Block clubs wanted along border
The Buffalo-Cheektowaga Revitalization Task Force wants residents along the border between the city and the town to band together to help make their neighborhoods safer.
To that end, the task force is looking to form block clubs on every street in an effort to bolster the community.
While the goal is to eventually cover the entire border, the Cheektowaga and Buffalo neighborhoods in the 14211 ZIP code are targeted first. That are includes Walden Avenue, Genesee Street, Cheektowaga Town Park and Villa Maria College.
“Those neighborhoods are changing the most,” said Cheektowaga Councilman Stanley Kaznowski, who is heading up the project with Buffalo Councilman Richard Fontana and Adam Locher of Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak’s office. “We have the most disruptions in that area.”
The Task Force will hold a meeting for residents at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27, at the George K. Arthur Center, 2056 Genesee St., Buffalo. Guest speakers will include representatives from the Board of Block Clubs of Buffalo and Erie County, the Buffalo Police Department and the Cheektowaga Police Department.
“It’s always a good idea to energize the citizens, especially in those areas,” said Lt. Mark Petruniak of the Cheektowaga Police Department’s Crime Resistance Unit. “We want to respond to certain elements moving into the area. We want to instill a sense of community in the residents.”
Kaznowski said other meetings of the Task Force have drawn up to 150 residents and a similar turnout is expected, depending on weather.
This is the latest effort in the cross-border initiative, which previously held youth fairs for students from Buffalo and Cheektowaga Central school districts.
The west side of Cheektowaga has been a concern for many residents and the police in the past couple years. Last year’s shooting murder of a Buffalo teenager in Town Park shed light on various issues involving vacant homes, absentee landlords and Buffalo gangs creeping into the town.
But to combat the problems, there needs to be a joint attack between the city and town, according to Locher.
“We could spend tens of millions of dollars on the neighborhoods in Cheektowaga, but if it didn’t include the neighborhoods in Buffalo, nothing would change,” he said. “That’s why we contacted Buffalo and decided to make this a joint project.”
The initiative is also meant to be a movement toward strengthening relationships between Buffalo and Cheektowaga residents.
“There seems to be an invisible wall,” Kaznowski said. “When you drive down Walden Avenue, you don’t know when Cheektowaga ends and Buffalo begins. We’re a first-ring suburb, so we get a lot of overrun from Buffalo. It doesn’t make sense for the town or the city to act alone. We’re in this together.”