BUFFALO, N.Y. – State leaders like Assemblyman Sean Ryan and Congressman Brian Higgins have expressed disappointment that the Central Terminal was not chosen as the site of a new train station.
They, and many people who live around the Central Terminal, feel that the decision is a missed opportunity.
On the other hand, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, whose district includes the entire East Side, sees a benefit nonetheless.
"I believe the Central Terminal can now be repurposed as a result of the very high profile that it’s had during the course of these discussions,” People-Stokes said on Thursday afternoon.
She feels that the new train station will be closer to public transportation options, such as the downtown bus terminal, and that millions of people have visited the Central Terminal since the train station debate put it on the map again.
Property and business owners near central terminal, though, were hopeful a train station would help improve the poverty-stricken area.
"I have to thank Congressman Higgins, he fought really tenaciously, but at the end of the day, the panel went where it went,” said Gerhardt Yaskow. “And I think what we need to do is focus now on what can we do here? How do we pick up the pieces of all of this?”
Peoples-Stokes believes the answer is within reach.
She says she could see it as a hotel or a large-capacity banquet facility, much like the recently repurposed Richardson Complex into Hotel Henry.
The train station, she feels, didn't solve big picture problems.
"Bringing 100 to maybe 200 passengers a day at two different times. That’s not enough to really rejuvenate a community,” Peoples-Stokes said.
Eugene Kiszerewski has been in business right across from Central Terminal for 40 years. He owns G & T Inn, and he feels otherwise. The bar owner says his neck of the woods has been let down time and time again.
"They used to make announcements about this, they got money, they going to knock it down. Since 1960’s, it’s sitting like that, empty,” he said, gesturing across the street. “All the sudden that money disappears and the buildings are still standing.”
"Lot of people disappointed. Well, elections coming up. We'll see what the politicians are going to do,” Kiszerewski said. “Because a lot of people are not going to vote for them.”
Peoples-Stokes is confident, though. She recently secured a quarter million dollars in state funding for electrical upgrades in the Terminal, and she says other money the state committed will still be there.
"The electrical upgrades have, or the bathroom repairs, have nothing to with the train conversation at all. All that has to do is with the work of the Central Terminal Restoration board, and where they're trying to stabilize the building and keep it from falling apart until it can be invested in a way that it becomes the community gem that it looks like."
Peoples-Stokes hope that by this time next year, she and the Central Terminal Restoration Committee are going over a comprehensive strategic plan so that they can come up with realistic options what its future holds.