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We Want Great Urban Design : Tell Tim Horton’s To Adjust Their Current Design Proposal!

Today, I wrote this letter to the City Planning Board as an alternative option for the proposed Tim Hortons on Niagara and Albany. (See article about proposal here!)  It is my hope that our leaders will ask Tim Horton’s to redesign this project into a more urban space that better aligns with our community vision. Full Letter Here: Tim Hortons Alternative Proposal by Bernice Radle
The planning board meeting is TOMORROW, Nov 5th. If you want to voice your concern, email these people – tchwalinski@city-buffalo.com, nmarrero@city-buffalo.com, darivera@city-buffalo.com, bbrown@ch.ci.buffalo.ny.us

James Morrell – City Planning Board 901 City Hall Buffalo, NY 14202

Re: Tim Horton’s Proposal for Niagara & Albany Street

Dear Mr. Morrell,

I write to urge the City Planning Board to ask for adjustments to the site plan of the proposed Tim Horton’s at Niagara and Albany streets. Simple, effective design changes will help better align this project with what the community has envisioned.

The current design disregards three important planning initiatives that citizens have worked hard to create:

  • Buffalo Green Code. The proposal casts aside the placemaking principles embodied in the Green Code. The goal of the Green Code is to enhance our urban fabric with dense, mixed-use buildings, built up to the sidewalk, with parking hidden away. The current proposal is suburban, not urban, which is inappropriate for the West Side.
  • Vision Niagara. The proposal does not reflect what the community has envisioned for the Niagara Street corridor. Through numerous community meetings, Vision Niagara has helped generate consensus around reinforcing our walkable, mixed-use neighborhood; embracing heritage buildings and landscapes; and enhancing the corridor’s relationship with the Niagara River. The current proposal falls short of these goals.
  • Complete Streets Policy. The proposal puts the automobile before people, and is in conflict with City plans now underway to make Niagara St. more safe and comfortable for pedestrians, cyclists, transit riders, and the mobility impaired.

The solution is pretty simple! A few simple adjustments can better align the Tim Horton’s proposal to the community’s design expectations:

  • Relocate the proposed retail building to the corner of the lot at Niagara and Albany streets, with zero setbacks from the front and corner side lot lines.
  • Locate all parking and drive-through areas to the rear and interior side of the building.
  • Increase the percentage of fenestration along the front facade to 70%, measured between two and eight feet above ground level.

With such a simple adjustment, the project will immediately begin to follow the principles citizens have laid out in the Green Code, Vision Niagara, and Complete Streets Policy. This simple change will meet the community vision, as well as rely on design precedents for Tim Horton’s central city locations throughout North America, including in Buffalo. The urban Tim Horton’s in the newly opened One Harbor Center follows the community’s expectations, as should this proposal.

Please help our community restore a mixed use, walkable neighborhood that embraces smart growth and good urban design. We hope you will listen to the wants and needs of the community and demand excellence as our community continues to grow.

Thank you,

Bernice Radle

CC:       Mayor Byron W. Brown & Councilmember David Rivera
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Lafayette High School in the West Side of Buffalo, NY

Immigrant students are not one size fits all. Give Lafayette High School more time and more resources to support these students.

” EDUCATION IS THE MOST POWERFUL WEAPON WHICH YOU CAN USE TO CHANGE THE WORLD.” – NELSON MANDELA

Lafayette High School is the beating heart of Buffalo’s West Side. It only takes a few moments of walking the hallways of this community institution to realize how unique our city is becoming, how much it is growing and the budding potential of our Cities newest residents. There are over 500 English Language Learners (ELL) speaking over 40 different languages at Lafayette High School this year, all having left their own homelands in search of a new life here in the United States. From Spanish to Karen, from Nepali to Arabic, Somali, and Burmese – Lafayette High School is a true melting pot of cultures, ideas and identities. These students and their families breathe new life into our historic West Side neighborhoods by opening small businesses, buying homes and sharing their rich cultural traditions with all of Western New York through cuisine, clothing and street festivals. And I would have to argue that the pulse of our city’s West Side renaissance is best measured every school day in the classrooms of Lafayette High School. And Lafayette High School is in trouble.

