December 11, 2015
CAMP members realize that it is almost impossible to personally thank everyone who supported them on the issue of the proposed demolition of the Cattaraugus County Memorial and Historical Building in Little Valley, NY. However, none of you should go unrecognized for your contribution to our efforts on 12-9-15 for a vote against demolition by Catt Co legislators. Your support through emails to legislators and through your presence at the Cattaraugus County Center Building was vital in convincing the legislators that the demolition of a rare Civil War Memorial Building was not the right thing to do.
Thank you for Standing with Us and Raising your Voices in Protest!
CAMP looks forward to working with Cattaraugus County in a concerted effort to preserve this important Civil War memorial in 2016. Your continued support will help to make that possible.
December 10, 2015
This article from the Olean Times Herald says it all. CAMPers are floating on air today!
Lawmakers grant reprieve to Civil War Monument
Posted: Thursday, December 10, 2015 8:30 am
By RICK MILLER, Olean Times Herald
LITTLE VALLEY — In an about-face from last week, the Cattaraugus County lawmakers failed to muster enough votes to bring a resolution to the floor seeking bids to demolish the Civil War Monument and Historic Building.
At the Dec. 3 Public Works Committee meeting, Legislator Richard Lamberson, D-Allegany, read a series of talking points that included demolishing the county monument.
Members of Citizens Advocating Memorial Preservation (C.A.M.P.), who had attended the work session to talk about preserving and reusing the building, were flabbergasted.
County Legislature Vice Chairman James J. Snyder, R-Olean, asked at the outset of Wednesday’s meeting to first address the resolution seeking immediate consideration to solicit bids for the demolition.
A roll-call vote on whether to bring the resolution to the floor fell short of the needed two-thirds vote of the legislators.
All six Democrats, Conservative Matthew Keller of Olean, and Legislature Chairman Norman Marsh, R-Little Valley, voted to bring it to the floor, while the remaining 13 Republican legislators voted against it.
“By not letting this resolution come to the floor” at the last meeting of the year, “it automatically dies,” Snyder pointed out.
Snyder proposed that in the coming year legislators “work with C.A.M.P.” to explore the possibility of preserving the building.
“It’s too early to pull the plug yet,” he said.
C.A.M.P was formed last year after some county residents, including descendents of thousands of county residents who were members of the 154th Regiment that fought in the Civil War, learned the monument was to be demolished.
Legislator William Sprague, D-Yorkshire, who favored demolishing the building, said this amounted to “kicking the can down the road.”
Linda Edstrom, R-Olean, who will not return to the Legislature next year, said there were many issues that were not discussed.
Carl Edwards, R-Limestone, who also will not be returning next year, said the issue was “mishandled” and that voting to demolish it “would have been a prime example of bad government.”
Thomas Stetz of Allegany, chairman of C.A.M.P., put away the speech he’d written and expressed thanks for giving the group more time to try to preserve the 101-year-old building.
He said the monument has been placed on the Landmark Society of Western New York’s “Five to Revive” list and was a candidate for the New York State Preservation Society’s “Seven to Save” list.
Public Works Committee Chairman William Weller, R-Franklinville, who was one of the 14 sponsors of the resolution to seek bids for demolition, said he had a change of heart when new information was received on Tuesday.
“I thought we needed more dialogue with those folks,” he said. “Before, we felt these folks couldn’t accomplish it. Maybe these folks will have a chance.”
A communication from State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, suggested a $200,000 grant could be used to “mothball” the monument until funding can be raised to renovate and preserve it.
That grant could make a difference in the outcome of whether to preserve the monument, Weller said.
Meanwhile, Lamberson, the Allegany Democrat who said Republicans asked to read the “talking points” at the Dec. 3 Public Works meeting, said he was left “hung out to dry” with the vote. “It was their idea,” he said. “They came to me.”
Lamberson noted, “Eighteen people said they wanted it down” last week. “I doubt much will be done with it.” He said he remains opposed to spending county money to preserve the building.
Stetz said he was surprised at the turnaround, but that it was a good surprise. “Apparently they got flooded with mail,” he said. “They realized the best thing to do is talk. We feel restoration and preservation is best and hopefully, affordable.”
