BUFFALO, N.Y. — Just down the street from where a horrific tragedy took place on May 14, finally, there is a sign of hope for a part of Buffalo often forgotten.
"I absolutely believe it could be the dawning of a new East side," New York State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes.
Gov. Kathy Hochul visited Buffalo on Saturday to announce the state will be investing $50 million in resources for the East Side of Buffalo.
Prior to the Tops mass shooting, New York State had already announced investments for the East Side. Most of that included $1 billion, which will enclose part of the Kensington Expressway and reconnect neighborhoods.
This additional $50 million after the shootings is meant to revive all of the East Side.
"I'm not going to leave any stone unturned until we figure out what this community to need what it needs to heal, to come back, rebound, but thrive," Hochul said.
The money will be used to create the 'East Side Resiliency Center' inside the Resource Council of WNY. It will provide community members with any services they need and where they can also apply for some of the state funding.
Some $7 million will go to small businesses, but there are also incentives for homeowners.
Overall, 150 new homeowners will be able to get up to $30,000 for a down payment; 1,000 homeowners on the East Side will also be able to apply for up to $10,000 for much-needed repairs, and anyone behind on their taxes or utility bills can get up to $5,000 from the state.
"Here's millions of dollars in investment and an opportunity for you to take into your hands, and for you and your children and generations after, to have a better life," said April Baskin, chairwoman of the Erie County Legislature.
While Tops remains closed, Hochul is trying to put a second, permanent grocery store on the East Side, with $3 million going to the African Heritage Food Co-op.
And so no one ever forgets what happened here on May 14, and the 10 lives lost, a 5/14 Memorial Commission is being created.
"We will work with the community. We want to hear the voices of the community, and we want the vision of the community to be reflected in the memorial that will be built on Jefferson Avenue," Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said.
Mayor Brown says the 5/14 Memorial Commission will need to get input from victims' families, survivors, and the community, but he hasn't given specifics on how the city will get it.
2 On Your Side hopes to learn more in the coming days.
Peoples-Stokes says she would like to see the African American Artists Association involved in making the memorial.
Hochul has also extended free fares with the NFTA through the end of July for the following routes:
- 12 – Utica – Connects the East and West Side of Buffalo with the Utica and University Metro Rail stations.
- 13 – Kensington – Connects East Ferry Street and Bailey Avenue with Erie County Medical Center and Utica and University Metro Rail stations.
- 18 – Jefferson – Connects Cold Springs/Hamlin Park with the Masten, Fruit Belt and Emslie neighborhoods along Jefferson Avenue.
- 24 – Genesee – Connects residents of the East Side of Buffalo to Downtown and the Airport along Genesee Street.