Mayor Byron W. Brown issued a July 16, 2020 press release in which His Honor cautions City of Buffalo residents of the continued dangers we face regarding the coronavirus:
COVID-19 remains a threat to our community and we cannot afford to let our guard down at this time. We must remain vigilant and continue to take the necessary precautions to maintain public health and safety. Please continue to practice physical distancing and wear face coverings when going out.
The Mayor followed that plea with a press conference July 24th announcing “an innovative and safe dining experience initiative that will enable restaurants to offer outdoor dining services to patrons” on a stretch of Chippewa Avenue. We were told that each of the 10 or so participating eating-and-drinking establishments “will safely operate while practicing New York State social distance guidelines and requirements.” Not only have their plans been reviewed by Mayor Brown’s Small Business Social Distancing Advisory Committee (SBDAC), but, as reported by WBFO, Mayor Brown said it’s important for patrons and proprietors to understand – this is not meant to be a block party: “This isn’t to allow mass gatherings on Chippewa. This is to allow more room to socially distance.”
No, the block party – where, it appears, you can get away with not wearing a face covering and adhering to social distancing and other health guidelines intended to slow the virus spread – was occurring on July 24th and 25th several miles away in South Buffalo’s Cazenovia Park.
While bicycling through my neighborhood park at 8 PM on the Friday the 24th I observed at least 60 or 70 Pints-In-The-Park attendees, many of whom were not following the posted (and, by now, well known) Covid-19 protocols. I saw a similar scene at 6 PM on Saturday. Here’s a sampling:
I have since confirmed that the City of Buffalo had issued a permit to (a rather aptly-named) Resurgence Brewing Company to host pop-up beer gardens – with the cutesy moniker, Pints-In-The-Park. Here’s how the events are described at Resurgence’s facebook page:
All Pints in the Park events will be held in Olmsted Parks with a portion of proceeds going toward the Olmsted Parks Conservancy.
Bring your own blankets and chairs and your mask for when you are up and walking around. We’ll provide the beer. Feel free to bring your own food as well. Bring the family, bring the dog and have a Pint, with us, in beautiful Cazenovia Park. We’ll be located next to the casino.
I found the city’s willingness to use our city park’s for this sort of commercial endeavor distasteful last year when I first became aware of it occurring in Caz Park. And, frankly, I was even more offended at that time when I realized Buffalo Olmsted Park Conservancy’s involvement – tacitly, or otherwise – in the endeavor.
But I find the concept of a pop-up beer garden in our public park’s even more problematic in the summer of 2020. It is hypocritical, at best, for Mayor Brown’s administration to issue public statements urging the public, on the one hand, ”not to let our guard down” and to “remain vigilant” to the threat of Covid-19, while it allows residents to gather in Cazenovia Park in large numbers and hold a pint of beer, in the other hand, without ensuring enforcement of our state’s social distancing guidelines and requirements.
I know that my sentiment will not be universally popular. But, nonetheless, I want to provide this shoutout to my friends and colleagues in North Buffalo:
THE RESURGENCE BREWING COMPANY’S PINTS-IN-THE-PARK SUMMER TOUR IS SCHEDULED TO POP-UP IN DELAWARE PARK ON AUGUST 7 & 8.
With All Due Respect,
P.S. Concerns have been raised for months that the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in skyrocketing alcohol sales, and has raised concerns regarding substance abuse. See, for example, this.]