The University at Buffalo’s lack of participation during last week’s Common Council hearing about the redevelopment of the Fruit Belt and McCarley Gardens didn’t go unnoticed.
University officials may not have been formally invited with an “engraved” invitation, but they knew it was happening, said Ellicott Council Member Darius G. Pridgen.
“I don’t intend on giving a yes vote for anything else for what UB intends to do in the City of Buffalo at this time until they have become much more neighbor-friendly,” Pridgen said during Tuesday’s Council meeting. “Maybe this is the way you do things in Amherst. It’s just not the way you do things in Buffalo.”
Fruit Belt residents are concerned about UB’s interest in redeveloping McCarley Gardens, a low-income housing complex, and they have called for a moratorium on development of the complex and the Fruit Belt until a master plan is developed with community input.
Pridgen is calling on UB President Satish K. Tripathi, whom he called a “very compassionate and competent community-minded leader,” to appear before the Council at 1 p.m. April 23 to discuss the university’s plans or to send a representative.
A member of UB’s Community Relations Office will attend the meeting to discuss ways it can “continue to engage the community,” according to John DellaContrada, UB’s assistant vice president of media relations.
The university remains interested in purchasing McCarley Gardens from St. John Baptist Church, DellaContrada said Tuesday.
Pridgen invited anyone interested in advising the Council on matters in the Fruit Belt neighborhood to attend a meeting at noon April 22 in Room 1417 of City Hall.
In other action:
• The Council approved a $49,000 settlement with a woman and her son stemming from an incident involving alleged excessive force by the city Police Department.
Yevette Paulding and her son Javon Fogan will receive the settlement for an incident that occurred May 31, 2009.
The Council also approved a $70,000 settlement with Iskalo Electric Towers LLC related to property damage.
• The Council made significant progress in eliminating a hassle for people trying to sell their homes.
The city’s occupancy tax, repealed nearly 40 years ago, was still causing problems, because at the time of a property sale, the seller had to prove that the tax had been paid, which required a visit to City Hall and a receipt that cost $3 to produce.
Legislation from South Council Member Christopher P. Scanlon that was adopted Tuesday removes the $3 receipt fee, allows property owners to receive a receipt online, pay the tax online if they hadn’t yet and asks the Law Department to draft legislation that allows any liens on properties caused by the tax to expire in 2018.
• Reuse of the vacant North Park Library building at Delaware and Hertel avenues, a high-profile corner, won support from the Council, which adopted a resolution urging the Brown administration to seek out federal and state funding opportunities to encourage redevelopment of the city-owned property.
The former Fairfield Library in Parkside is being redeveloped and was recently allocated a $500,000 Restore New York grant.