Ever since my childhood days, the Wollenberg Grain and Seed Elevator, affectionately called the mill, existed at the foot of Koons Avenue. As a young child, I witnessed the deteriorating condition of the mill, but as an adult, I soon realized the importance of this structure and championed with many to preserve its integrity. Effort was expended by the city, and successfully, the structure was placed on the National and State Register of Historic Places. It is with heavy heart that all this initial effort and subsequent lack of city responsibility on a city-owned historic structure - the third-oldest wooden crib bin grain elevator in the Northeast - went up in flames on Oct. 1.Yesterday in Don Esmonde's Buffalo News column - Rich Tobe, who is at the helm of the City's stewardship of these places admitted...
As I painfully watched the structure being demolished, all my hopes envisioned for this area quickly vanished. The century-old hemlock will never be replaced, no one will ever know the engineering and industrial relevance of this mill, and my ride down Koons will no longer be greeted by its silhouette.
The fact is that Buffalo used federal demolition funds of $68,000 to demolish this site. There is an old saying: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." The disease of the East Side is demolition by neglect.
Last week, the wooden Wollenberg Grain Elevator, a national register landmark on the East Side, was torched in an arson fire. Activists say they months ago asked the city to seal it from vandals. It didn't happen. "I concede the point," said Tobe, "that the city didn't do a good job with this." read the restThe only other City owned "historic" property on the East Side - a designated "local landmark" by the City's Preservation Board - the Woodlawn Row Houses. Still wide open, despite my best efforts to keep them secure. Unlike the Wollenberg, the Woodlawn Row Houses are directly - 75 feet - across the street from the renovation of Performing Arts High School, a few blocks from Artspace and the new Merrieweather Library - 50 million of public investment - and not a penny to properly secure this heritage site. It's why I started blogging.
I'm no longer pissed off. That was easy. More like zen...and struggling to accept and fully understand why that what is said is not as important as what gets done, or doesn't.