Phase one of the Science and Mathematics complex is slated for completion in June 2012.
The Buffalo State College science and mathematics programs will take a giant leap forward Friday, Sept. 25, as they break ground on a state-of-the-art $110 million facility.
Interim President Dennis K.Ponton has invited the entire BSC campus to the 3 p.m. groundbreaking Friday. According to Lisa Krieger the new facility will have an incredible effect on the programs being housed in the multi-million dollar facility.
“It will change everything,” said Krieger who serves as the assistant vice president for finance and management at BSC. “The new facility will help change the culture of the math and science departments as a whole.”
The new facility is expected to attract students to the Elmwood Avenue campus and will improve the quality of the departments in the mean time.
“Traditionally, across the nation, departments have found new buildings have increased enrollment,” said Kimberly Bagley, Chemistry professor and chair of the BSC faculty committee. “I’ve heard numbers based on other programs that saw perhaps an increase of even 20 percent. It’s pretty well-known that new buildings tend to increase enrollment.”
Phase one of construction is expected to be completed in June of 2012. The second phase would get underway in 2011 and the finished product would be completed for the 2015 school year. more
The United Student Government “blackout” that spanned three days from Feb. 18 to Feb. 20 affected thousands of Buffalo State College students.
Leaders of USG proposed this blackout to give students a taste of what it would be like without USG. The blackout also was set up to encourage students to vote in the upcoming USG elections, where they will also vote on the $100 student activity fee.
Many students realized just how important USG and the $100 student activity fee are to the Buffalo State campus. Many services including the NFTA buses that service the campus, the Houston gym and sports arena, and Springfest would not be funded without USG.
The blackout came as a surprise to students and to the organizations that are funded by USG. While there were some complaints about the blackout, USG leaders still feel as though the event was a success.
Now, USG leaders are hoping that enough interest was generated to get more students to vote in the USG elections in April.
“Last year less than 400 people voted in the USG elections,” said USG Treasurer Keisha Dobney. “I would like to see 2,000 people come out and vote, but I would be happy if we doubled to 800.”
The vote for the mandatory student activity fee has always passed, but if for some reason the students do not vote to pay, USG could run for about one year, but would then disassemble until the following year’s vote.
Voting takes place April 7 to April 10 in the student union. more
Student commuters to Buffalo State College with down time in between classes are faced with a similar decision: they can go home to the comfort of their couch and T.V. or they can stay on campus and figure out something to do.
Dave Mondello, right, and Michael Demmy, left, who is posing with a Nerf gun, hang out in the Commuter Council room in the Fireside Lounge on the third floor of Campbell Student Union.
While many times the most tempting decision is to go home, the assistant director of Student Life, commuter and minority services, Melisa Williams, is trying to get students to stay and get involved on campus during their free time. According to the Commuter services Web site, 85 percent of Buffalo State College students commute to college everyday.
Melisa Willams, associate director of minority and commuter services, works in her office on the fourth floor of Campbell Student Union.
Williams says these commuters could:
• Meet other commuters like themselves.
• Take part in entertaining events on campus.
• Get in involved with various student organizations, that could help in future employment. more
Buffalo State offers its students opportunities to experience the world. But they also give students from across the country a chance to experience life in Buffalo and the college life at 1300 Elmwood Ave.
Nineteen-year-old Megan Rhoden comes to Buffalo State all the way from the University of Hawaii through the National Student Exchange program.
The exchange program lets students from a number of different colleges move away from their usual setting and experience life, culture, and classes at a different college across the country.
Megan happened to choose to get away from the usual setting of sun, surf, and luaus to experience snow, shoveling, and the bitter cold of Western New York. Last fall, Megan packed up her bags and flew to Buffalo to take on life as a Buffalo State student for the year. Unfortunately, she wasn’t allowed to have the full Buffalo State experience until now.
For the first semester, Megan had to stay at the Adam’s Mark hotel in downtown Buffalo- 2 miles away from the college campus and coordinate her day with the inconsistent bus schedule.
“Some days it would come super late and others it would come early, so I always tried to get to the stop pretty early,” she says about her experiences on the morning ride. “But that’s just life!” Not once did Megan have a bad thing to say about her trip. In fact, she loves being around the city and her new-found friends. more
The crash of Flight 3407 was a heartbreaking moment for many Western New Yorkers. Just two days before Valentine’s Day, 50 lives were lost. And some of the victims were members of the alumni at Buffalo State College.
No one really expects a tragedy to happen and most are not prepared to cope when it does. Here at Buffalo State College, students have access to professionally trained psychiatrists who will guide them.
The counseling center on campus offers individual or group counseling with workshops throughout the semester.
The center realizes that when students are faced with a hard time in life, they need guidance.
Senior Jennifer Stauffer said, “It is good to know that there is some place students can go.”
A dozen staff members are on hand to assist those in need. But when tragedy strikes and a large number of people are impacted, the counseling center will have a team ready.
“The team is made up of members of this community, faculty, staff and students, and it is open to everybody,” Assistant Director Modulpe Aikin-Deko said. “Come and join us and you just do the training that we can be there to support. It is not counseling.”
