By Terry Duffy
Organizers of AllAboardCT.com, together with the Central Terminal Restoration Corp., hosted a holiday gathering attended by hundreds Saturday evening at the shuttered former train station on Buffalo's east side.
Its purpose was to raise awareness of the facility as a future site for Amtrak train service following Gov. Andrew Cuomo's recent directive to local officials to begin the site selection process for establishing a new rail passenger station in the city.
U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins joined with Buffalo Councilmember David Fronczyk in extolling the virtues of the 87-year-old building for a return to rail passenger service.
"It may look like it's a challenging building, but you know what, 10 years there was no visitors at Canalside ... because there was no Canalside. Ten years ago, the Lafayette Hotel was vacant, it was dilapidated," Higgins said as he discussed the logic behind returning rail service the Central Terminal site. "Here is the situation: Buffalo has an Amtrak station on Exchange Street, under a viaduct. You wouldn't want your kids getting on a train there, because it's unsafe; it's desolate."
"But there's $25 million in the state budget for a brand-new Amtrak station in Buffalo," Higgins continued. "There is only one question: Where is it going to go? The state of New York will likely apply for federal matching funds, to the federal government. And I'm going to fight like hell to make sure that's there's matching funds for that project. $50 million of public investment in this property to site an Amtrak station, and we'll leverage another $50 million in private funding."
Higgins, pictured, alluded to interest by Toronto developer Harry Stinson in developing the site for residential housing and commercial activities.
"We owe this to this community. This will serve as a catalyst for the redevelopment of the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood," Higgins said. "This community can rise again. ... This is a train station that once brought 200 passenger trains into Buffalo every single day. I think we can make this happen again. A decision will be made within about four months, about where a new Amtrak station should be. It should be here. We have to convince everybody else."
AllAboardCT.com organizers announced Saturday that they would among those attending a Thursday session in Buffalo City Hall, intended to gauge public interest/support for various locations for a new terminal.
"In light of the recent issues with the downtown City of Buffalo Amtrak station on Exchange Street, a new location is now being studied," reads an AllAboardCT.com flier. "The ideal location for the new Amtrak station is at the Central Terminal, built at the most efficient crossing site for all passenger train lines in WNY. This iconic, beautiful edifice would spur much-needed development on Buffalo's east side."
For more information, visit www.AllAboard.com.