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Buffalo Common Council looking for $4M more for streets repairs

A crumbling sidewalk
Thomas O'Neill-White
Bailey Avenue just south of Cloverdale Avenue in the City of Buffalo August 2020.

Buffalo City Hall is juggling its spending plans to come up with $4 million more dollars for street resurfacing, sidewalks and curbs across the city.

To get those extra millions from the regular budget and from the federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan avalanching in, something already planned for the capital spending program will have to go. The question is what. That's being decided in talks underway for days, looking to a Common Council vote Thursday.

Council President Darius Pridgen reminded members Tuesday that citizens want street repairs — a lot of them — and this resurfacing would make a big difference, spread across the nine Council districts.

Public Works Commissioner Michael Finn said one way to do more would be to stop using granite curbs across the city, just on major streets where plows damage the curbs.

"Curbs, as we discussed before, get expensive. I'm using round numbers, but where you might be able to pave five streets, you might get one street of curb just because of the cost differences between the two," Finn said. "My office, though, is open to working with the Councilmembers to prioritize how we best use utilize that funding now."

Finn said he would prefer granite curbs for main thoroughfares because it can better take "a lot of beating from plows" and concrete for side streets. That's all in the talks that continue into Thursday, for a Council Committee of the Whole in the afternoon.

"I'm not ready to bring this forward to you because I want to work over the next two days," said Pridgen. "Hopefully, we can come back on Thursday with everything in writing, be able to get it to the Council members by tomorrow, so that you have enough time to review and then possibly come back Thursday for a Committee of the Whole and then make a decision."

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.