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)