DEMOLITION OF BETHLEHEM STEEL ADMINISTRATION BUILDING HALTED:
DEMO PERMIT WAS ISSUED ILLEGALLY WITHOUT PROPER ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW
The Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group (LIHG) was pleased to learn that The Campaign for Buffalo – History, Architecture & Culture, Inc. today filed an Article 78 Proceeding in New York State Supreme Court, which placed a temporary restraining order on the demolition of the historic Bethlehem Steel Administration Building in Lackawanna, New York. Their petition maintains that the City of Lackawanna issued a demolition permit to the owner, GATEWAY TRADE CENTER, INC., on December 17, 2012, without performing environmental review as required by the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR). The suit contends that the demolition permit is therefore a nullity in that it was issued illegally. The Campaign is seeking a permanent injunction on the demolition of the building until full compliance with SEQR is demonstrated. A hearing is scheduled before Hon. James H. Dillon for Wednesday, February 27th at 9:30 a.m.
Richard Berger, Esq., a local attorney with experience in environmental and preservation law, representing The Campaign, stated, “SEQR mandates all agencies of government to prepare an ‘Environmental Impact Statement on any action they propose or approve which may have a significant effect on the environment.’ Even actions which do not require a full Impact Statement, still require careful environmental review and findings. It appears that none was carried out in this instance. We hope that our filing today will halt the demolition of the Administration Building and lead to its ultimate restoration and reuse.”
“The City and Gateway should make every attempt to honor workers who spent much of their lives at Bethlehem Steel. Instead, they’re doing all they can to destroy our heritage, and with it the potential that ‘Old North’ has to create jobs and bring people to the shore of Lake Erie. I for one am relieved that there is an engaged group of citizens continuing to fight for justice, and I am proud to stand with them,” said Romaine Lillis, Lackawanna resident and longtime member of the Lackawanna Historical Society.
There is an open lawsuit filed by LIHG, heard on February 13, 2013 in Lackawanna City Court, regarding the discovery of a previously withheld structural engineering report concluding that the building is structurally sound and of no immediate danger of collapse, as the City of Lackawanna contends. Hon. Judge Marrano reserved judgement in the case but a verdict is expected soon.
LIHG is prepared to cooperate with The Campaign for Greater Buffalo in any way needed.
The imsteelstanding.org website is the best place to stay informed.
Contact David Torke, founding LIHG Member: 716-602-5440 or email@example.com
The “I’m Steel Standing” event last Sunday outside of the Bethlehem Steel North Administration Building, drew nearly 100 local residents and former employees to the historic site. For several months now, the push has been on to engage local residents in an intense campaign of increasing support for the landmark’s adaptive reuse. Online and paper petitions have been circulated (with over 500 signatures gathered), a website has been built, which received over 2,000 visits in less than a week, a short film was made, and a whirlwind of media attention has been focused on the building, which is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
With Judge Kenneth Case set to issue a decision on the stay of demolition in Erie County Court Tuesday morning, the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group (LIHG) is continuing to speak out, and canvass local neighborhoods. Petition signatures will be delivered to Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski on Tuesday, November 27th. LIHG will meet in front of Lackawanna City Hall, 714 Ridge Road at 3pm, and the media and public are invited.
Despite the fact that the State Historic Preservation Office has declared the building structurally sound, this important part of our cultural heritage is under threat of demolition by both the City of Lackawanna, and its private owners, Gateway Trade. LIHG seeks to build consensus, and has presented several adaptive reuse ideas, connected the owners to historic tax credit specialists, and is willing to be the conduit to potential developers. LIHG is calling on the City to relinquish its efforts to force demolition, and rather to pursue Certified Local Government status, which will open the doors for grant money and a meaningful dialogue about preservation’s economic development benefits. LIHG asks Gateway Trade to issue a formal Request for Proposals, and properly board up the building in the meantime.
For more information, please contact the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group at (716-253-7775), visit http://www.imsteelstanding.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.