BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Hundreds of people have petitioned Buffalo leaders to consider creating a public safety campus in the Broadway-Fillmore community.
Fillmore Forward board members Bradford Watts and Michael Threat told News 4 it will build on momentum already growing in the neighborhood.
“I grew up in this neighborhood community, shopped and worked in this neighborhood and community and I see there’s that growth, new opportunity,” said Watts.
Fillmore Forward is pushing to have the old Kmart building across the street from the Broadway Market converted to Buffalo Police and Fire Department headquarters. Watts and Threat said a visible presence in the neighborhood will deter criminals and break down barriers between the community and police.
“When you have police officers seeing someone every day, you begin to get a familiarity,” said Threat.
Threat told News 4 neighbors would be more likely to report crimes, and Watts agrees.
“Even if you see something, you’ll tell someone and you’ll feel a better connection to that officer,” said Watts. “Maybe that officer is feeling like ‘hey I’ve got to come down here anyway, maybe I should be living down here’ or ‘I know the area, I know the residents’.”
They also argue it’s the perfect location.
“It serves as one of the arteries to the City of Buffalo,” said Watts. “Broadway has that long-term history of how it spans out from City Hall and it’s a great opportunity for them to respond and move in all corridors of the city,” said Watts.
C District headquarters on East Ferry is about two miles from the heart of the Broadway-Fillmore community, B District headquarters is about three miles away, E District headquarters is about three and a half miles away, A District headquarters is about four miles away, and the D District headquarters is about seven miles away.
More than 200 people signed a petition to Mayor Brown and the Common Council supporting the idea.
“We’re trying to put the neighbor back in the hood because of the simple fact we cannot defeat the problems in our city by ourselves,” said Threat. “Police is necessary, ambulances are necessary.”
Mayor Brown told News 4 they do want to move the Buffalo Fire Department and Buffalo Police Department to one location. They hope to select a place for the public safety campus by the end of the year, he said.
Mayor Brown said, however, converting the Kmart building would cost upwards of $20 million dollars, so it’s off the table.
Threat and Watts said they’re open to other locations in the Broadway-Fillmore community.
“That is very unlikely at this point,” said Mayor Brown. “That was our first choice, we looked at a number of different properties and opportunities in that area and all of them were very costly.”
Fillmore District Common Council Member David Franczyk told News 4 he thinks the old Kmart building would be the perfect location but said the Council can’t take action until Mayor Brown’s administration files a suggestion.