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Church looking for a sign to find its location, location, location

Santoro Signs

A storied North Buffalo Catholic church wants to install a sign near a major intersection so people can find the church - and not the adjoining fast food restaurant commonly used as a guide. The crazy-quilt pattern of development around Delaware and Hertel avenues has created visibility issues for community sites within feet of the streets.

Holy Spirit church has been based near Delaware and Hertel, with an entrance on nearby Dakota Street, since 1910. Pastor Joe Wolf says it is a great parish, with a mixed array of members and kids in a good neighborhood.

The difficulty is finding it.

That is why the Buffalo Planning Board has recommended to the Common Council approval of a 15-foot-high electronic sign with the church name facing the busy Delaware/Hertel corner. Chief City Judge Tom Amodeo has been a parishioner since he was an infant and says it is a longstanding issue.

"I've gone through many weddings. I've gone through many funerals there," Amodeo says, "and the one thing that people that come to those events have a problem, is finding our church. And this, I think, would give an opportunity for all of us to identify the neighborhood where the church is."

Parishioner Paul Tronolone pushed for board approval to pass along the plan to the Council.

"We're asking for a recommendation to the Council," Tronolone says. "It meets the purposes and intents and wording of the regulations for a special use permit. If we've done our level best to make it not impact the surrounding residences and the nature is that it doesn't face into the residences and we ask your recommendation."

The recommendation is going before the Council's Legislation Committee, with the backing of Delaware District Councilmember Joel Feroleto.

Wolf says the church needs more visibility.

"While we have a sign in front of the church, with the name of the church, it's ineffective for drawing others in, unless you know where we are," says Wolf. "So the unfortunate custom had developed long before my time, is that when people would call and ask, 'Where are you located?' for finding us for a funeral or baptism or marriage. The only thing that means anything is if I say, 'Do you know where Burger King is?'"

The sign would be located on church property aimed at the intersection - just up Hertel from a library branch nicknamed "the Kmart library," for its newly-expanded location in commercial space next to Kmart. The sign also would be used for messages of church activities and community activities, like the farmer's market in the church parking lot during growing season.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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