Thursday, July 31, 2014

Erie County Announces Negative Declaration for New North Campus Build... Provides Yet Another Study That Supports Why It Should Be Built In Downtown Buffalo.

Hot off the press! ECC/Erie County Releases their newest report supporting their Negative Declaration decision regarding building the new ECC Health  & Science building at the North Campus. We are in the process of reviewing it currently but it is obvious to us already that there is a lot of wrong doing here and it is clear that Erie County is basically spending our tax money to support their project, despite the overwhelming public opposition for the past three years.

If you want to see the recent 183 page document about Erie County's Negative Declaration decision that the new ECC North Building will have no significant adverse impact on the environment, you can read it here.  

And for a chuckle, read up on our smart growth legislation and try to understand how this project is considered "smart growth".

Why this is ECC argument important???  For those plugging in for the first time here are just a few of our arguments which are fully supported by their studies. The new building will be dedicated to health & science programs and should be located downtown at the City Campus which is next to the medical campus where over 17,000 jobs are being added by 2017 as well as abundant internships and networking opportunities are. Also, almost 50% of ECC lives in the City proper yet it continues to be the forgotten stepchild, only servicing the needs of 25% of the entire student body. This new building continues to support suburban sprawl at a time where 88% of the millennial generation want to be located in an urban environment.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Donn Esmonde: Mayoral debate reminds us of Brown’s failings

Donn Esmonde: Mayoral debate reminds us of Brown’s failings

on August 24, 2013 - 5:27 PM
, updated August 24, 2013 at 5:47 PM

It was about time these guys teed off on Silent Byron.
His challengers blasted the mayor in Thursday’s debate for, among other things, staying on the sidelines as the battle raged over putting ECC’s new science building in the suburbs or downtown.
His mime act on ECC was typical. Brown’s failure to engage and a propensity to duck and cover is, to my mind, the enduring trademark of his administration. Passivity R Us.
The broadsides from Bernie Tolbert and Sergio Rodriguez won’t, judging by a recent poll, slow Brown’s march to a third term. But their call-out revives the burning question of Brown’s uninspiring tenure: What if?
What if he was a leader instead of a placeholder? What if he was a battler instead of a bystander? Proactive instead of passive? Passionate, instead of a passenger?
Brown looks like he stepped out of a Brooks Brothers ad, but he might as well wear an invisibility cloak, given his blue-moon infrequency for weighing in. The ECC fight is typical. The science building is suited for the City Campus, given its central location and proximity to the blossoming medical corridor. Despite that, county officials seem determined to build it on the North Campus.
The figure leading the charge for downtown is not the mayor, but ex-County Executive Joel Giambra. A checkered past makes Giambra a flawed flag-carrier, but at least he stood up and spoke out – unlike the man in the tailored suit.
Brown potentially has plenty of muscle, but – to the frustration of many – lacks the will, interest, vision or desire to flex it. As the African-American mayor of one of the nation’s poorest cities, he has the power to persuade and embarrass. Particularly with a Democratic governor who passed Brown over for the job as his right-hand man (in favor of another upstate mayor), who has presidential ambitions and who’s sensitive about his racial sensitivity.
Brown could do more good for Buffalo if he was as passionate about policy as he is about politics. The sad thing is, he gets away with it.
His consistent failure to take a stand or to lead a cause has conditioned people not to expect anything. Whether by circumstance or design, he has undeservedly been handed a No Accountability pass. Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Ask Byron. Silence may be golden for a CIA operative, but not when you run a poverty-battered, jobs-desperate city. Judging by a recent poll, Brown will coast to re-election.
Yet time and again, he is conspicuous by his absence.
Suburban school district superintendents recently swatted away talk of taking in city students from underperforming schools. It begged for at least a symbolic response from the city’s black mayor. Instead, silence.
State legislators last summer passed a historic tax credit bill. It would have made it easier to resurrect downtown buildings, notably the decades-empty AM&A’s. Andrew Cuomo befuddled many by not signing it into law. Brown was in a perfect position to turn up the heat. He never even ventured into the kitchen.
The historic tax credit issue has not gone away. A handful of mammoth older Buffalo buildings are empty, nearly empty or about to empty: AM&A’s, Statler Towers, Trico, Millard Fillmore – Gates Circle and Women & Children’s Hospital. Those are huge holes to fill. Where’s Waldo, er, Byron?
His bigger-picture myopia goes beyond a stunning failure to craft an anti-poverty plan. Then-legislator Maria Whyte pushed in vain a few years ago for a long-overdue regional planning board, to funnel business into the city. The issue begged for Brown to climb on board. He never saddled up.
I understand Brown’s broad appeal. He projects civility and concern. He crafted public policy out of community activists’ push for a long-overdue, streetscape-enhancing “green code.” He has hired bright, young planners and given them relatively free rein. The streets are plowed and the garbage is collected. Developers tell me it has gotten easier to do business with the city.
But his tenure is marked more by an absence on issues than a presence – and ECC is sadly typical. Brown could have championed the City Campus for the new science building, while blasting the ridiculous law that pits community colleges – which all are part of the same state system – against each other for students. Instead, he admittedly let ECC President Jack Quinn knock him off the scent. If can-do Congressman Brian Higgins had the same “hakuna matata” attitude about the waterfront, we’d still be wandering through weeds.
Judging by the polls, most voters believe that Brown is good enough. I think Buffalo deserves better. With Silent Byron, I can’t help but see the chasm between what is and what could be.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Mayoral candidates square off on ECC - August 22, 2013

