Leila LaSpisa: Community builds on a brick foundation - The Buffalo News

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Leila LaSpisa: Community builds on a brick foundation

I live on Ardmore Place. Ardmore is a little one-block street on Buffalo’s West Side. Until recently, it was unknown to most. Lately, our little street has received a lot of publicity. You may have read about Ardmore in the newspaper or seen feature stories on your local news stations. Crews removing asphalt unearthed the original brick pavement laid over 100 years ago. Wow! Beautiful, we thought. Wouldn’t it be great to preserve history and return Ardmore to brick pavement once again?

The residents cried out to preserve the historic brick, and in what could only be described as a lightning-speed response, the city reacted. In a matter of only four days, the asphalt was completely removed and the street was swept, washed and inspected. The feasibility of preserving the brick was evaluated, and eventually approved. We are thrilled.

Yes, something magical happened on Ardmore Place. But it has nothing to do with asphalt, bricks, or publicity. I grew up on Ardmore and have lived here longer than most residents. I remember my mother’s disappointment when the original brick was paved over approximately 40 years ago. What happened here was like nothing I’ve ever witnessed before.

The neighbors came out one by one. Slowly, at first, gradually increasing each day. Even my mother and sisters came back to help the street they grew up on. They all flocked together, chatting in a little circle, asking questions and giving suggestions. From my porch, they resembled a cluster of ants milling around a piece of candy left on the sidewalk. “Who are all these people?” I thought. Eric and Stephanie introduced themselves. I’ve never seen them before. They moved here recently. Welcome. I finally know the name of the man I wave to while walking my dog on Colonial Circle. I’ve been waving to him for five years. Nice to meet you, Nick. Renee lives across the street, but I rarely see her cross over to my side. She was a busy bee, buzzing around everywhere, coordinating all our efforts. Welcome to my side, Renee. Mr. Parisi, whom I’ve known for years, usually doesn’t venture too far from his porch. His determination drove him all over the block, every day, with his grandchildren. Our fearless leader started this whole campaign and quickly became our spokesman. Great job, Mr. P.

Clearly, something special was taking place here.

The entire block united for a common cause. Support has been coming from former residents, neighboring streets and even other cities. I’ve read about this kind of thing in history books, but seeing it first hand is remarkable.

I would like to personally thank Mayor Byron Brown, preservationist Tim Tielman and Sen. Tim Kennedy for your support. Much thanks also to the Department of Public Works crew, Commissioner Steve Stepniak and Council Member David Rivera.

Every street should be lucky enough to experience what Ardmore went through. We are forever transformed. Buffalo, I invite you to follow the red brick road to Ardmore Place. Yes, you’ll find bricks, but more importantly you’ll find a motivated, passionate, united community whose efforts yielded so much more than bricks ever could. Just like Dorothy … you’ll find magic.

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