The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History Architecture and Culture has sent a letter, quoted in full below, to Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown urging that he direct Commissioner of Permit and Inspection Services James Comerford to rescind his issuance of a demolition permit, effective Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, to the owners of the former North park Baptist Church (later Temple Emanu-El) at Colvin and Tacoma avenues in North Buffalo.
Hon. Byron Brown
Buffalo, NY 14202
VIA HAND DELIVERY AND EMAIL
Re: Former North Park Baptist Church-Temple Emanu-El, 375 Colvin Avenue.
Dear Mayor Brown,
At its meeting yesterday, the Buffalo Preservation Board found that the threatened former North Park Baptist Church at 375 Colvin Avenue qualified for designation as a city landmark. Only one of nine criteria need be met for designation; the board found that this building met five of the criteria. The board voted unanimously to designate the building as a landmark and scheduled a public hearing for January 10. The building is best known as the former Temple Emanu-El, the seat of the most significant rabbi within Conservative Judaism in the United States, Isaac Klein, from 1953 to 1968. The former Baptist congregation overextended itself on the grand building, and sold it in 1934 to congregation Emanu-El, led by Rabbi Joseph Gitin (upon his death in 2010 at age 104, Rabbi Gitin was believed to have been oldest Reform rabbi in the world).
Commissioner Jim Comerford has indicated he is "releasing" the historic building for demolition and issuing a demolition permit effective Monday, December 31 on a non-emergency basis. Such action would be taken with full knowledge and directly contrary to the Preservation Board.
This is an iconic building in North Buffalo, the demolition of which, the Preservation Board was informed, is opposed by many in the community. Councilmember Michael LoCurto informed the board that he is opposed to demolition and supports the formal designation of the building as a landmark. In addition, The Campaign for Greater Buffalo opposes the demolition and supports the desgnation of the site as a landmark.
That this should be happening during the holidays and after the owners cancelled an inspection of the building by the Preservation Board just hours before it was to take place (and, it seems, after Commissioner Comerford made the decision to issue the demolition permit), is of utmost concern. As indicated by the non-emergency status of the demolition permit, no health or safety reason exists for the building to be torn down.
You have in the past intervened to forestall demolitions of significant buildings and we must urge you once again to take immediate action and direct that this demolition permit be rescinded or delayed at least until the full Common Council has acted on the nomination.
Photo by Steel