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Infrastructure repairs top priority of Buffalo's capital budget proposal

City of Buffalo

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown is proposing a $20 million capital budget for the next fiscal year, stressing infrastructure and repairs to existing city structures.

The mayor announced the plan during a news conference in Emerson Park Football Field, adjacent to Emerson Vocational High School and Harvey Austin Elementary School. That heavily-used football complex will be getting cash from a pot of more than $1 million for park repairs across the city.

City officials say Emerson Park needs drainage improvements and better parking. The National Football League helped build the complex, including installation of stands for up to five football games on a Saturday afternoon.  says good athletes lead good lives.

"There's nothing like a game day event," said East Side sports leader Demeris Johnson, "and for this field to have the improvement that they're going to have is motivation for our young athletes to really want to come out here and perform on Saturday and because we have other initiatives attached to our youth football program, such as our education initiative, that really motivates them to do things in the classroom and at home like they're supposed to."

The mayor said he visited the field recently and there were 1,200 athletes, supporters and families crowding the facilities.

While Tuesday was the day for delivery of the capital budget, several city councilmembers said they did not get the list of what was in the spending plan. However, Fillmore Councilmember David Franczyk said he supports the improvement plan for Emerson Park, which is in his district.

"There's a lot of Little League football there and, last time I was there, I was watching the kids play and they had new bleachers and the NFL organization was involved and the city was involved," Franczyk said. "So I'm glad to see that there's a new commitment to that to keep kids productively engaged in sports in that neighborhood."

"This year's spending plan reflects my administration's top priorities, with targeted investments in major infrastructure for economic development projects, parks improvements citywide, as well as funding for arts and cultural organizations," said Brown, "all designed to spur additional economic growth and opportunity for all Buffalo residents."

There were requests for $100 million in capital spending. City Comptroller Mark Schroeder set $20 million as the cap on spending. Brown said actual capital spending will be much higher, as state and federal funds and community development block grants come in.

The largest category was $6 million for infrastructure improvements, streets and sidewalks. Other highlights of the capital spending plan include nearly $2 million for the planned fire and police headquarters, $900,000 for City Hall repairs and $2 million for the continuing efforts to demolish decaying buildings across the city.

Council President Darius Pridgen said it is good that some of the capital money is going into further repairs on City Hall.

"The amount of visitors and people come to City Hall now has increased. We want to make sure that the elevators that go up to the observation towers are being refurbished, the Council Chambers and other things that are important to people," he said. "This is the people's house, so as we are building the people's streets, we want to also make sure that the people's house is in order."

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.