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Fruit Belt Task Force Letter to Open Buffalo



Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Franchelle Hart, Executive Director

Open Buffalo http://www.openbuffalo.org/

237 Main St., Suite 1200

Buffalo NY 14203


Dear Ms. Hart:


On behalf of the Fruit Belt/McCarley Gardens Housing Task Force, thank you and Deputy Director Tommy McClam for meeting with Veronica Nichols and Lorna Peterson on Friday, September 18, 2015. Both Ms. Nichols and Ms. Peterson were delighted to have the opportunity to listen and learn regarding your concerns. The contents of the meeting were shared with Task Force members. In the discussions with the Task Force members it was revealed that Open Buffalo High Road Economic Development meetings were held August 26 and September 9, 2015. Veronica Nichols, Steve Mackey, Sharon Everett, Harry Greer and Larry Goins never received notification of these meetings hence we interpret this as the Task Force being removed from Open Buffalo’s High Road Economic Development Table. There is overlap in the Task Force membership with other Fruit Belt organizations and Block Clubs, but by excluding said names, the Task Force is excluded.


After learning of this exclusion and with your own admission that Open Buffalo is not ready to assist us in a Community Benefits Agreement, therefore, after careful consideration, members of the Fruit Belt/McCarley Gardens Housing Task Force have decided to withdraw from the Open Buffalo partnership. Please understand that we see your organization’s work as important just as we see our work as important. But as discussed at the September 18 meeting, the Open Buffalo attention given to Facebook posts, gossip, rumors, and subsequent drama by not contacting Task Force leader Veronica Nichols to confirm or clarify communications, is distracting and counter-productive to our mission. The Task Force wishes to concentrate on the issues that have been identified by the Fruit Belt community which are: gentrification with justice; fostering income, as well as racial/ethnic/religious, diversity for the neighborhood; maintaining the unique physical character of the neighborhood through historic preservation; maintaining property rights and parking rights; and general issues of human rights and dignity.


We recognize the importance of the Fruit Belt to the goals of Open Buffalo to shape the Fruit Belt neighborhood assets as the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus expands and builds. We acknowledge that the Fruit Belt neighborhood figures significantly in the grant proposal to Open Society. At the same time, Open Buffalo must acknowledge and respect the half-century plus years tradition of Fruit Belt neighborhood organization, neighborhood allegiances, and neighborhood successes. Given the differences between our two organizations, it is determined that a relationship of co-existence, and not a formal partnership, is preferred. The focus and approach of Open Buffalo differs from that of the Fruit Belt/McCarley Gardens Housing Task Force and for that reason, it is in the best interest of our community to part ways.


Communication, collaboration, cooperation, and compromise are values held by the Task Force. Additionally, the Task Force values autonomy, directness, assertiveness, and on occasion, absoluteness. In this spirit, we hold ourselves open to you for sharing resources and information as appropriate. But we also reserve the right to offer no compromises and be resolute for what we believe right and true.

We wish you well in moving forward in your mission.


Respectfully and Very truly yours, the undersigned

Veronica Hemphill-Nichols



Lorna Peterson



George K. Arthur



Harry Greer



Habib Nasser



Steve Mackie



Arthur Giacalone



Sharon Everett



Leemah Masaed



Larry Goins


Veronica Hemphill-Nichols is a Community Organizer of Restorative Justice, the Fruit Belt Housing Task Force Unit, and McCarley Gardens Tenant Council

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