Breaking News
More () »

Another day in court, another disappointment for Buffalo preservationists fighting to save Great Northern Grain Elevator

Preservationists are hopeful an appeals judge will rule in their favor before any wrecker's ball swings.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — After a court ruling earlier this week against their effort to prevent demolition of the Great Northern Grain Elevator, preservationists were back before a judge on Friday in another attempt to keep the Buffalo landmark from being torn down.

While things didn't go exactly the way they had hoped, an attorney for the preservationists says they have not given up the fight to save the historic structure.

The grain elevator, which hasn't been operable for 40 years, sustained heavy damage in the windstorm of December 11, when much its northern wall collapsed, leaving a gaping hole in the side of the 125-year-old landmark.

State Supreme Court Justice Justice Emilio Colaiacovo had ruled on Wednesday that the city did not err by issuing the emergency demolition permit to the building's owner, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), thereby lifting a temporary restraining order that had prevented its destruction.

On Friday preservationists, who have appealed the decision, asked for another order to prevent any demolition for a bit longer, until they can get their case before a justice of the State Supreme Court Appellate Division.

According to Richard G Berger, an attorney in the case for the Campaign for Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture, this could occur as early as Monday.

It is what preservationists fear could happen before then that prompted them to seek another stay.

"It's very possible the demolition work could be done over the weekend," Berger said. "ADM has announced its desire. ... They have the equipment out there. ... If the walls come down, then there's nothing left to appeal."

"We don't anticipate that would actually be the case," said Brian M. Melber, the attorney representing ADM, who indicated the company has no plans to start the actual demolition this weekend, and said the only way the remaining walls might fall before Monday is if they collapsed on their own.

However, Melber indicated in court that steps are underway to prepare for the demolition, and on Friday, prior to the court proceeding, 2 On Your Side witnessed the arrival of a crew whose job it is to map out underground utilities and issue a dig ticket, one of the first steps ADM needs to take in order to begin the demolition process.

"This is going to be a methodical demolition," Melber said. "And there are steps that are being taken to pursue that, but that isn't going to bring us to the point of walls coming down by Monday morning."

After hearing from both sides, Justice Colaiacovo said he heard nothing to convince him to grant another stay and wished Berger and his clients the best in their appeal.