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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Old Canal Street area was not a nice place

I'm at a loss as to the controversy over the new inner harbor plans that include a Bass Pro store. Opponents do not think a big-box retailer is appropriate. While something like a Home Depot would be inappropriate, Bass Pro would be a good fit for the location and I believe it will still prove to be a good draw.

Oh, wait, it's not historically significant. I guess we should promote crime and prostitution in the inner harbor area. After all, the Canal Street area was historically known for this kind of activity. While the terminus of the Erie Canal is the real deal, let's face it, anything else that will be done will be a romanticized version of the history there. Let's not get mired in debates and lawsuits. Let's move ahead with the positive plans and get something done!

Jude Kawczynski

Buffalo

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Groups need to stop setting up roadblocks

I find it unbelievable that someone could consider the Erie Canal Terminus "our most important historic treasure." It is this logic that has kept this city from making forward progress similar to the rest of this country. We would rather have a busload of senior citizens stop to look at a plaque on a wall of a place that was once a great center of commerce instead of trying to create a new one.

These obstructionist preservationists who have stopped the new bridge, casino, Bass Pro, etc., have continually proved they have no interest in moving Western New York forward, only keeping us in the depressed economic state we have been in for 30-plus years. Anyone who thinks the Erie Canal Terminus or a grain elevator will be a mecca for tourists is sadly mistaken.

Thomas Zippiroli

Williamsville

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Preservationists right to oppose Bass Pro

I am so grateful to organizations like the Preservation Coalition and Niagara Riverkeepers. Many will criticize the attempts to keep Bass Pro from plopping its big-box store onto the historic cobblestones, charging obstructionism and shortsightedness. But refusing to mortgage a city's history in order to buy a retail presence with tax dollars is not obstruction, it is vision.

It is astonishing how much we are willing to give away in order to lure people here for two hours of shopping. Our city will become stronger when the powerful among us understand that there is not as much benefit to making Buffalo a place people want to visit as there is to making it a place where people want to live.

Pat Sorbini

Buffalo

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Let's quit bickering and start building

Again the people of Western New York continue to throw up every roadblock imaginable. We finally get Bass Pro, which wants to come here, and we find every means possible to prevent it. The Aud should have been gone 10 years ago, and the site should have been available when Bass Pro originally announced its plans. This area will never get anything going. We need an anchor, and something to bring people to the area. Small shops just won't do it in the "Historic District."

Reality check here. The terminus of the Erie Canal is in fact a stone-lined ditch, not the tourist draw of other historical places. Building "historical buildings" in that area won't change things. This isn't Williamsburg or Boston. I'm as much for preserving things as anyone, but there has to be a limit.

Typically in this area, people adopt the "what's in it for me?" attitude, and we end up with nothing, except millions of dollars spent in court preventing every idea. We'll spend millions on a stadium that is used 10 times a year, but complain about spending that amount on something used all year. I'm getting fed up with all the bickering that goes on with every new idea.

John E. Borngraber

West Seneca

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Activists don't speak for majority of residents

In the April 8 article on the Bass Pro deal, I take offense to Scot Fisher's comments regarding Larry Quinn and Mindy Rich. Fisher asks, "Who appointed Larry Quinn and Mindy Rich to represent the community? Where are our elected officials?" In response I ask, "Who delegated Fisher the expert on Buffalo history?"

As a history teacher, I respect and admire the beauty and interworkings of the past. However, I also teach my students that if you don't understand the past, then you can never change the future. As students and young adults leave the Buffalo area in droves, shouldn't our great city be concentrating on how to learn from past mistakes?

If Fisher is listening, please don't file a lawsuit on my behalf. I'd rather see a vibrant city offering work to those who have taken advantage of the great educational institutions the Western New York area has to offer. Perhaps Bass Pro isn't the answer, but I know from history it may be a deal we'll regret passing up.

Nadine Ocasio

Tonawanda

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Let's seize opportunity to move region forward

Reading The News lately really discourages me. I'm referring to plans for the waterfront featuring Bass Pro and the new ethanol plant. Both are fabulous ideas that provide optimal use of our waterfront. However, born of the negativity that pervades local thinking, groups arise that will try to tie up these projects in court for who knows how long?

