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Extreme Demolition: Peace Bridge Edition

I was privileged to be one of the thousands of volunteers working with “Extreme Demolition: Peace Bridge Edition” to transform a community into a massive trucking zone. It was an absolutely amazing experience working side by side with people from all over Western New York pitching in to help demolish blocks of historic homes and displace hundreds of our fellow citizens.

The media reports could not capture the vibrant energy and enthusiasm that emanated from the thrill of watching the bulldozers knock down 150-year-old homes, 10 at a time! I’ll never forget the site of hundreds of volunteers working feverishly on cutting down more than 300 majestic trees so that the first and most important phase of the truck plaza could be completed: The Duty Free Store—one that is bigger than a supersized Wal Mart!

Another highlight came when 15 businesses were seized, owners evicted, and the last vestige of small businesses along this portion of Niagara Street wiped out forever—how cool is that?

The most touching moment was witnessing hundreds of residents from all walks of life, homeowners and tenants, young and old, leaving their homes clinging to precious memories of a life no more—it brought me to tears.

Thankfully, the very mean-spirited Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority (PBA) will keep their dream of a “new and improved West Side” alive for years because transforming this once vibrant residential historic community into a massive truck plaza will take more than a decade of construction. And then they say they are still going to build that bridge. Hooray—even more neighborhoods to demolish!

So my nomination for the Buffalo News Citizen of the Year are the Mighty Three: Mayor Byron Brown, Congressman Brian Higgins, and Senator Chuck Schumer, who have relentlessly pursued bringing the same fate of entombing Buffalo’s lakefront neighborhood in concrete and steel identical to the way the Bridge Authority destroyed Fort Erie.

This masterful vision will turn both border towns east and west of the mighty Niagara into door mats for trucks who care only about two things: getting from point A to point B and making a pit stop at the Duty Free Store.

Without the political support of the Mighty Three, the PBA’s half-baked transportation project which we no longer need and can no longer afford would be nothing more than fodder for Bruce Jackson’s Peace Bridge Chronicles Part II.

Fortunately, we may never learn the truth about the political shenanigans between elected officials and the Public Bridge Authority even if it means endangering the health of citizens. The Might Three know that the deadly emissions blanketing the Peace Bridge community can travel unencumbered a few blocks up the Massachusetts Avenue corridor to the refurbished residents of the Extreme Makeover television fantasy.

But what’s the harm in raising the level of pollution in a poor community who just received the gift of hope? In comparison, clean air seems like small potatoes.

Kathy Mecca

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