With the $200,000 in historic preservation funding Young suggested and the $175,000 the county had budgeted for the building’s demolition, that’s almost half of what Clinton Brown Co. Architecture of Buffalo had estimated it would cost for renovations.
County estimates are closer to the $1 million range.
“We blocked it,” Snyder said afterward. “It takes a two-thirds vote to get it on the floor for debate and we blocked it. It got too contentious in too short a time.”
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)
December 9, 2015
For those who may not know, today, December 9, 2015 at 3 PM, the legislators of Cattaraugus County will vote on a resolution to demolish the Cattaraugus County Memorial and Historical Building. They meet at the County Center Building on Court Street in Little Valley, NY. Your presence is needed to show the legislators that residents of Cattaraugus County care about their memorial to 3,500 Civil War Vets from our county.
CAMP will stage the group of spectators for the meeting in the lobby of the County Center Building that is just past the security checkpoint at 2:30 PM.
PLEASE JOIN US IN SUPPORT OF THE MEMORIAL BUILDING AND THE VETERANS TO WHOM IT WAS DEDICATED ON SEPTEMBER 7, 1914.
(Click to Enlarge Map)
From: Cynthia Whited
Sent: Saturday, December 05, 2015 8:37 PM
To: (all Catt Co Legislators)
Subject: THE POWER OF ONE
Each of us has the power to be a hero. My great-grandfather, Allen Williams, enlisted to fight for the Union and left his home in Cattaraugus County in 1862. He and 3000 other county men set off to a very dangerous and uncertain future. Each of them took a vow to protect and save our country. Many never returned.
Allen was a member of the 154th New York Infantry Volunteers. He fought in Gettysburg where many in his regiment were lost. Fortunately, he survived, and went on to fight at the battle of Rocky Face Ridge in Georgia.
The Union forces were attempting to gain control of Dug Gap, a steep rock strewn mountain. The Confederate forces had the advantage of being in control of the summit. Boulders and rocks were rolled down upon the Union troops as they dodged the Minie balls fired from above.
The regimental flag bearer struggled to lead the 154th up the daunting hill. As he neared the summit that man was shot and killed. A second man leaped to keep the flag from falling and was immediately wounded. A third soldier took the flagstaff and pushed forward again, only to sustain a serious wound. Allen grabbed the flag and continued up the incline, with the regiment behind him, successfully planting the flag at the summit.
He was later promoted to sergeant and given the flag to carry for the rest of the war. He marched with Sherman to Atlanta, and took part in the victory parade in Washington. Fortunately he returned home.
In 1914 the Memorial and Historic Building in Little Valley was dedicated by Cattaraugus County to honor all those men who had shown their courage and patriotism in the war. It is a unique octagonal building with an ornate tile floor and had a glass dome that allowed the sun to shine on the memorial plaques for all the fallen comrades. Those still alive attended the ceremony, knowing that the community had shown its love, appreciation and admiration.
There is an opportunity for you to again allow the sun to light the tiles in the Memorial. Many in the county, and well beyond, are hoping that you will step forward and support the effort to save and renovate the Memorial with your leadership. Please be a sunbeam and a hero. There are many of us who will follow the flag up the rocky hill with you.
CAMP chairman asks supporters to attend Legislature meeting Wednesday
LITTLE VALLEY — The chairman of the group hoping to save Cattaraugus County’s Civil War Monument and Historic Building from the wrecker’s ball is asking supporters to attend Wednesday’s Cattaraugus County Legislature meeting.
The building was dedicated 101 years ago as a memorial to the county’s Civil War soldiers.
Tom Stetz, chairman of Citizens Advocating Memorial Preservation (C.A.M.P.), issued a statement Sunday asking local supporters of the group’s efforts to save the 101-year-old Civil War memorial to come to Wednesday’s meeting, when county lawmakers are expected to vote to demolish it.
“The legislators plan to take a vote to move forward with the demolition of the Cattaraugus County Memorial and Historical Building, a memorial owned by the county and dedicated by the county on Sept. 7, 1914 to its Civil War veterans,” Stetz wrote.
