The Fairfield Library in North Buffalo has been standing vacant since 2005. Owned by the City, the former church-turned-library was passed up for a Restore New York grant the City applied for earlier in the year, and it looked like the slowly decaying structure would have to be saved by a private entity. That posed another set of problems, as the last assessment was done over 2 years ago, but the price tag of $75K has stood firm. See this Buffalo Rising post from Steel in July of 2008, in which he asks the question: Is This One Doomed Too?
A team of local developers has shown interest, but when Councilman Michael LoCurto set up a meeting with City of Buffalo Director of Real Estate John Hannon in early November, the developers were a no-show. “That’s usually not a good sign,” LoCurto said, “but they said they’re still interested. It will be up to them to get a reassessment and present it to our review panel.” The potential developers, who have done many successful rehabs around the city, are out of town, but will be back soon.
LoCurto says it would be nice to see the Fairfield in private hands, if only because the City owns a lot of real estate that needs attention. He concedes that the building has problems, and that the city has tried to rectify most of them on an as-needed basis, but says that “a private owner with a good plan is probably the best bet at this point.”
In the meanwhile, The Parkside Community Association (PCA) has sent a letter to the mayor, asking the city to do their utmost to “facilitate the transfer” to a private developer. The letter from PCA Executive Director LaVerne Peakes, addressed to Mayor Brown, is as follows:
At the November 17 meeting the Parkside
Community Association Board of Directors discussed the future of the Fairfield
Library. Despite the PCA’s
efforts to save the library and preservations’ efforts to preserve it for a
public space, there does not seem to be a good solution available. Preservationists have not been able to
come forward with funding or a viable use, and the Library Board has made it
very clear that they will not use is as a library again. The City’s efforts to obtain funds
through Restore New York have failed.
For these reasons, the Board feels it
is time to sell the building to a private developer who will rehabilitate the
building. We understand that pipes
have broken, causing significant damage; asbestos abatement will probably run
as high as $40,000; and holes in the roof have resulted in considerable water
damage. The City needs to be
reasonable about what they can expect for a building in this deteriorated condition.
The Vernon Triangle neighbors are tired
of looking at this disgrace; neighbors are voluntarily mowing the grass — it’s
time to be realistic and let the private sector preserve the building.
We urge you to facilitate the transfer
of the Fairfield Library to private hands.
Parkside resident Ruth Lampe, who made it clear that she was speaking as a resident and not as part of the PCA, said that although the City has assigned the building to the task force, nearby residents usually get to the mowing first and see the effects of the weathering first. Since it was first mothballed 4 years ago, Lampe says heating pipes have burst and new holes have developed in the roof, thereby causing more water damage.
“It’s all very sad,” Lampe says. “We’d love it to stay in the public sector, and at one point it was suggested that the PCA move there, but even if it were offered to them for a dollar, they couldn’t afford it. Let someone fix and use it.”
PCA Executive Director LaVerne Peakes says, “Winter’s coming. We want it purchased.”