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Tentative deal reached on parking for residents in Buffalo’s Fruit Belt

Buffalo has a tentative deal that should lead to a permit parking program in the city’s Fruit Belt, according to Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen.

According to the proposal, half of the on-street Fruit Belt parking would be designated as resident-only permit parking, and the other half would available to the general public.

This means that workers at the nearby Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, residents of the Fruit Belt or anyone else could park in the general parking spaces not designated as resident-only, Pridgen said.

“We are leaving half the spaces open to the public,” Pridgen said.

The proposal came out of talks involving Fruit Belt residents and unionized workers at the Medical Campus, Pridgen said, adding that the agreement is expected to be announced soon, possibly Friday.

The plans still needs approval from the State Legislature.

Pridgen said the city is hopeful that the state lawmakers will approve the plan because the Civil Service Employees Association, the state’s largest public employee union, will not oppose it this time.

Fruit Belt residents have requested permit parking in response to the continued growth of the Medical Campus. With more Medical Campus employees parking on streets in the Fruit Belt, residents say they come home from work or from shopping and can no longer find a place to park on their residential streets.

Last year, the CSEA opposed the city’s request for permit parking in the Fruit Belt.

The union complained that there isn’t adequate parking on the Medical Campus for its employees, so the Fruit Belt street parking is necessary for the workers.

The Medical Campus responded that there is ample parking on the campus.

City officials recognized that the problem wasn’t a shortage of parking on the Medical Campus, but the lack of free parking there, particularly for lower-paid workers.

Most of the parking on the Medical Campus is in paid garages and lots.

After the proposal got stalled in the State Senate last year because of CSEA opposition, Pridgen said the union would be brought into the discussion to try to develop a new plan.

At one point, Pridgen said, there was talk of having designated parking in the Fruit Belt for Medical Campus employees earning less than $35,000 a year.

But that idea was replaced with the proposal to keep half the streets open for general public parking, Pridgen said.

The tentative agreement will become a formal memorandum of agreement approved by the city, Pridgen said.

CSEA officials were not immediately available to comment.