Tonawanda News

July 20, 2013

TUCKER: Chairs give visitors fun ride

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News —

On Tuesday, on the way home from the News, as I was stopped at the signal at the bottom of the bridge at Niagara Street, a car pulled up next to me and asked for directions to Niagara Falls Boulevard. We pulled into the parking lot and he said he wanted to go to Anderson's for ice cream, He'd not been back to Tonawanda for many years and he had his mother and father-in-law with him and wanted them to enjoy his special childhood ice cream treat. When I suggested the Sheridan Drive location, one that he then recalled, he was ready to go. I told him to follow me to Delaware and Sheridan. My route home is along Grove Street, which that day was set up with hundreds of chairs for the evening's Canal Fest parade. The chair lineup is such a tradition on parade day, it just seemed like a more fun route. They all agreed and as we rode up Grove, it was easy to see in my rear view mirror them laughing and pointing out some chairs. They all gave a hearty wave as they went down Sheridan Drive. Wonder if they ever came back for the parade.

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The bird bath in my backyard attracts sparrows, robins, a blue jay and two starlings. In this past week's heat, I filled it three times a day, early in the morning, at noon and at dinner time. First come the starlings - always two at a time. They sit on the edge of the birdbath, then each one takes a bath. After they leave, the blue jay screams his way to the bird bath and jumps right in, splashing his heart out. Takes him about five minutes of jumping in and out before he's done. Then a robin or two show up, sometimes just to drink and other times to splash around. Finally, the poor little sparrows have their chance. By that time, there's hardly any water left, so they luckily, get fresh water. Great entertainers, for sure.

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We've all seen the railroad swing bridge that at one time connected Tonawanda Island with "the mainland." Now privately owned, the 1888 bridge is the last swing bridge in the state canal system. In it's heyday, the railroad carried lumber from the many lumber mills which lined the North Tonawanda shoreline. Bob Derner, who's responsible for building the beautiful condos on the Niagara River in Tonawanda, owns one of them, nearest to the railroad bridge. He said at one time, some folks wanted the bridge taken down. He said however, that it's an historic bridge, one that draws interest from the many people who walk by.

"I can't tell you how many people from out of town walk by on the River Walk and ask me the history of the bridge," he said. "One person was visiting from Hawaii and inquired."

Bob took it upon himself to find out the history of the bridge so he could answer the questions he receives. 

"I think the city should erect a plaque that explains the history of the bridge and it's importance to our cities," he said. "It would be another historical site people could visit."

Great idea, Bob. Now we just have to hope someone is listening.

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A caller inquired about work being done on the former Teddy Bear Carpet store in Webster Street in North Tonawanda. Workers were on the roof this past week, he said, and he wondered what's happening. He also claimed former Mayor Burgio and the city building inspector own the building, which is not a problem. His problem arose in his question: "If the building inspector is one of the owners, who's inspecting the building inspector's work?"

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Whoever owns the now closed Richard's on Main restaurant on Main Street in Tonawanda should  take care of the property whether or not it's occupied. It's an eyesore. Weeds, untamed shrubs, plants that are overgrown. Isn't there a department in the city that takes care of these unsightly messes? Shame on the owners.

And while we're in that neighborhood, let's hope the city is planning to water its newly planted trees on Main Street. They will be so stressed by the continued hot, humid weather, they may not make it through the rest of the summer — something that's happened before.

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Mentioned this before, but will our governor ever stop promoting the "tax free zone" as good for the state? Our son owns a small business which over the years has never received a "tax break," he's had to pay all his business, personal and sales taxes, and not once has the state offered anything to him nor to so many other businesses like him. How do we get the governor (or any official) to listen? By the time elections roll around, any anger from issues like this and many more akin to it in the state, will have been forgotten. Is there no one in state government who will speak up and take on the challenge of disagreeing with the governor? Probably not.

Contact community editor Barbara Tucker at 693-1000, ext. 4110 or email barbara.tucker@tonawanda-news.com