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Human Remains Likely Under Demolition Site

9:15 AM, Jan 17, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, N.Y. - A lonely spot on Buffalo's east side is about to be disrupted by demolition.

The site sits on a plot of land at Best and East North Streets, right by City Honors High School. Human remains have been found there before and now there's question about how possible future remains would be handled, with the demolition approaching.

The fact that the Woodson Gardens Apartment complex is still standing could be dangerous. Windows are dilapidated and wood panels look like they've been chewed off.

The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority owns the restricted property and is getting ready to take it down this spring.

"We want to do what's in the best interest of the community as a whole and right now, the first thing that we need to do is focus on abatement and demolition," said Dawn Sanders-Garrett, the executive director of BMHA.

A contractor has been selected to demolish the 14 filthy buildings there. Crews will have to make sure all utilities are cut inside, clean up the area and fill in foundations. During this process it's possible human remains will be found.

The chances of finding bones under the muddy ground are good. In June 2008, about 125 pieces of human remains were found when City Honors, which is across the street, was renovating.

"There were really no records kept, who was buried here, we don't have any site maps," said archaeologist Doug Mooney at the time.

In Dec. 2007, a team of archeologists found remains of three adults and a child 10 feet under the front lawn at the school. 

"I think anyone going in there with foreknowledge will be particularly, I think careful and observant, one would hope so," said Tim Tielman of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo, "If an operator sees something or a supervisor sees something in the ground, they [should] be very sensitive."

In the mid to late-1800s a Potter's Field Cemetery, which catered to the poor was there. It's unclear how many people were buried and who was buried. Perhaps more of Buffalo's history will be uncovered when demolition starts.

It's unclear exactly where all remains in the past have been taken, although, some were reburied. If bones are found later this year, crews will have to stop and notify a health examiner to resume demolition.

The property could have a bright future.

The BMHA says about 30 families could find housing there. There's talk about the space being used by City Honors or Buffalo General Hospital.

The BMHA says all environmental and preservation guidelines will be followed during this process.

"Who would've thought that a project of this magnitude would have human remains under it, but nonetheless, any time there are challenges that we come across we deal with them appropriately," said Sanders-Garrett.

 

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