Shorter Donn Esmonde

Tim Tielman has transformed obstructionism into a successful protection racket, and this is good for Buffalo. 



  • I thought it was curious.
    Buffalo was built to world-renown by “power brokers decid(ing) what was best behind closed boardroom doors”.

  • So your insinuation here is that Tim Tielman must have threatened to sue Howard Zemsky (over some unspecified preservation-related complaint, I assume), unless Zemsky gave him a job as an urban design consultant?

    That reminds me, did you guys ever get an apology from Bob McCarthy for implying that had committed some kind of wrong-doing by accepting paid campaign work from Poloncarz while publishing articles and opinion on local politics?

    • No, my insinuation is to re-state the closing paragraph of Esmonde’s piece. Tell me, what qualifications does Tim Tielman have to plan the area around the Larkin building? Is he an engineer? An architect? A landscape architect? An urban planner? 

      Or is he the guy who files lawsuits? 

      • “Protection racket” generally means that someone extorts payment in return for being left alone from some threat. Since Tielman is “the guy who files lawsuits” I assumed you meant that Tielman extorted a consulting gig from Zemsky by threatening to sue him.

        Or perhaps you were thinking Tielman was threatening to smash some windows at the Larkin at Exchange building?

        I really don’t know anything about Tielman’s formal urban design qualifications beyond being the long-term executive director of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo, but everything I’ve heard about Larkin Square suggests that it’s one of the best new spaces in the city in recent history. In any case, Zemsky is entirely free to spent his private money on whichever consultants he thinks will do a good job for him. (Unless you seriously believe he was extorted by Tielman.)

        • Tielman never had to threaten anything.  Zemski retained his services before any threats could take place – one of the first times that’s happened with any sort of project in town in recent memory.  Coincidence?  I doubt it.  

          • Robert Galbraith

            So you’re position is that it was bad to work with Tielman regardless of the outcome of the Larkin Square area? Because he is the guy that files lawsuits.
            The way it seems to me is that that is the nicest project I’ve seen in a while in Buffalo. If the variable here is Tielman’s involvement, then maybe hiring him was a positive.

          • I’m saying that the ONLY REASON why anyone would retain the services of Tim Tielman to work on a construction / redevelopment project for which he is wholly unqualified, would be to ensure that there be no disruptions with the project. 

            I agree that it’s a great project. And the speed with which it’s been done speaks volumes about the value of hiring the guy who’s best known for something other than speed when it comes to development in Buffalo. 

          •  Spot on.
            “Keep your friend close and your enemies closer” – Machiavelli , ‘The Prince ‘ and – Michael Corleone, ‘Godfather Part 2’

  • Alan you absolutely nailed it.

    Stand at Main and Scott Street today and look in any direction and you see cranes in the air and earth moving and construction going over at Canalside. This is all happening because of one seminal moment – the ECHDC capitulated to the kooks, crackpots and macadamias. By “hiring” the Project for Public Spaces, Fred Kent et al, and putting them on the payroll (for a number estimated to be well into six figures), these rancid bottom feeders put their swords down and their lawsuits aside and came up with their bold vision for colored chairs and flexible lawns and triangulation. It was extortion of the public and its most vile and lowest, and it is so sad that some segments of the public (and Don Esmonde) can’t see this for what it is.

    Mobing on to the Hydraulics, Howard Zemsky is one shrewd businessman. He saw a vision for Larkin Square, and had he not hired Tim Tielman and bought him a plane ticket to Europe to check out the quaint public squares over there, for sure the Campaign for Greater Good or whatever it is that club calls themselves these days would have filed lawsuit after lawsuit, declaring the corner of Seneca and Emslie “sacrosanct” and not allowing it to be sullied with something as despicable as a food truck. In essence Zemsky buys these people off and for the almighty dollar they become partners instead of obstructionists.

