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New train station in Buffalo one step closer with $1M incentive

WBFO file photo

With a million-dollar incentive placed on the table Wednesday by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown was already discussing possible candidates for a committee that will be tasked with identifying the site for the city's new train station.

The city's current station recently reopened after ceiling problems forced its temporary closure in September. It sparked calls for a new station and sites including Canalside and the Central Terminal were among the spots suggested.

While visiting Buffalo Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued this challenge to Mayor Brown: form a committee and get a consultant. If he is able to do that within the next six months, the state will provide up to one million dollars for the consultant costs.

Mayor Brown accepted the challenge and later on Wednesday was discussing the need to move quickly on the project, not just to secure the funding offered by Governor Cuomo for the consultant but to possibly secure additional funding beyond that.

"I think by moving quickly and showing that this is the new Buffalo, not only will we be able to get the million dollars from the state and Governor Cuomo for the study, but I think that we'll be able to get significant money that the state has in the budget to build a new train station in Buffalo."

Already, $25 million in state funds have been earmarked for a new Buffalo station but that money is not scheduled to become available until 2019.

Mayor Brown acknowledged some of Governor Cuomo's suggestions for committee members, including the governor himself, Empire State Development president and CEO Howard Zemsky, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and Congressman Brian Higgins. The mayor said other community leaders would also be invited to join the panel.

Governor Cuomo, as he concluded his visit to Buffalo, explained that his six-month timeline to get the local committee moving is something the "new Buffalo" is capable of, unlike the Buffalo of past years. He noted the example of a proposed new Peace Bridge which, after many years of haggling, was never built.

"We've done a complete 180 from that," Cuomo said.  

Earlier this month, Congressman Higgins joined Buffalo Common Council member David Franczyk and Central Terminal Restoration Corporation director Mark Lewandowski on a tour of the East Side landmark. Higgins, at the time, said he wanted to begin exploring options for a new site in advance of that funding. He was advised during the tour that although the Central Terminal last welcomed Amtrak service in 1979, the building remains structurally sound.

Higgins was scheduled to return to the Central Terminal on Thursday with additional guests, New York State lawmakers. 

WBFO's Chris Caya contributed to this report.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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