This article was originally posted on the WGRZ website on January 9, 2013.
A group of neighbors in Buffalo say they’re sick and tired of watching vandals ruin where they live. They add that the city and the company that should be caring for the property are neglecting the issue.
On a freezing cold night in Buffalo, some residents took matters into their own hands, doing everything they could think of, to protect a historical building in their neighborhood.
It all involves the vacant Episcopal Church Home on the city’s West Side, near the Peace Bridge. It used to be a beautiful nursing home that also helped people on Medicaid.
The future of the land has been in question for years as leaders continue to debate Peace Bridge and bridge plaza expansion plans.
Betsy Murphy lives right around the corner.
“It’s especially hard to drive down here at night and see everything all dark and it used to be well lit, it’s kind of creepy actually,” she said.
And the area has been deteriorating for about eight years. Vandals punish the facility regularly by throwing rocks at the building. Last April, there was a three-alarm fire at the church home that was set by vandals.
“Now, this element is being invited into this community,” said Kathy Mecca, who organizes meetings on West Side issues as a leader of the Columbus Park Association.
And just last week, the latest act of vandalism happened when someone or a group of people broke a chain-linked gate – allowing anyone to get inside.
After repeated calls to City Hall to put on new chains, residents took matters into their own hands by linking the gate together – hoping vandals will stay out.
“When they don’t respond to our reasonable requests ‘yes’ they are letting us down,” said Murphy.
Two On Your Side contacted Common council member David Rivera about problems with the home. It’s in his legislative district.
“I don’t know if City Hall and the police have failed the citizens, I think we can be more aggressive in terms of our code enforcements and I’ve asked the Inspections Department to do so,” he said.
We also spoke to the owners of the property, which is Episcopal Church Home and Associates. It has several properties across Western New York. The company says it’s aware of the vandalism and wants to make the property secure. But, there’s a big difference in how homes look at facilities that the company runs and profits off of and how the old church home is cared for. For example, snow still needs to be shoveled outside on the sidewalk.
The lack of care is the problem residents say they have.
However, deep down inside the residents are concerned that city officials and the owners of the property don’t care about it, because right now, the church home is in the process of being sold to the state for $4 million.
There’s interest by the Peace Bridge Authority to demolish the church home and expand its nearby plaza.
A judge is currently reviewing the fate of the chapel and church home.
Neighbors secure area when owner won’t (Video)
Frustrated residents lock the gates to vacant property