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Buffalo State seeks to turn impound lot 'from a scrapyard into a schoolyard'

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

SUNY Buffalo State is getting a rare opportunity to expand its cramped Elmwood Village campus.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, an alumnus, made it official Thursday that the college has been named the designated developer for the city's seven-acre car impound lot on Dart Street, which is familiar site to Scajaquada Expressway travelers. The lot will be moved.

"This provides an an opportunity for the college to expand its footprint as it continues to grow. The city has worked to optimize its various operations in locations that make sense for greater efficiency and delivery of services to the residents," Brown said.

Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner says the college has been working to determine how the land fits into expansion and development plans. It has been widely rumored that the college will move its athletic fields to the impound site and use the current athletic space for more buildings.

"We are an urban-engaged campus. Because of that, we're quite landlocked and so there are not very many opportunities that we have to really think about expanding our footprint. So, this will be a wonderful opportunity for us to really think carefully about the mission of our campus and how we can expand some of our facility needs and some of our needs for our campus," Conway-Turner said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo told an audience at the college last week there is $250 million available for capital projects on the campus. Common Council member Joe Golombek, also an alumnus and a teacher at the college, said development is seeping into the neighborhood.

"Seeing the development in more than just downtown, that's the unique aspect of this. The past six or eight years, the development has not just been in downtown Buffalo. It's come into our communities. It's come into the West Side. It's come into Chandlerville, as they're now calling it. It's come into Tonawanda Street. It's seeping into Riverside and the rest of the City of Buffalo," Golombek said.

Brown says the city is looking for a new site for the impound lot. It is likely to go on city-owned land in the Seneca-Babcock community, adjacent to the Engineering Department garage.

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.