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Demolition can proceed on Bethlehem Steel building

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Buffalo: Demolition can proceed on Bethlehem Steel building
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Local preservationists are filing an appeal to stop demolition of the Bethlehem Steel Administration building. YNN's Kaitlyn Lionti tells us they took immediate action after a State Supreme Court Judge allowed demolition to continue Wednesday.

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. — The latest chapter in the ongoing saga of the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building played out in a State Supreme Court hearing Wednesday.

Last week, an Erie County Court judge granted the Campaign for Greater Buffalo's request for a temporary restraining order against the building's owner, Gateway Trade, and the City of Lackawanna. The group claims that proper procedures weren't followed prior to the demolition, and the process was halted.

"We think the citizens of Lackawanna, we think the citizens of Western New York need to have this important historic building saved," said Tim Tielman, Campaign for Greater Buffalo.

But Justice James Dillon lifted the restraining order Wednesday. He referenced the demolition order from the City of Lackawanna Court, which still stands.

"Once there is a court order of demolition, the official in charge of issuing the permit has no discretion. I expect and would demand that they and all other citizens follow a court order. That court order binds me also," said Dillon.

The attorney representing the preservationists was in Lackawanna City Court two weeks ago, asking that judge to vacate his demolition order. He hasn't made a decision at this point.

While Justice Dillon is still allowing both sides to submit papers in the case into next week, those trying to save the building say it could be too late.

"It may render our work moot if we come back on Monday and that building is gone," Tielman said.

Tielman says that's why filing an appeal to get another temporary restraining order is important, and he says stopping demolition isn't a danger to the public, though others disagree.

"With the building being open as it is, and deteriorated as it is, the biggest danger is that the asbestos in there right now is escaping into the air," said Norman LeBlanc, Lackawanna City Attorney.

"Arguably, the building may be in more of a vulnerable position than it was before demolition started, which increases potential liability," said Katy Hedges, Gateway Trade's attorney.

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