    Remember the parking structure that was to have been built on the corner of Scott and Commercial, in that space between the Aud Block and the Marine Drive apartments? This plan promised a FREE dedicated parking space to every tenant at Marine Drive, yet Tielman/Goldman consulted, the disgraced former judge Joe Makowski filed a lawsuit, and the ECHDC shrunk away from a completely acceptable plan like cowards. Joe Mascia, the gadfly “commissioner” of the tenants there, got a big obstructionist win. Now he thinks he’s going to be the next assemblyman. Yah when pigs fly. Would the ECHDC still like to see a ramp on the parcel? Put Mascia on the payroll as “Parking Consultant”. Mascia will see to it that all the tenants in his buildings will put down their cigarettes and EBT cards and give the ramp proposal a big round of applause.

    I will never cheer for or thank Tielman and Goldman. Their so called contributions to this community have set us back decades.

    Great picture attached to this post. And appropriate. Tony Soprano, Sylvio Dante and Paulie Walnuts would be nodding with approval. And expecting their “vig”.

    • Robert Galbraith

      I don’t understand what you’re saying. Larkin Square is bad? Because Tim Tielman was involved? Or its good? Despite Tim Tielman being involved? 

      You think Canalside is bad? It is coming across that you do not like the Adirondack chairs. 

      •  Somehow he gets credit for Canalside, while Higgens who wrangled 300million from the NYPA  to help fund it gets nary a footnote.

    • Canalside developement will follow as our economy continues to improve, thank the preservation community for laying a solid foundation for the future.  A super subsidized Bass Pro was not defensible or a reasonable use of the property (or taxpayer dollars).

      On the Hydraulic’s, Zemsky and Tielman are kindred spirits, both understand urban planning and have demonstrated their talents.

      As for the parking ramp, I don’t see this as a loss, most would not consider a parking ramp as positive developement.

      Finally,  please provide real examples of preservationists stopping any major projects or “setting us back decades”.

  • Incredible amount of hostility towards preservationists, though pretty ignorant of the facts.  Preservation has been the one positive force in the City of Buffalo resulting in millions of dollars of private investment and many hours of volunteer efforts.  Harder to quanify but also important is attracting people and business back to the city, another huge benefit of preservation. As for the  “obstructionist” label, the evidence is weak and I can not think of one major project that was stopped by the dreaded preservationists. The reality is we lost so much of our valuable built environment before preservationists stood up against the forces that exploited and decimated our city.

    • But if you’re a developer, it’d be money well spent to retain Tim Tielman’s services to, you know, make sure everything goes smoothly. 

    •  Pano’s restaurant?

      • Pano’s was not stopped, the house was demolished.

        • Not without every obstruction that could possibly be thrown up, to save a house that was magically given a name to underscore how much it “matters”. 

          • The house was easily the best on the block, the sandstone porch was unique and very attractive, the very type of building that made the Elwood area successful and desirable. Pano missed an opportunity to incorporate the house or portions into the design. The dump just south of the restaurant was a better option, nobody would have cared had that particular house been demolished. Pano seemed to revel in the fight, more about ego than good business, I suppose both sides were guilty on that count.

            I don’t always agree with the stands taken by some in the preservation community. I have many years of experience in building maintenance, engineering, and restoration and I am well aware of the challenges and limitations of preservation. That said preservation is a major force in the renewal of our city and has attracted much investment while stabilizing our neighborhoods. The contributions of preservationists should not be demeaned nor should they be broad brushed as obstructioinists or extortionists.

        • Only after Pano won on appeal in Rochester.

  • Mr. Bedenko, I just came across this page. The Campaign for Greater Buffalo, lead by Mr. Tielman, has a board comprised of architects, urban planners, lawyers, and real estate professionals who work PRO BONO. Is it your theory that all these prominent city leaders are doing donating their time just so Tielman can do more consulting? After twenty years working in the community, one would have to be pretty blind not to see that Mr. Tielman and his team have benefited Buffalo greatly. Frankly,
    your theory sounds pretty silly.

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