by Betty Jean Grant
I took a slow drive down East Ferry Street, from Main St. to Bailey Ave. the other day. All I saw was a street in a grave state of neglect and decline. Starting with the bumpy roadway that had more potholes and badly repaired potholes than drivable pavement, East Ferry Street has long been Buffalo’s forgotten and abused ” stepchild.”
This is not to say that there are no bright spots. The Mandella Market and the Freedom Wall of Heroes immediately come to mind. So does the investment of Pastor Darius Pridgen in the True Bethel 32- units Townhomes and the senior citizen housing complex across from the church. But there are more desolate and oppressive images of neglect and disrepair to see that really offset the positive reaction from the market, housing units and the wall.
The first ‘offense to the eye’ is the forlorn, dilapidated structure that has sat vacant and unused, directly across the street from Buffalo Academy for theVisual and Performing Arts for over 30 years! My questions are, “Who owns that building? Are the taxes current? Why has it been allowed to remain vacant and unrepaired for so long? And why doesn’t the city move to get it either fixed up or torn down? There are numerous vacant houses and commercial properties on this particular street but the biggest problem I see is the astronomical numbers of occupied houses that need new rooftops, mended porches and steps and new sidewalks & driveways.
But, before you tell me those repairs are the homeowners’ responsibility, I direct you to the Fruitbelt and the Main/ Medical Corridor where the city has spent millions of dollars to bring some of those privately owned homes and apartment buildings up to the housing code standards. On some streets, the sidewalks and driveways got replaced or repaired without homeowners having to spend a dime.
Last year, someone must have noticed the condition of East Ferry Street because a grant worth $700,000 was designated for the East Ferry St. Disparity Initiative. I am not sure if the money is still available for East Ferry St. because that grant’s name has been changed to the Eastside Health Disparity Initiative or some other similar name.
My mother’s favorite saying was, ” Closed mouths don’t get fed.” Buffalo’s eastsiders, could that be the reason our area of the city is not deemed worthy of civic attention? Is that why poor people’s money based on east-side poverty and blight is being moved elsewhere with nary a squeak from us?
Another saying my mother had was, “You get the respect you demand.” Open your mouths, my people, and start demanding! Black History Month is as good a time as any, to start yelling!