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Editorial: Solar city

Today's lead editorial, "Make Buffalo Shine," features a topic of growing interest across the nation and around the world -- renewable energy. Buffalo has been given the opportunity to remake its image as a snowbound city next month when it hosts the annual convention of the American Solar Energy Society.

It's a chance to show off this area's clean hydropower, growing number of wind power installations and a series of "green" buildings with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification, including the University at Buffalo 's new Life Sciences Complex, BlueCross BlueShield's Buffalo headquarters and the Burchfield Penney Art Center, which is slated for LEED "silver" certification.  Ecology and Environmentin Lancaster, an international environmental consulting firm, is housed in a LEED "platinum" building. 

And there are a number of metro-area renewable energy projects here including large photovoltaic solar arrays at UB and the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Steel Winds site along Lake Erie, geothermal installations at Babeville -- the former Asbury Delaware United Methodist Church on Delaware Avenue -- and Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin Martin House. Not to mention the Niagara Power Project in Lewiston, which is an iconic renewable hydropower installation.

Be sure not to miss the Green Business Expo, being organized by Sen. Antoine M. Thompson, D-Buffalo, chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, scheduled to run prior to and during the main event.

For those residents thinking of "greening" their own homes, check out this fascinating video out of  Maine: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2716245307827881550 and this web site http://www.solarhouse.com/

Solar house

Hopefully the sum of all of these events will add up to a different outlook on Buffalo -- other than the snowbound image the area's currently famous for -- and the City of Light will shine in the spotlight.

Dawn Marie Bracely/Editorial Writer

Editorials: Pirates and tall ships

Aaaarh. It's what Dave Barry used to promote as "Talk Like a Pirate Day" here on the editorial page at The News (the real one is Sept. 19). We're looking for a parrot -- a fine Norwegian blue, perhaps -- and eye patches so that some of us can lean to the left and one of us can lean to the right, but for now we're just practicing our accents. Aaaarh.

The occasion for all this is a maritime editorial page, A6 for those of you reading along at home. Today's lead editorial calls for strong U.S. and international action against the real pirates off the coast of Somalia, now that the Maersk Alabama incident has ended in about as good a fashion as could be imagined. 

Alabama   (At left, the Maersk Alabama is in port in Kenya after last week's attempt at piracy off the Somalia coast.)



Tallship Then, in another bit of maritime news, word arrived that Buffalo will get its own tall ship, the 73-foot gaff-rigged topsail schooner Spirit of Buffalo. Nothing says waterfront like masts and yardarms, so another editorial says this is a very good thing for the emerging Erie Canal Harbor and for a Great Lakes city that needs to emphasize its maritime history. While this isn't quite the typical Great Lakes cargo schooner of days long gone (previously named the Jolly Rover, it was designed to look like a Caribbean coastal schooner with a rather piratey air), it's close enough. Let's get all the politicians down to the waterfront to welcome her to her new home port, just to make sure there'll be enough wind to sail her in.

Speaking of which, editorial cartoonist Adam Zyglis'  target today is Tax Day. Like we said, it's all about the pirates.

Editorial: The president looks presidential

A lot of you are not going to agree with that assessment, but we opine in one of today's editorials that Obama scored some reasonable successes in his first overseas trip and presented a new look to Europe and Muslim Turkey. He didn't get everything he wanted by a long shot (e.g. European stimulus spending and troop commitments for Afghanistan), but that was hardly surprising. What he did do was start regaining some ground in the battle for hearts and minds on the global stage, and that's a good thing.

Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker will have her say on that -- and on the infamous Obama bow to the king of Saudi Arabia -- in tomorrow's paper. So will Mideast expert Trudy Rubin.

The Paragraph Factory

Hi, and welcome to The Paragraph Factory. Join us live at 2 p.m. today to talk about writing and chat with "American Eve" author Paula Uruburu, whose book on Evelyn Nesbit and the murder of Stanford White is the current selection of The News' Book Club.

Editorial: The new state quarters

We goofed in an editorial today, incorrectly describing the New York State park at Niagara Falls as the first state park in the nation. It wasn't. It's the oldest, but the first state park was Yosemite -- which, unlike Niagara, later became a national park.

