The wall problem

By: Jeff Spencer

Opinion Contributor

It’s the big, blue elephant in the room. Or, at least, the corner. The intersection where East Delavan and Main Street intersect is smothered by a blank blue wall, overlooked by an expanse of parking. The effect on the sidewalk below is cold and uninviting. Empty spaces like this discourage pedestrian activity, dragging down the intersection’s value. Ask yourself, do you ever choose to stand or walk on the that side of the intersection? Surely, few upperclassmen ever do as they make their way towards the equally desolate West Delavan corridor. I don’t blame them.

It’s a shame; the intersection has enormous potential. A transit station alone makes it worthy of consideration for intentional development, especially in a city with only eight such terminals. The elegant Forest Lawn gate certainly makes a desirable neighbor. Across the street, the Koessler Athletic Center’s front barricade stands as a monument to an era where fear of the city drove us to build barriers rather than connections. I think it’s time we reverse that.

Why not make it a mural? Whether it be opened up to a local artist or given to some visionary Canisius students, the wall can be remade into a canvas that interacts with and encourages pedestrian activity. It would represent a modest step towards restoring a completely dead intersection into a display of art experienced by both pedestrians and commuters. Perhaps the college could use it as a marketing display.

Some may raise concerns about rampant graffiti artists ruining the piece. But then why is the completely blank surface left alone today? And even if someone did ruin it, I’m sure we could start a queue of students eager to project their ideas onto the wall next. Perhaps a student club could form around the project.

It is far from a complete solution. The problem is the wall itself. Long term, the college needs to think about redevelopment of this parcel entirely. But for now, we need a “right sized” project that can happen quickly. Perhaps this is a ghastly idea and teams of nefarious hooligans would indeed plaster obscenities all over our wall. But at the very least, let’s start a conversation about this deserted, but still important corridor.

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