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Focus on heritage A presidential and leadership center could be a good fit for redevelopment

When you've got leadership, flaunt it. Buffalo can lay at least historical claim to that virtue, and that's ample reason to support efforts now under way to create a Western New York Center for the Presidency and Vice Presidency as part of this area's push for cultural and historic tourism.

A small group of dedicated Western New Yorkers at work on this idea since 2003 is nearing the design phase for the center, which could be located in one of Buffalo's historic landmarks. The final shape of this idea depends upon the amount of support the effort garners.

The center could provide a tourism and perhaps research touchstone for the national leadership heritage embodied by Presidents Grover Cleveland, once a young Buffalo lawyer and Erie County sheriff, and Millard Fillmore, whose local accomplishments include the University of Buffalo and the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society. Some Cleveland and Fillmore artifacts, legal papers and the like would be included.

While most presidential memorials are libraries, organizers of the Western New York Center for the Presidency and Vice Presidency also see a place for Cabinet members and other national policy-makers from this area who have influenced this country's policies both domestically and in foreign affairs -- and, for that matter, the darker but important assassination of President William McKinley at Buffalo's Pan-American Exposition in 1901.

This region was important to the evolving American presidency. A center speaking to that period and encompassing others who helped shape a nation, from right here in Buffalo, is a good fit for heritage-related development.

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