Land Bank director disputes info over demo
SILVER CREEK — Gina Paradis, executive director of the Chautauqua County Land Bank, disputed some information and clarified its involvement regarding the former Revere Inn during a recent Silver Creek village board meeting.
“I’m here tonight to make myself available to the village board members…and hopefully correct some misinformation that has been promulgated about the Revere Inn’s demolition,” Paradis began, reading from a prepared statement.
The old Revere Inn was demolished in December when the land bank’s project manager, JURA, contracted out the project to HH Rauh. The workers had fenced in the site, but eventually took down the fence. Mayor Jeffrey Hornburg voiced his criticism during a prior meeting, not of the demolition itself, but of the filling in of the basement left after the demolition. His primary concern was with people driving over the fill and getting stuck.
Paradis and the project manager from HH Rauh attended the meeting, in part, to defend their positions.
“The contractor’s project manager…worked directly with the former mayor (Nick Piccolo), your public works supervisor and your code officer on all aspects of the planning and execution of this demolition,” Paradis explained. “(This included) the village’s request that the contractor purchase fill from the village to backfill the site and prep it for parking use, rather than grade and seed it, which is our usual procedure.”
Paradis finished by telling the board: “The misstatements to the media regarding the Land Bank owning the property, that we were going to redevelop the property and more recently that the demolition was done inadequately and not to the village’s specifications are misguided and inaccurate.”
The land bank’s involvement with the Revere Inn began relatively recently in September of 2016 and upon the village’s request.
“There was not much the land bank could do but offer some guidance on potential strategies for the village to address the issues directly with the property owner,” said Paradis.
“Because of encumbrances, it was not feasible to transfer the property to the land bank nor the village. Rather, once the property became tax delinquent, we made a joint decision to let the county take the foreclosure judgment and pull it from auction so that it could be safely demolished rather than end up in the hands of another well-intentioned but under-capitalized buyer.”
Hornburg thanked Paradis for her statements and reiterated his concern about “somebody driving on that property without it being secured. I asked (highway superintendent) Steve (DeAngelo) to give me some pricing on fencing so that we could fence it off to eliminate that problem.”
DeAngelo has been on vacation during the last couple of weeks, Hornburg said.
“I will get with Steve as soon as he’s back to see where he’s at as far as securing the fencing,” said Hornburg. “We did discuss about transferring the property over to the village. I’ve been in discussion with the board on it. We’re just crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s.”
“I think that’s in the best interest of the village,” Paradis responded. “Then you have control over the site” regarding developing a downtown program or other redevelopment project.
As far as why the fencing was taken down in the first place, HH Rauh’s project manager Mathew Chapman offered two reasons. One, it was too expensive to have someone regularly come out and check on the fence’s stability; and two, someone had tripped on the fence while it was up, which raised concerns over liability.
“We deemed it was safe to take it out,” Chapman said, adding that his team had already arranged with DeAngelo to return in the spring to reassess the site and address any issues.
“We did it the best we could while staying within our means, with what the village wanted and what we could do for them,” Chapman said.