Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes‘ ascendancy to highest echelons of Albany’s political power structure, could mean big gains for the East Side neighborhoods that she represents.
Her relationship with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie will be a critically important one if we are to ensure that Western New York is included in major omnibus spending bills that are expected to address enormous capital investment needs of the Metropolitan Transit Authority and New York City Housing Authority, perhaps costing $30 billion for each.
That Peoples-Stokes has a ‘seat in the room’ to demand that the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority is included in any spending program to rebuild the State’s vast network of public housing complexes. Common Council President Darius Pridgen has called for a $1 billion redevelopment program for BMHA.
It could also mean a more ambitious investment in Western New York’s mass transit system, beyond simply extending the Main Street Light Rail to Amherst. Many urban planners hope that Peoples-Stokes will fight to secure funding for rail service from Downtown to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga.
Last year, Peoples-Stokes secured initial funding to repair the Central Terminal and is seeking additional funding to transform the mammoth East Side structure into an events center and office park, likely to house a large-scale call center that will offer entry-level positions in customer service and collections.
A transit line along that existing railway right-of-way could become a real estate development boon for the Broadway Fillmore neighborhood, Larkinville, and the Walden Galleria. Since the railway largely already exists, planners expect that would cost significantly less than the $1.2 billion price tag on the North Campus extension.