Economic engine driving frustration in Buffalo’s Fruit Belt

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The centerpiece of Buffalo’s economic revival is becoming a pain for its neighbors trying to park on their own streets, and visitors coming to see loved ones, like Rev. Robert Harris, “Yes, it is hard to come over and visit your senior family members.”

Hundreds of new workers have been hired at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, and they are taking advantage of free street parking just a few blocks away in the Fruit Belt.

Rev. Harris had to park on the wrong side of Mulberry Street, Tuesday afternoon, to drop off his sister Joanne Anderson at her home, because there were no parking spaces available on the right side of the street.

There is a parking ramp at the Medical Campus, but workers have told Rev. Harris, they have to pay as much as $90.00 a month, “They say they have parking for them but it is so costly that they can’t afford to park in the ramp.”

City officials think the answer is issuing parking permits for the cars of Fruit Belt residents to identify those that belong on the street, and those that don’t. But the City of Buffalo doesn’t have the authority to issue parking permits. It has to be enabled by the state.

The Buffalo Common Council has sent a home rule message to Albany, asking for the authority to issue those permits. Council President Darius Pridgen said, the measure is in committee in the State Assembly and is heading toward a committee hearing in the State Senate.

“The end game is to ensure that residents are able to park in front of their houses, or at least on their street, and that visitors to the campus have some parking also on their streets.”

If the permit plan is approved in Albany, Pridgen said the plan is to give Fruit Belt residents first priority, and lower paid medical workers could also qualify.

“We have people in wheelchairs who cannot get out of their own house, or even some time on their own block–and elderly. So that is the end goal.”

Pridgen said, he plans to bring all the interested parties together to come up with a compromise they can all live with, the representatives for the workers, the neighbors, officicials from the Medical Campus, and the Common Council.

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