Members of the staff from the counseling center train the team. The peer counselors are there to listen. They also have the ability to recognize if a student’s grieving is normal or if they need to refer the student to the center’s staff. They then will go through a specialized session. more
Design of new dorm building set for construction in Fall 2009
(Courtesy of Buffalo State College Public Relations)
Design of new science building set for construction in Fall 2009
(Courtesy of Buffalo State College Public Relations)
Design of new technology building set for construction in Fall 2009
(Courtesy of Buffalo State College Public Relations)
The economic stimulus package recently signed into law by President Barack Obama allocates funds designed to help those trying to pay for higher education costs as well help fund the expansion and renovation of state universities and colleges.
Additions to financial aid tools like the Pell Grant and the Hope Scholarship, are some of the major provisions in the higher education portion of legislation aimed at helping students, said Kent McGowan, financial aid director at Buffalo State.
“The bottom line is there is going to be more money for Pell Grants and it is going to help students, our neediest students,” he said. “Approximately a third of our undergraduates get Pell Grants so that is going to be a big boost for them.”
Other funds in the recovery package are allocated to states to help pay for projects on campuses without having to increase tuition, according to the recovery act.
Buffalo State has more than $350 million in planned construction projects, of which $150 million are ready to break ground, said Steven Shaffer, manager of design and construction at Buffalo State.
The college is still unaware of how much or if any stimulus money it will be receiving to pay for these projects, said Stanley Kardonsky, vice president for finance and management at Buffalo State.
Despite the lack of information on funds, the college is still planning to move forward with all projects, he said.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will keep the college afloat during this recession, said Ted Schmidt, an associate professor in the economics and finance department at Buffalo State. more
When students think about their athletic program, they tend to think about all the men’s sporting programs. At Buffalo State College, it’s a more forward thinking institution. It seems like Buffalo State is trying to move in the right direction.
Jerry Boyes, athletic director, describes that it is a result of an amendment called Title 9. It’s about the number of opportunities an institution offers, rather then the amount of single sports team. So, what appears like a female dominated athletic program is really just steps in the right direction.
Buffalo State College Athletic Director Jerry Boyes
Boyes says, “that at any one time there can be 85 to 100 football players on his team,” and since there is no female football team those numbers have to be offset some other way. Creating more sports teams, allows Buffalo State to stay in compliance with the Title 9 law.
More female sports teams mean more opportunities for female athletes to participate in the athletic program.
Even though Buffalo State hasn’t reached total equality among men and women, the college has taken the right steps to get there. Boyes is extremely confident that one day it will get there. “It’s a goal,” said Boyes. Until then, it’s all about the quality of the sports the college offers. The college and coaches just want to see their student athletes succeed in every aspect of their college experience and have fun doing it. more
College is not all about the learning that takes place inside the classrooms or the weekend parties. It can also be about making a difference.
Buffalo State College students such as Jennifer Dreyer, Wayne Dupree, and others, have volunteered to join Best Buddies, are doing just that.
Best Buddies, founded in 1989 at Georgetown University by Anthony Kennedy Shriver, is a nonprofit organization that gives people with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to form a friendship that may not have formed otherwise.
There are more than 400,000 members worldwide, and more than 360 chapters on college campuses. Buffalo State which formed its chapter in 2001 is the only one in Western New York. Some of the buddies attend BSC, while others are referred by People Inc., an organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities as well as their families.
Best Buddies is a way for people to connect and for some it may be an opportunity to realize how lucky they are. For the buddies it is a way to just be a kid and take their mind of the everyday challenges they face. more
Two residence halls, a $50 million project, will be built on L-Lot.
Buffalo State College students soon will be able to watch as two state-of-the-art residence halls rise bit by bit on L-Lot.
The $50-million project should alleviate the housing concerns that the college has faced in recent years. More than 500 new beds will be available upon the new structures completion.
The blueprints are ready and according to Cannon Design's Bill Greeley, shovels could be in the ground as early as this fall.
"We had a lot of input from the administration in planning this, and today we're hoping to get input from students," Greeley said at a Feb. 10 Q & A held in the Campbell Student Union.
Preliminary plans have the buildings slated for construction in L-Lt, across from Campus West School and Alumni Arena. Greeley and his associates had easels set up with images of the proposed housing on display for students (or any passers by) to critique on Feb. 10.
The facilities are top-notch. Two four-story, L-shaped buildings that feature apartment-style living will be built facing one another, creating a courtyard in the center. The interior is strongly influenced by the designs Cannon used earlier this decade when the firm produced plans for Canisius College's Delevan Housing Complex on Delevan Avenue between Main Street and Delaware Avenue.more
Literacy rates in Buffalo are alarmingly low. Thirty percent of the population is functionally illiterate, meaning skill levels are at a 5th grade level or lower. But one program in Buffalo is helping those in need.
Simply Excellent Students is a non-profit program that provides educational assistance to children in kindergarten through 12th grade. The program is linked with Literacy Volunteers of Buffalo and Erie County and has eight sites throughout Buffalo. New York state certified teachers give one-on-one tutoring and create lessons for the children in both math and reading. The program runs from September to June.
Reading, rhyming, phonics, sequencing, behavior, manners, numbers, and learning to tell time are among the subjects taught to the younger children in the program. Those in middle and high school read the newspaper for current events, create collages, and put together projects.
