BUFFALO, N.Y. — Standing with signs that read "Protect the Great Northern" and "No Demo," a group of supporters Thursday called for an independent structural review of the grain elevator that was damaged in a Dec. 12 wind storm.
The "Citizens to Save the Great Northern" held a rally outside Buffalo City Hall during which they questioned the original engineering report produced by Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) when it requested and was granted approval for emergency demolition by the City of Buffalo.
"The fact of the matter remains that the building poses no greater clear and present danger to the public than before the December storm," said University at Buffalo Clinical Assistant Professor of Architecture Greg Delaney.
Delaney, several colleagues, and students from UB's Architecture program made up a large portion of the dozen or so people who attended the rally and pointed out issues they had with ADM's report.
"All life safety risks including falling bricks had been thoroughly documented and referred back to the city as pre-existing problems," Delaney said.
"None of this outlines any sense of emergency any more than the day before the December storm."
ADM's report to the City of Buffalo Permits and Inspections Office cites safety as the main reason for their December demolition request and includes images of corrugated steel roofing that had broken free from the building. The report also describes a structural deficiency on page two that reads as such, "the structure that partially collapsed supported a 30 foot high metal cupola that is now suspended only partially supported..."
Citing the original plans for the 125-year-old structure, Delaney however called that statement 'untrue.'
"This is absolutely untrue, as the roof and head house of the building are entirely structured with a steel frame internal to the building, none of which appears to have been damaged," Delaney said.
ADM has requested to demolish the Great Northern Grain Elevator on three previous occasions and has self-reported spending $100,000 on exterior maintenance over the past 16 years. The issues used to justify ADM's requests Delaney says speak more to their negligence over time than a real emergency.
In addition to the independent review, "Citizens to Save Great Northern" has called on the Buffalo Common Council to issue a 60-day moratorium on demolition.
When asked about that proposal, Common Council President Darius Pridgen explained that while past requests have been acted upon for other buildings, he was advised by corporation counsel that the city charter would prevent it in this case.
"I'm told we alone without cooperation from the administration do not have the full power to do it," Pridgen said.
"Because the courts are involved the Common Council would not have jurisdiction to override decisions from the court."
After being granted a temporary restraining order last week by a state appellate court judge, "The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture and Culture," ADM, and the City of Buffalo are all set to be back in court Monday, Jan. 24.