Buffalonians may be forgiven for letting patience run thin. There have been years of promises of an urban resurgence, with little actually to show for it. Here's the tag line for Buffalo's current prominence: We lead the nation in artist's renderings and dust-gathering master plans.
But judgment day -- or rather, judgment year -- may be at hand. As a recent "Why Not Buffalo" series article noted, an amazing number of projects reach significant milestones, even completions, in 2007. More than a dozen such projects, in addition to several others that could reach milestones in that year, fall into that category.
They range from the long-delayed Erie Canal Harbor project and private-development components of the new Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus to the opening of a planned Bass Pro megastore and Seneca Nation casino. Mix in a new federal courthouse, Southtowns Connector, planned office buildings, cultural attractions from the Buffalo Zoo's planned rain forest to an expanded downtown Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum, and -- dare we think it -- design completion for a new Niagara River bridge, and the possible project investment for 2007 involves hundreds of millions of dollars.
All this gives local residents a yardstick with which to measure the gap between dreams promised and dreams delivered. For a region with a near-stagnant economy, progress is critically important. And, from the perspective of journalism, we offer this: Deadlines do matter.
In 2007, Buffalo will be celebrating its 175th anniversary as a city, and just one year short of its 250th anniversary as a settlement. That sounds like a time to take stock. The largely coincidental convergence of projects in 2007 should provide that opportunity. It's up to the planners and the developers to deliver, and the year of reckoning seems fairly close at hand.