Over 2,000 refugees are settled in Erie County each year – that is more than any other county in the entire State. The vast majority of these new residents eventually choose to reside in the City of Buffalo and specifically in the neighborhoods of the West Side. Given it’s proximity to these growing populations, Lafayette High School has become the natural feeder school for almost all of the teenage immigrants residing in the region. All of these new ELL students are expected to adapt to their new lives in Buffalo, become proficient in the English language and pass complex exams in the same time period as native English speakers. This fact poses serious challenges for these students, their families as well as the school’s staff. And given the recent news  that the Buffalo Board of Education has passed a resolution calling for the “phase-out” of Lafayette High School in a move to close the high school permanently as a public school – the entire Buffalo Public School District could potentially be affected by the obstacles to learning that these students face everyday at Lafayette High School. Despite the problems and challenges, there are solutions that Lafayette High School can implement to keep its doors open while effectively supporting and strengthening our immigrant population and the West Side community.

As with numerous public schools in the City of Buffalo, Lafayette High School has its fair share of problems. The most unsettling statistic is Lafayette High School’s graduation rate –  just over 25%. But many of the influencing factors of this number are easy to diagnose and address.

Aging Out: Running Out of Time

A huge barrier to graduation for ELL students is age. Immigrant students are expected to attain the same level of achievement designed for native English speakers but in the same amount of time as their more proficient counterparts. Lafayette High School and its teachers work hard everyday to take it’s immigrant high school students from being illiterate to passing exams that regular US citizens are expected to pass – all in only a short few years. Sometimes, the ELL students even arrive illiterate in their first language, having never read or written. These ELL students are held back in the same grade for several years until they have learned the skills necessary to more on.

But once any student turns 21, they are forced to drop out from high school – which means they are denied the opportunity of graduation with a NYS Regents Diploma. A ELL students’ only option then is to take the limited GED courses offered. But unfortunately a GED Diploma does not provide the same amount of opportunities to a graduate as a NYS Regents Diploma in our society. The lack of a high school Regents diploma will negatively impact these ELL students for the rest of their life when applying for work, higher education and other opportunities.

NYSED Exams: Translations Needed

In New York State, students may take their State Regents Examinations in more than just English. If a student is an immigrant to the country, he/she might’ve learned Algebra before arriving here. With the exam translated into students’ first languages, students can prove to the State Education Department that they are competent in Algebra. On the day of the exam, a student can have the English version and translated version on their desk. Only one exam needs to be marked. In addition to having an exam translated, NYSED also offers bilingual glossaries for students to reference, while they take their tests.

Immigrants who mostly arrive in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Utica do not receive translations often. Currently, the New York State Education Department translates Regents exams into Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, and Spanish. To give an example, the top languages spoken at Lafayette High School are Spanish, Karen (minority language in Burma), Nepali, Arabic, Somali, and Burmese. Lafayette’s languages are representative of other Upstate cities’ language groups as well.

As you can see, NYSED’s services for English Language Learners need to be expanded to serve the growing refugee populations in the West Side and other Upstate cities. The lack of these vital services to ELL students at Lafayette High School provides yet another impassable obstacle to our most vulnerable students.

It should be noted too that the New York State Education Department translates into only those languages because they are representative of the languages found in NYC. Spanish and Chinese account for 70% of all English Language Learners in New York. At Lafayette High School, Spanish accounts for about 30% of the population. From data available, there are no Chinese speakers at Lafayette High School.

Above are just a few of possible solutions to the challenges facing ELL students and the staff at Lafayette High School. There are many other issues not covered here however it is known that the school lacks resources including proper training and staffing. It is also important to note that there are success stories at other schools in NYS that the Buffalo Board of Education could use as case studies.

If the Buffalo Board of Education chooses to ignore the inherent hardships faced by ELL students at Lafayette High School, and at similar schools across Upstate New York, we will continue to deny our country’s newest residents the most fundamental aspect of the American Dream – the promise that if an individual works long enough and hard enough in this country they will succeed. A flawed and outdated system is preventing ELL students from even having a chance at accomplishing that dream, and Lafayette High School has become the Buffalo Board of Education’s scapegoat. If Lafayette High School is allowed to close not only with this issues not be addressed but that will be compounded when the current ELL student body are sent to other underperforming Buffalo Public Schools. You only need to take a short walk on Grant Street to see the potential of Lafayette High School’s ELL students. We need to make the right decision and give Lafayette High School, the students and staff the tools they need and desire to succeed.

