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Effort to landmark closed North Park Library resurfaces

City of Buffalo

Buffalo's Common Council is again grappling with the issue of landmarking buildings around the city, entangled with a court case last year.

This has been an issue for years. Supporters of landmarking see it as a way to save old buildings, while others see it as a way to prevent new development.

Currently, the Council is grappling with two projects Buffalo's Preservation Board is again recommending be landmarked: the closed North Park Library at the corner of Hertel Avenue and Delaware Avenue and the Crosby Company complex, described as the Pratt Street Industrial Heritage District. Preservation Board Chair Paul McDonnell called the library a real mark of the neighborhood.

"This is a building that we felt is a capstone of the neighborhood," McDonnell said. "It is integral to the North Park neighborhood. It is an example of the vernacular style of the time, of the 1920s, and this is part of a neighborhood, a very vibrant neighborhood, the Hertel-North Park neighborhood that's an area I grew up in, on Wallace Avenue."

The library was closed to allow rehab and an attempt to sell the building fell through.

"We in North Buffalo mourn the day that this building was closed as a branch public library," said neighborhood resident Elizabeth Giles. "Had the county kept the building, doing the asbestos remediation that was said to be needed, we would now have a pedestrian-friendly, bicycle-friendly library today. The lawn and the mature trees serve as a buffer from the busy street."

The Crosby complex had some seriously decaying buildings last year when landmarking was proposed, but co-owner Jason Crosby says landmarking is a bad idea.

"Locally, landmarked status is really going to do two things: It's going to add additional layers to prevent demolition of these properties which, as I conveyed, is probably not going to happen since we just spent all this money to put the first steps forward to eventually bring them back to life."

Crosby said after the previous attempt to landmark the Crosby complex, the company spent more than $418,000 to stabilize buildings - more than it would have cost to demolish some buildings.

The Common Council is looking for legal advice on some of the issues involved in landmarking and last year's court case.

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.