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City seeking alternative to permit parking in Fruit Belt

Efforts to provide Fruit Belt parking for neighborhood residents are continuing despite the state’s recent refusal to approve residential permit parking in the community.

Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen said Tuesday that since the state did not approve the parking plan, the city is being asked to help develop alternative parking for residents.

“There is still a huge problem,” Pridgen told his Common Council colleagues. “It can’t just be left for another year. We have people without driveways who have to walk around the corner to their own house. Some of the elderly, especially those with physical challenges, are unable to park on their own street. We need action to happen from City Hall in the next few months.”

Pridgen had been spearheading an effort to bring residential permit parking to the Fruit Belt, where residents are having a tough time finding parking on their streets because employees of the nearby Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus are parking there.

Residents supported the permit parking plan, as did the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and Roswell Park Cancer Institute. But Roswell’s Civil Service Employees Association succeeded in killing the proposal in the State Legislature this year. The CSEA says union employees have to park on the neighborhood streets because Roswell does not provide adequate parking. Roswell disputes that.

Pridgen suggested using some vacant city-owned Fruit Belt lots for resident parking.

In other action, the Council:

• Authorized a plan to realign Bailey Avenue from Elk Street to McKinley Parkway. The work will begin at the end of the year, according to Lovejoy Councilman Richard A. Fontana. Plans call for smoothing out the Bailey S-curves and rebuilding bridges, he said. The plan includes a new road next to the existing one, which will then be turned into parkland.

• Approved a contract with Waste Management Co. of West Seneca to take over operation of the South Ogden Street transfer station. The new contract is expected to reduce costs and improve service, Public Works Commissioner Steven J. Stepniak said. .

• Said goodbye to Delaware District representative Michael L. LoCurto, who is leaving the Council for an Erie County job in the Poloncarz administration.

LoCurto’s colleagues praised him for his independence, intellect and willingness to take on issues such as opposition to big-box development on the waterfront, support for participatory budgeting and rights of the gay and lesbian community. “I always saw my role on the Council, besides taking care of the district, as a way to give voice to people who often don’t have a voice in government,” LoCurto told his colleagues.