Tagged: February 7

Feb 7: New Eng Report/Law Suit Press Conference [Photos]

Photos by Lisa Willis.


Feb 7 “Group files another suit against Bethlehem Steel owner” Katie Cummings, YNN

Originally published by YNN News, “Group files another suit against Bethlehem Steel owner” by Katie Cummings, February 7, 2013.

Demolition at Bethlehem Steel started in late January, but the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage group wants all demolition at the site to stop until an investigation can take place.

The group plans to file a lawsuit in Lackawanna City Court on Friday morning after it recently received a report on the structural integrity of the building.

“There were several other reports which were presented to the court which said the building is unsafe, it needs to get knocked down, and this report directly contradicts everything that was in there,” said Paul Fusco-Gessick, Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group attorney.

The group says the report was paid for the owner, Gateway Trade, and conducted by a Syracuse-based architectural firm. It states the walls are upright and the overall structure is not at imminent risk of collapse.

Some members of the group say the owner kept the report a secret because it would interfere with state funding.

“That ruined their chances of getting the Restore NY money and they didn’t want to publicize that, they didn’t want anyone else to know because the city wanted to be able to continue its case,” said Dana Saylor.

Preservationists want the building to be saved since they feel it’s a integral part of the area.

“My husband, who passed away just a month ago, worked there for 42 years and he went through this building to get his job and so I think it’s an icon for the city of Lackawanna, we should have this building,” said Romaine Lilli, Lackawanna Historical Society.

“We now have a time to step back and investigate and look at intelligent re-use of the building,” said David Torke.

YNN reached out to Gateway Trade, but calls were not returned. YNN also contacted city of Lackawanna officials but were told no one was available for comment.

Feb 7: “Lawsuit over demo of Bethlehem Steel” WIVB [Video]

Lawsuit over demo of Bethlehem Steel [Link to Video]

Originally published by WIVB.

The fight to save the old Bethlehem Steel administration building is not over, even though part of the building has already been torn down.

The Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group is suing the building’s current owners, claiming the Gateway Trade Group withheld an engineering report from the city that said the building is structurally sound and doesn’t need to be demolished.

Attorney Paul Fusco-Gessick said, “There were several other reports which were presented to the court which said the building was unsafe and needed to get knocked down. And this report directly contradicts everything that was in that.”

This lawsuit will officially be filed in City Court on Friday

Feb 7: “Activists sue to save Bethlehem Steel site” The Buffalo News

Originally published by The Buffalo News, “Activists sue to save Bethlehem Steel site,” by Mark Sommer, 2013 02 07.

Activists still fighting to save the embattled Bethlehem Steel Administration Building announced Thursday they are filing a lawsuit today against Gateway Trade Center, contending the company hid a structural engineering report filed in August that concluded the building was structurally sound.

The lawsuit, filed by the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group, urges Lackawanna City Court to immediately halt demolition that has begun on a rear chemical laboratory at the site off Route 5 near the Buffalo city line. The demolition ball has not touched the long-vacant 1901 Beaux Arts-style administration building – with its ornate facade – that preservationists have rallied to save.

“With this lawsuit, we’re hoping we can stop the bulldozers and take the time to do a proper investigation and a proper reuse study,” said David Torke, a member of the group.

The report by Klepper Hahn & Hyatt, based in Syracuse, concluded that the administration building was in better shape than previously thought. It stands in contrast to views expressed by Steven Bremer, Lackawanna’s code enforcement officer, and two prior studies in which engineers did not gain access to the building.

The preservationists obtained the report through a Freedom of Information Law request.

“We believe the overall building structure to be sound and not at imminent risk of collapse at this time. The collapsing ceilings and abundance of debris observed in the building gives a false illusion of the floors collapsing,” the report said.

It recommended the removal of dormers, parapets, chimneys and other areas in danger of collapse; selective demolition to better gauge the building’s health; and sealing all roof and window openings to keep the elements out.

Torke said the two prior studies had been the “ammunition” used by the City of Lackawanna to push for demolition. He also raised concerns that Parker Bay Engineering, which did the first report concluding the property needed to be torn down, shared office space with Empire Dismantlement, the demolition contractor first hired by Gateway before the Erie County Court-ordered demolition at the city’s request was temporarily stayed from May to November. Zoladz Construction Co. was subsequently hired to perform the demolition.

Klepper, Hahn & Hyatt was chosen by Gateway from a list provided by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which suggested a firm with experience in historic buildings. The agency was required to sign off because Gateway sought a state Restore New York grant, which required the engineering report and a reuse study that never materialized. The company indicated it hoped to use the funds for asbestos removal and possibly demolition.

“Gateway has not only been irresponsible in taking care of the building, but they are asking for state money to continue to shrug their responsibility,” preservationist Meagan Baco said.

Dana Saylor, another preservationist, said she hoped the lawsuit will compel Gateway to follow through on the Restore New York funding requirements and conduct the reuse study.

Feb 7: Uncovered Structural Engineering Report Declares Bethlehem Steel Administration Building Structurally Sound; Buffalo Rising

Originally published by Buffalo Rising, “Uncovered Structural Engineering Report Declares Bethlehem Steel Administration Building Structurally Sound” by Mike Puma, 2013 02 07.

The fight is far from over in Lackawanna to save the Bethlehem Steel Administration building. Although demolition at the rear of the building started two weeks ago, it has been halted for the last six days for unknown reasons. So far only the small chemistry lab, which was a later addition, has been demolished. The remainder of the structure remains standing.

New evidence has come to light that the building is in fact structurally sound despite the consistent information to the contrary by the owners of the building, Gateway Trade Center and the mayor of Lackawanna, Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski. Both have insisted that structural and engineering reports for the building have deemed it structurally unsound.

This independent report was withheld from the courts by the City of Lackawanna and the Gateway Trade Center owner, Steven Detwiler. The truth has been revealed thanks to the perseverance of members in the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group (LIHG), Meagan Baco, David Torke, Lesley Horowitz, and Dana Saylor. Additionally, they received help from two attorneys who are new to Buffalo, Michael Raleigh and Paul Fusco-Gessick. The structural report was obtained by filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIL) request.

The full structural report that was completed by Klepper, Hahn, & Hyatt on August 3, 2012 reveals a different story than the owners and the mayor have been peddling; the building is in fact, structurally sound. To read the full report, click here.

The report details the existing condition of the building and notes the limitations of the study, but ultimately concluded, “We believe the overall building structure to be sound and not at imminent risk of collapse at this time. The collapsing ceilings and abundance of debris observed in the building gives a false illusion of the floors collapsing.” It went on to say, “the steel beams have surface rust however we did not observe major scaling or failure of the major structural elements” and “we did not observe large areas of the floor or roof structure that appeared to be on the verge of collapse.”Once again, the full report can be read by clicking here.

While there were two other engineering reports completed that claim the building is not structurally sound, this report is the only one where the consultants were allowed inside the building for their review, giving them the most comprehensive look at the structure that anyone has had thus far.

With this new information in hand, the LIHG (plaintiff) has brought a lawsuit against the owner at Gateway Trade Center, Steven Detweiler (defendant) to halt all demolition until an investigation can take place.