“Citizens Advocating Memorial Preservation is asking anyone, who believes a vote to demolish this veterans’ Memorial is not the action the county legislators should take, to attend the 3 p.m. meeting on Wednesday.”
C.A.M.P. officials, who have sought to preserve the Civil War memorial for more than a year, expected last week’s work session would address questions they raised over the past two months, including a C.A.M.P.-sponsored architectural survey of the building and its possible future uses.
The Landmark Society of Western New York, which matched C.A.M.P.’s $2,500 contribution toward a study by the Buffalo architectural firm Clinton Brown Co. Architecture, recently named the Civil War Memorial and Historic Building to its “Five to Revive” list of significant buildings in the region that merit preservation.
Stetz, who along with other C.A.M.P. officials was flabbergasted when he heard the word “demolish” last Thursday, said the group was “blindsided” by the consensus decision that was not done in a public forum.
The group had asked legislators to commit to the building’s preservation and allocate the $175,000 set aside for its demolition to preservation efforts.
Landmark Society officials estimated historic interior renovations could be made for less than $600,000 and urged the county to seek additional grants.
The Clinton Brown study cited cost estimates of $40,000 to $45,000 to replace the roof, $35,000 to $45,000 to “mothball” the building and $500,000 to $750,000 for long-term rehabilitation.
County officials insisted the renovations would cost closer to $1 million.
As late as September, county lawmakers, including Public Works Committee Chairman William Weller, R-Franklinville, agreed the plans merited further discussion and work sessions.
That changed abruptly Thursday, when Legislator Richard Lamberson, D-Allegany, rose to read “talking points” that had been agreed to the day before in a closed-door meeting of the Public Works Committee. Halfway through the list, Lamberson said a majority of the Legislature agreed to demolish the building instead of continuing to work with C.A.M.P. for its preservation.
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)
December 7, 2015
Dear Members of the Cattaragus County Legislature:
It is my hope that when you have your next meeting on December 9,2015
that you will not vote to demolish the Civil War memorial building in
There is nothing I can do and very little I can say that will change (your)
mind as it appears you are set to start the demolition.
Please keep this in mind. Many people in the community probably are
oblivious to the memorial and what it means. One generations effort to
never to forget is another generations wrecking crew. Never is a very
Please find it your conscious to keep this memorial a living memorial
to the Boys in Blue.
Jerome Orton, Department Historian
Sons of Union Veterans
Onondaga County Historian, The American Legion
213 Dixon Dr.
Syracuse, NY 13219-2711
315 488 4076
December 7, 2015
Dear Cattaraugus County Legislators:
While I still teach at St. Bonaventure, it’s been a couple years since I’ve been a resident of Cattaraugus County. I now live on part of the Chancellorsville battlefield near Fredericksburg, Virginia, so I literally write to you today from the ground where the 154th New York engaged in one of its best-known actions.
I sympathize that you’ve inherited a run-down Civil War Memorial and Historical Building from previous legislatures, which should never have allowed the structure to fall into the disrepair that it has. You were dealt a bad hand and have been trying to make the best of it.
However, to ram through action on the building before the end of your legislative session seems irresponsible. Here is an instance where you SHOULD pass the work on to the next legislature, not to pass the buck but simply because the work is not yet finished. You have done laudable work thus far. Just because you’ve run out of time in this session doesn’t mean you need to push through a decision just for the sake of wrapping things up.
Previous legislatures ignored the problem, but you have made a good-faith effort to engage the situation and find the solution. You have set up the next legislature to see the hard work through, just as the Civil War veterans themselves had to see through the hard work they had been charged with.
Please delay a final decision on the fate of the Civil War Memorial and Historical Building. Charge the next legislature with seeing the work through. Certainly the efforts of CAMP will ensure that the issue does not fade into the background as so many previous legislatures have let it.
A one-size-fits-all monument to all county veterans is not the answer. The Civil War veterans themselves erected this monument to remind subsequent generations of their unique sacrifices. Those deeds took place so long ago that it’s easy to underestimate their importance today. However, I live on some of the ground they made sacred, so I’m constantly reminded how truly vital their work was.
Those men trusted subsequent generations to remember what they did. They put their faith in “us”. Please do not break faith with them.
