspire the current local and state leadership, I have set my Parkway drive-by video to music and sound from the movie, The Right Stuff.  I begin with the clip of Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 which was built just across the river in Wheatfield.   Click the movie box to see what the current situation is like from Buckhorn Island Park to the houses north of Beaver Island.   I think there is no real reason why a bike path cannot be built between the Parkway and the river, but you decide for yourself.   (If you look closely, at about 1:50 of the drive-by, you can see that there already is a bike path along the river for some distance.)

The Right Stuff 

Conversations with West River Parkway Homeowner’s Association President, Frank Greco, reveal that Parkway land owners have state permits for temporary docks and vegetation management.    

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West Parkway Homeowners President Frank Greco

 

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Mr. Greco also demonstrated that the river bank was not conducive to public  access in many places and he produced documentation for the claim that permanent docks can be maintained by those owners “and their linear descendants” for 99 years from July 31, 1991.  

Permanent Dock Mangement Policy-0001 Permanent Dock Mangement Policy-0002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of the above lead me to ask:  What is all the brouhaha about?   Isn’t the simple solution building a bike path/multipurpose walkway along the river?   Where are state bureaucratic and elected officials on this matter?   What about Chris Jacobs and Amber Small?   Where is Assemblyman John Ceretto?   What is short time Senator Mark Panepinto’s position?

Somehow I have the feeling that, if someone would just buy a keg of beer at the local fire hall and call a meeting, all this could be worked out pretty easily.   What am I missing? 

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Sedita Seals the Fate of Chautauqua Amphitheater

Here’s the scoop from Erie, PA.

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Michael Moore Needs Your Help

Filmmaker Michael Moore is recovering from pneumonia and a stint in the ICU, forcing him to cancel several promotional appearances for his latest work. Click here to find out how you can help promote his new movie Where To Invade Next.

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Frizlen Denied: A Report from the Zoning Board Meeting

Having read last week’s cover story about Architect/Developer Karl Frizlen’s proposed project for 794 Potomac Avenue, you may be wondering what transpired at the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) hearing, held on January 20. Because social media spreads word faster than wildfire, you may already know that the variance Frizlen sought to double the currently allowable density, from thirteen units to twenty-six, was denied. But how did it go down? Artvoice was there.

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But before we get to the play-by-play, a note about a couple of developments (so to speak) that occurred between our cover story and the ZBA hearing:

In a post on Buffalo Rising, which gave the impression of boosting the project, several commenters noted the historic significance of the farmhouse on the site, one of only a handful remaining farmhouses in the Elmwood Village. As some are coming to learn, the farmhouse is also the only remaining structure from the large “suburban” estate of the Lord family, one of the most prominent families of 19th-Century Buffalo.

And at last Saturday’s Elmwood Village Green Code forum, City Hall’s top Green Code expert, Chris Hawley, deflated Frizlen’s assertion (made to the neighbors) that his project would qualify under Green Code (apparently, a lot of developers have been saying that lately). “My impressions are that the building would be too large for Green Code,” Hawley said when the issue was raised. At the same forum, Assemblyman Sean Ryan, who articulated a number of concerns about how Green Code might affect the Elmwood Village, and who lives a block away from this proposed project, joked that he couldn’t walk his dog anymore because neighbors keep stopping him to express their opposition.

Given all that stage-setting, it came as no surprise to find an estimated fifty community members at the ZBA hearing, spilling out into the corridor and hallway beyond the ninth-floor hearing room.

We arrived with the presentation by Karl Frizlen already under way. The Zoning Board of Appeals Chair, Rev. James Lewis, apparently eager to get to the community’s input, was trying to cut Frizlen off before he could finish. Karl protested that he had just two more points, and Lewis let him go on.

“We’ll hear a lot of contradictory voices here…,” Frizlen tried to continue, drawing laughter from the crowd, before Lewis interrupted him. “I don’t want you to editorialize. I need you to help me here, from the heart.” Frizlen resumed, “typically the people who support a project don’t show up for meetings like this…” “You’re editorializing again,” Lewis interrupted. “This stack of letters (pointing) says you don’t own the property, so there’s no hardship, correct?” “Not right now, no.”

That was enough for Lewis, who then moved into community input. He referenced the petition of 151 signatures the board had received. “And each one wrote a letter.” The audience laughed as he again pointed to the stack of letters. Looking at the crowd spilling out into the hallway, Lewis suggested that representatives of organizations speak, rather than entertaining dozens of comments.

First up was Attorney Norman Viti, speaking for his Potomac Avenue block club. “This quasi-governmental entity has wide discretion, but it’s based on burden of proof. Frizlen hasn’t yet met that burden.” Explaining their opposition, Viti claimed misstatements and inaccuracies on the part of the developer. “Frizlen says the neighborhood is all multi-family residential, but we’ve identified at least thirteen single-family residences. Windsor is mostly single-family, and Saybrook is all single-family.”

