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JULY 07 - JULY 15, 2015

Only in NT: Oliver Street Transformation
Stagnant in North Tonawanda

By Sweeney Payne

JULY 7, 2015

Buffalo Bolt photos when they actually made bolts
Early 20th Century

Back in 2004 and 2005, Oliver Street occupants were beginning to be optimistic about rejuvenating their beloved, aging street.

An Oliver Street Community Pride organization was being developed to emulate the Project Pride organization established by David and Donna Burgio that focused on Webster Street.

Flowering baskets, wrought iron benches and fancy trash receptacles, like on Webster Street, were installed, the first of a series of 40 promised "ponies on parade" were promoted for installation along Oliver Street.

Heritage Park was created to connect the Carrousel and Railroad museums.

Some small signs, mounted too high and in lettering too small to be read easily, were installed along the street to help travelers find cultural sites along Oliver Street. 

The 40 ponies turned out to be less than a dozen.

Larry Soos was an alderman then and one of the city's favorite bartenders at his Soos' Oliver Street Cafe.

He and his wife Linda took the lead on revitalization hopes for Oliver Street.

Since then, the Burgios gave up their Project Pride effort downtown.

Oliver Street Community Pride died.

The lack of follow through by certain city officials in aiding the efforts of the two worthwhile volunteer organizations was at least one of the reasons for their premature demise.

Neither organization exists today.

Burgio went on to be NT’s first full-time, four-year Mayor, but failed to get a second term.

Soos became the second full-time four-year Mayor. He didn’t get a second term, either.

Burgio got a bar called Crazy Jake’s on Webster Street. Soos sold his Oliver Street bar.

Before Burgio took office, it seemed North Tonawanda was putting all its Oliver Street eggs in one basket, the Buffalo Bolt complex.

That however failed to "bring back" or revitalize Oliver Street because the Buffalo Bolt Business Park is not yet complete a decade later!.

 It isn’t even identified with signs informing passersby it exists!

Somehow North Tonawanda cannot seem to find time to cut the grass, pull weeds from the fence, or remove the litter collecting along the fence and in the weed patches they don't mow.

While not a city funded organization in any way, the North Tonawanda museum, seriously desired by residents, was originally suggested to help revitalize Webster Street.

Now in its twelfth year, the museum recognizes Soos permanently for his role in making Webster Street its permanent home in an exhibit.

When Rob Ortt became mayor, he wanted a marina.

If there were signs on River Road on the way to his still not completed marina informing passersby there is a Buffalo Bolt Business Park on the other side of the railroad tracks, perhaps the Buffalo Bolt project would be completed by now.

While we had Ortt as Mayor, we also got career military man Bob Clark, who returned home after more than four decades of reporting to those in command over him in more than one branch of military service.

He joined the GOP, became alderman-at-large and died in office.

We now have a career military man, Bob Pecoraro, who was appointed and hoping to be elected to the post of alderman-at-large, also as part of the GOP.

His background makes him well qualified for our war with the City of Tonawanda, the Town of Wheatfield, or perhaps the Town of Grand Island.

But what is he doing about Buffalo Bolt?

Current elected and appointed officials think they are the first ones to seek to revitalize Oliver Street.

None appear to be thinking in terms of bringing it back to what it once was, instead trying to make it something else.

What that something else is, we’re not sure!

What does anyone currently in office know about marketing a business park?

What do they know about Oliver Street?

Except for using them as reasons to vote for them, what are their chances of accomplishing anything any of us want and need for Oliver Street?






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