I am writing in response to the letter about the improvements at Kostas Restaurant on Hertel Avenue. Although the new facade and enclosed patio will take up less of the sidewalk than the previous deck-with-awning combo, some concerned citizens feel a bad precedent is being set. God forbid, there might be other businesses that want to improve their storefronts at the expense of North Buffalo pedestrians.
This creates a very laughable situation. Why? Because those North Buffalo sidewalks are actually roads in disguise. I know this because in the last two years of my residency on a street off Hertel, I was repeatedly forced to walk in the street with my child.
One antique dealer thought he had a private parking lot on the corner of Sterling and Hertel. A bar owner on Hertel solved his parking needs by allowing cars to park two abreast on the sidewalk during his busiest times.
Deliverymen for the many pizzerias on the street routinely drove their vehicles right up to the doors of the establishments, blaring their horns and cursing whomever dared to be walking on the sidewalk. Landlords collecting their rents would park on the sidewalks if there were no spaces in front of their apartments. Store owners, too, felt they could drive right up to their doors.
Although my neighbors and I constantly called the police and our councilman, we were fighting a losing battle.
I think North Buffalo residents ought to be focusing some well-needed attention on the overall problem of pedestrian encroachment and encourage more storefront development, which will enhance the beauty of this great neighborhood.
It's too late for my family. We moved to Amherst last year out of desperation, and we are very happy with our decision. I can now let my little girl ride her bike on the sidewalk without fear that a car will run her over.
The letter writer should be thankful that someone actually cares enough about his neighborhood to invest time and money to perpetuate its greatness.