by Jack Foran
Relative to the Peace Bridge plaza expansion plan Governor Andrew Cuomo supposedly kicked into overdrive in an announcement here last month, you may have wondered who’s going to pay the approximately $15 million in back taxes on the Episcopal Church Home property accrued since the facility was abandoned in light of the proposed expansion a decade and a half ago. Church properties are ordinarily not taxed, but left vacant and no longer in use become subject to taxation.
The answer is: You are. A line item in the current New York State budget for precisely $15 million is to pay the Church Home arrears, according to several sources, though the line item doesn’t mention the Episcopal Church Home property, but only talks specifically about “payment of liabilities incurred prior to April 1, 2012…necessary for improvement of the Peace Bridge Plaza.”
Following Cuomo’s announcement, Artvoice had a piece in the April 12 issue about historical preservation and health issues regarding the expansion plan. The proposed plaza expansion would entail demolition of a number of houses along Busti Avenue, including the locally landmarked Col. Wilkinson home. The Episcopal Home Chapel, also locally landmarked, would not be demolished, according to a Public Bridge Authority spokesman.
The health issue has to do with a variety of studies revealing an alarming number of cases of asthma—and possibly other maladies—on the West Side of Buffalo, apparently due at least in part to diesel emissions from Peace Bridge truck traffic.
One of the things the Artvoice article pointed out was the apparent lack of interest on the part of cognizant elected officials about either the health issue or the preservation issue. How no politician seems to want to talk about any of it.
So when after a week following the article still none of the elected officials had offered any comment, we asked each elected official whose representational territory includes the area around the Peace Bridge, individually, in writing, to please comment, particularly on the health matter, but also on the preservation matter. Still, three weeks later, not one of them has said a word. Not Governor Cuomo, not Senator Schumer or Senator Gillibrand, not Congressman Higgins, not State Senator Kennedy, not Assemblyman Ryan, not Mayor Brown, not Councilman Rivera.blog comments powered by Disqus
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