By Byron W. Brown
The discussion of an appropriate passenger train station in the City of Buffalo has animated conversations for decades while vestiges of the city’s past railroad-related glory either stood vacant and deteriorating or were repurposed to support maintenance of our light-rail system.
Now, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has provided yet another opportunity to add to Buffalo’s continuing revival by investing in a process that will quickly, but thoughtfully, consider the best location to construct a new, 21st century passenger train station.
As is understandable for undertakings like this, there are advocates for specific locations, based on a variety of factors, which have been expressed over the years as the debate on what to do about passenger rail service in Buffalo has continued.
Clearly, this is no small undertaking and the outcome of such a development project will have an impact on the myriad ongoing capital development initiatives that are literally changing the landscape of Buffalo and Western New York. We must give this important effort our best, collective input to ensure an outcome that will benefit the residents of Buffalo and Western New York now and for generations to come.
Within 24 hours of Cuomo’s announcement of investing $1 million into this planning process, which the governor asked me to oversee, Bob Shibley, dean of the University at Buffalo School of Architecture, agreed to my request to facilitate discussions on where a new passenger train station should be located in Buffalo. It was critically important to have someone of Shibley’s planning background and experience to help move this process along, guaranteeing that it would be a thoughtful, in-depth and transparent consideration of the best location for such a facility.
In keeping with Cuomo’s mandate, I announced recently a panel of stakeholders who are charged with examining the pros and cons of various locations around Buffalo that, despite whatever previously stated public positions many of these individuals may have expressed, will ultimately lead to consensus on where Buffalo’s future passenger rail station should be located.
Gone are the days of operating within silos, disregarding options for maximizing the potential of our great city. Over the past decade, we have seen the benefit of good planning and inclusive public discussions that have helped transform the city, providing new energy and confidence in the 21st century Buffalo. From Canalside to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to the Northland Corridor Redevelopment Project to the Niagara Street Gateway Project, every section of Buffalo is experiencing the infusion of investment and carefully planned development that, importantly, is based on inclusiveness and sustainability.
I am confident that the citizens now engaged in this process, with the assistance of Shibley and professional planners, will ultimately fulfill the governor’s challenge to identify the best location in Buffalo for a passenger rail station that we can all be proud of and that will contribute to the city’s and region’s continuing renaissance.
Byron W. Brown is mayor of Buffalo.