After more cogent comments, Viti made the kind of summation one could imagine might win him a case in court, “The good news is that people want to develop in the City of Buffalo now. But we don’t have to accept second-rate options anymore.” “The reason people want to be in that neighborhood now is because of the investments of the residents—over decades.” “There’s no argument here: you have the do-nothing option. This property has not been on the open market. Someone will buy this property, and develop it in a manner consistent with the neighborhood.”

His remarks drew widespread applause, and Lewis joked that perhaps Viti should be running for District Attorney.

Another attorney, Lauren Turner, spoke on behalf of the Inwood Place block club. She said that they are not opposed to the development of the site, but opposed to the variances. She talked about the character of Inwood Place and Potomac Avenue—both part of the Elmwood East Historic District—with houses built close to the street, and with full-width porches. Frizlen’s project would be the first new build on the block in a century.

Parking was less of a problem when there was only one car and a horse-drawn wagon on the street.

Parking was less of a problem when there was only one car and a horse-drawn wagon on the street.

What a difference a hundred years makes.

What a difference a century makes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resident Joe Kennedy, who owns Spars Sausage in Black Rock, and who owns one of the properties on the block with no driveway access, talked about the challenges with parking there. It’s not just an inconvenience to him, he pointed out, but can also create problems with renting second units.

But it was neighborhood leader Mike Tritto who had the most memorable line of the hearing. “We see this outsized design as the equivalent of docking an ocean freighter among a collection of fishing boats,” Tritto metaphorized. “We have thirty-foot wide streets in the neighborhood. Frizlen’s other projects are on Elmwood, Hertel, Utica—commercial streets with bus routes.” Further, Tritto said he “feels the developer mislead them.” “We believe this project is an attempt to maximize return on investment at the expense of neighborhood character.”

His remarks also drew widespread applause.

Rev. Lewis said he wanted to hear from the district councilman, and Councilman Joel Feroleto said that people aren’t against development, but they’re against the proposed density. He said that correspondence has been overwhelmingly against the project. He asked that the variance be denied.

Someone asked if the Elmwood Village Association was present, and Executive Director Carly Battin spoke, saying that her organization decided—“narrowly,” she said—to oppose the variance, and submitted a letter to that effect. She said that Frizlen “has not demonstrated hardship,” and “it’s our understanding that variances are granted based on consistency with community character.” She said EVA “would like to hold ongoing dialog with the developer and neighbors.”

(As an aside: Isn’t it interesting that despite the overwhelming community opposition—more vocal and unified than on any issue in recent memory—the Elmwood Village Association only “narrowly” decided to oppose the variance? And also interesting that Battin felt the need to clearly qualify their decision as made “narrowly”? She gave the impression that they were almost uncomfortable about being in opposition to even a clearly inappropriate development. It raises the question of whether EVA has gotten seriously out of sync with the community. Along those lines, at Saturday’s Elmwood Village Green Code forum, Deborah Lynn Williams, former Western New York chief of staff for Senator Chuck Shumer, spoke fondly of the days when EVA was engaged in grassroots initiatives like the Elmwood Village Design Standards, under leaders like Jessie Fisher and Justin Azzarella. But it’s clear, she said, that “the Elmwood Village Association no longer represents the community.” At that, the room erupted into applause and outright cheering.)

After hearing from these speakers, Lewis asked for Frizlen to respond. You can see and hear his response in this video clip…

He offered to soldier on. “Of course, we can continue meeting with the neighbors, and shape the building so it’s acceptable—most likely, not to all of them, but hopefully to some of them,” he said. He also mentioned the brownfield tax credits, even though they weren’t a subject of the hearing, saying that while they weren’t necessary for the project, if they were granted, they would be a “bonus.” That prompted a heckle from the back of room that Rev. Lewis quickly squelched.

Frizlen also made a belated pitch (perhaps one of the points he had wanted to make at the beginning, before Lewis cut him off) for accessible housing, claiming to have surveyed the neighborhood and found not a single unit that is “barrier-free or handicapped accessible.” Referring to older residents, he said, “what we are trying to do is accommodate a demographic that is not considered” by most developers.

But it wasn’t remotely enough. When it came time for the board to vote, they denied the variance with dispatch. Board member Anthony Diina moved to deny, and the vote was unanimous.

After the hearing, Artvoice caught up with Lauren Turner and Mike Tritto to get their reactions to the proceedings. Turner said she was struck by the “overwhelming opposition,” and said she was “taken aback by Mr. Frizlen’s inability to articulate a hardship. He keeps pointing out the benefits of his proposed project without explaining why the project needs to be as big as it is in order to provide those benefits.” She said that having accessible units is great, but “why not thirteen instead of twenty-six?”

