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Preservationists Say New Plaza Design Must be Found

By Joyce Kryszak

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-710295.mp3

Buffalo, NY – The National Trust for Historic Preservation is throwing its weight behind the fight to halt the proposed peace bridge plaza expansion.

Officials with the National Trust were at Front Park Thursday to officially announce designation of the peace bridge neighborhood to its list of most endangered places.

They say creating the 38 acre asphalt plaza would sacrifice about eighty historic homes and further compromise Front Park. But preservationists and Peace Bridge Authority officials clearly disagree.

Tanya Werbitzky is a regional director for the Preservation League of New York. The National Trust has joined the state Preservation League and local preservationists in naming the Peace Bridge neighborhood as an historically important place that needs to be protected. Now that is listed as endangered, Werbizky said law mandates that the Peace Bridge Authority come up with a better plaza alternative.

But Peace Bridge Authority General Manager Ron Rienas said they have already examined and ruled out other options. He said this is the only viable footprint for the plaza and they are going ahead as planned - and on schedule. Rienas said that process will include mitigating negative effects from the new plaza.

But neighborhood homeowner Kathy Mecca said there is no way to mitigate what the plaza would do to her quality of life. Mecca said her new neighbor will be a multi-story parking ramp.

The preservation groups vow to fight the proposed plan and say they now have federal and state law on their side. But authority officials say that the United States Department of Homeland Security has approved the authority's plan and they are going ahead, regardless of any lawsuits.

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