Lastly, I am not a teacher but I am an invested community member who understands first hand that education can lift you up and out of poverty and create a pathway towards a successful life. I have researched and discussed these issues at length with teachers, students and local officials. The one thing that is clear is that the students, staff and dedicated teachers at Lafayette High School do not need to be given up on – they need more time and resources.

Sign out petition to keep Lafayette High School open and give the teachers, staff and students the time and materials needed to obtain success. CLICK HERE.

Lafayette High School in the West Side of Buffalo, NY

Lafayette High School in the West Side of Buffalo, NY

BYP October Events !

Hello Everyone!
We now have FIVE preservation related events happening in October that we are excited to share with you. Below is a list of tours, talks, happy hours and clean outs that we are hosting – this is a busy month for BYP!  With Buffalove, The BYP Team

Wed. Oct 1st - BYP October Happy Hour @ Ulrich’s Tavern !

On Wednesday, Oct 1st, we are joining forces with AIA and BAF to celebrate the “Festival of Architecture, Buffalo!” Week. This will be a big happy hour event - one that cannot be missed!

Ulrich’s Tavern at 674 Ellicott in the BNMC
October 1st​, 2014 -
 6:30 pm​ 9pm​ 
Click here for the facebook event listing.

 
Sat. Oct 4th – BAF Presents: Family Fun Day @ Darwin Martin House

Join us for fun activities centered around architecture, Buffalo and its culture!
Local organizations (including BYP!) will come together at one of Buffalo’s most iconic architectural landmarks for this FREE event! The event includes educational activities, games, and the sharing of preservation/architecture related knowledge.  In addition to the featured activities Family Fun Day will have Food Trucks, Music, Games, and Specialized Children’s Tours of the Martin House!

Monday, Oct 6th - BYP City Auction Talk: Learn the Ins & Outs of the City of Buffalo INREM Auction
Join Bernice, Jason and Melanie on Monday, October 6th at 7:30pm at 128 Fargo Ave (Cafe Space!) to get the inside scoop about the upcoming City Auction. We will give details on how it works, what hurdles you may face and how to prepare to buy an auction property. Bernice, Jason and Mel all have a ton of experience with buying and renovating houses from the City auction – this is the only time to pick their brains! Refreshments will be available. Free to attend but we will accept donations to pay for the space and refreshments. 

Sat. Oct 25th @ 10am - BYP Board & Seal & Clean Out – The Church @ 150 Edward Street. 

Join us on Saturday, Oct 25th from 10am – 1pm at 150 Edward Street as we help to clean out an old church that has just been purchased to become a new art space! Dennis Mayer, the new owner, saved the church from demolition earlier this year and has big plans to create a unique artspace inside. He needs our help boarding up some windows and getting it cleaned out and ready for the rehab work happening inside this winter. 

If you plan on attending, please make sure you come in comfortable clothing you don’t mind getting dusty and wear safe footwear.Tools, snacks and general construction expertise are always welcome. RSVP via email to bypteam@gmail.com

 
Sat. Oct 25th @ 2pm - BYP Richardson Complex Group Tour (Must buy tickets!)
Come tour the Richardson Complex with us on October 25th at 2pm

During this invite-only guided tour, learn about the genius of Henry Hobson Richardson, Frederick Law Olmsted, and Dr. Thomas Kirkbride as they carried out the development of the former Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane. This history-focused tour will also introduce you to the present and future plans for the Richardson Olmsted Complex, with access to and former patient buildings in various states of renovation and additional areas of the partially restored Towers Building.

Note: There will be no photography allowed on this tour. For those interested in taking photographs, please see our designated photography tours.

Sign up for tickets here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/820588 

 
BYP Happy Hour Poster – Created by Darren Cotton. Thanks, Darren!!


See you there!


