On Aug. 21, I took the last public tour of the archaeological excavations at and around the site of the Commercial Slip of the Erie Canal. It was an experience paralleled only by my experiences touring the sites of antiquity in Italy and Greece.
I am appalled that our leaders are going to permit the burial of this historical treasure. If the now-exposed Lloyd Street is an indication, and the experts say it is, then beneath the parking lots, entire cobblestone and sandstone streets are intact, as are foundations, walls and basements of homes and commercial establishments.
The history of the Canal District, later "Little Italy," is colorful, exciting and important. It is the canal terminus in Buffalo -- not Lockport -- that opened the West to settlement and development. At one point, more immigrants passed through here in a year than Ellis Island.
In any other place in the world, the Canal District site would be made into an archaeological historical park. This is not living in the past, as some of our so-called leaders would like us to believe. On the contrary, it would be living in our present and in our future.
The canal path tour would end in Buffalo as it rightfully should. Dollars would be spent here. We would be capitalizing on our past, not living in it. And it would restore civic pride.
Our leaders tell us that it would cost too much money. I don't believe that. I don't believe they have even attempted to assess what it would cost and what funding is available.
Our leaders also tell us that they are not going to destroy the site. They are merely going to fill in the Commercial Slip and dig up the area alongside it to give us some "virtual reality" replica. It does not take a genius to realize that what they are going to do is dig up and destroy Lloyd Street, its Medina sandstone cobbles, the abutting basements, foundations and walls of buildings that line the street and everything else that stands in the way of their make-believe reality.
Once destroyed, it can never be rebuilt. What a travesty. Shame on all of our so-called leaders. And shame on us for allowing them to do this.
MARYANN SACCOMANDO FREEDMAN Buffalo