By Sarah Blazonis
Saturday, August 8, 2015 at 08:03 PM EDT
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Before the hum of traffic along Humboldt Parkway, there was the sound of wind through trees. Stephanie Geter remembers.
“It was gorgeous. Four trees across all the way from Delaware Park all the way downtown,” said Geter, who now lives in the neighborhood.
She’s talking about the space between Humboldt Parkway north and southbound. It looked much different before the late 1950s, when work began to build an expressway to help commuters get from the city to the suburbs.
“The 33 went in and really divided the community, what was a beautiful portion of the Olmstead Park System, beautiful homes,” said Mayor Byron Brown.
“It has dramatically decreased property values, and it has impacted commercial development along Fillmore and Jefferson Avenue, and it has impacted overall morale around the East Side,” said Bradley Bethel, Jr. He’s a research associate with the Restoring Our Community Coalition.
Geter is now chair of the group, which is working to change that.
ROCC marched along Humboldt Parkway on Saturday to help bring attention to their effort to build a park deck over the expressway. That would involve digging the roadway deeper and constructing cover over it, essentially turning the 33 into a tunnel.
ROCC said the plan would have environmental, visual, and economic benefits, and they’re hoping for help from federal officials to make it happen.
Brown said he supports reconnecting the neighborhood. He said the project could cost hundreds of millions of dollars that would need to come from a federal source.
“This is one of those things that many consider a planning error that occurred in the City of Buffalo, and being able to reconnect both sides of the community…is something many people support,” he said.
ROCC said a UB study shows economic boosts could include a potential new tax base of $2.8 million.
According to some, the best impact could be including this neighborhood in the city’s overall revitalization.