Mayoral candidates square off on ECC

Brown finds himself on the defensive as his challengers vow to be more vocal on the issue of locating the college’s new science building downtownBuffalo’s mayoral candidates – from left, Mayor Byron Brown, Sergio Rodriguez and Bernard Tolbert – participate in forum sponsored by Parkside Community Association at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf.
Buffalo’s mayoral candidates – from left, Mayor Byron Brown, Sergio Rodriguez and Bernard Tolbert – participate in forum sponsored by Parkside Community Association at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf. Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News

on August 22, 2013 - 11:51 PM

    • Buffalo’s mayoral candidates – from left, Mayor Byron Brown, Sergio Rodriguez and Bernard Tolbert – participate in forum sponsored by Parkside Community Association at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf.

When opponents of Erie Community College’s plan to locate a new science-oriented instructional building in Amherst went to the Buffalo Common Council in July for a show of support, they got it.
At the time, Mayor Byron W. Brown did not speak publicly about the issue. But on Thursday, he said he does favor the expanded campus downtown.
Brown’s opponents, Democrat Bernard A. Tolbert and Republican Sergio R. Rodriguez, said that if elected, they would be more vocal advocates for locating the building in the city, where 47 percent of ECC students live.
Rodriguez criticized Brown for “feeling that way and not doing anything about it.”
“We need an involved administration,” Rodriguez said during a mayoral debate Thursday organized by the Parkside Community Association and held in St. Mary’s School for the Deaf.
Bus routes don’t adequately serve city students who want to attend classes on ECC’s North Campus, resulting in “second-class” students, Tolbert said.
“I am not in favor of ECC expanding in the North Campus,” Brown said Thursday. The new building should be built downtown, he added, noting the jobs that will be created on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, which would require skills taught at ECC.
“I think it makes all the sense in the world for ECC to build … in Buffalo,” Brown said.
When asked last week in an interview with The Buffalo News about whether he had advocated for the building to be located in the city, Brown said he spoke with ECC President Jack F. Quinn Jr. “a number of times” about plans for the building and that the message he received was that the college must compete with Niagara County Community College. Brown said he thought ECC could compete with its northern neighbor without locating in the suburbs.
The college is planning to open a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math School at Main Street and Youngs Road in Amherst in 2017, a decision that has been endorsed by Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. City officials do not have authority over the college’s decision.
The question about ECC was just one in an hourlong debate in which organizers prohibited applause after answers, making audience reaction to each candidate’s answers difficult to gauge.
Both challengers had sharp words for Brown, which he returned.
In his closing statement, Tolbert accused Brown of “systematically decimating our city and our people.”
Rodriguez accused Brown’s administration of “exaggerating about everything.”
Brown said his opponents have “no plan, no vision for the future. All they have is the desire to tear down Buffalo.”
Some of the answers the candidates gave were vague, or didn’t answer the question, while others reiterated campaign themes.
On a question about the future of the Scajaquada Expressway, a major issue in Parkside, Rodriguez acknowledged that he didn’t know much about it.
On a question about crime, Tolbert said government’s No. 1 responsibility is public safety and said his endorsement from police officers means they think he will make meaningful changes, but he did not elaborate.
Asked about what the candidates would do to address poverty, Brown said that with the economic-development activity in the city, he expects 5,000 to 11,000 jobs will be created.
Tolbert said that neighborhoods must be fixed and that the residents he speaks with aren’t seeing the benefit from the economic activity. To address the problem of hunger, he suggested opening up more vacant land for urban farming, while Brown talked up new efforts for job training, through the state’s regional economic-development council.
A question about the candidates’ plans for strengthening commercial corridors that aren’t doing well prompted Rodriguez to note the city’s population loss during Brown’s tenure and Tolbert to bring up problems with the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp., which led to its demise.
Brown responded, noting that his administration has cut the commercial tax rate by almost 28 percent and has offered small-business loans, and named Francesca’s restaurant in South Buffalo as an example. He noted that population loss has been going on since 1950, and that he is slowing the tide.
Brown and Tolbert face each other in a Sept. 10 primary.
Rodriguez will compete in the general election Nov. 5.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Media! Media! Media! Lots of Support For Expanding ECC City Campus Instead of Amherst!

