Niagara Gazette

Bill Bradberry

October 19, 2006

BRADBERRY: Niagara Falls needs a plan

Back Home with Bill Bradberry

I don’t want to sound like I’m raining on anyone’s parade, but I think I’ll have to reserve judgment on the proposed design of the new courthouse and police station until I get a closer look at the impact the glass and stone and 62-foot concrete columns will have on the rest of north Main Street and the city’s image as a whole.

It could be a good thing, BUT ...

From all I’ve seen so far, the project totally ignores the buildings and the rest of Main Street. It’s not too late to incorporate some of the best features of the existing heritage building stock into the design, perhaps by reusing some of the materials from the beautiful old structures that will be demolished to make way for the behemoth.

In fact, I’d prefer to see the best of the old buildings incorporated into the design instead of seeing them demolished.

Located between South and Cleveland avenues, the massive 126,000 square foot, $42 million Municipal Public Safety Complex would be a welcome boost for the long abandoned, former grand commercial corridor in almost any form, but with a little planning, it could go a long way toward tying the rest of the North End together.

Much of the real beauty of the older buildings that remain there is disguised by their shabby looking first-floor facades. Don’t be fooled; there are some real gems on Main Street.

Fortunately, developer Dick Hastings and others have taken on a good number of them, purchasing and boarding up many to keep them from deteriorating any further and investing tons of their own money to salvage and rehab others.

For the most part, they have the greatest respect for the preservation of the buildings and what they mean to the community, but I fear the new courthouse may have an adverse impact on what they are attempting to do to convert and reuse the historic buildings in their mission to reinforce North Main Street as a special place.

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Bill Bradberry
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    When a few of my closest friends began forwarding the same link to me one day last week, I decided to skip past the long chronological line of mostly aggravating product solicitations and fake get rich-quick-scheme email messages piled up on my computer and read what so many were pointing me toward, an in-depth examination by “The Atlantic” (theatlantic.com) writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates of the issue of compensation to the African American descendants of slavery in the form of “reparations.”

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