Buffalo is home to thousands of refugees. Many do not speak English as their primary language and some do not even know the basics. One of the locations of the program, the First Presbyterian Church provides services to the Liberian community.
The benefits of Simply Excellent Students are not only seen in improved test scores but also in the children’s attitudes.
“They are behind in their studies and they don’t have a love of reading,” said Janca. “So we foster that and by the time they leave us, they want book after book after book.” more
Mineo & Sapio Italian sausage makers is a West Side institution that reaches all of Western New York.
Located at 410 Connecticut St., on the West Side of Buffalo, lies the home base for a Western New York cookout tradition.
Mineo & Sapio Italian sausage manufacturers have been in business since 1920 and have been a major supplier of specialty meats in the area for many years.
Dan Cartwright, manager of the current neighborhood market, has been with the company for 30 years. Cartwright said that he works very closely with the current owner, Michael Pierro, to maintain a good relationship between the meat shop and the west side.
“Michael does a lot with the donations. Mostly local, around the area that we deliver to,” Cartwright said.
This past year, Mineo & Sapio management worked closely with the WKBW-TV Variety Club telethon. Cartwright said that they have also donated to the Jerry’s Kids telethon and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K run.
According to the Mineo & Sapio website, the meat market was founded by John Mineo who quickly earned a reputation for making “fine fresh Italian sausage.” After joining forces in 1952 with Mineo’s son-in-law, Ralph Sapio, the meat market became known as Mineo & Sapio meat.
“Today we are known as Mineo & Sapio Italian sausage, and we are still in tune with the needs of our customers,” the website reads. Some local distributors of Mineo & Sapio include all Buffalo located Wegmans, Tops Friendly Markets, Dash’s Market and local Budwey Markets. more
The Asarese-Matters Community Center on 50 Rees St. in Buffalo. The center provides a gym for West Side and other area youths to participate in sports, art programs, and others activities.
Pedro Nieves, 10 and Orlando Martinez, 11, watch Mike Milovich, recreation director of Asarese-Matters Community Center, spin a basketball on his finger inside of the facility’s gym.
Asarese-Matters Community Center on Buffalo’s West Side and other centers like it in the city might face closure during summer because of lack of funding.
Right now, Erie County funds all of the city’s parks and community centers as part of a five year contract with the City of Buffalo, according to Mike Milovich, recreational director of Asarese. The contract runs out this July, and if the city or county does not decide to foot the bill again for its community centers, they may close. All services and activities provided by Asarese will cease. The community center is located on 50 Rees Street near Buffalo State College.
In addition to a possible closure, there is uncertainty on whose job it is, the city or the county, to perform repairs on the building, said Milovich. Covers on the security lights of the building’s exterior are broken because of vandalism. In the main lobby, there is a severe crack in a ceiling window pane.
The city and county have acknowledged the problem but have no projected date as to when it can or will be fixed, said Marcia Maracel, director of Parks and Recreation for Erie County.
The difficulty lies in what is classified as a repair or “capital improvement.” According to Milovich:
• Major capital improvements such as roof replacement is the city’s responsibility.
• Simple repairs such as a small leak in the roof is the county’s responsibility.
Asarese-Matters provides activities and services for all area youths. Some of these include:
• Floor Hockey, Basketball, and Billiards.
• Computers with internet access.
• Art Classes.
Milovich believes closing these centers would have a negative city wide impact and cut off an alternative safe and positive environment for area youths. more
The United States Postal Service is proposing not only rate increases of stamps but also the reduction of a day in their mail schedule. While on the surface, this removal of a business day will save money, but it may hurt the postal service and West Side residents more than you’d think.
Over the first quarter of the new year, the USPS lost a total of $384-million. Now, the mailman is trying to make up for lost cash by raising the price of stamps again and maybe even remove a day on the work schedule.
“Right across the board, this could potentially mean a decrease of 16 and a half percent of the employees.” Karen Mazurkiewicz spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service says. “The specifics of [the dropped delivery day(s)] have not even begun to be discussed.”
Most businesses and institutions don’t feel the absence of a weekend mail day is going to greatly affect them. But a lost pick-up during the week could have some effect on day-to-day business.
“It depends on the day of the week,” says Steven Smith, director of Undergraduate Admissions at D’Youville College. “I don’t see the college having a problem with it. But some local residents may be more affected by the change.”
West Side resident, Lisbeth Zargoza thinks the effect will be most felt by the people in the community who rely on mailed prescription drugs.
“What’s going to happen if Mr. Handly down the street is waiting for his medication in the mail?” asks Lisbeth Zaragoza of the west side. “He’s going to have to wait until Monday.”more
Prish Moran, the owner of Sweetness 7 Café, has been making a difference on the West Side, one cup at a time. The café, located on the corner of Grant and Lafayette, is quickly becoming the gathering spot for many West Side progressives.
Sweetness 7 Cafe can be found in an old brick building that, at one time, was boarded up and tarnished with graffiti. Moran, who lost her son in a car accident, has rehabilitated the building, and, despite being doubted by many, has found success beyond her own expectations.
“The day we opened the café it was packed. I thought maybe someone would come in, maybe just one person,” Moran said.
In addition to the Café, there is an art gallery and a flower shop. Moran’s sister, Rene, owns the flower shop. In the not so distant future, Moran also plans on opening a restaurant.more
Storefront window of Garang International Market, which opened for business on Niagara Street in December.
