A foot of new soil and grass is poised to be laid on three harbor-area lots below the Skyway underpass, thanks to a donation from the Buffalo Sabres designed to improve the area's curb appeal.
More than nine inches of topsoil and three inches of sod will be deposited on the three properties just east of lower Main Street and south of Marine Drive.
The lots currently are vacant and covered with dirt but adjoin the area where Buffalo Place holds its summer waterfront concerts, so officials want to improve the appearance of the area to make it more attractive to concertgoers, especially those from outside the city.
"It's a big upgrade," Buffalo Place Executive Director Michael Schmand said during the downtown business district group's monthly board meeting Wednesday. "We need to thank the Sabres."
Also during the meeting, Downtown District Chief Bryan Patterson told Buffalo Place directors that Buffalo police are well aware of the problem of vagrants and panhandling downtown and are working to reduce it as they prepare for the summer season.
Patterson said he has been meeting as needed with downtown businesses to address their concerns for their employees and customers and is also working toward establishing a permanent detail "to really give us the consistency we need."
"We're never going to erase the panhandling problem," he said, "but we can reduce it."