Buffalo's Central Terminal was alive Monday.
A Dyngus Day celebration drew hundreds to the building which largely sits unused for most of the year. Once a bustling hub of train travel and commerce, today the decaying structure is a reminder of what was a vibrant Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood.
That was decades ago.
Long-time advocate Eddie Dobosiewicz says the Central terminal and the surrounding neighborhood have been abandoned by elected leadership.
“This area of the city has been neglected and completely forgotten by the last three mayoral administrations…for whatever reason. Maybe they didn’t think they were enough votes. Maybe they didn’t think it was enough economic power of them. But they completely ignored it and allowed it to disintegrate,” says Dobosiewicz.
The best hope in years for the Central terminal has been the deliberation over where Buffalo should put a new Amtrak station. The current one on Exchange Street is crumbling. The roof leaks. Governor Andrew Cuomo has pledged $25-million towards a new station.
Mayor Byron Brown put together a committee to examine the options. The finalists include the Central terminal. The other new possible locations include the so-called North Aud Block at Canalside. And then there is the one being promoted today by the Campaign for Greater Buffalo.
Tim Tielman from the group hosted a presentation of a proposed transportation hub essentially across the tracks from the current station. Much of the Washington Street location would be built under the 1-190 and would also be home to passenger bus services like Greyhound.
"The costs here are much lower because you are not modifying any track whatsoever. You are using the existing right-of-way, so the costs is creating the station itself. That’s not the case at Central terminal,” says Tielman.
Tielman puts estimates cost of his organization's proposal could run as high at $50-million. That's half the projected price tag of returning train travel to Central Terminal.
The Mayor's siting committee is expected to meet and vote Thursday on a new train station location.
If the Central terminal is not chosen, does it mark the end of the last best chance to revive the structure and Broadway-Fillmore? Dobosiewicz says no, and then adds, "I don’t think we’re at a point of no return, but we’re getting close.”