BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Residents in the Fruit Belt neighborhood had a long-awaited meeting with a representative from the University at Buffalo about the expansion of Buffalo's medical corridor, but they didn't get the answers they sought.
After months of silence, Michael Pietkiewicz from the Office of the President at UB appeared in front of the city's Common Council on Tuesday. He was supposed to address future plans for McCarley Gardens, as it relates to UB's expansion.
"BNMC is expanding and people are looking to live closer to work in this economic environment," Pietkiewicz stated.
The UB official read from a prepared statement, much to the dismay of Ellicott District councilman Darius Pridgen. Pridgen has been waiting for real plans from UB regarding McCarley Gardens and is yet to receive them.
"I still don't really have no more idea understanding of what's going to be there, proposed, other than some concepts. I remain concerned because the people who put me in this chair are probably concerned," Pridgen said.
As the medical campus continues to grow, it's obvious why this complex is in the UB crosshairs. It's right in the area where the corridor is expanding.
But among people who live at McCarley Gardens, some are furious a plan is even being considered to ship them out of here.
George Arthur has lived in the Fruit Belt for decades and calls UB's statement "double talk and gobbley gook."
"We're talking about the people who are not accustomed to dealing with government and they're being frightened and being taken advantage of," Arthur argued.
While Pietkiewicz explained UB can't purchase the complex until 2017, due to lack of funding, he said the school sees the take over a strategic investment in the City of Buffalo.
Pridgen said until neighbors are comfortable with the plans, he remains skeptical about passing legislation dealing with the university expansion.
News 4 spoke one-on-one with Pietkiewicz after his appearance in Common Council chambers, and he conceded that UB would be moving all of the residents out of McCarley Gardens.
"Ultimately everybody living on the property would be moved," Pietkiewicz said. "I would look at it as an opportunity for this community to coalesce around a new economic opportunity. I don't think it's kicking people out of their homes. We have been communicating. Sure people want to stay in their homes they've been living in for some time."
UB says those people wouldn't be out of a home - they'd just be out of a home they'd been living in for some time. News 4 is told those people would be moved to equal or better quality homes, if UB buys the complex.
Since UB doesn't have the funding to purchase McCarley Gardens until 2017, that is why officials say there are no concrete plans for the complex.
"We certainly have a need for space if we're going to fulfill our true potential," Pietkiewicz said.
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