Tonawanda News — Timing is everything, so I am told. You obtain what you need and when you realize it has overstayed its welcome, you remove it or repurpose it. Mostly remove it.
Kenmore has an old water tower, on Elmwood Avenue behind its Department of Public Works, built in 1927 to stabilize the municipal water pressure. That it did, as well as offer a convenient place on its lid to paint a big red arrow to direct flyboys to Cheektowaga’s Buffalo airport instead of the tiny existent airfields of Kenmore and Tonawanda. Now hovering over the wading pool at Mang Park like a giant praying mantis from outer space, and with no one’s attention turned to water pressure these days, it stands empty, rusting and awaiting its downfall, although the “Village of Kenmore” painted on its flaking side accomplishes its purpose.
It’s the same a little north, east of the I-290 near Niagara Falls Boulevard, where a turquoise pillbox of a water tank, its side extolling what a great place Tonawanda is for one thing or another, remains empty and ready to drop. Built in 1960 and now hollow, the Town’s exploding population found other ways to draw water. We needed it then, but that was then and this is now.
Repurpose things if you cannot afford to erase them, the way a public library on Brighton Road, again, built to fulfill that need of a growing populace, became a clubhouse and private library. An elementary school becomes an office park, another elementary school becomes a warehouse and theater, another becomes a senior center catering to those who remember the place as a school, and Kenmore Middle School, once a high school, sits with its future in doubt.
I grew up in North Buffalo, just over the line marking the border with Kenmore, and the elementary school I attended now has a flashy new addition (Buffalo apparently needs elementary school space) obliterating the parking lot where I played a game I thought my friends and I invented called “Strikeout.” (It involved two players, a baseball bat, a tennis ball, a brick wall with a strike zone delineated on it, and no, I repeat, no involvement of adults, and when the ball went over the fence onto the street, drivers would stop, leave their cars to retrieve the ball, and toss it back into play. Imagine that.)