Long delay for gardeners reflects City Hall's inertia

It is indeed incomprehensible, as one resident said, why Buffalo City Hall has kept would-be community gardeners on hold for two or three years, waiting for the official go-ahead to turn a vacant lot into a garden. As The News recently reported, there are 37 vacant city-owned lots around the city that neighbors want to transform into something a little more positive for the neighborhood. An overgrown, litter-filled space is not a community asset; community gardens raise property values, bring neighbors together and raise residents' morale. Gardens may also provide a source of fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables.

So what is the downside? There is none. A garden might attract drug dealers and young troublemakers? That is a worry of some neighbors quoted by Brendan Mehaffy, spokesman for the city regarding community gardens. It would seem much more likely to have the opposite effect. Mehaffy assures us that the city is firmly committed to community gardens, but attributes these lengthy delays to the city's concerns over liability and the need for due diligence. Liability. Ever the default position of the overly cautious bureaucrat.

The Brown administration would do much better to recognize this ridiculous intransigence as an opportunity to review the system and make positive changes. It is a reflection of City Hall's inertia and Byzantine rules.

Todd Mitchell



Buffalo hinders efforts to improve community

I read Donn Esmonde's June 8 column about city residents trying to garden on vacant lots. I had a similar reaction, and let me share a story about a city where it's much different. I have just come home from a two-day meeting of my church body (the Upstate New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) in Rochester. There, we heard from a man from Utica who described how a decrepit, derelict area of the inner city was transformed by an immigrant population. Of course, it took cooperation from City Hall to assist this group in doing what it did.

And yet, I thought, in Buffalo, City Hall works against efforts like this. I help build for Habitat for Humanity, and I see the nearly whole city blocks that are open fields. How they got this way, and why they stay this way, is a question our current and past mayors should answer. I am at a loss for knowing where to begin in mobilizing a force to reverse decades of decay, but I am convinced a grass-roots effort by city churches is a place to start. What better way to live out what we believe, to be a neighbor? The Psalms say that "God is in the midst of the city," but he must be pretty lonely.

Marcia Brown



Writer was all wrong about Kendra's Law

I thank The News for its editorial support of improving and expanding Kendra's Law. I would like to address several serious inaccuracies in a June 6 letter writer's response to the editorial. She states, "This law violates the civil rights of those with mental health disabilities." She claims that the "success of this law is based only on whether patients take medication. There are other forms of treatment that can perform the same function, yet are not considered." This is false.

The law states that "treatment may include any services to assist the person in living and functioning in the community, or to attempt to prevent a relapse or deterioration that may reasonably be predicted to result in suicide or in the need for hospitalization." In reality the only required treatment is case management.

There are numerous other errors in the letter. A study released last month showed Kendra's Law reduces arrest for violence by 8.6 percent in individuals enrolled in the program. Passing the Kendra's Law Improvement Act will help people with mental illness, keep the public safer and save money. These are the facts. I urge individuals to understand the law as written.

Marsha Mann



Find a way to prevent senseless drownings

It was with great sadness that I learned of another drowning off Squaw Island. Kids will always be kids and the appeal of water on a warm day is undeniable, especially to a 9-year-old!

How many deaths need to happen before something is done? I personally don't have the answer, but our elected officials and residents need to come together and discuss ideas for preventing access to this dangerous water. Of course nothing is ever foolproof, but we at least owe it to our community and children to make an effort to make the area safer and prevent access to this stretch of water as much as possible.

Discussions about parental controls, responsibilities and potential lawsuits should be avoided, as should finger-pointing. Instead, let's try to focus on preventing any more senseless and heartbreaking deaths.

Susan Costanza



Expect further taxes with Hochul in office

After looking at the vote tallies for Jane Corwin and Kathy Hochul in the 26th District, it is quite apparent that, as usual, the Democrats in Erie County were the deciding factor. So to the victor go the spoils. Those who elected Hochul will soon have just what they voted for. The former Erie County clerk is nothing more than a glorified tax collector. Her record on the Hamburg Town Board should have told you this. So get out your checkbook. You will be getting even more tax hikes and spending schemes. Residents of New York State love high taxes. They vote for every tax hike that comes along.

Harvey Schwartzmeyer

North Collins


Everyone should visit Buffalo River Fest Park

After seven years of hard work, the Valley Community Association celebrated the grand opening of Buffalo River Fest Park on June 9. I invite all area residents and waterfront enthusiasts to come out and experience our new 2.5-acre park, which is located at 249 Ohio St. This exciting destination offers visitors a refurbished wharf that was once Front Street, as well as a restored section of Cincinnati Street, both important sites in the history of Buffalo's shipping industry. A custom boardwalk, brick band shell, paver walkway with donor names, various interpretive signs and an extensive landscaping effort also grace the grounds of the park.

This long-neglected area of our city has been transformed into a true jewel along the Buffalo River. The public is encouraged to visit River Fest Park and benefit from these fresh amenities, while taking in some truly breathtaking views of the old grain elevators, incoming lake freighters and life along the still active Buffalo River.

Peg Overdorf

Executive Director, Valley

Community Association, Buffalo