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Preservation: How About a Two-For-One?

The
Buffalo Common Council is butting heads with the Peace Bridge Authority, specifically PBA General Manager Ron Rienas, over a
historic Busti Avenue property.  The Authority wants to tear down the
146-year-old structure at 771 Busti Avenue to provide green space as part of
the Peace Bridge expansion.  A majority of the Common Council has
indicated support for landmarking the building, complicating the demolition
plan. 

From
The News’ Brian Meyer:

“It’s
a very important building in the history of Buffalo,” city Preservation Board
member Timothy A. Tielman told the Council’s Legislation Committee.

The
Preservation Board is recommending that the Wilkeson House be made a city
landmark. But Rienas passed out studies that claim the building is structurally
unsound and cannot be adapted for reuse. One study suggests there are other
homes in the city that are in better condition and hence better examples of
Italianate-style structures.

“We
do not believe it merits landmark status given the condition that it’s in,” [Authority
General Manager] Rienas told lawmakers.

He
also reminded them that in 2005, the Council adopted a plan that called for
demolishing this building and other structures on Busti Avenue between Vermont
and Rhode Island streets to make way for green space and improvements to Front
Park.

busti .png

If the
house can’t be moved, and needs to come down to accommodate an expanded Peace
Bridge, what to do?  How about mitigation?  Allow the demolition as
long as the Authority restores two like-quality properties that are vacant or
run-down elsewhere in the city.  State and federal agencies allow off-site
mitigation for habitat loss.  Wetlands, woodlands, riparian, endangered
species habitat and the like are frequently mitigated for on a 2-for-1 basis. 
For every acre a development impacts, two acres are restored or conserved
elsewhere.  Mitigation banks have been established to facilitate these
transactions.  There is usually an in-lieu fee option available. 

So is
if the Italianate-style house must come down (still open for debate), should we
allow this one to be lost if two or more others are saved on the Authority’s
dime?  Or the Authority can pay into a fund to save threatened structures
elsewhere, or perhaps assist owners to restore their historic properties. 
We allow it for habitat, why not our built environment?

 

Top image by David Torke @ Fix Buffalo

 

 

 

 

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Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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