Tritto told us, “I’m really proud of our neighborhood. We had people from all walks of life who came out today. People have been here for years, have raised families, and want to be here for the rest of their lives.” About Frizlen, he said, “Karl is skilled, and a businessman. But we had to oppose this. We’d be interested in smart density, such as two-family houses. He wants to double the density.” “We’re the ones who sustain a neighborhood, not the developers. We think the Zoning Board of Appeals heard that.”

Speaking of his experience doing community revitalization work in impoverished areas of Buffalo’s east, west, and north sides, Tritto added, “Developers are homing in on middle-class neighborhoods. What about spreading it around?”

From your mouth to the developers’ ears, Mike.


New York State Zones Out, Misses Medical Marihuana Deadline

A press release from the Buffalo Cannabis Movement:

marijuanaThe Buffalo Cannabis Movement is extremely displeased with implementation of the Compassionate Care Act (CCA) by the New York State Department of Health (DOH), and we find no compassion for the needs of suffering patients and caregivers in the implementation process to date. The simple fact is that “medical marihuana” will not be available for patients in Western New York by the January 5 deadline. While Gov. Cuomo tasked the DOH in June 2014 to choose dispensary applicants whose establishment would be able to manufacture and dispense medicine by this deadline, our research shows that applications of well-established businesses better equipped to expedite manufacture and dispensing were denied. The 2 proposed locations of registered organizations in WNY, in close proximity to each other in Amherst/Williamsville, are not within Buffalo City limits, severely restrict those who rely on public transportation, and overlooks patients in the Southtowns.  

There is conflicting information on marijuana dosing—while Commissioner Zucker states in his Message from the Commissioner that the “physician will determine the appropriate dosage based on her or his medical judgment” the required 4-hour educational course is lacking sufficient material for a registered practitioner to dose the medicine. The implementation of the CCA has not been transparent, and Commissioner Zucker has been silent on his decision whether to approve the additional 5 medical conditions he was tasked with, including PTSD which was federally approved for dispensing by Veterans Health Administration health care providers months ago.

We believe that the CCA Medical Marijuana program is ineffective as it is too restrictive, is not in the best interests of New Yorkers, and that the Governor and Commissioner have failed in their responsibility in loco parentis, undertaken over 18 months ago. Patients, caregivers, and their practitioners should determine the appropriate health care strategy, not an overreaching bureaucracy based in Albany. Thus we are calling for full recreational legalization due to the ineptitude of the DOH and the NYS Government officials. We urge the NYS Legislature bring S.01747 and A.03089 to a vote and pass this Legislation the public wants and so many overlooked patients truly need. We demand Gov. Cuomo sign into law the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). We urge all local government officials to pressure our State Representatives to focus on this issue, as it is not only a civil rights issue, but a human rights issue.

Click here to sign a petition dedicated to the cause.


QCRG to Close off 2015 with Charity Bout for the Family Justice Center

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The Queen City Roller Girls will cap off 2015 with a Charity Bout for the Family Justice Center. The Family Justice Center covers Western New York and provides vital and free services for domestic violence victims and their children through an extensive collaboration with 13 partner agencies, all located at one secured, comfortable location, where victims can get all the services they need to safely escape abuse. You can see a PSA for the Family Justice Center here.

Doors will open at 6:30pm on Wednesday December 16th at Riverworks with first whistle at 7pm. The league has also announced a BOGO/Two-Fer deal for fans who purchase tickets online. The bout will have a holiday theme and we have heard rumours of Santa and Mrs. Clause making an appearance! 

League Executive Director Cathy Pedro-Garrison is happy to cap off the year supporting an organization that provides such important services in our community, “The Family Justice Center relies on support to operate and we are more than happy to do what we can to support their mission. Breaking the cycle of domestic violence and removing barriers to access are so important and the Family Justice Center is at the front line of fighting for a community where safety is respected as a basic human right.” 

You can find tickets and ticket packages at http://www.qcrg.net/tickets/.

CUT IT OUT! A Call For Action with a Cutting Edge

 

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By H.M. Shaw

Does this make you uncomfortable? A little bit jarred? A lot a bit red hot? Pissed? The man may be sporting the uniform, but doesn’t he seem more cowardly than heroic? The young army wife may be scantily clad, but doesn’t her exposed flesh make us think that her body is and will continue to be imposed upon again and again?

At first impression this may seem like yet another frightening fashion fantasy—no different than what we see in television, film, music videos, and even video games. So what is another play-by-play of a power struggle between a man and woman, right? But we dare you to tell that to those who fight every day or continue live with the aftermath of these daily battles here in the real world. The abrasions and tears replace security and respect when someone decides to abuse their partner whether sexually, physically, mentally, or emotionally.

