Congressman Brian Higgins did not mince words.
“This process has been flawed from day one and the fix has been in.”
In a one-on-one interview with 2 On-Your-Side, Higgins blasted the work of a special 17-member committee tasked by Governor Andrew Cuomo to come up with a recommendation for a new Amtrak station in Buffalo.
The current station in Buffalo has a leaky roof and is crumbling.
The Governor offered a million dollars to study where a new Amtrak station would go and has pledged another $25-million for construction.
Higgins, who is a member of the committee, openly favors the old Central Terminal site.
“Central terminal is where the historic train station was, where the new station should go and there are incentives like $10-to-11-million in historic tax credits to be taken advantage of,” says Higgins.
But Buffalo's Democratic congressman believes the site selection committee has rigged the process in favor of two downtown locations: the so-called 'North Aud Block' at Canalside or a Washington Street location beneath Interstate-190 which lies at the edge of Canalside.
Putting a train station at Canalside or at its front door would be a huge mistake, says Higgins.
"This was not built for busses and trains. We worked very hard to create a waterfront for people who were denied access to the waterfront for decades. Now they want to introduce busses and trains to Canalside,” he said.
Higgins did not point the finger of blame at any one person on the committee, but Mayor Brown has operated as the committee chairman and Tuesday shrugged off any suggestion that the site selection process has been rigged.
“If the fix is going with what the information says, if the fix is looking at facts, then maybe that’s the way they feel…but no decision has been made yet,” says Brown.
Mayor Brown confirmed that the committee is scheduled to meet Thursday, and that a vote on a preferred Amtrak site is expected. No time or location have been released as of early evening Tuesday.
Higgins hopes for a large venue and encourages Buffalo residents to show and make their voices heard on this important decision.
“This community needs to stand up and make clear to this committee and its consultants that this is a decision that is going to be very closely watched and if we go the wrong way, it's not going to sit well with this community," says Higgins.