Six hundred signatures were hand delivered Tuesday to Lackawanna's Mayor. It was a last minute effort to save the historic Bethlehem Steel Office Building from being torn down. A judge gave the property owner 10 days to come up with a plan for demolition or face fines.
LACKAWANNA, N.Y. — "The community supports preserving the building," Andrea Haxton, Former City of Lackawanna Councilwoman, told YNN.
But an Erie County judge didn't. A 90 day stay of demolition expired on Thanksgiving and a judge ruled Tuesday the demolition can go forward.
Now, the property owners have 10 days to come up with a plan to knock it down or they'll face being in contempt and fines of up to $500 a day.
"It's been uncared for over 30 years, so if they are not going to take care of that building, and have no plans for the building, then what is the purpose of saving that building?" City of Lackawanna Mayor, Geoffrey Szymanski asked.
It was built in 1901. By WWII, Bethlehem Steel became the largest steel maker in the world. It helped produce war supplies for the U.S. and its allies.
The plant's doors finally closed in 1983 with massive layoffs. But preservationists say the building's history could be secured in new ways.
"We see jobs coming back into our community through historic sites like these that can be redeveloped," Dana Saylor from the Buffalo Young Preservationists said.
But, City officials say two studies found the building to be structurally unsound.
"Pittsburgh adjusted, Cleveland adjusted. Buffalo has not and if we don't start making moves and start getting rid of stuff that is unusable, than we are going to continue to stay where we're at, which is nowhere," Szymanski said.
The city attorney said it would cost $850,000 just to remove the asbestos, and even with a half million dollar state grant approved a couple of years ago, he told us, Gateway did not come up with the money.
Gateway did not return YNN's calls. And if they do nothing in the next ten days, the building could continue to sit there.