Eight homes on Busti Ave knocked down

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — After long delays and a lengthy court battle, eight homes on Busti Avenue in Buffalo met the wrecker's ball. And though some thought the demolition would pave the way for a new Peace Bridge plaza, it turns out that isn't the case at all.

The homes are on land that is owned by the U.S. Peace Bridge Authority. Buffalo City Councilman David Rivera opposed their demolition.

"I had no prior notice that the demolitions would take place. I knew it was in court but I didn't know that the decision had been rendered," Rivera said.

A U.S. magistrate judge approved the demolition of these empty homes last Friday after a lengthy court battle between preservationists and the authority. Wednesday, crews were still working to clear debris after the homes were bulldozed.

But the future of the Peace Bridge plaza remains in question. We tried to gain access to the plans, but were told the international authority is exempt from Freedom of Information requests.

Instead, the authority provided an interview with Ron Rienas, general manager of the Peace Bridge Authority, who told News 4 there is no master plan for the plaza. Rienas said the federal government does not have the funding to provide for an expansion.

"Until we have discussions, approvals and commitments from the Department of Homeland Security and other federal government agencies, we really can't have any discussion on plaza expansions," Rienas said.

Instead, Rienas said that the authority will use its own money to expand the bridge approach west, over an existing parking lot - not east, where the home on Busti were demolished. Rienas says there are not plans to build anything on that land.

Instead, it will be used as a buffer between the bridge and the neighborhood.

Councilman Rivera says he will not approve any further transfer of city land to the Peace Bridge Authority until he sees a master plan drawn up.

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