Many streets on the West Side are home to ethnic markets run by families who arrive in Buffalo as refugees fleeing their home country with no more than a bag of clothes and a hand full of cash.
Ali Mohammed fled Somalia with his family in 1993 in the midst of an outbreak of violence during the battle of Mogadishu, he said.
Upon settling in Buffalo Mohammed opened Hatimy Market on Grant Street where everyone from African refugees to Buffalo natives come into the market each day, he said.
The market offers a range of Middle Eastern and African foods that serve the cravings of many of the refugees who live on the West Side from Africa and the Middle East, he said
Paul Guyi and Ben Ohide hail from Sudan and own the Garang International Market on Niagara Street. When they opened the market they wanted to try to serve the large African population on the West Side by offering a variety of food and goods from various African countries, Guyi said.
A shopper at Garang International Market can buy more than ethnic food. The market offers CDs and DVDs that are filled with music and video from many of the African nations, said Guyi.
Markets like Hatimy and Garang are not easily started. Refugees must go through a settlement process before even thinking of fulfilling their dreams of owning their own business, said Becky Mischler, volunteer and donations director for Catholic Charities of Buffalo.more
Storefront of Urban Roots Community Garden on Rhode Island Street.
With Memorial Day less than a month away, many West Side residents are looking to get a jump on the start of gardening season by visiting Urban Roots Community Garden Center on Rhode Island Street.
The garden center offers not only an array of products for starting and maintaining a garden, it also provides workshops designed to educate on the finer points of community gardening.
Creating community gardens is a key step in revitalizing an area like the West Side, said Anthony Armstrong, chair of Urban Roots. The gardens create a look in the community that attract homeowners and businesses as well as giving the members of the community pride in where they live.
Urban Roots is a co-operative organization, which is owned by citizens of the community who pay a one-time membership, or ownership, fee. When they make purchases, member-owners receive a discount at the store based on what they spend as well as the profit margin of the business, Armstrong said.
The organization and retail store opened in 2006 out of a necessity for a garden center in the neighborhood as well as need for an organization to tackle the eye sores that infect an economically depressed city like Buffalo, he said.
Advocates say these organizations go a long way to improving the neighborhood around them along with providing quality goods and services.
The co-operative has worked in collaboration with many other co-operatives and organizations in the area to beautify Buffalo and more specifically the West Side
“Co-operatives allow for members of the community to have a stake in the businesses that surround them and that goes a long way when businesses like the Lexington Co-Operative and Urban Roots are working to improve a city like Buffalo,” said Tim Bartlett, general manager of the Lexington Co-Operative. more
Louis Guercio, secretary of Guercio & Sons, stands next to a shelf of pasta.
The produce area of the market features a wallpaper mural of the home town of the owners, Cefalu, Italy.
A West Side grocer has a hall of fame-like place for its wholesale customers only no award or fame is given out here, just a space on the grocer's walls.
Guercio & Sons, a family-owned Italian grocery store, takes clippings from newspaper reviews of its wholesale customers, largely restaurants, and tapes them to the walls at the back of the market. The wall is proof of how many area businesses rely on Guercios & Sons to provide food items that bigger supermarkets may not have and at a low price.
Guercio & Sons can afford low prices because of several factors according to Louis Guercio, secretary of Guercio & Sons:
• No revenue is spent on advertising.
• Guercio & Sons stores a large variety of food items not available in supermarkets.
• The building is owned by the Guercio family which keeps expenses low.
• The Empire Zone Program run by New York State provides the market with tax exemptions and credits.
• Guercio & Sons and restaurants the market does business with have done well in the slumping economy because people have to eat.
The store is run by five brothers including Louis Guercio. Salvatore is president, Charles, vice president, John, warehouse foreman, and Thomas Sr. is treasurer.
In 15 years, Louis Guercio sees the market right where it is today but with a bigger wholesale and retail customer base.
"We're here and we're going to stay here," said Louis Guercio. "So I see Guercio's here. That's where we belong. We're noted for being here on Grant Street all these years and people expect us to stay here." more
The Heart of the City Neighborhoods Inc. is trying to rebuild a community, house-by-house and block-by-block. In doing so, the organization is hoping to show the heart of Buffalo’s West Side.
HOCN is a nonprofit organization that receives funding from Albany and the city of Buffalo. The three-member organization is trying to rehabilitate the housing market on Buffalo’s lower West Side.
For the organization to be a success it needs properties to rehabilitate. In Buffalo, the acquisition of these properties is oftentimes challenging. Lack of promotion by the city can delay progress for years.
In a time when everyone is searching for energy efficiency -- HOCN has steadily infused green technology into many of its rehabilitations.
One project that shows the organizations capability is called the “Plymouth Avenue Reclamation Project.” more
Upon entering Grover Cleveland’s small and compact gymnasium on a game night, the cheers and excitement that spill over into the hallway suggest this is more than just a high school basketball game.
And to some it is. It’s a whole community that includes parents of the players, faculty, alumni and West Side residents coming out to support their team. Sports are an important part of the West Side and of the lives of many children and teenagers living in the community.
“I have no affiliation with the school besides that I live in the neighborhood. The games are exciting and I just like to come and support the kids,” Janelle Davis said, a resident of the West Side. “Games give the parents, fans and students something to look forward to during the cold winter months.”
