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PUSH presents development plan

Members of People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH Buffalo) have been out in the community for months, canvassing door-to-door and collecting more than 300 surveys to find out what residents want.

"We asked them what are the needs of the community? What would you guys like to see here? What would you guys not like to see here?" explained Shayla Merritt, PUSH communications specialist.

The result was a community development plan presented to the public Wednesday evening at the Butler-Mitchell Boys & Girls Club on Massachusetts Avenue.

The development plan focuses on an area in the Massachusetts Avenue corridor bounded by Vermont Street, West Delavan Avenue, Niagara Street and Richmond Avenue, said Whitney Yax, PUSH community organizer.

"It lays out our plans for the next three years, and what it talks about is creating more quality, affordable housing, repurposing vacant lots into community gardens and play areas for children. It talks about the creation of good-paying jobs and the development of our first commercial property," she added.

PUSH will close in the next week or so on the property located at West Utica and Brayton streets, Yax said.

Residents have proposed numerous ideas for that site, as well as other commercial properties the group plans to acquire. Suggestions have included more services for senior citizens and youth, more affordable food stores and more play areas for children, Yax said.

"We will develop [the plans] to meet the needs that people identify in the community," Yax said.

The plan stems directly from the reception PUSH received from Buffalo and Mayor Byron W. Brown two years ago when the group won $500,000 to revitalize Massachusetts Avenue Park, Merritt said.

"That's what kind of sparked it," she said. "The community kind of banded together and said, 'We really want a park in our neighborhood. It's been sitting here for a year and we know we'll make use of it if you give us the help to revitalize it.' More than 200 people stood behind us to get this park revamped."

For more information about PUSH and its community development plan, visit www.PUSHBuffalo.org.

email: dswilliams@buffnews.com