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Train committee chooses downtown site; Central Terminal backers claim "fix was in"

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

The group in charge of choosing a site for a new Buffalo train station has recommended the station be built downtown, near the current Exchange Street site.

Supporters of the Central Terminal option, prior to the meeting, suggested the people making the selection already had their minds made up and willingly ignored the overwhelming public support for the East Side site.

By a vote of 11-4, with one abstention, the Train Station Site Selection Stakeholders committee chose the downtown site over the historic Central Terminal. Among those voting against the downtown location was Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Rep. Brian Higgins and Sen. Tim Kennedy.

Mayor Byron Brown, who convened the panel, said even though Central Terminal backers may be disappointed, the community conversation over the East Side landmark has not gone unnoticed.

Members of the public and the media were not allowed into Thursday morning's meeting. Dozens of individuals gathered in the ground floor lobby of the building where the selection committee was meeting, expressing their support for the Central Terminal location. Some were threatened with arrest, at one point, if they did not leave the property.

Many were also expressing their disgust for what they said is a process that ignored the opinion of the majority. Charlotte Ripple lives in West Seneca, but has fond memories of Buffalo's East Side. She says putting the train station at Central Terminal would has kickstarted the redevelopment of the neighborhood.

"When I was a little girl, I saw the vitality of that neighborhood," she said. "I used to go with my parents to 998 Broadway. That was Sattler's across the street.

"They've got the (Broadway) Market down there. They're talking about putting a market down here. Why? Let's keep the market where it is, pick up the Central Terminal and start revitalizing that entire area."

Many individuals envisioned a reopened Central Terminal as the starting point of the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood's economic rebound. 

Katrinna Martin-Bordeaux, president of the Young Black Democrats of Western New York, says $13 billion has been invested in the city, but the East Side continues to be shortchanged.

"The most that we can track on the East Side is $300 million in the last 10 years," she said. "Stop lying to people! $300 million in 10 years is no money for the most impacted area in the City of Buffalo and one of the most impacted Rust Belt communities in the country, period."

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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