Playing for the Grover Presidents keeps players on the team focused on not only basketball, but school as well. To play on sports teams, students must maintain a 2.0 grade point average in the four core courses of math, social studies, science and English. This hard work on and off the court “keeps the boys on track,” says Grover Alumnus Jerome Thomas.
The success of the Grover basketball program throughout the tenure of coach Earl Shunk can easily be the difference in motivating the kids to not only work on their game to become better players, but stay out of trouble and get good grades in school, something they will benefit from for a lifetime. Student commuters to Buffalo State College with down time in between classes are faced with a similar decision: they can go home to the comfort of their couch and T.V. or they can stay on campus and figure out something to do.
While many times the most tempting decision is to go home, the assistant director of Student Life, commuter and minority services, Melisa Williams, is trying to get students to stay and get involved on campus during their free time. According to the Commuter services Web site, 85 percent of Buffalo State College students commute to college everyday. Williams says these commuters could:
• Meet other commuters like themselves.
• Take part in entertaining events on campus.
• Get in involved with various student organizations, that could help in future employment. more
Look for a lot of tails to be wagging in the West Side of Buffalo this summer.
The Buffalo Barkyard (barkyardbuffalo.com), an off-leash dog area, is set to begin construction on a permanent facility in the West Side's LaSalle Park this June.
Elizabeth Hastie, 29, a paralegal for the Schroder, Joseph & Associates law firm, balances her normal workload with the extra responsibility of being a volunteer coordinator for the Barkyard. A temporary site for the park, which has been utilized since August 2007, will be moved to the northeast end of LaSalle in the next few months. “We're basically taking a green piece of land and building on top of it,” Hastie said.
The Barkyard, which was started by a local businessman/veterinarian team, has seen their vision of an off-leash park for their dogs far exceed their expectations.
“With that [the Barkyard] being very successful, the city has given us a 'go' to build the new site,” Hastie said.
On any given day, passersby can see the Barkyard in action. Many dog groups have popped up subsequently since the park's inception. There is a Pug-Day group, which boasts upwards of 60 members.
“They had Pug-O-Ween where they dressed up in cool costumes,” laughed Hastie who also guest judged the event.
While everyone agrees that the demand for the park is there, funds for the project have been an issue for the coordinators. Fencing, concrete, lighting, plumbing and landscaping are just a few of the needs that are in the pipeline before the park is completed, Hastie said.
Hastie said funds are coming in slowly but surely. Small fundraising ideas like dog fashion shows, personalized paw-print concrete slabs and a dog-tag tree are just a few of the ways local dog-owners will be able to help facilitate the park reaching fruition. Hastie has her eyes set on a much larger prize, however.
“We're actually working toward getting a corporate sponsor like the one in Rochester or Syracuse that's like the 'Wegman's Park.' They sponsor that park,” Hastie said.
Local dog owner Johnny Lucas, 24, hopes that the group will be able to find the money so he and his Lab/Shepherd mix, Conan, will be able to enjoy the park.
“I hope they find the funds to do this soon because summer is approaching fast,” Lucas said.
Lucas and Conan typically frequent Delaware Park about four times a week during the winter and everyday in the summer. He would gladly switch parks because of the proximity to his house and the fact that it is off leash.
“We can play Can-Jam and Frisbee with our friends,” Lucas said.
Money is just one of the things that are necessary to maintain a dog park. Volunteers are a huge help in keeping the facility clean and enjoyable for the community. Hastie and the other Barkyard coordinators sponsor PUP days, short for “Pick Up Poop.” They maintain their sense of humor about things.
“We have our 'April Stools Day' coming up this weekend,” Hastie said with a smile. Hastie is optimistic that the Barkyard will be up and running by June. “I think Buffalo is an amazing community. I think they do reach out and they do help each other,” Hastie said
The city of Buffalo has offered some money for the park along with the commitment of keeping the grass trimmed and the garbage emptied. The organizers of the new Barkyard project now hope that other local companies will step forward and help make the dreams of many city dog owners a reality.
Monique Watts stands inside the seven-foot chicken coop
her husband built in their backyard on Rhode Island Street. The coop is not visible from the front of the house or neighboring yards.
A West Side resident was spurred into action when Buffalo Animal Control knocked on her door and wanted to take her chickens away because of an anonymous complaint.
Monique Watts, owner five chickens since July 2008, had a weekend to move her chickens to an undisclosed location two hours away from her home because of a 2004 ordinance making it illegal for Buffalo residents to own any type of water fowl. Determined to not give up her chickens, Watts met with Buffalo Common Council member David A. Rivera and other city officials to discuss legislation other cities, such as Rochester, Denver, and San Francisco, have passed so a new law can be drafted allowing residents to own chickens with restrictions.
These restrictions include:
• The size of the chicken coop.
• The distance coops can be from property lines.
• A fenced yard.
• Farmers will be unable to sell their chickens or the eggs they produce.
Urban chicken farming is part of a growing movement across the nation according to Watts.
There are benefits to owning a chicken coop, said Watts, such as:
• Knowing the source of the eggs.
• Chickens are not given antibiotics unless they fall sick.
• Chickens eat insects.
