Archive for the ‘The Nickel City’ Category

Steel Sun

Monday, July 14th, 2014

So, you’ve got hundreds of acres of brownfield from a former steel foundry. You can’t build anything new on it, because you can’t dig down into the contaminated soil.

How about putting a solar farm on top?

Harborcenter Construction

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Harborcenter, the new hockey-and-some-other-stuff-too development in downtown Buffalo, is coming along swimmingly. In fact, they’ve hoisted the last piece of structural steel into place and they’re planning to have “phase one” of construction complete by the end of October.

One problem — this is going to be the new home ice for the Canisius Golden Griffins, and the college hockey season begins in _early_ October.

Fortunately, they have an agreement in place; if Canisius has any home games that need to be played before their rink is complete and ready to go, they can play them on the Sabres home ice in FNC. I’m honestly kind of hoping it comes to that. How much of a thrill would that be for these guys to play on an NHL rink?

Kindergarten, Redux

Monday, April 21st, 2014

So, here it is, six months after my original post about getting Dean into kindergarten. Here’s how everything shook out in the end.

Public schools: We applied for two different public school programs as part of the general lottery, as well as taking the test for the district “gifted and talented” program. Dean was not admitted into G&T, and the public district lottery couldn’t place him in either of the other schools we wanted, either. The only spots left were in “failing” schools on the other side of the city, which means putting my five year old on a bus for two hours a day to go to a suboptimal school. That was not an ideal option.

(We also had a bunch of communication issues with the district, many of which were caused by our choice to keep Dean back a year due to his late birthday — they were very insistent that he should be going into first grade this year and kept trying to place him in a first grade classroom despite our application.)

Catholic schools: We put down a significant deposit to register him for the Catholic school in our neighborhood for the fall. Registration for that school fills up LONG before parents hear back from the public or charter schools, so the deposit was necessary to have any chance of sending him there if nothing else panned out.

Charter schools: We applied to two charter schools, Tapestry and Elmwood Village. Admission for charter schools is by lottery — there were hundreds of applicants for each, and a limited number of spots. Dean was something like 159 on the waiting list for Elmwood Village, but was the first name pulled for the lottery at Tapestry. There were about 20 spots for more than ten times as many applicants.

So, he will be going to Tapestry in the fall. It’s a great program — everyone we know who has has a child there or who has taught there has loved it. And it has sibling preference, so Owen and Monica can also go there without having to go through this whole lottery experience again.

That said, I think it’s really unfortunate that the second-largest city in the state, with a well-funded public school system as well as a wealth of private and charter schools, is utterly broken unless you’ve either got money or luck. If there was this much stress and work for us, I can’t imagine how bad it must be for students whose parents don’t have the free time or motivation that we do. The bureaucracy is terrifying.

Water Mains

Monday, February 24th, 2014

An interesting article in this weekend’s Buffalo News about the high cost of repairing the century-old water mains in Erie County this winter. With the extremely cold weather we’ve had, most of the local water authorities are seeing twice as many breaks as usual.

Our entire area is serviced by gas lines, sewer lines, water mains, and other public infrastructure that’s a hundred or more years old. And nobody’s even planning to replace and upgrade this stuff; it’s all just break-fix to keep it together for another year. As in so many things, we’re living with the infrastructure that our great-grandparents built. Let’s hope it doesn’t all start failing at once.


Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Syracuse, our somehow even snowier neighbor to the east, is having an interesting argument about Interstate 81 — should it stay or should it go? This mirrors the discussions about the Skyway here in Buffalo, the Inner Loop in Rochester, the Robert Moses Parkway in Niagara Falls, and the other urban freeways that were installed to enable suburban existence at the expense of the cities themselves.

It will be interesting to see what they do.

New Stadium

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

Governor Cuomo has empaneled a committee to come up with a plan for building a new stadium for the Buffalo Bills. Interestingly, the committee includes Mayor Brown (Buffalo), Mayor Dyster (Niagara Falls), and former Mayor Duffy (Rochester). I guess Rob Ford wasn’t invited to attend.

I wonder how many hundreds of millions of additional taxpayer dollars will be thrown at this project. Meanwhile, most of the roads around here look like they’ve been subjected to extended mortar fire. Good priorities, people.


Thursday, January 30th, 2014

The Flurrious! Festival is in Delaware Park this weekend; they’ve got face painting, beer tent, snowman building contests, and a bunch of interesting sports going on. Perhaps best of all, there’s a snow bike race at 1:00pm on Saturday.

The race is laps on the unplowed cinder running track inside the ring road.

I did it the first year of the festival, and it was a blast. Anyone else interested? I might swap the mountain tires onto my bike and ride over for it.

Polar Vortex

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

It’s the Polar Vortex Blizzardgeddon End Of The World! Everybody PANIC!

Things weren’t too bad here in the city; lots of wind, icy roads, but that’s about it. Cold as heck, though. Dean got a couple of snow days.

How’s everyone else doing?

What’s a Conflict of Interest?

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Buffalo — where a real estate developer can complain for years about the school system, get himself elected to the school board, and continue pushing for “vouchers” and making money by renting buildings to charter schools.

Man, what a circus.


Friday, November 22nd, 2013

The Governor was in Buffalo yesterday, unveiling plans for a new state-funded green energy research facility.

The idea is interesting: the state will pay $225 million to construct a six-building research campus on a former brownfield on the Buffalo River. They will retain ownership of the buildings and much of the equipment inside, but will allow private companies to use them. Construction is expected to be complete in eighteen months, with hiring of roughly 850 jobs to be completed a year after that.