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SEP 15 - SEP 22, 2015

Only in NT: It's only Historic if it Benefits the Special Few

By Sweeney Payne

SEP 15, 2015

One cannot “grow up in” NT, attend high school outside NT, spend decades in military service all over the world, move here and become an expert on what we who never left here or have lived here for decades  need.  Sorry, not-so-grand-old Party, you blew it when appointing Bob Pecoraro to “represent” us.  He only represents the Party and current ruling clique.

So “removed” from it,   he was recently quoted as being pleased the Historic Preservation Commission is working on designating another section of NT as a “historic district” because he lives in a “historic” home.

The first “historic district,” the Downtown Historic District, designated by the HPC in 2006 without any resource study to verify there was a reason for its borders or anything historic in it, was obviously created specifically for David Burgio.

Burgio’s  administration created two entities he still pulls the strings on, the HPC  and Lumber City Development Corp. He created LCDC to bypass the Common Council (our representatives) on economic development projects.

What a coup Burgio pulled off with those two entities! We don’t vote for anyone on either body.  LCDC doesn’t even report to those we do elect on its financial information.

Although small pittances have been doled out to a select few small businesses and a couple of quality larger businesses in NT, the largest beneficiaries of HPC/LCDC working together have been Burgio and his buddy from New York City who was given taxpayer money and tax credits to renovate the Remington-Rand complex. That outsider has told a number of locals that, once those tax credits are done, he'll be out of here, sell off Remington Lofts and Remington Tavern.  Will other outsiders beat the bushes to take that on then?

The only other serious beneficiary of LCDC has been Taylor Devices, an international business with stock  sold on the Stock Exchange.  Why did NT residents have to subsidize its expansion?  Why was its President, Douglas Taylor, allowed to continue to chair the LCDC board throughout the project?  To date, that project is the only contribution to Oliver Street made by LCDC—and it isn’t on Oliver Street.  It’s way back on Ironton Street, taking up the southwest corner of Buffalo Bolt Business Park.

The proposed new lumber baron historic district will impose on homeowners in whatever boundaries they approve the same burden they placed on property owners in the huge Downtown Historic District. Although using selective enforcement, so long as property owners don’t catch on, those Burgio,  LCDC and HPC haven’t wanted downtown have been given the most grief.  Simple replacement of existing (although not “historic”) facades by those not in Burgio’s circle, have resulted in additional expenses for some, including actual sale of some buildings because owners didn't bother to take legal action against NT to exercise their legal rights on their property.

Homeowners like Alderman Pecoraro need to know they won’t be allowed to simply hire a quality contractor, but will need architects, several in some cases, and permission from HPC for anything they want to do with their home. Then, if the house is really historic or determined by HPC to be “historic,” or even it if is not, just because it is located in a “historic district,” the renovation costs will skyrocket.  They won’t be able to just redecorate or renovate.  All has to be approved, on the exteriors at least, by those Burgio puppets on the HPC.  They’ll need the historic tax credits by the time HPC is done with them. If they decide to sell the house, they’ll have to find someone willing to be subject to that historic district.

Why hasn’t HPC presented public workshops to inform NT citizens what it is all about?  Or send notices to all property owners in the Downtown Historic District to warn them the rules had changed? Will they inform property owners in this Lumber Baron District what it is going to cost them?

On reviewing publications produced by the NT History Museum in the last decade, we question the term “Lumber Barons.”  It appears that the only lumber “barons” involved with NT lived elsewhere than in NT and  the area being considered was home to owners, presidents, managers of smaller lumber operations or local superintendents of larger ones, but the majority of homes were constructed by and lived in by industrialists, insurance gurus, bankers, and medical practitioners.  The Weston mansion has been gone for half a century.  Calling it “Mansion Row” would be more appropriate. 

 We predict a rush to sell the large former mansions now serving as multiple dwellings.  Does LCDC have an out of town potential purchaser to buy them all?  What would purchasers think of our awful streets?







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