Thank you for your consideration.
Chris Mackowski, Ph.D.
Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication
St. Bonaventure University
December 8, 2015
As I peruse the names of the county legislators, I recognize a few “old family” names. Families that have been in our community for at least the last century. People that have chosen this area to spend and invest their lives in, as their fathers and mothers did, and those before them – like mine.
But, this gives no comfort of any constructive representation for me or my family – given the vulgar decision to demolish the war memorial. It shakes my confidence that my county legislators have the strength of character to act as a governing body.
The integrity of a community is based upon an inherent morality. This morality should arise from a reference for the past, a respect for the members of the community and a commitment to create a healthy and vibrant environment for our future.
The proposed demolition shows, in volumes, a lack of reverence for the past, little respect for the community and no commitment or business acumen to a create a vibrant environment for our future.
Finding the funds within a strict budget to avoid committing this indecency is not easy. But, it is attainable and should be an opportunity to create positive change within the town of Little Valley and the county. It should open discussions of potential use and funding avenues that might have been overlooked. It should create a dialogue with the citizens of the community and foster new relationships with local businesses.
Arguments have been presented by CAMP for many months expounding on the unique nature of this structure, not only from an architectural standpoint but the significance of its dedication to fallen soldiers – from one of the most sorrowful wars our country endured. With such a high mortality from this county, the community created this as a memorial for all to acknowledge and revere. This, somehow, had no impact upon the decision making.
The message from my legislators is clear – that the deaths of these soldiers to help shape our nation and our way of life is now perhaps distant and irrelevant. Their sacrifice is inconvenient to honor. It’s not worth the time to find the funds for a new roof, a dome or a practical purpose. Better to create a small area of designated honor at the corner of an enlarged parking lot from the bricks of the destroyed memorial! The proposal itself is indignant with self importance and misguided notions of progress that deplete our community of cultural history.
By advocating the destruction of this memorial of national relevance and importance, you have personally chosen to dishonor the community and it’s future members for generations to come . Your actions will create the history of tomorrow and your name will be remembered not for the good you could have created but the shame of the war memorial destruction.
I urge you to commit to preserve this monument .
December 7, 2015
Here is another example of what the Catt Co Legislators are reading in their email boxes:
As you are undoubtedly aware at the December 9th County Legislature meeting you will be asked to vote on the demolition of the Civil War Memorial and Historical Building. As I am sure you are equally aware a group of concerned citizens descending from Civil War veterans, veterans of other wars and conflicts as well as interested citizens are attempting to preserve this very valuable piece of Cattaraugus County and the United States of America history. In particular a group of concerned citizens, Citizens Advocating Memorial Preservation (CAMP) has formed and worked very hard against, quite frankly, very difficult odds to prevent the demolition and to have the Memorial restored and reused.
We have dealt with the Public Works Committee as we were informed was the proper way. We have presented a feasibility study prepared by the Clinton Brown Company Firm, a historical preservation architecture expert. By the way, NOT ONE PENNY OF TAXPAYER MONEY PAID FOR THIS STUDY. I hope you have seen and reviewed this study.
The Clinton Brown Study shows the building can be preserved. Is it inexpensive? NO. Does CAMP believe Cattaraugus County should pay for the restoration? NO. Does CAMP want to work with Cattaraugus County to save the memorial? YES.
CAMP met with the Public Works Committee several times…one to present our case, one to present the Clinton Brown Study, and lastly to ask that several issues be clarified.
We have at all times acted in a respectful manner. Points we asked to have clarified:
1. Will the County commit to not demolishing the building?
2. Would the County work with CAMP to find future use(s) for the Memorial and sources of funding?
3. Would the County commit funds appropriated for demolition towards the preservation of the Memorial?
4. Was the issue of a “reverter clause” in the gifting of the land to Cattaraugus County no longer an issue? As an aside, there has been considerable discussion on this issue with conflicting opinions offered by several attorneys. Why not have it evaluated by an attorney specializing in these areas?
County Administrator Jack Searles has said the county had given C.A.M.P. “more time than they requested” to see if they could save the building. First of all, CAMP did not request any time…the committee informally said that they would postpone the decision. At no time was CAMP given, in writing, a definitive time frame, despite asking for formalization of their intentions many times.
