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REGIONAL COOPERATION KEYS AREA PROSPERITY

I have read with great interest editorial concerns regarding the demise of Horizons and the Western New York Economic Development Corp. While WNYEDC did indeed serve the Western New York area well with spectacular success in areas of Urban Development Corp. grants and loans, Horizons' pretensions of a regional agency were fictional.

From Hamburg to Tonawanda (including Grand Island?) does not a region make. Horizons was confined to Erie County.

The major regional planning body of the last 30 years, the Erie-Niagara Counties Regional Planning Board, was fairly well scuttled by Erie County. The Niagara Frontier Transportation Committee, a required metropolitan planning organization under federal transportation funding, is dedicated solely to transportation planning.

The political realities of life seem to dictate that as New York City dominates the state, as downstate outvotes upstate, Erie County bullies Niagara County. The majority does prevail both politically and in this region through the power structure.

If, however, we truly wish to develop a regional spirit, the majority must always be aware of the needs of the minority.

The best metropolitan planning in our country and the world has always demonstrated a sensitivity to the region as a whole, with particular empathy for those less powerful politically.

As a recipient of the Planner Emeritus Award from the Upstate Chapter of the American Planning Association, an honor I am proud to share with the distinguished Erie County planner, Dale Bossert, let me urge the revival of the moribund regional planning board.

This can easily be done with some decent funding, adequate professional staff and, most importantly, the type of board membership that fortuitously over the years consisted of distinguished elected officials and community leaders.

While shedding a tear for the excellent waterfront planning of Horizons, while missing the close local relationship to the UDC available through WNYEDC, let's reconsider our own native son, the Erie-Niagara Counties Regional Planning Board. Modest funding from both counties could form the foundation of regional cooperation we all so desperately crave.

Let us not continue to fragment ourselves into a divide-and-conquer region: some transportation planning here, some tourism promotion there, here a waterfront, there a grant.

HARVEY N. ALBOND
Love Canal Area Revitalization Agency
Niagara Falls

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