• Feces being used as fertilizer.
• Not having to buy eggs.
The meeting, early this March, was the first of what is to be many meetings with city officials. More progress was made than she thought was possible in one meeting, said Watts. Nothing is concrete however.
"If something this silly can't be resolved when we've got gangs on both ends and drug dealings on every triangle here, why are we putting our effort into this neighborhood," Watts said. "We'll go somewhere else." more
Entrepreneur Prish Moran Opened Sweet_Ness 7 Café in 2008 and Susan McCartney, director of the Small Business Development Center at Buffalo State, believes that she could not have enjoyed the success she is having without following a comprehensive business plan.
With the country in a recession many have wondered if small businesses, like Sweet_Ness 7 Café on Grant Street, are a thing of the past on the West Side.
However, people like Susan McCartney, director of the Small Business Development center at Buffalo State, have stated that there is no bad time to start a business, just bad strategies.
Entrepreneurs need a well-developed business plan that they can pitch to investors and if the concept and plan has a place in the market then people will be willing to fund their business, she said.
Entrepreneurs need to follow four main steps in order to create a strong business, which includes setting quantifiable objectives, creating a marketing strategy, hiring an intelligent team to help run the business and putting together a financial analysis.
The government can also lend a hand during this process. The stimulus package contains provisions that are aimed at helping small businesses get off the ground. For instance the Small Business Administration can now back loans up to 90 percent given by banks to small businesses.
Recession or not people need goods and services and that will never change, she said.
There is no better place to start a small business then on the West Side. It is the densest area of Erie County per square foot and has the most people traveling by foot in the city, she said.
There is a huge customer base on the West Side, it just takes an entrepreneur who is willing to analyze the customer base and find out what they need and want, she said.
“Small businesses can thrive on the West Side,” McCartney said.
Prish Moran, owner of Sweet_ness 7, bought her property in June 2007 and began her work immediately, clearing debris and rehabilitating the structure, which includes five storefronts and seven apartments on the second floor.
Since the purchase the investment has almost quadrupled in price and a month doesn’t pass where Moran doesn’t receive an inquiry about purchasing the property, she said.
There seems to be resurgence in the area. Many successful business owners who own property in other parts of the city are coming to the West Side to open up restaurants and shops right by Sweet_ness 7, Moran said.
"Some people need to see things as they could be, I really think that's it," she says.more
By Michael Hefferon and Nicholas V. Schroeck
For many refugees on Buffalo’s West Side, diverse cultures and differing languages can be an impenetrable barrier to overcome. Yet with the help of a few Houghton College students, many refugees are transitioning well.
Charles Massey, professor of education at Houghton College and coordinator of the Office for Urban Connections, has been spearheading an effort to help the West Side’s refugees assimilate into Buffalo’s culture.
Houghton’s linguistic students travel nearly an hour and a half into Buffalo’s West Side to tutor the refugees. Along with learning the English language, the refugees learn about grocery shopping, job hunting and America’s educational system.
This program started out as a few students fulfilling service learning requirements but now has expanded into a multi-faceted organization fulfilling the different needs of refugees.
In cooperation with Journey’s End Refugee Service, a Christian and community-based organization aimed at helping refugees become contributing members of a community, Houghton College is at the forefront of refugee service.more
Massachusetts Avenue Project coordinators Erin Sharkey (left) and Zoe Hollomon (right) display the salsa and chili starter products that can be found on the Mobile Market.
The Massachusetts Avenue Project, located on Grant Street launched a new initiative in 2008 called the Mobile Market. It begins its second season in May.
The Mobile Market brings healthy foods into many neighborhoods that do not have access to quality meals. An RV filled with organic and locally grown food is traveling to various locations throughout Buffalo and offers affordable prices to customers.
The food that can be purchased from the Mobile Market is grown on a half-acre urban farm owned by the Massachusetts Avenue Project. Area teenagers are employed to grow and produce a variety of fruits and vegetables to sell for profit. They work both during the summer and school year. Outreach Coordinator Erin Sharkey said that although the work is not always easy, it is very hands on and educational.
The places found to be most devastating lie within the West Side of Buffalo and are called “food deserts”. The Mobile Market will visit these areas because they not only have a need for fresh food but are also heavily populated.
The Mobile Market accepts cash, credit and EBT or food stamps.more
A historical landmark of the Westside is on the verge of being demolished if a new owner is not found. St. Mary’s On the Hill, a dilapidated church was built in 1888 on the highest point of Prospect Hill.
The church suffering from neglect is deteriorating, becoming hazardous to its neighbors and the community.
“The roofing started to go bad when the building stopped being taken care of,” a construction worker said.
The church is in a state of complete despaired and is becoming dangerously close to a state where it could not be saved. Not only is the outside in shambles but the inside is just as bad and probably worse.
The property has become such a blemish to the community and the neighboring houses that it was brought to the attention of the city at the housing courts.
Many believe that something needs to be done. They don’t all want to see it torn down but restored and used for something.
The only thing that will save this church is a generous owner and a lot of work. It no longer matters if the church is a landmark. Safety of the community is the first and only goal that the city cares about.
Unless the church finds an owner quickly the city will be forced to tear it down, for no other reason but the safety of the surrounding community.
