Opposition To Razing Of Historic Building Persists

LITTLE VALLEY – A flood of emails and letters have tied up many of the 21 Cattaraugus County legislators since the announcement of the razing of a historic building.

The building stands empty, across Court Street from the county center. Dedicated Sept. 7, 1914, the building has stood as a memorial to the Civil War veterans of Cattaraugus County, and is revered by many descendants of the New York 154th Volunteer Infantry. The building housed the County Historical Museum for several years, until it started to fall into disrepair, to include foundational walls crumbling and water and moisture, creating a mold problem.

Many in opposition have insisted that the building be preserved, and have been quite vocal in their correspondence, according to District 10 Legislator Linda Edstrom, R-Olean. Thoughts on what to do with the building were bandied about by members of the Public Works Committee and included vocal opposition to erecting a monument at the location of the building, once it is razed.

“I am hesitant on a memorial at that location,” District 9 Legislator Susan Labuhn, D-Salamanca, said. “I would hate to put up a monument out there and have to move it in the future, should we need that land for future development. We really should put it someplace to not have to move it again.”

While ideas for a monument were discussed at the Little Valley site, the idea to move the monument and the relics of the building to the Stone House was also discussed. The Stone House – the former poorhouse for the county, located on the campus of The Pines of Machias – is one of the two county-operated nursing homes. Repairs to the Stone House are under consideration, and a resolution will be in front of the full legislature Wednesday.

A proposed $5,000 in repairs is planned to include the engineering of a memorial at the Machias location.

“It’s kind of ironic,” District 10 Legislator William Aiello, R-Olean, said, “(Monday), we (honored) all the veterans of this country and we are here, talking about destroying something that was built to the memory of so many of them.”

Plans for the demolition of the building and it’s conjoined neighbor, the former Board of Elections building, have not been firmed up, with no start date in mind, according to Public Works Commissioner Joe Pillittere.

The project to bring the buildings down and return the land to green space is projected to cost $175,000, $125,00 of which will come out of the county’s casino revenue share.