Buffalo needs to listen to Fruit Belt residents
Development. Vital to the resurgence of Buffalo, development has been praised as the hero of the city. The equation has been presented simply. Development equals jobs, and jobs equal a better Buffalo. However, development should not come with the price of displacement. Instead of giving development free rein in a community, both parties should benefit. If not, citizens have a right to speak up and fight back against development that threatens them.
The Fruit Belt has been fighting for its right to exist as a historical community. The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has increased burdens on residents and has placed them at risk for gentrification. With developers buying up land at rapid rates previous to the moratorium on sale of city-owned lots placed in December, Fruit Belt leadership has demanded a voice in the use of these vacant lots to ensure they are developed responsibly. Community control of the lots via a land trust would allow for inclusionary measures and worthwhile development, instead of a half-baked promise.
Development does not have to be a villain. But only when development believes in taking the high road, and aligns itself with improving the lives of the citizens surrounding it, is it truly worth our praise.
The City of Buffalo, the Medical Campus and citizens of Buffalo should listen to the Fruit Belt residents and support development that helps everyone. If Buffalo is the City of Good Neighbors, how can it ignore an entire neighborhood at risk? If the Fruit Belt falls, what community is next?
Angie Estevez Prada