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Contested Bethlehem Steel building deemed "structurally sound"

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

Arguing there is new evidence, preservationists are going back into court today seeking to save the deteriorating old Bethlehem Steel management building which has already been partially demolished.Building supporters say a new engineering report has surfaced which calls the building structurally sound, contradicting earlier reports and statements by Lackawanna officials.

Preservationist David Torke says the report, acquired using the Freedom of Information Law, is a new weapon to save the structure.

"It was conducted by a reputable structural engineering firm out of Syracuse. They came here to the building to do the first interior analysis and report on the building that's been done to date and they determined that the building, surprisingly, is structurally sound," said Torke.

The Syracuse-based engineering firm was hired and allowed inside because the owner wanted some state money to help pay for asbestos abatement and demolition and the State Historic Preservation Office wanted an outside opinion.

Lawyer Paul Fusco-Gessick says that new information lets preservationists go back into court.

"What we are doing is seeking to intervene in the action between the City of Lackawanna and Gateway Trade, the owners of the building. The law allows us to do this based on new information which was never presented in court, namely this new report which says that the condition of the building is structurally sound," said Fusco-Gessick.

While there is no demolition on the oldest part of the complex, at least one structure on the rear is mostly down.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.