The Bass Pro project could be great. Instead of opposing it, working with the architects could provide us with a riverfront to be proud of. My understanding is that there will be a 50-foot public right of way between the store and the river. This could be designed with trees, benches, gardens, historical story boards and fishing sites.

Concerning the ethanol plant, modern technology can provide solutions to potential problems such as odor and volatility. This proposal utilizes many of the advantages this region provides. Grain silos costing millions to build from scratch, access to the Great Lakes and railroads providing access to world markets are all here now. Resurgence of Great Lakes shipping and railroads, not to mention added tourist trade, will create many more than the estimated 65 jobs at the plant.

Enough is enough. We have a golden opportunity to move forward.

Richard Speth

Buffalo

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Region must stop shooting itself in foot

I found it quite disturbing to read about the various economic boosters attempting to come to the region, and the hurdles they must cross to do so. Its no wonder Buffalo is dying a slow death; every time a business attempts to open, another group of self-interested citizens bogs down the venture. For years I have watched every good thing that comes our way be inevitably shot down by either politics or another citizen coalition that pops up to stop it.

I predict the three biggest economic boosters that have come our way are set to die a "Buffalo" death. The once great panacea for waterfront development, Bass Pro, will eventually back out because a small group of people who will not benefit financially from it will block it. The casino, whether socially right or wrong, is currently tied up in court. There go thousands of jobs. And now more studies are demanded for the ethanol plant.

Do yourself a favor, move down South where the jobs are. Or try to make a living in Buffalo as a political activist -- those people seem to be the only ones who can make any sort of living here.

Derrick Banaszak

Cheektowaga

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Buffalo would benefit from ethanol plant

I am writing in response to the April 9 News article, "Debate brews over proposed ethanol plant," and Council President David Franczyk's reported desire for an "extensive environmental review" by the Planning Board.

Should Buffalo prefer a plant that guarantees a 100 percent safety record, produces ethanol from switchgrass and always smells like a rose? Yes. But while we wait for perfection, consider the rising price of conventional car fuel, the lives already given to ensure the supply of foreign oil and the need for jobs in Buffalo.

No one should object to "environmental review" when it means just that. But if "extensive environmental review" simply means a strategy for delay, and the downsizing or outright destruction of a great opportunity, shame will belong to the Council.

Those who cannot imagine a vibrant Buffalo waterfront that encompasses both recreation and industrial uses should visit Brooklyn -- a boom-town -- or Baltimore, Md.

The proposed RiverWright Energy ethanol plant is one of several local projects that gives me optimism in this very new Buffalo I have returned to after more than 30 years away. Let them build it, sooner rather than later.

Bill Epes

Buffalo

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Project is a good fit for the First Ward

A small but vocal group of First Ward residents is fighting the proposed waterfront ethanol plant with half truths and fear tactics. My fear is that some city elected officials are swallowing their propaganda. Councilmen David Franczyk and Michael Kearns want the Planning Board to do an exhaustive environmental review. Another term for "exhaustive environmental review" is "delay and obstruct progress."

The First Ward is a neighborhood that thrived with industrial activity. It is no coincidence that the demise of industries such as grain milling, National Aniline, Mobile Oil refinery, Republic Steel and others coincides with the decline of the neighborhood.

Two recent projects have the potential to employ nearby residents, allowing them to invest in their homes and support local business. The large casino has been delayed and the ethanol plant may also be doomed. Too many run-down houses and at least one crack house will remain.

The ethanol project is not requesting any public money. The plant will store smaller quantities of much less dangerous materials than Buffalo Color, Mobile Oil and Republic Steel did for decades.

Traffic and noise from the facility will be less than previous owners. The odor and volatile organic compounds, if any, will be minimal thanks to state-of-the-art thermal oxidizer systems.

Concerns about the project's effect on efforts to revitalize the outer harbor and Erie Canal Terminus are unfounded. This project is a good fit for the city and the First Ward.

