Thursday, June 5, 2014


Now that long ago, my home town, Buffalo, was mired in corruption, nepotism and graft. The city went steadily downward for several decades. It was one of the reasons I left. Very discouraging to see your home town fall into blight and disrepair. In contrast, I always enjoyed coming to the family summer home in Bay Beach. It was a wonderful place to enjoy the beach and the laid-back lifestyle. At that time, Fort Erie had a healthy economy.

Flash forward twenty years and it was apparent that Buffalo was on the brink of total collapse. Crystal Beach was following suit with the loss of the amusement park. Fort Erie was floundering, losing businesses and manufacturing plants.

Flash forward another twenty years and Buffalo began its long, slow climb out of its economic depression. A new mayor had a vision and he has largely seen that vision materialize. Community groups had become powerful forces for change and grants were applied for and received from state and federal agencies. The focus for Buffalo became its waterfront which had been allowed to become derelict except for a few bright spots.

Today, came the announcement on our local radio station: More Companies Moving to Buffalo.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has given Buffalo a great tool to enhance and attract local businesses:

The governor stopped in Buffalo on Wednesday to plant eight more seeds in his quest to rebuild the Buffalo Niagara economy, announcing the first eight companies picked to be part of the state’s Start-Up NY tax-free zones for new businesses.

Later in the article, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown offered his philosophy that the mayor of Fort Erie might take note of:

“For a community to grow in a healthy way, you want economic diversity,” Brown said. “You don’t want to put all of your seeds in one basket.”

How true that is. At this point, Fort Erie's Economic Development and Tourism Corporation is focused on one thing only: propping up the failing Fort Erie Race Track. In Crystal Beach, a few people think that a twelve story condo building on public beachfront is the answer for the village's woes.

Wise planners and those whose job it is to spur the economy know otherwise. It's time for Fort Erie to take down the "Closed for Business" and the anti-Liberal banner at town hall and work with all levels of government to bring Fort Erie out of its economic depression. It takes someone with a vision and an understanding of what does not work and what will work.  Most of all, it takes an honest, courageous commitment to make Fort Erie a better place. The Four Councillors: Bob Steckley, John Hill, Don Lubberts and Paul Collard got that message, yet they have been thwarted, sued, stalked, and harassed by those who want to keep Fort Erie as an example of backward thinking - the same type of thinking that nearly destroyed Buffalo. 

To borrow the phase at the end of the Buffalo News article:

After a half century of decline, that would be a welcome change.