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LIKE WAITING FOR TREES TO GROW

Call us cynical, but we won't hold our breath waiting for a stretch of the Scajaquada Expressway to become a tree-lined parkway anytime soon.

The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and Mayor Anthony Masiello like the idea, and they've asked the New York State Department of Transportation for help.

Let the waiting begin.

It's not that our friends at the DOT are slackers. They just have to jump through hoops.

A consultant has to be hired.

The study must be scoped out.

Matching funds have to be found to leverage federal money.

There are traffic impact, feasibility and cost-benefit issues to study.

And if the mayor is serious about sprucing up the expressway with pedestrian crosswalks, well, that means preliminary and final designs.

We'll go out on a limb and predict it'll all happen. See you at the ribbon-cutting ceremony . . . in about 10 years.

TUNNEL VISION SEEMS APPROPRIATE

The folks at Traveling Picture Show, a local matting and framing company, have added another twist to the Peace Bridge debate.

Earlier this year, you might remember, the Tonawanda company put out a drawing of a Peace Bridge twin and the "Top 10 Reasons Why Twin Peace Bridges Will Be Popular."

But now the company seems to have had a change of heart.

It's backing a new alternative to both the twin span and a signature bridge.

Hey, how about a tunnel!

The company is even issuing Niagara River tunnel permits, for $1 each.

The index card-sized car sticker displays the American and Canadian flags, next to the names of the cities the tunnel would connect, Buffalo and Fort Erie.

"We just did it as a lark," said Patrick Farrell.

Facetious or not, he's overly optimistic.

The permit is valid for 2000.

REDEFINING THE WORD 'INTENSIVE'

Luiz Kahl hasn't been shy about ruling with a firm hand over at the NFTA.

The guy likes to stay on top of things, and not even a medical crisis can keep him down.

A couple of months ago, a heart problem put Kahl in the hospital.

The transit agency chairman returned last week for his first board meeting since being stricken.

He opened the meeting by clearing up one matter.

Sure, he stayed in touch with Executive Director Lawrence Meckler while he recovered at home.

But he didn't make a pest of himself.

"I only called him once from the intensive care unit," Kahl said.

"Yeah, then they took the phone away," replied board member Mary S. Martino.

FILE THIS UNDER FUTURE FANTASIES

Seems like all the warnings about potential Y2K disasters have missed the real culprit.

The computer date rollover to 2000 isn't the problem, according to one political magazine.

The New Republic, in the most recent issue, pins the blame on a source closer to home: our favorite professional football team.

The magazine's New Year's prediction:

"Survivalists retreat to hills, power fails, phone lines go dead, computers freeze and trains crash after Buffalo Bills win Super Bowl."

If we survive it all -- the societal breakdown and partying after the big Bills win and all -- there's even more to look forward to.

The magazine's look into the future reveals NASA finally landing a probe on Mars in the next decade, discovering it really is cold and lonely there.

But the best will come in the years between 2011 to 2020, when scientists insert genes from tomatoes, onions and limes into corn, resulting in a taco chip that doesn't need to be dipped.

A GIFT TO BUILD ON

At its final session of the year, the County Legislature bade farewell to Dennis Gorski, who's about to enter life outside government for the first time in 28 years.

It left us wondering how much thought the lawmakers put into his parting gifts.

Gold watch, anyone?

Maybe hang an oil portrait of the man somewhere in County Hall?

Even name a building after him?

Legislators presented the outgoing county executive a framed photograph of the County Legislature of the early 1970s, showing a younger Legislator Gorski sitting in chambers with others.

Legislator Raymond K. Dusza, D-Cheektowaga, gave Gorski a brick from the now-demolished Westinghouse plant in Cheektowaga.

The guy sits atop county government for 12 years, and his goodbye gift is a brick from what was once the community's biggest eyesore.

We're not advocating that the Legislature spend our tax dollars on lavish farewell gifts for politicians the voters have thrown out of office.

But a brick seems somewhat underwhelming.

Hold onto it if you want, Dennis. But we think you should leave it behind in your office.

Just to remind Giambra what's he facing.

Off Main Street is written by Patrick Lakamp.

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