Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Peace Bridge Neighborhood

When discussing the homes in the Peace Bridge neighborhood the Peace Bridge Authority and its supporters frequently deride it, claiming that it's run down. That may be so - now - but the PBA itself is the main slumlord, having gleaned passive destruction techniques from viewing other neighborhoods overwhelmed by indifference. It is their buildings that are constantly highlighted when maligning the area, not the many treasures (for example, top photo).

So what came first - chicken or egg? Neglect or the PBA? From National Trust for Historic Preservation:
"While various Peace Bridge expansion plans have been proposed and debated for almost 20 years, the scale and destructiveness of this latest proposal is staggering. In order to increase the existing bridge plaza footprint from 14 to 38 acres and to accommodate a Duty Free shop, visitor's center and extensive network of new ramps and roadways, the plan calls for the demolition of more than 90 homes, including at least 9 National Register eligible properties; the elimination of streets; the clear cutting of trees; and, the permanent alteration of scenic lake views. Hundreds of residents would be displaced, several businesses would be relocated and dozens of historic buildings would be adversely affected through the loss of context and profound visual alterations."
In my opinion, the PBA has singlehandedly devalued a beautiful area, and has done so with malice. In writing this quickly I'm only going to link to one other article from one source, but there are many more out there. From Art Voice:
"(Al) Coppola emphatically tied to the enforcement of housing ordinances what he described as the authority’s irresponsible neglect of seven homes on Busti Avenue, near the bridge approaches, that were purchased 13 years ago. He brought photos of several of these, including the circa 1865 Col. S. H. Wilkenson house at 771 Busti, which has fallen into such a condition of disrepair that its survival is threatened, he told committee members.
Coppola drew members’ attention to a picture of the house at 730 Columbus Parkway, once home to Mariano Lucca, who lobbied the US Congress to designate Columbus Day a national holiday. Lucca’s son has been trying to sell the house for a couple of years but has been unable to because it’s within the area designated by the authority for demolition of all structures. Describing the authority’s stewardship of its currently owned properties as “devastating to the neighborhood,” Coppola asked committee members “If we’re going to enforce building codes, why should we exempt the Public Bridge Authority?”
Interestingly enough, I think that the trashed out Peace Bridge Exposition Center (in a previous life), which is easily visible from the Niagara section of the Thruway, is no longer in a reconstruction zone. The PBA probably owns that too. (update: has been demolished)

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