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What's in a name? Fruit Belt residents say it's all about community

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Posted at 5:50 PM, Apr 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-04 20:34:21-04

When it comes to your neighborhood – it means community. Just ask Charlotte Aughtroy, a resident of Buffalo’s Fruit Belt for 46-years.

"It means a lot. All my kids grew up here in the Fruit Belt. They went to school here. We go to church here," said Aughtroy.

Neighbors here have been fighting gentrification as the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has dominated the east side neighborhood. But most recently – residents are fighting to make sure the 'historic' Fruit Belt name is preserved forever.

"We all live here together and I've got good neighbors – so the Fruit Belt is it," laughed Aughtroy.

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Street in Buffalo Fruit Belt.

"The name of a community is very, very important. There was a time when you said fruit belt and you thought negative. And now that this community is turning around for the positive. They don't want their name to change," said Darius Pridgen, Ellicott District Common Council member.

Pridgen is proposing legislation called "Protection of Neighborhood Names" to make sure you will always find Fruit Belt on any map of Buffalo. At one point, a Google digital map was changed, identifying the neighborhood only as the 'medical campus', but now it was changed back to 'Fruit Belt'.

"But here's what's quite interesting. After I put in the resolution -other communities and neighborhoods started calling to see if they are part of the resolution," Pridgen remarked.

Pridgen's proposal calls on the city to establish an official neighborhood map – making permanent boundaries for the Fruit belt.

"But I'd like to see this in the city charter - where the name of the fruit belt is in the city charter for our life-time," explained Pridgen.

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Buffalo's Fruit Belt, Lemon Street.

The neighborhood runs along the medical coordinator of High Street, up to Jefferson and along the 33 Expressway with street names that include Lemon, Peach and Grape – historically named because German immigrants first planted fruit and vegetable orchards.

"So it's all about community and that sense of community for you?" asked Buckley. "Yes," responded Aughtroy. "I heard they was trying to destroy the name - Fruit belt. Our pastor wants us to stay still and take care of our property over here."

More importantly – the legislation would protect the 'sense of community' and lead to more citizen engagement. Truly being a 'City of Good Neighbors'.