We have had a TON of pretty great press this week about the ECC expansion. We are very thankful for everyone's support on this issue - we had over 40 people attend the meeting on Tuesday and several news outlets. Your attendance on Tuesday was so important - without it, we would not have seen so many media hits on this issue. The only ones that did not attend the City Council meeting were the decision makers - Mark Poloncarz and The ECC Staff. 

We have reached out to Mark Poloncarz several times for a meeting but he continues to not respond. We will keep you all updated if and when a meeting is scheduled. 

If you want to reach out to personally let Mark Poloncarz know where you stand on  this issue - do it.  We are encouraging everyone to write emails, letters and make phone calls in support of expanding the ECC City Campus. Email:

Check out the media hits here:

Some of our favorite quotes:

  • Councilmember Darius Pridgen says instead of serving the community,  ECC is acting like an Ivy League institution.  " - WBFO News
  • "College should be a no-brainer. It should not be an uphill battle for them to go and get a two-year degree.” - Bernice Radle - Buffalo Rising
  • “There will be a lawsuit,” said Joel Giambra. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Letter From An ECC Student: Make Downtown Stronger & More Accessible!

This was sent to us days ago by a concerned ECC student. We need you to come out and support us TOMORROW at 1pm. (see LINK for details!) 

To Whom It Concerns,

I come to you as a current student at ECC-City Campus. I am also a resident in the city of Buffalo. It truly sickens me to learn of the recent proposal to build a Health Sciences building at Amherst-North Campus, and to focus Buffalo-City Campus on Work Force Development and remedial learning for inner-city youth. Over 50% of ECC students are residents in the City of Buffalo and have to commute to North Campus if they wish to partake in degree programs that can transfer to four year schools. We have the benefit of a campus downtown that is walking distance from the surrounding medical facilities and also surrounded by the Buffalo Transit System, serving a number of students that are without transportation.

I find it extremely discriminatory to take away from the students in the city that are eager to learn and build a future for themselves just because of limited means or simple geography. Why should students downtown have to travel over an hour by bus to Amherst-North Campus when we have a huge facility at arm’s length right here? I myself was delighted to learn that ECC had a campus right downtown that I could access just minutes away from my residence. I decided to go back to school in 2012 and if it wasn’t for the close proximity of Buffalo-City Campus and their evening classes I wouldn’t have been able to do it. How is Buffalo ever going to be the thriving metropolis that it was in years past if we keep removing educational opportunities and placing them in upper-class suburban neighborhoods, out of reach to those in more densely populated parts of the city? We should be promoting the expansion of City-Campus so that more residents do not have to settle for minimum wage jobs that barely support one person, let alone a family.

So many are eager to go to school but find themselves up against a wall. Let’s knock down that wall. Let’s give the residents of Buffalo a fighting chance to live the life they have imagined. We have the power to change lives and to make a difference. The root of success starts with education. Don’t slam the door in our faces; open it and let us through.

Thank you,
Erin Vaccarello
ECC-City Campus Student
Buffalo Resident

Sunday, July 14, 2013


On Tuesday, July 16th at 1pm - WE NEED YOU.

There is a VERY important community input meeting where we need supporters to stand up and speak in favor of supporting a stronger downtown campus. We need all hands on deck for this. 

