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Letter: Coalition is committed to rebuilding East Side

Coalition is committed to rebuilding East Side

Born and raised in the Willert Park neighborhood, my grandfather often tells me about a once-glorious time for Buffalo’s East Side. Going north on Jefferson Avenue beginning at William Street, each block was lined with dozens of shops and businesses available for anyone out on an errand. He has also illuminated about the close relationships business owners held with residents and customers.

Continuing north past East Utica Street, patrons on a sleepy Saturday could catch a matinee at the Apollo Theater. From this point, Jefferson Avenue’s endless row of shops became the western border of Hamlin Park. On the eastern border, Humboldt Parkway served as the neighborhood centerpiece, bringing other neighborhoods together between Delaware and Humboldt parks.

Today, dozens of abandoned buildings and vacant lots line the western border. The roar of freeway traffic awakens residents every morning on the eastern border. With few shops along Jefferson Avenue, and a beautiful boulevard lost to the Kensington Expressway, one would never have known that this was the same neighborhood evoked so vividly through the memories of longtime residents.

As a proud member of the Restore Our Community Coalition, I am fully committed to investing in my hometown’s revitalization. I look forward to a time where I can spend weekdays shopping on a bustling Jefferson Avenue, and weekends following a green path between Delaware and now-called Martin Luther King parks. In the years to come, my grandfather’s memories will not be mere nostalgia, but a living blueprint for a newer Buffalo.

Bradley J. Bethel Jr.