“If it is dangerous, it has to come down. Human lives always trump buildings.” Garrett said. more
Living in the West Side of Buffalo has become a culture in itself.
Located in this very democratic city, which is known across the land as “The All-American City,” are buildings that have been shaped, created and preserved by America’s forefathers.
These buildings that have become known as works-of-art and have been making headlines both locally and nationally.
Many of these buildings have brought a spotlight onto the West Side because they lie on the neighboring streets, most standing tall and burly.
Kleinhans Music Hall, located at 3 Symphony Circle, has been marked as an architectural landmark that has stood since 1938.
Nicholas McLaughlin, patron and ticket services manager said that Kleinhans Musical Hall is a historical landmark to the West Side.
“It looks very similar to how it always has,” McLaughlin said, “it brings a connection to the history of the city.”
Kleinhans Music Hall is home to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and has been since their first concert in 1940. The music hall also houses classical concerts, family musical events and pop concerts.
According to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra website, the site consists of two main parts: the semi-elliptical auditorium seating 2,800 and the elongated hemispherical chamber with an additional 900 seats.
After 26 land sites were studied as the base for Kleinhans, the current site was selected, the website said. Buffalo architects F.J. and W.A. Kidd adapted the interior designs and Eliel and Eero Saarinen were responsible for the exterior architecture.
McLaughlin said that today, Kleinhans Music Hall is a staple for a connection between the residents of the West Side. He added that it will remain as a historical site and will continue to host artistic acts at the current location.
Another location that has brought attention to the West Side of Buffalo is located along the Buffalo waterfront at 194 Porter Ave.
Since 1975, this has been the home to the West Side Rowing Club, whose purpose is “the advancement of the physical, mental, and moral well being of the youth of the City of Buffalo, New York and surrounding communities by education, training, instruction, and participation in the art of rowing and other athletic pursuits.”
This non-profit organization ran by volunteers, has sponsored many rowing programs including high school, adult recreational and highly competitive championship events, the website said. The West Side Rowing Club is known as the nation’s largest rowing club.
“To date, the club has produced 10 Olympians, 34 U.S. National team members and hundreds of collegiate rowers,” the website said.
Added to this historical site in 2000 was the Frank Lloyd Wright Rowing Boathouse.
According to the FLWRB website, its purpose is to have a working boathouse that will be accessible to architectural tourists who desire to tour the building and experience its authentic spaces.
The building was designed in 1905 and redrawn in 1930, having two levels with an overall total of 4,960 square. The architects involved with the plans included Frank Lloyd Wright, Tony Puttnam and Hamilton, Houston and Lowrie.
Since the grand opening of the boathouse, it has been a major attraction for Wright fans, whom had also designed many other plans for buildings along Western New York.
Wright, who has significance to planning the old Larkin Administration Building also has many other historical pieces of architecture found throughout Buffalo. Wright was known for his prairie-style architecture but the boathouse exceeded that expectation.
Another building that occupies an entire block at 184 Connecticut St. is the Connecticut Street Armory that can be described as a castle.
When construction was completed in 1899, it was recognized as being one of the largest armory’s in the country and has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1995.
There are many other sites in Buffalo that have been historically marked and valued as architectural masterpieces.
Whether you are a Buffalonian or an out-of-towner, Buffalo with many locations across the West Side, is a city full of sights to see.
Houses like this one dot the West Side, bringing down housing values, says Jim Militello of JR Militello Realty.
West Side resident James Hoven is a first-time home buyer; and he’s looking for a place on the West Side. But there was something odd about the prices- they seemed almost too low. Then Hoven discovered the homes that he’s interested in sit right between a pair of foreclosed houses that are ready to collapse.
“It doesn’t make for a good Christmas card shot if there’s a run-down house next door to your new home,” says Hoven. “And that’s really the issue here- there’s way too many houses on the West Side with plywood windows.”
But it’s not only home values going down- the commercial district is dropping in price as well.
“What’s affecting the market place is the unavailability of financing and then a reduced demand- and with a reduced demand, there aren’t that many purchasers. When there’s a thinner amount of purchasers, they tend to shy away from the lower quality product which is that geographical area,” says Jim Militello of JR Militello Realty. “But the primary problem isn’t the economy as much as the poor quality of the assets being sold.”
There still may be light at the end of the tunnel for West Side residents and businesses. According to Paul Pinizotto of Century 21, this could be the beginning of a slow shift in the property values and the commercial market.
“The houses that aren’t vandalized and are taken care of, they’re [selling] pretty good… I think it’s going to creep [from Richmond] more and more toward Grant street as we go along here- I mean, it’s not going to happen overnight but I think it’s going to be a good area.”more
A Belle Center volunteer works with neighborhood children in one of many programs to be featured during AmeriCorps week.
From May 11 to May 16, The Belle Center along with Americorps will host a week promoting health and safety to houses and families around the area.
AmeriCorp week will teach families how to live a healthier and safer life by teaching families and children different ways to stay safe and healthy.
The week will offer programs varying from literacy programs, smoke detector classes, aids testing, healthy eating, fire drills and others that will educate families around the West side and the rest of Western New York.
Jack Norton, program development coordinator at the Belle Center feels that the week is very beneficial and will help improve families around the towns.
