Tonawanda News — So we look at some intractable problem and wonder why the people who made all that nation-building and nation-saving steel in Lackawanna, built the Erie Canal and later Pierce-Arrows without computers or OSHA regulations regarding eye safety and figured out how to turn a waterfall into electricity, cannot construct a bridge over the Niagara River to supplement the 86-year-old one it has. (The Peace Bridge, incidentally, opened in the midst of Prohibition in the United States but not Canada, in the same year Crystal Beach opened its amusement park. Think those things may have spurred the project?)
Observing failure is relatively easy, but it blinds us to noticing the successes.
Try getting $60 million or so Social Security payments out, monthly and on time, without a little bureaucracy. In at least three communities in Western New York this summer, performances by rounds of geezer bands are scheduled, weekly concerts inexpensive enough so they do not compete much with each other, plentiful enough to sate the expectations of those who gravitate to that sort of thing.
Want to be in charge of planning any of that?
The past offers cautionary tales galore. The present provides few opportunities to examine how the successes occurred. Kenmore’s magnificent little Municipal Building, for example, was a union of need (the old, wooden one, a former school house, was on the verge of being outgrown), financing (it was a Depression-era W.P.A. project) and design (by noted local architect E.B. Green). Most of us, reading this, will live to see the building’s centennial as a beautiful, dramatic and eminently useful building.
A joke, not long ago, was that what we needed here was a “Museum of Plans,” a place to see exhibited all those projects that never went anywhere after they were announced. (Whatever became of the “Arch of Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the International Shrine of the Holy Innocents,” a proposed 700-foot arch in Buffalo harbor, which has a website on the Internet but no shovels in the ground?) A little research has convinced me a thriving city (and its suburbs) tosses ideas, half- and fully-baked, by the bushel-full, then awaits to see what sticks and what doesn’t.