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JULY 21 - JULY 29, 2015

Only in North Tonawanda: NT is NOT Buffalo!

By Sweeney Payne

JULY 21, 2015

Budwey's is a local treasure.

North Tonawanda is NOT Buffalo.

We’ll never compete with Buffalo’s lakefront or Buffalo’s simulated canalside nor with Buffalo’s free concerts. We have our own unique offerings as a small city with both a Niagara River and Erie Canal waterfront.

What we need downtown to serve residents of the “Old First Ward” (now the Second Ward) is a grocery operation.

Why do locals near the much touted “revived” Webster Street shopping center have to drive cross town or go to Erie County for groceries and drugstores? Webster Street has no businesses locals need daily.

“Downtown” is more like “uptown” these days. The real shopping and affordable dining opportunities are in or near Mid-City Plaza and Budwey’s Plaza. They are safer and have less litter left behind by their customers when compared to “uptown.”

We (evidently not LCDC or our current eight men in a room) remember when we had an A&P on Manhattan Street, an Acme Market on Main at Goundry, AND a Tops Market on Goundry at Manhattan. We had a thriving downtown then. The grocery stores, Murphy’s, shoe stores, jewelers, soda shops, diners, hardware store, furniture store, etc., brought all of NT to Webster Street.

Employees at Buffalo Bolt, Buffalo Pumps, Armstrong Pumps, Allan Herschell, Auto Wheel Coaster, and other industries along Oliver Street fed the many small shops and restaurants and bars that thrived there. Properties were owned and lived in by those operating their businesses in them. Owners lived there and made sure they kept their properties up.

Why doesn’t the City budget provide for  sufficient police monitoring of Oliver and Webster Streets and in our community parks so residents are able to go out and about safely even after dark? Why don’t our public officeholders pursue better bus service and sufficient parking for us to shop or dine “uptown” or on Oliver Street?

Way to go, Frank Budwey! Investing more than a million dollars into improvements and giving ownership in the grocery business that has served North Tonawanda residents for nine decades! How refreshing!

We can hardly restrain ourselves at the novel action of beloved Frank Budwey, but we are more impressed that he didn’t appear to go hat in hand to our City’s LCDC begging for help with taxpayer funded tax credits, grants or other taxpayer funded benefits as the out of town billionaire did before buying our Remington-Rand building. That guy even needed a grant to buy tables and chairs for his uppity restaurant most of us cannot afford to dine or drink in. Budwey didn’t ask for the taxpayer funded help Burgio got for his latest Webster Street building, either.

That’s the Budwey Way! It’s not the Burgio Way or the LCDC Way! The Budwey Way is the NT Way!

Many of our senior citizens are feeling discriminated against. There is only one senior housing complex for those with a little better than the average retiree's income, the one on Sandra Lane.  The Carrousel Apartments are renting to anyone who is in the appropriate income level, not just to seniors, in order to fill their units. Seniors who live there aren't happy with the changing face of residents, the deplorable condition of Oliver and Goundry Streets around their apartment building, and the lack of nearby grocery or other shopping venues for daily needs of people on fixed incomes. The Elizabeth Harvey apartments are for visually impaired residents. It also is not near serious grocery or other shopping venues for daily needs of people on fixed incomes.

Bishop Gibbons Apartments is always full with a lengthy waiting list. It is near grocery, drug stores, other shopping venues for daily needs, banks, the Library, gas and auto repair, restaurants (quality ones and also fast food ones), hair and nail salons.  The Gibbons Commons, with a separate owner, also has occasional openings for those seniors with a slightly higher income level than those eligible for Bishop Gibbons Apartments or the Carrousel Apartments.

Both Bishop Gibbons residents and residents of the Commons, however, have a chronic safety concern with speeders racing down 19th Avenue and no stop sign on 19th at Carr before the north leg of Northeast Avenue nor on Northeast before entering 19th. There are seniors, families with youngsters, seniors and others walking their dogs, children on bikes, seniors on motorized scooters using 19th Avenue. The speeders and others use the lane at the rear of Walgreens from 18th to 19th Avenues as their private roadway, both when the store is open and when it is closed.

Why doesn’t LCDC help some developer convert the old Lowry and Colonel Payne school buildings into senior housing?






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