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Good Morning, Buffalo: Redevelopment comes to East Side

Cranes have been nearly extinct on Buffalo’s East Side for decades, and their return is putting a smile on the face of Common Council President Darius Pridgen.

We’re not talking about the long-legged, long-necked breed of cranes. We’re talking about those impossible-to-miss contraptions that help build things.

“Ten years ago, when you saw cranes in the air in downtown Buffalo, people were amazed,” said Pridgen, a longtime activist for inner-city issues. “Now we’re seeing cranes on the East Side, and to me, that is a sign of progress.”

How much progress? The News’ Jonathan Epstein reports that after decades of neglect, more than a quarter of a billion dollars in redevelopment projects are underway on the East Side, with more planned.

True, that’s only a fraction of the $6.5 billion in total development that has occurred in the Buffalo area in the last six years. And as Epstein reports, there’s no guarantee of how much more development will come. But it’s more than the East Side has seen in at least a couple of generations.

Mayor Byron W. Brown puts it this way: “I think we’re moving in the right direction.” Still, the mayor admits that “there’s a lot more that needs to be done.”

The largest of the East Side initiatives involves transforming 35 acres of the Northland Beltline Corridor in a $120 million economic development hub, anchored by the new Western New York Workforce Training Center and Buffalo Manufacturing works. The massive project was launched by the Buffalo Urban Development Corp, with funding from the Buffalo Billion, other state agencies and the city.

There are also numerous housing and commercial developments that are underway, being planned or have been completed.

“Downtown is humming now, and now it’s a pleasure to hear the engines of redevelopment humming on the East Side,” says Pridgen.

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WITH YOUR MORNING COFFEE

Erie County Water Authority turns to a pro, not a pol, to run itself: To suggest that politics has been woven into the job-filling fabric at the ECWA would a bit of an understatement. That’s why the hiring of H. John Mye III as its new executive director is big news. The Amherst resident is a chief financial officer and engineer with no political background, no history of campaign contributions and no history of prior public employment. In a departure from past practice, commissioners have given him the job. Mye was the only candidate to apply. One of Mye’s chief goals is to restore the authority’s credibility with the public. "The authority needs to embrace our customers, and the public in general, in a way that gives our customers confidence," says Mye.

Cuomo seeks constitutional change to protect abortion rights: State lawmakers are expected to pass a bill this month enhancing and expanding abortion rights and access. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wants to take the effort farther by placing the protections in the state constitution.

Buffalo Diocese adds two priests to sex abusers list: The Rev. Fabian J. Maryanski and the Rev. Mark J. Wolski are now included with 78 other diocesan and religious order priests that diocese officials previously acknowledged have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse.

43North winners settle into their new digs:Monday was move-in day for the startups. Now their mission is to convert their success before a panel of competition judges last October into more jobs and growth.

Uncle of man fatally shot by police speaks out: Police officials insist shoplifting suspect Marcus Neal was wielding a knife and charged at officers even after he was pepper-sprayed during a foot chase last month. But James Bible, Neal’s uncle through marriage, says there are some troubling questions. Bible, a Seattle-based civil rights attorney, spoke with The Public’s Aaron Lowinger.

(Got a news tip? Email citydesk@buffnews.com.)

WEATHER

Freezing temperatures likely to settle in after Tuesday: Unseasonably warmer conditions return Tuesday with rain and highs in the mid- to upper 40s. But don't despair skiers – or anyone else who feels January should feel like, well, January. Winter will be back on Wednesday as the early January roller coaster of weather rights itself, National Weather Service forecasts show.

A winter storm watch has been posted for Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Wyoming and southern Erie counties from late Tuesday through Thursday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

FOOD & DRINK

Places to find “new school” wings: Of course, no true Western New Yorker ever grows tired of devouring our standard chicken wings with blue cheese on the side. But on occasion, it’s nice to have some culinary variety. How about strawberry BBQ wings? Or wings tossed in poppyseed sauce? Step Out Buffalo has prepared this guide to “new school” wings.

BILLS

The Bills sent Kyle Williams out as a winner. But the 13-year veteran will suit up one more time before walking away from football. Williams was named to the Pro Bowl on Monday as an injury replacement for Titans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey. It will be Williams' sixth Pro Bowl appearance.

(This item courtesy Nick Veronica and the [BN] Blitz newsletter. Sign up here.)

SABRES

When Buffalo Sabres practice started Monday, Jack Eichel was nowhere to be seen. But the Buffalo captain, out the last two games with an upper-body injury, would eventually hit the ice and had a limited session. The Sabres, of course, need his services. They're 1-2 in his absence, if you count the loss on New Year's Eve when he played just 2 minutes, 42 seconds. Their loss Saturday in Boston dropped them to fourth in the Atlantic Division and has the team barely clinging to a playoff spot.

The Sabres return to the ice tonight against New Jersey and play again Friday in Carolina. But Eichel's practice session Monday doesn't necessarily mean he's playing, as Jason Wolf wrote. “I think at this point it’s sort of just taking it every day, seeing how I feel,” Eichel said. “Obviously, it’s not a rush."

(These items courtesy Jeff Neiburg and the [BN] Hockey newsletter. Sign up here.)

QUICK LINKS

If you’ve been following the controversy involving the overhaul of downtown parking policies, you probably recall that one change will require motorists to have smartphones in order to pay for spots on some streets. Here are some helpful tips and a preview of new features that will be offered, courtesy of WIVB-TV’s George Richert.

Speaking of vehicles, the drive home yesterday was a bit a slippery for many motorists. We can’t really complain, of course, because the early phases of winter have been pretty dull — in a good way. Still, the timing seems right to share Only in Your State's list of winter realities only true Buffalonians can appreciate.

One of the more rewarding stories I wrote during my years as the City Hall reporter for The News foreshadowed the arrival of the food truck movement in Buffalo. My first interview on the subject was with a guy named Pete Cimino. He was selling what from a truck? Tacos? Yep, the rest is history. As UpstartNY reports in this profile, Cimino was a key player in navigating city and county regulations so the food truck phenomenon could take off here as it had already done in regions such as Portland, Ore., and Los Angeles.

You might already know that a Buffalo native wrote the classic song “Over the Rainbow.” Harold Arlen, born Hyman Arluck, also penned “Get Happy.” But I’ll bet you might not realize how many famous songwriters hail from the Buffalo area. Forever Young posted this interesting piece written by Rick Falkowski, co-founder of the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame.

When the weather takes a bone-chilling turn, spending long periods exploring the outdoors simply isn’t in the cards for many people. One possible cure for cabin fever is to attend one or more of the many outdoors-related expos held across the region. NYup has compiled a list of a dozen events that showcase everything from boats and RVs to fishing, camping and hunting.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The Sabres play at the New Jersey Devils. The puck drops at 7 p.m.

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