With Buffalove,

BYP Team
View More: http://christinalaingphotography.pass.us/abuffalovewedding

Wedding Photos – A Buffalove Wedding at Silo City in Buffalo, NY

Jason and I tied the knot at Silo City surrounded by our friends, family and Buffalo’s historic grain elevators. The Mayor proclaimed July 5th to be “Bernice and Jason Day” in the City of Buffalo, it was 77 degrees and Sunny, my dress looked like wall paper, everything went as planned and it was the first silo city wedding ever… We had a perfect day!

If you want more info about our wedding venue and vendors – check our wedding website. http://abuffalovewedding.com/vendors-we-love/

Here are just some of the photos that exist…If you have instagram, check out the #abuffalovewedding hashtag for other photos and videos that people took!!!

http://christinalaingphotography.pass.us/abuffalovewedding/favs-1693181

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My Dollar House: The Little West Side Cottage That Could in Buffalo, NY.

This is our little dollar house in Buffalo, NY. We are calling it our little cottage that could.

We picked up this little 1860′s brick cottage for $1 dollar. The house is steps from two local breweries, the best coffee shop in Buffalo and many restaurants and fun shops. This dollar house wasn’t a part of the Buffalo homestead program but instead, a private owner who was ready to spend 15K to demolish the house on his own. With a little convincing, it is now ours for less than a cup of coffee. It has a new roof, cool original brick inside and it is gutted to the studs. Sure it isn’t easy to renovate but the upside to this house is we can make it our own for less than what we would pay for a house that isn’t designed for our needs. We are currently in the process of design and we are aiming to make this a near net zero home while still retaining the historic character of the cottage. We cannot wait to create a modern yet historic transformation that will keep this house alive for another 150 years!

To follow up more about Dollar houses in Buffalo, check out this post I posted last year. Also, check out our buds Mike Puma and David Torke in the LA TIMES article about the Buffalo Homestead Program and their experiences here. 

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American Rehab Buffalo: That’s A Wrap!!

That’s a WRAP!!! Yesterday was the official wrap day for filming our upcoming HGTV show American Rehab Buffalo !! It is six episodes and set to air in October 2014. I can’t show you many photos… you’ll just have to wait and see the finished product on TV! (I will put a post up shortly with photos from the entire experience… stay tuned!)

Personal Note: Renovating a vacant house for HGTV was by far one of the most challenging things I have ever done in my life. This experience pushed my limits in almost every way humanly possible. There were days of anger, frustration, laughter, sweat, excitement, tears and smiles… sometimes all within one day. Everyday was a learning experience. Trying to balance life, a wedding, a renovation, my energy efficiency work, our personal relationship… TV is not forgiving and some days seemed impossible to handle… But we got through it!

Was it worth it? Hell yes!! The house was demolition ready… and now it is a true gem, restored in a historic and energy efficient way! The house is beautiful, the neighborhood is in love with it and we have one more house back on the tax rolls instead of in a landfill. Buffalo is going to shine on National Television! No snow or wings, just a couple of cool kids doing a historic renovation and great shots of Buffalo’s best architectural gems!

Most importantly, we could have NEVER done any of this without the following people: Michael Poczkalski and his ROOM Design team, Magnetic Productions, Chris Ziolkowski and his Zees worker bees, our landscaping crew, David Scott Myers and  Buffalo Treehouse LLC, our carpenters, McSmith Furniture Design, Rob Baird and Sean Wrafter, our local artists, Mickey Harmon and Max Collins and the million other vendors, friends, family and others who stepped forward to provide an excellent product or lend a helping hand to make this house truly one of a kind. We also had a great experience working with the Mayor’s team and the Buffalo Police Dept, especially the B District team.

And last but not least, I want to say thank you and I love you to Jason Wilson. We have spend 3 months together non stop to make this house work and despite all the craziness and stress, I now know we can get through anything. I am so thankful to spend the rest of my life with you, Jason!!

And now it is time to focus on one more life changing thing… the wedding!!!

Our final photo for American Rehab Buffalo!

Our final photo for American Rehab Buffalo!

Wedding Update!! #abuffalovewedding

Jason and I are getting hitched in less than 2 months!! Holy smokes is it an insane time right now. Planning a wedding is fun but very hard when you are the first wedding ever in a space. There are a lot of details to think about! I think we are both excited to really begin the next phase of our lives… everyday we love each other a little bit more. <3

You can follow our wedding planning on our wedding website – http://www.abuffalovewedding.com

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