Unfortunately, much of the housing and many of the public thoroughfares that need updating in my hometown of Tonawanda haven’t gotten their due. Instead, we keep tinkering with schools, building new wings and facilities, then shuttering old ones that simply need some TLC.
Do any of us think the “modern” high school on Hinds has been an upgrade over the stunning building that formerly housed the student body on Main Street? And if that school had been properly renovated, we wouldn’t need a new football facility since state grants would apply to Clinton Small.
Instead, we have what looks like a correctional facility on Hinds, the former entrance blocked in by a series of capital “improvements” and the slanted middle school wing (of which I was a member of the second class) looking dreary and dated. Those considering a move into the district must surely get put off by the school’s lackluster appearance.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t look forward, but we certainly haven’t done much learning from our past. The infamous “urban renewal” project has forever tainted the city’s business core while NT’s Webster Street remained largely intact, and eventually served as the center of the city’s renaissance.
But we keep tearing down the old, putting up cheap, newer imitations and wondering why the success rate is marginal.
It’s just another quick fix for administrations that blow through town like hurricanes, with no regard for the fact that our small city’s real character is being gutted. Rather than worrying about what’s good for the future of the district, administrators want to boast “firsts.”
In hindsight, almost all the moves have been bad ones — I remember far more about being the last class in the old high school during my seventh-grade year than being part of the second eighth-grade class in the new wing. The old building was magnificent, the auditorium nearly as spectacular as the Riviera. The new school felt ... well, cleaner. That’s really all that stands out.