But the point of the editorial was that Niagara's state rather than national status renders it ineligible, under the U.S. Mint's rules, for selection as New York's design in an entirely new series of state quarters -- one that will let governors and territorial executives pick a national site within their boundaries for their coin's design.

We think Gov. Paterson should demand an exception. Niagara Falls is a world wonder even if it's not under federal management, and this end of the state can use the recognition -- especially if it boosts the tourism economy hereabouts.

Our fallback position is the Erie Canal, which is at least a designated national corridor. Our local national historical site is the Wilcox Mansion, where Teddy roosevelt was inaugurated, but we're guessing that could be trumped by federal sites in the NYC area.

Schedule note: The Paragraph Factory

Charity and Mike will be opening the latest chapter of The Paragraph Factory, a monthly live chat about the craft of writing, at 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 14. Join us if you can, to talk about writing. This month, author Paula Uruburu -- whose "American Eve" is the April selection of The Buffalo News Book Club -- is scheduled to join the conversation. See you there!

Editorial: urban farming

Today's editorial says that if Buffalo isn't going to seed or for the birds, it should be. The issue is urban farming, a national movement that closely parallels the "locavore" trend toward eating locally grown and produced food.

Farm  The two local examples of that trend include a bid by Mark and Janice Stevens, at left, to farm two acres of East Side land and an attempt by West Side resident Monique Watts to raise chickens. Both ran into city opposition, but there are efforts now under way to see if these proposals can work.

They should, but with strings attached -- restrictions on pesticide use and odors, for example. Other cities (Cleveland, Rochester, New York City) have such efforts, and here in Buffalo the Massachusetts Avenue Project is farming on the West Side already (see the project's letter in today's Everybody's Column).

Meanwhile, here's a repeat of some info links from today's editorial. Check out the New York Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, Greenmarket Farmers Markets or "Residential Chicken Keeping: An Examination of 25 Cities."


Read the full story.

Memories of the Statler

We've just editorialized on the murky future of a building that should be preserved, the landmark Statler Towers on Niagara Square. Built in 1923 by Ellsworth Statler as the flagship of his hotel chain, the  Statler boasted some firsts -- including in-room bathrooms -- and hosted presidents and entertainment stars in its heyday. And the elegance of its Golden Ballroom, Terrace and other public spaces provided THE gathering place for social life here for decades.

Statler

So a lot of folks have memories of the Statler, from proms and weddings to convention gatherings and from hotel accomodations to business locations. I've had my share, but my favorite recollection is pretty mundane -- back when I was a lot younger and a lot trimmer, I used to do a daily lunchhour sprint up 13 floors of stairway, too stairs at a time, to say hello to the receptionist at WYSL, who later became my wife. Good for the heart, in more ways than one.

Care to share your memories. If the building is not only a landmark but a beloved one, maybe it's time for the community to share some love. Or at least some thoughts. Here's a spot to post yours. 

-Mike Vogel

Editorial: Checking in on the Statler

Two major developers in this region saw two separate futures for the Statler Towers, now in the hands of a court-appointed receiver as financial troubles proliferate. One saw a possibly prosperous future -- if government was willing to pony up $50 million or so in rehabilitation aid. Another was more blunt: Tear it down and start over.

Today's editorial looks at the issue, and says that the flagship hotel built in 1923 and steeped in history cannot be allowed to become yet another high-profile symbol of urban decay in the heart of the city. In short, Buffalo cannot afford another AM&A's.

Editorial: Catching the train

OK, there's a plan afoot to spend billions to build a high-speed rail system that would cut a couple of hours off the Buffalo-Albany route, and link into other existing or planned high-speed rail routes to New York, the Boston-DC corridor and eventually a Cleveland-Chicago-St. Louis route.

And there are proposals to make the landmark Central Terminal, a wonderful and huge building that once was the city's rail hub, the Buffalo terminal for high-speed rail. Unfortunately, passengers would then have to spend some of the time they've saved getting to where they might actually want to go in this city.

Our take, in this editorial, is that this would work ONLY if there was a lght rail or other quick link to downtown. Otherwise, the earlier proposal for a waterfront multimodal station makes more sense.

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