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Erie County banking on positive free press

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photo courtesy erie.gov
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Sprague Brook Park in Concord, NY

By Joyce Kryszak

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-987780.mp3

Buffalo, NY – Thanks to some fo its greatest assets, Erie County is getting ready to enjoy some positive free press for a change. Monday, County officials announced Autumnfest will return this weekend to Sprague Brook Park for the second year in a row. County Executive Chris Collins called the Concord park one of the County's many jewels.

In a couple weeks the County and the region will show off many of its finest architectural and other assets. The National Trust for Historic Preservation will hold its annual conference in Buffalo with about 2,500 attendees expected to converge on the region for the four-day event.

Collins said they will like what they see - and that will be very good press for a change.

"It's image. It's perception. When we have 2,500 opinion-makers and decision-makers who write articles, newspapers and magazines, we will get so much positive, free press, earned media, it will go down as one of the most significant events to turn that perception of Buffalo from the negative to the positive," said Collins.

Among others, he pointed to well-known gems such as the Darwin D. Martin House and the Guarantee Building, as well as works in progress such as the Lafayette Hotel and the Statler Towers.

And Collins said we now have yet one more surprising thing to brag about.

"We were always known as the team that lost four Super Bowls, and we were known for chicken wings and snow...we're all thrilled to see the Bills three and oh," said Collins.

Even if the winning streak doesn't hold, he said the Buffalo Niagara region will make a very favorable impression on the NTHP visitors in October.

Meanwhile, Collins defended his stewardship of the County's parks and infrastructure.

Collins said Autumnfest at Sprague Brook Park is a great way to show off one of the County's many jewels. But Mark Poloncarz, his opponent in this November's county executive election, recently criticized Collins for investing too little of the County's surpluses into the County's infrastructure. Collins disagrees.

"When your parks and beaches go into the level of disrepair that ours had under the prior administration it takes time to bring them back," said Collins.

The County Executive says he is proud of the work being done under his administration.

"It's been a four-year work in progress. We're not done by any means," said Collins. "You'll see in my upcoming budget continued capital for the parks, continued support operational for the parks."

But Collins gave no details about how much he will set aside in his upcoming budget for further investment in the parks or other County assets. Collins would only say there would be no surprises and no tax increases.