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Run-of-the-mill lighting doesn’t enhance downtown

On a recent drive to downtown Buffalo, I decided to check out the progress being made on the 600 block (Theater District) section of Main Street. This area is undergoing a major overhaul to return vehicular traffic to share the street with the subway.

It’s encouraging to see so much positive investment being made to correct a wrong. Noticeably disappointing, however, is the installation of new street/sidewalk light standards. Why these? Such a highly visible revitalization project to bring traffic, businesses and people back to our city’s Main Street is somewhat run-of-the-mill in this aspect. Wasn’t there any consideration to using a grander lighting scheme similar to what downtown had in place in the 1930s and ’40s? Remember, it’s the attention to detail, the aesthetics, small and large, that make an area truly look and feel special and unique from all the rest. In my opinion this element has been sadly overlooked.

City planners have already applied this concept on other streets, such as Niagara Falls Boulevard, Porter Avenue, portions of the Parkside area and some of the Olmsted parks and parkways. Please take a moment and reconsider this aspect of the design, not just for Main Street, but for future street light standard replacements on Niagara Square, Lafayette Square, Court Street (recent replacements are suburban-looking and not as inspiring as the previous), Niagara Street, Delaware Avenue, Humboldt Parkway, Canalside, the Ohio Street corridor, Kenmore Avenue and all Olmsted-designed parks and parkways and historic districts this community is proud to have.

Although these newer energy-efficient light standards are attractive, there are numerous designs to choose from. Having this same look throughout the city doesn’t leave much of a “wow” factor or bring in the other needed characteristic elements so lacking in business/residential areas that deserve them. Thinking outside the box once in awhile, on all aspects of a design and plan, can bring about unexpected positive and visual results for everyone.

Todd B. Ruth

Eggertsville