Buffalo should welcome addition of food trucks
When I left my downtown office for a restaurant kitchen, my chef used to say: "Good idea, but this is Buffalo." We couldn't get away with that here. How things have changed. We have a restaurant industry in Western New York that is vibrant and varied. We have creative, talented cooks doing things that would have been unheard of 15 years ago, except at a few places (pig's head, anyone?). They are acquiring the finest product -- increasingly locally sourced. We are experiencing an expanding food renaissance, building on that which came before.
Food trucks should be welcomed as part of this, as a new culinary attraction for the area. These entrepreneurs should be accepted and encouraged, not burdened with regulations born of fear. Yes, they can sell at a lower price due to lower overhead. Many others sell at a lower price. Why is this different than the supermarket takeout or the fast-food joint that may open on the next corner? What about the hot dog cart I used to frequent outside of County Hall? That lower price point also comes with risk. A traditional restaurant doesn't lose a day's earnings because of a sudden thunderstorm.
Ultimately, the novelty of the food truck will be over. Those that survive will do so because their food is good enough to tempt diners to stand in line, outdoors, to eat it leaning against a utility pole. From what I have tasted, I am willing to stand in that line. To those who might lose revenues, may I suggest that the fault, dear brick-and-mortars, is not in our trucks, but in yourselves.
Bridge bikers, walkers treated to stunning view
The Peace Bridge and our program partners are proud to once again unveil the annual "Bike to the Bridge" initiative aimed at encouraging bicycle and pedestrian travel at local border crossings. This toll-free bicycling experience provides one of the most stunning views that our region has to offer. In addition, it helps lead to greater congestion relief through the promotion of non-vehicular transportation alternatives.
So this summer, hop on your bicycle and beat the usual bridge traffic, while experiencing some truly amazing views of Lake Erie, the mighty Niagara River and the City of Buffalo skyline. And if you're not sure of the proper identification requirements needed for crossing the border, simply log onto peacebridge.com/identification to learn more.
Chairman, Peace Bridge Authority
Chairman, Buffalo Bicycle and
Pedestrian Advisory Board
Adopt stronger rules to reduce air pollution
The American Lung Association applauds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for adopting the Cross-State Air Pollution rule, which will dramatically lower pollution levels in New York and save lives. As EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck pointed out in the July 26 Another Voice column, New York's position downwind from polluting states affects our air quality and threatens our lung health.
The Lung Association's 2011 State of the Air Report found that more than 9 million New Yorkers -- nearly half of the state's residents -- live in areas where air pollution endangers their lives and health. In fact, the report included the Buffalo-Niagara-Cattaraugus area among the list of most polluted cities for ozone; it ranked 76th most polluted out of 228 total metro areas nationwide. What's more, out of the 16 New York counties that received a failing grade for air quality, four were located in Western New York.
As we continue to advocate for strong state and local regulations that protect us from pollutants originating within our borders, it's equally important that we have a strong Clean Air Act and strong federal regulations that protect us from air pollution that makes its way here from old, dirty coal-fired power plants in the Midwest.
There are an estimated 2.5 million New Yorkers who suffer from lung disease and many more who are affected by air pollution. We look forward to the EPA's implementation of the Cross-State Air Pollution rule and remain hopeful that the agency will quickly adopt a more stringent standard for ozone.
Irwin Berlin, M.D.
Board Chairman, American Lung
Association in New York
Transportation plan needed for waterfront
The recent News editorials describing plans and a schedule for developing the Buffalo waterfront are encouraging. We are finally making progress toward establishing a destination waterfront we can be proud of. But the vision presented is too small and omits one crucial element -- public transportation that connects the waterfront to the larger region. Other than a casual mention of more parking, there was no consideration of transportation for getting visitors to the waterfront or connecting the waterfront to other attractions in the region.
The article boasts that the waterfront has had 180,000 visitors so far this year. This is good but overlooks the real potential with a destination waterfront that integrates with Niagara Falls, where 10 million visitors already come every year. The goal should be to create an integrated regional tourist destination with the world's greatest waterfront running from Buffalo to Niagara Falls to Lewiston, and optimally on to Fort Niagara.
But this requires a transportation plan that includes a mass transportation system capable of carrying large numbers of visitors between attractions efficiently. A light rail or historic trolley could serve this need well and could be implemented using existing rights-of-way and even existing track along much of the distance. If done right, the train ride itself could become a successful, popular tourist attraction (like the trolley that went between Niagara Falls and Lewiston along the lower gorge in the early 1900s). Let's take Gov. Andrew Cuomo's excellent advice that we should think and act regionally. And let's start by integrating our greatest assets along the Niagara River -- our regional waterfront.
U.S. should take care of its own people first
Our so-called leaders in Washington, D.C., should all hang their heads in shame. To let this great country get into the mess it is in now is unforgiveable. Instead of working together for the good of all the taxpaying people born and raised in this country, our current and previous elected officials continue to worry about and support the rest of the world with billions of our tax dollars and far too many American lives lost in vain.
Perhaps if they would stop sending our tax dollars overseas, we could better take care of the problems with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, schools, roads, bridges and countless others. Then we might not be $14 trillion in debt. Show me when and how this government was ever given the authority by the people to send our tax dollars overseas.
William R. Brown