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