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Campaign for Greater Buffalo Speaks About Late Night Demo

The following is a statement issued by the Campaign about a City Official causing an 1850s Landmark to be demolished without public notice:

“The building popularly know as
Bernstone’s Cigar Store, part of the Joseph Ellicott Historic District, is
threatened with imminent demolition. It was designed by eminent architect
Calvin Otis and erected in the 1850’s. It was the long-time home of the Third
National Bank (Joseph Schoellkopf was president) until its merger with M&T
Bank in 1962. Sometime after that, the upper four stories were demolished,
leaving the original tin cornice and a Classical cast-iron storefront, possibly
the oldest in the city.

Commissioner James Commerford of the
City of Buffalo Department of Permit and Inspection Services apparently is
flouting the law on public notice once again (He has failed to notify the City
Landmark and Preservation Board several times of “Emergency” demolition
orders, as required by the City Charter, most recently in the case of the
Riverside Men’s Shop and Wheeleer grain elevator demolitions). Campaign for
Greater Buffalo Executive Director and Preservation Board member Tim Tielman,
acting on calls from concerned citizens, went to the department this afternoon.
No demolition permit application in the city is supposed to be issued without
being reviewed by the Preservation Board. Tielman found out Comerford had
issued a demolition order on Friday afternoon, August 31. Comerford was
overheard raising his voice, saying he would not meet with Tielman, who was
waiting in the next room. Assistant Director Lou Petrucci relayed the message
that the commissioner said “to file an Article 78” if a couple days’
leave of demolition was sought. Article 78 refers to a legal proceeding brought
against a government agency to force it to comply with its own laws.

On July 19, Comerford sent a letter
asking for a waiver of noticication of demolition of an asbestos-containing
structure to the State Labor Department; he claimed there was imminent danger
to the public. It took six weeks for fencing to be erected around the site.
Still, the Preservation Board was not notified and no public notice has been

“It is clear the commissioner
has nothing but contempt for the public process and for the public body charged
with protecting the city’s historic assets,” said Tielman.” 

Timothy Tielman

Executive Director 

The Campaign for Greater Buffalo
History, Architecture & Culture


 Entry Image Courtesy of Bernice Radle

Written by Mike Puma

Mike Puma

Writing for Buffalo Rising since 2009 covering development news, historic preservation, and Buffalo history. Works professionally in historic preservation.

View All Articles by Mike Puma
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