BUFFALO, N.Y. — It was just over two years ago that leaders of Centro Culturale Italiana (CCI) stood with local officials to announce an ambitious plan to transform the former North Park Library, which had been vacant for almost decade, into an Italian Cultural Center.
With $300,000 in grants secured, they said it would be done in a year. Two years later the landmark structure at the corners of busy Delaware and Hertel Avenues remains empty and overgrown.
However, things are about to change.
“Tomorrow the city is going to officially file the paperwork to officially sell the property for the Italian Cultural Center," confirmed Delaware District Common Council Member Joel P. Feroleto.
Feroleto also told WGRZ-TV he expects the Common Council to approve the sale at a purchase price of $50,000 at a meeting in October.
“We’re confident we are going to accomplish what we set out to do,” said Anthony M. Masiello, the former Mayor of Buffalo who as a member of CCI helped spearhead the effort.
Masiello acknowledged the original timetable may have been too ambitious for the group, because the project requires $1.2 million for the purchase and renovation, which includes costly removal of lead paint and asbestos, and steps to comply with state standards for historic structures.
“What happened, was and rightfully so, the city wanted assurances that we as an organization had the money to fulfill our commitment…and it took us a while to accumulate the resources and the assets in fundraising to make that happen," Masiello said.
Despite the later than expected start on the project, group’s latest timetable for completion may be even more ambitious than what it originally proposed. Masiello tells 2 On Your Side they hope to have it completed by the late spring of 2020.