Following the completion and dedication of the new Federal Courthouse on Niagara Square, Congressman Brian Higgins is requesting action for the Dillon Courthouse. Higgins has asked the U.S. government's landlord agency to move quickly to transition the former federal Dillon Courthouse for future use. In a letter to the U.S. General Services Administration, Higgins points out, a back-fill plan for the Dillon Courthouse would include the U.S Bankruptcy Court, the US Trustees, the Federal Defender the US Tax Court, and other federal offices. Unfortunately no progress has been made in this direction.
"Niagara Square is home to the Dillon Courthouse, the new U.S. Courthouse, the Statler, City Hall and the gateway to the Buffalo Convention Center, representing a magnificent coming together of Buffalo's history and future," said Higgins. "We are pressing to make sure that federal bureaucrats understand that swift action on a reuse plan for a structure that sits at the epicenter of Downtown Buffalo is not only their responsibility but critically important to our community and economy."
The Dillon Courthouse was constructed through the funds provided by the Emergency Relief and Construction Act of 1932. President Franklin D. Roosevelt actually laid the cornerstone in 1936 because he recognized the important partnership between the federal government local officials in creating public works to move forward and rebuild the economy after the Great Depression.
The building is a contributing structure in the Joseph Ellicott National Register Historic District. It was renamed in 1987 for Michael J. Dillon, a longtime Internal Revenue Service employee who was killed in the line of duty.
Below is Congressman Higgins' letter:
Dear Administrator Tangherlini
I write today out of concern for the future of the former Dillon federal courthouse located on historic Niagara Square in downtown Buffalo. Now that the new federal courthouse has been completed - with its impressive beacon adding dimension to Buffalo's skyline - progress on renovating the former Dillon courthouse must commence. It would be a tragedy if the General Services Administration made an investment in one part of Niagara Square while seemingly disinvesting in another federal government owned building just across the street.
It has been my longstanding understanding that a back fill plan for the former Dillon federal courthouse exists and that the building would house the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the U.S. Trustees, the Federal Defender and the U.S. Tax Court upon completion. Indeed your agency has long indicated this back fill plans as fact. Yet, no demonstrable progress on this plan has been made public as of yet. I strongly urge you to proceed expeditiously with this plan to ensure the full utilization of this historic federal structure.
Please respond as soon as possible. We look forward to working with you on the successful transition of the Dillon courthouse so that both the new and old courthouses can achieve their proper and full use.
Member of Congress