Local
10:22 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Effort to refurbish blighted parcels up and running

The effort to rebuild and revitalize local communities has taken another step forward. Funding is in place and a leader has been hired for the Buffalo Erie Niagara Land Bank.

The land bank, which works with every municipality in Erie County, began ramping up operations in October after receiving a $2 million grant from State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Credit Chris Caya/WBFO News

Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski says the funding is like the cavalry coming over the hill.

"We noticed this when we started knocking down homes early on that the entire community starts picking itself up once you start removing the blight. With the land bank money that the attorney general has secured for us, we will be going on an aggressive campaign of demolishing blight and refurbishing homes," said Szymanski last Friday.

The Land Bank's newly hired, first-ever Executive Director Jocelyn Gordon says this year's goal is a quick strike demolition of more than 50 homes in the city of Buffalo.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz says there's more to address in the city, but thousands of blighted parcels in the suburbs have more value.  

"Those are the ones that we can remediate, sell the home, generate revenue from that, so not only is the house put back on the market and the town, the village, the school district, the county are then receiving taxes from it, but that revenue will go back into our kitty to make it a self-sustaining entity," he said.
 
The Buffalo Niagara Land Bank was one of six across New York to win an award. The funding is from the Attorney General's settlement with the banks behind the nation's 2008 housing crisis.