Gary Hahn

Lake View

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State should pay for Capozzi's care

I am writing in regard to compensation for Anthony Capozzi. I know there is no way to calculate a monetary figure to reimburse him for the 22 years he lost. Those years were priceless. I do, however, feel he is entitled to some form of reimbursement from New York State.

My suggestion is based on his requirement for lifelong care in a facility. I feel the state should be responsible for paying for his care. His family has carried the fight and emotional burden for his unlawful incarceration for 22 years. Capozzi and his family have the right to make the decisions as to where he will be treated, to his benefit, at the expense of the state.

I also feel that Capozzi and the families of all rape/murder victims should be entitled to file civil lawsuits against the uncle of rape suspect Altemio Sanchez. If Sanchez is found guilty of the crimes, it was the uncle's silence these last 27 years that allowed these crimes to continue. He concealed facts that contributed to Capozzi being falsely accused and convicted. In my view, the uncle is as guilty as the alleged rapist.

Laurie Galbo

Wheatfield

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Capozzi is truly an honorable man

Anthony Capozzi, a man who hears voices and has trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy, had an excellent prison record. He came before a parole board on more than one occasion. He was denied parole because he refused to admit to the crimes he did not commit or to show remorse for same. Without the recent intervention, he would have served the full 35-year sentence because of his reluctance to admit and show remorse.

Let's say he had admitted guilt. Does that mean he would have been paroled the first time around if he showed remorse? How many innocent people in prison admit to crimes just to be granted early discharge? He may be mentally ill, but Capozzi is a man of his convictions -- he did not waver.

There are those who might say that he had become accustomed to the routine of prison life and was afraid to leave. I don't agree. He had a loving family visiting him regularly. He knew he would have a better life with them. To him the crimes he was accused of were terrible, unthinkable deeds that he just could not admit to no matter what. I applaud Capozzi and his family, they are a class act. Good luck to them all. Note to the media: Please leave them alone.

Jim Collins

Newstead

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Story on report cards was a real eye-opener

I was amused at the response of Buffalo Board of Education Member Catherine Collins and former member Jan Peters to a proposed change in district report cards. "The parents just won't understand it," is how they characterized their opposition. Are the board members there to make sure that the staff downtown is helping to address the parents' needs and expectations? What is their job?

Wouldn't it be funny if the teachers' response to new curriculum, methods and procedures was, "We can't do this, the kids just aren't going to understand it!" Makes you wonder.

Mary Neumann

Buffalo Public School Teacher

Buffalo

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Why is School Board so resistant to change?

Buffalo School Board Member Catherine Collins and former member Jan Peters are good examples of why I didn't send my children to public school in Buffalo, even though I did attend. Board members are told that there's a better way of assessing the progress of children in school. They want none of it, because they are concerned the parents won't understand the new method of grading their children.

Once again elected officials fail to accept the challenge put before them: Do what makes sense and stop lagging behind surrounding school districts. Superintendent James Williams is trying to bring this school system into the 21st century. The board claims to support him, but backs away from changing old habits. If Collins and other board members are concerned about parents understanding the new process, then hold meetings across the city to show them how this will benefit the children.

Helen C. Kregg

Buffalo

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Many parents of teens sympathize with Browns

I sympathize with Mayor Byron Brown's family situation. Who among us, as a parent, hasn't at one time or another been disappointed, embarrassed or ashamed by our teenager? Unfortunately, Brown's damaged SUV has become a news event rather than a problem to be handled at home.

As parents, we want to believe our children, especially when they look us in the eye and pledge their innocence. Being so close to the situation sometimes doesn't allow us the wide-angle lens the public has looking in at us. Of course most of us thought the teenage son had to be involved. It all added up -- teenager, late night, damaged car -- not a stretch to assume guilt. But when you've raised a child for 16-plus years, you hope and pray good sense has sunk in.

It's absurd to think insurance fraud when reading about this. Instead we should be empathizing with Brown and his family. Parenting is a tough and often thankless job. Fortunately, most of us struggle with things like this privately, not on the front page or on the 6 o'clock news.

Kathy Sider

Buffalo Public School Teacher

Ridgeway, Ontario

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