“These programs and events we have set up to teach these families and kids will make for a better home to live in,” Norton said. “Erie County Health Department workers will be going door-to-door around the center to give awareness for healthy homes.”
Norton and the Belle Center are anticipating anywhere between 400-600 people to attend the event. What they really need is volunteers to come and help run the event, said Norton.
“It is very hard to handle this many people with only the staff from the center. Any help we can get would be greatly appreciated,” Norton said. “Come out and help change the way people live.”more
Ismail Johnson and Tom Cassanes, both local musicians, play the guitars for the youths at the first Open Mic at the Butler-Mitchell Boys and Girls Club, hosted by PUSH.
The first of what is to be a monthly open mic, held at the Butler-Mitchell Boys and Girls Club on Massachusetts Avenue, provided area youths with an extra outlet besides T.V. or Internet.
The Open Mic, sponsored by People United for Sustainable Housing, is for youths up to age 18, but there are exceptions, said Aminah Johnson, a staff member of PUSH. Why would an organization that sounds like it is involved in housing host an open mic? The answer is quality of life, said Johnson.
"It's something else for the kids to do besides hang out in the streets and watch My Space all day long," said Johnson. "This Open Mic can help them bring about their imaginations more in a constructive manner."
Johnson hopes the Open Mic becomes larger and more diverse over time. The attendees represented the diverse ethnicities of the West Side: Black, Hispanic and Arabic. One attendee sung a song in Spanish and the others participated by:
• Singing songs such as 'Your Man Ain't Me' by Chris Brown, 'Lean on Me,' 'Sweet Home Alabama,' and songs from the cartoon Spongebob Squarepants.
• Telling jokes.
• Reading poetry.
Two other PUSH staff members, Ismail Johnson and Tom Cassanes, played music on instruments to enhance the experience. The goals of the open mic according to Johnson are to:
• Encourage positive expression. There is no profanity, vulgarity, or 'nasty' content allowed.
• Help youths show or discover talents they can utilize.
• Help youths connect with their community and overcome shyness.
The next Open Mic will be held at the Butler-Mitchell Boys and Girls Club on Monday, May 18.more
Between 1950 and 2000, the population of Buffalo declined by almost 200,000 residents. In that same span, the amount of infrastructure and developed areas in the greater Buffalo community has tripled.
While the suburbs have thrived and sustained their populations during this time, communities like the West Side of Buffalo constantly see the adverse affects of suburban sprawl throughout their neighborhoods.
Maria Whyte (D) from the 6th District of the Erie County legislature is using an effort to establish a countywide planning board to control sprawl.
Former County Executive Joel Giambra and Niagara County Legislature Chair William Ross set out to create a plan for curbing sprawl and waste titled the Erie-Niagara Framework for Regional Growth (www.erie.gov/regionalframework).
Whyte and her colleagues in support of the Framework plan think that a countywide planning board will be a step in the right direction.
“This is not going to fix your vacant property today or tomorrow. But what it will do is set things in motion so that 20 years down the road, my constituents won't be calling my office with the same complaints,” said Whyte.
Whyte also believes at some point, an oversight committee spanning both Erie and Niagara counties would be a good idea.
She is not alone.
“I think [a bi-county planning board] is a good idea because several projects span counties, for instance, waterfront development, which goes over Erie and Niagara county, and it's important both counties work together to ensure success,” said Norwood Avenue resident Mathew Peterson.
Whyte believes though that a planning board, and eventually a dual board between counties, is what's in everyone's best interests.
“If we can stop sprawl and focus investment on already existing infrastructure, we will save taxpayers $800 million over the next 25 years,” said Whyte.more
Bob Franke talks about the impact 65 Grant St., above, has on the surrounding community.
What to do with buildings on Buffalo’s West Side has become a complicated topic. Certain buildings in the area, like 65 Grant St., are on life support.
Grant Street, once a vital part of Buffalo’s West Side, has been in constant decline. However, with the recent addition of Sweetness 7 café, which has become the template for other buildings in the area, Grant Street is experiencing new and steady growth.
The building at 65 Grant St. sits on the corner of Grant and West Ferry. Bob Franke, member of the Grant-Ferry Association, wants the owner, because of safety reasons, to sell the building.
James Comerford, deputy commissioner of the city’s Department of Economic Development, said that despite the boarded-up windows, graffiti, and loose bricks, the building does not break any major code violations.
Let the debate begin.more
Automated parking meters, like the one on the left, have begun to replace standard coin-operated meters in the city.
Have you ever driven down a street looking for a parking spot, and when you find a spot and park you realize it is a parking meter and you have no quarters?
Nearly four and a half years ago, the City of Buffalo started implanting the Solar Powered Pay-n-Display Parking meters on busy streets in Downtown Buffalo.
These new machines are to reduce and one day eliminates the “guessing” of when time runs out. The process takes more steps then simply putting the number of quarters that corresponds to the time you are requesting to park in a space.
The reasons the Division of Parking Enforcement and the City of Buffalo are replacing the old coin operated meters is due to the high rate of theft and damage. Replacing the single meters means there will be less money spent on the maintenance and up-keep of the old meters.
As of December 2008, The City of Buffalo has 3,000 single unit parking meters and 25 Pay-n-Display multi-space parking units.
Several businesses owners on the Elmwood Village strip have said they have seen an increase of the number of shoppers.