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Train station of past should be our future

As a former board member of the Central Terminal Restoration Corp. for 10 years, of course I believe in the future of Central Terminal and the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood. To me, there is only one option for a new train station in Buffalo – the old station. The reasons the Central Terminal was built where it was are as valid today as they were in the 1920s.

The need for trains to have room to move is still an issue, and there is no need to add to the congestion of Canalside.

Transportation centers are often built outside of city centers, and concerns about the distance can be addressed by an extension of light rail from the airport to downtown through Central Terminal, taxi cabs, buses and (hopefully) ride-hailing.

As it’s been said, “If you build it, they will come.” And as my travels have shown, cities that invested money into their former train stations have created destinations for both locals and tourists. Omaha Union Station became the Durham Museum and the Union Pacific Museum and Archive. St. Louis Union Station became a shopping center, hotel and entertainment complex, plus a light rail stop.

But no one mirrors Buffalo’s station as much as Cincinnati. Its Union Terminal was built by the same architects as Central Terminal, and was located 2 miles from downtown as well. After failed attempts at reuse, and sitting empty for years, Cincinnati invested in its train station by passing a bond measure to save the terminal and convert it into the Cincinnati Museum Center, housing three museums, a library and Omnimax movie theater. It even restored Amtrak service to the station.

Central Terminal will never be needed as an exclusive train station, but the time is now to return trains to the station and begin to transform this architectural treasure into a complex Buffalo can be proud of. One only needs to look down the street to Larkinville, or toward the First Ward, to see what investment in the creation of a welcoming space can do to change a neighborhood.

The Richardson Complex, Canalside and Larkinville have had their time. Now it’s time to invest in Central Terminal, and bring change to an area of Buffalo that has long been neglected.

Sara Etten

North Tonawanda

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