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City, state and union leaders announce agreement on Fruit Belt neighborhood parking

Avery Schneider

City, state and community leaders gathered in Buffalo’s Fruit Belt neighborhood on Friday to announce an agreement aimed at protecting residents of the Fruit Belt neighborhood from infringement on parking spaces by employees of the constantly growing Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

The agreement, which is contingent upon passage of state legislation, details how the city will implement a parking permit program on streets located within the boundaries of Michigan Avenue and Rose Street and BFNC Drive and East North Street.

Credit City of Buffalo
City of Buffalo

Signage posted in the middle of the block on each street will designate half of available spaces exclusively for residents and the other half for the general public, including BNMC employees. Residents of the Fruit Belt Neighborhood will be issued permits for their designated areas, and alternate side parking will remain in effect.

City of Buffalo Commissioner of Parking Enforcement Kevin Helfer said the details of how many permits will be handed out have not been fully worked out.

Speaking at the Moot Senior Center on High Street on Friday afternoon, Mayor Byron Brown proclaimed that the agreement is “good news.”

“We have been able to bring key stakeholders together. The residents who are critically important, they are the people who live here. The employees, particularly those who represent low-income employees that work at the medical campus institutions, and the elected officials who are working diligently to address the parking issues that residents are facing in the Fruit Belt,” said Brown.

State Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes and State Senator Tim Kennedy offered messages of confidence that the legislation allowing the city to make the change to parking will pass the Assembly and Senate. Kennedy said he’s already spoken to State Senator Joseph Robach, Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, about the legislation.

“He recognizes what has been done here – the mutual agreement that has transpired here in Western New York. It is giving us the wind at our back that is necessary to have worked out the issues on the front end to ensure that this gets through the obstacles that may stand in the way down in Albany.”

Brown noted that going through the process of working with residents, workers, and government leaders to address the problems of expansion in the Fruit Belt has been an educational experience – one that will come in handy as Buffalo’s expansion continues.

Credit Avery Schneider / WBFO News
City, state, union and community leaders gather at the Moot Senior Center on High Street for the announcement of an agreement on parking restrictions in the city's Fruit Belt neighborhood.

“We are experiencing explosive growth in a lot of places in the city, so understanding how this has come together will help us to not only deal with this issue, but to deal with issues in other parts of the city,” said Brown.

When legislation was sent to Albany last year to allow the city to make changes, the Civil Service Employees Association refused to endorse it.  CSEA Western Region President Flo Tripi said legislation for plans to change parking rules in the Fruit Belt last year were opposed by the union because it did not adequately support Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus employees.

“We feel people should have a place to park, but we also had to look at the possibility of people who work every day who don’t make tremendous money. We’ve identified many under $35,000,” said Tripi. “So we needed to come up with an agreement that would sort of solve it and help both groups.”

Tripi said the union is pleased with the agreement and called it a good start to solving parking problems and moving forward.

Avery began his broadcasting career as a disc jockey for WRUB, the University at Buffalo’s student-run radio station.
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