If you cannot attend - we are urging you to write a letter and send it to your common council members, Governor Cuomo and ECC. Any questions - Email us at 
Buffalo Contact Info:

Quick ECC Talking Points:

  1. With 47% of ECC Students coming from Buffalo, the City Campus should be the only place where a new building gets built. 
  2. Currently the City Campus only serves 25% of the entire campus, which is not enough! 
  3. Space isn't an issue - the County purchased several vacant lots downtown for the expansion of ECC City back in the 2000's. 
  4. The proposed $30 Million dollar STEM building has 8 or 10 programs that are NOT STEM related. This is a disquise for ECC to get the building they want put in Amherst. 
  5. Our smart growth legislation sign in 2011 says that continued support for Sprawl is not allow. THIS IS SPRAWL.
  6. This is segregation by design. The City Campus will now have "workforce development and GED" programs while North Campus in Amherst has the degrees that will move towards a 4 year degree. 
  7. A trip to North Campus from Buffalo's West Side requires 2 buses and takes one hour each way. With over 30% of the City of Buffalo without an automobile, ECC should be expanding downtown - where we have over 30 bus lines that feed into downtown!

Here is the common council agenda

You can read the study report that EASILY justifies the need for downtown development over Amherst here:

Here are some older articles for you:
Bernice, Greg and Jim meet with Council Member Pridgen and Former County Ex. Joel Giambra about ECC. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Buffalo Common Council Passes Resolution on 7/9/2013 !!! Urges ECC To Explore City Locations!

Call for Construction of ECC Health Sciences Facility at City Campus – 
The Council approved a resolution calling for the construction of Erie Community College’s proposed health sciences facility at the City Campus and calling on Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and ECC’s Board of Trustees to give strong consideration to locating the facility at 100 N. Division Street. Doing so will both maximize returns on investment to county taxpayers who paid for the site and take advantage of the most obvious expansion opportunity adjacent to the City Campus.

Whereas: County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz has endorsed a $30 million proposal to expand Erie Community College (ECC)’s North Campus in Amherst;

Whereas: In spite of the fact that 47% of ECC students live in the City of Buffalo, the City Campus is still the smallest of ECC’s three-campus system and, due to its limited programs, serves only 25% of ECC's students;

Whereas: ECC’s expansion is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shift ECC’s health sciences programs to the City Campus, steps away from the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus;

Whereas: Such a shift which would allow Erie Community College to leverage SUNY’s investments in a new Medical School, boost the region’s fastest growing job sector, and better advance the college’s mission of “providing access to all”;

Whereas: The American Association of Community Colleges reports that more than 50% of health sciences workers in the United States are trained at community colleges, yet ECC is not yet playing any direct role in the development of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus;
Sarah and Bernice Talk To Allentown Residents About ECC.

Whereas: The majority of programs slated for ECC’s proposed expansion are in health-related fields that belong near the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, where access to jobs, internships, and public transit are abundant, not eight miles away on Youngs Rd.;

Whereas: The ECC Program Needs Analysis and Space Utilization Assessment (2013), recently released by the Poloncarz administration, incorrectly states that land acquisition would be necessary for expansion of the City Campus;

Whereas: 100 N. Division St., a 1.3-acre, 178-space surface parking lot, was purchased in 2002 by Erie County for $3.1 million to facilitate City Campus expansion, and is perfectly suited for ECC’s proposed health sciences facility;

Whereas: A crisis in Buffalo’s public school student achievement, as well as the disproportionate poverty and unemployment of youth in Buffalo compared to the region as a whole, highlight more than ever the need for the State of New York, Erie County, and the State University of New York’s community college system to focus resources and attention where the need is greatest;

Therefore, Be It Resolved: That the Common Council calls for the construction of ECC’s proposed health sciences facility at the City Campus.

Be It Further Resolved: That the Common Council calls on County Executive Poloncarz and ECC’s Board of Trustees to give strong consideration to locating such a facility at 100 N. Division St., to both maximize returns on investment to County taxpayers who paid for the site, and to take advantage of the most obvious expansion opportunity adjacent to the City Campus.

A 30 Minute Public Transit Ride Can Get You This Far.
Be It Further Resolved: That the Common Council invites the ECC Board of Trustees to consider other downtown sites, such as the City-owned parcel at 201 Ellicott St., for the kind of expansion that will ensure the City Campus becomes the flagship, rather than the smallest, of ECC’s three campuses.

Be It Further Resolved: That the Common Council calls upon Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the Western New York delegation of the New York State Senate and Assembly to shift the State’s $15 million share for ECC’s expansion to the City Campus, where both the need and the return on investment are greatest.

Be It Further Resolved: That the Common Council requests this resolution be forwarded to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, every member of the New York State Senate and Assembly, Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, every member of the Erie County Legislature, ECC President Jack Quinn, and the ECC Board of Trustees.