For a recent photoshoot , photographer Cheryl Gorski wanted to deliver a much deeper message that goes beyond Doc Martins and dark eye make-up. Cut It Out may center around re-cycled surplus digs and the ’90s revival, but this spread is first and foremost about the harrows of partner abuse. Notice that these models are dressed (and undressed) to represent individuals torn between the suffering as a means of survival and a false sense of security.

“Most victims, survivors, and abusers are so attracted to one another that somehow in the relationship passion fused with jealousy, insecurity, and fear results in abuse,” said Gorski. “If there wasn’t love in the mix, there wouldn’t be tolerance.”

The power of the military aesthetic used in this shoot should be taken into account. Gorski went on to share that she was inspired by the prevalence of partner abuse in military families. Aside from raising awareness, having partners shown as wounded soldiers or soldiers’ partners is used to remind us that abuse is an ongoing battle for those entangled in the violence as well as for our society as a whole.

In fact, Uncle Sam’s Army Navy Outfitters’ owner Robert Geist, and VP of branding, Lou Schreiber, enthusiastically participated in this project in hopes to shed light on domestic violence in the armed services.

The wardrobe for for this project was meant to match a raw depiction of a war-torn world that exists in abusive partnerships—a war that wages on the lives of abusers and survivors. OMI of Saione and stylist Edward Lewis put much heart into every piece reconstructed and deconstructed in order to amplify this shoot’s deafening storyline. For instance, Lewis’ mosquito net dress is more than just sexy mesh. This reconstructed frock mirrors the fragile state that one is left in during and after being victimized by a loved one.

As for OMI’s newly imaged fatigues, these were ideal for costuming a male who is locked into a macho role. Let us not forget, when a man is abusive, he is certain that he is asserting himself. If a man is being abused, he often feels that he must continue to hide behind the “tough-guise,” if you will, as a means of hiding shame and humiliation.

The harness worn by both models symbolizes “ to bind , armour , control and make use of ( natural resources) , especially to produce energy. “

LeeLee’s Clothing brought a bright fuchsia cut-out dress—a delightful throwback to the Clinton era as well as a stand-out embodiment of how abuse may shape a woman, designed by Trina Turk. She finds herself adhering to the demand to be soft and composed on the outside, but the iron-clad fighter inside cannot be contained. Turk’s black jumpsuit paired with a beret beautifully reflects a woman who has seen survived many explosions and ambushes while her vulnerability is worn like a badge of honor rather than a cross to bare.

The spread intends to evoke courage for survivors of abuse and their supporters. Unfortunately, we are quick to ignore the push-and-pull between partners that is marketed to as nearly as often as the season’s hottest trends. Gorski, like other advocates, wants viewers to take the time to speak out and put an end to the bloodshed.

“There are too many instances when one loves too strongly, or one posses another, learning the red flags can help [you] avoid unhealthy relationships,” Gorski said. “Mostly, I’d live this to help someone get the courage to leave and get counseling whether they are abused or an abuser.”

We here at Fashion Maniac urge you to learn about what you can do to further educate yourself and end abuse.” You should never be afraid of the person you love.”

 

 

If you want to help build an arsenal against domestic violence, tape yourself saying, “Cut It Out!” and send your video to: CutItOut2015@gmail.com

For more information and support, please reach out to:

 

The Family Justice Center http://www.fjcsafe.org/

The Haven House http://www.cfsbny.org/programs/haven-house/

It Happened To Alexa Foundation http://ithappenedtoalexa.org/

Boston Break Up Summit http://www.bphc.org/whatwedo/violence-prevention/start-strong/Pages/Start-Strong.aspx

 

Credits and Contributions For The Shoot:

Photos By Cheryl Gorski www.fashionmaniac.com

Hair By Hersha McKinney and LaShawn Adamson

Make-Up By Dani Weiser

Models : Barefoot Leader , Tara Eftekharinia , Gabriel Casillas

Military Clothing Provided By Uncle Sam’s Army Navy Outfitters

290 Larkin Street Buffalo, NY 14210 www.armynavydeals.com

Reused Military Clothing Designed By OMI www.saioneclothing.com

Repurposed/Reused Military Net Dresses Designed By Edward Lewis

www.edwardlewisstyle.com

Lee Lee 5444 Main Street Williamsville, NY 14221 Fuchsia Cut-Out Dress and Black Jumpsuit Design By Trina Turk

Jewelry Provided By MODA

1493 Hertel Avenue Buffalo, NY 14216

Videographers : Steve Barone & Terry Thier

Video Editing & Production: Terry Thier  tjthier@yahoo.com


Get Involved in the 198 Debate

Click here if you’re interested in the future of the Scajaquada Expressway.

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