I would have to disagree with Mr. Searles’ assessment. CAMP could not “save the building” with out formal action by the Legislature. We could not ask people to give money for a project that may or may not happen. CAMP could not apply for grants given that Cattaraugus County owns the Memorial. What CAMP has done has funded the Feasibility Study, collected many indications of support for the effort, including letters of support from Senator Cathy Young, Assembly Joe Gigolo, the Civil War Trust, formal support of Cattaraugus County American Legion, as well as well as multiple petitions signed by CATTARAUGUS COUNTY RESIDENTS. Through CAMP’s efforts the Memorial has been placed on the “Five to Revive Listing” developed by the Landmark Society of Western New York. The Memorial is the ONLY building listed in Cattaraugus and neighboring counties.
This is what the Five to Revive announcement of the inclusion of the Memorial on this list said:
Built 1911, the Cattaraugus County Memorial and Historical Building is a unique example of a Civil War Memorial that was designed for use as a municipal building. Designed by the Jamestown architecture firm of Freeburg and Fidler, the Memorial Building is located in Little Valley, the county seat for Cattaraugus County. The building is prominently sited on the village green, adjacent to the County office building. An elegant Neoclassical style building, it once housed a library and, until 2004, the County Historical Museum. In 2013, county officials announced plans for its demolition. A newly formed organization, Citizens Advocating Memorial Preservation (CAMP), has been working with The Landmark Society to advocate for reuse. A highly visible landmark for over 100 years, the Memorial Building has excellent potential for rehabilitation as a community resource in the 21st century.
Imagine the surprise of the Society that before any action or assistance could be given that the Public Works Committee has decided to DEMOLISH THE MEMORIAL!
I ask you to seriously consider other alternatives to demolishment of the Memorial. I ask those of you who are veterans or who know a veteran to consider how you would feel if you knew that in a 100 years your sacrifice was not worthy of being remembered in a memorial erected by grateful citizens of Cattaraugus County because it is not convenient to find other alternatives than tearing it down. Ask yourself if a small replacement is adequate to memorialize those who not only saved our nation but contributed so much to the many of the improvements in modern living conditions. And lastly, ask if a restored Memorial can help support the mission of Cattaraugus County to encourage tourism.
Please consider giving CAMP and the County to find other alternatives. Please vote NO.
Juanita Stein Ried
December 7, 2015
Gretchen Gaede submitted this open letter that she wrote for all Catt Co Legislators who will vote on the demolition of the Memorial Building in Little Valley, NY:
December 7, 2015
Although I live in Cleveland Ohio, I wish that all Cattaraugus County legislators be
aware that their recent decision to demolish the Civil War Monument in Little Valley is a
decision that will reverberate through communities far from your own and for a long time
to come. The momentum for saving this richly historic structure increased monthly and
the fact that it was recently listed as one of New York’s Five to Revive should not be
ignored or taken lightly. It is ironic that the town’s legislature agrees that there should
be a memorial to the over 35,000 Cattaraugus County war veterans but would tear
down the current one, dedicated in 1913, to erect some sort of symbolic afterthought in
its place. Apparently the legislators also agree that there are key structural components
that should be salvaged so why not just maintain this unique and historic structure
precisely as it was dedicated, especially when the study provided by Buffalo’s
preservation firm of Clinton Brown suggests that the cost of restoring the building for
reuse would be almost half of what County officials would have you believe.
It would seem that the legislature is not listening to the voice of the community that they have been elected to represent. The very idea that the CAMP committee was blindsided by the news that after all of its efforts to prove the value and worth of this building, it was earmarked for demolition within a closed door conference, does not reflect well on the leadership of your community.
I urge you to listen to the passionate voices of those who call upon you to preserve the
rich history that you have been entrusted with and in so doing vote AGAINST the
demolition of this Memorial. The past and future citizens of Cattaraugus County, along
with so many others watching from afar, implore you to put all politics aside and do the
right thing for those who served your county so bravely in the past, as well as current
and future generations who would have the opportunity to honor their service within this
deserving historic structure.