Originally posted in the Buffalo News on January 12th, 2013
Our community must value our physical heritage. It is valuable, both culturally and financially.
Buffalo is the beneficiary of the rich legacy of previous generations whose hard work, sacrifice and perseverance established this city and made it great. This should be a source of strength for our community. Instead we are thoughtlessly squandering it.
The church on Colvin Avenue in North Buffalo was a piece of our heritage. It was expertly built using skills and materials that are either prohibitively expensive or simply nonexistent today. It was a monument to the community’s values and aspirations. It was a source of unity and civic pride. When something like this church is destroyed, we lose another piece of the city’s soul.
Now, another irreplaceable piece of our area’s heritage is threatened. The demolition of the Bethlehem Steel Administration Building would remove a unique physical piece of this region’s history and will erase what should be a source of shared pride and identity. The loss of buildings like this only leads to a cultural ignorance that further weakens our community.
The reuse of historic structures has spurred real economic development in dozens of projects throughout the city. If there is no immediate use for a building, it should be mothballed. Mothballing is cheaper than demolition and preserves a valuable resource for when reuse is feasible.
Our city has not demolished itself to prosperity. Frittering away these resources forever removes valuable redevelopment opportunities. To waste the gifts of our forefathers dishonors their legacy and is a disgrace to our community. The city must develop a comprehensive plan to address the ongoing loss of our heritage. We all have a responsibility to safeguard our heritage.