Lackawanna Mayor Norman L. Polanski Jr. came with more than just an official point of view Wednesday when he toured St. Barbara's Catholic Church on Ridge Road with members of the city's engineering department and its architectural consultants.
"Personally, my busha [grandmother] and dziadzio [grandfather] were buried from there, all my aunts and uncles were buried from there," he said Wednesday night. "It has sentimental value to me because all of my family members were members of St. Barbara's."
St. Barbara's, a few blocks down the street from City Hall, has been marked for closing by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, and Polanski, aware of the deficiencies of the current City Hall, is wondering whether the old church might be a good home for new municipal offices.
"It's a rock-solid building," the mayor noted, "and our orange structure is not very appealing. It's not very attractive, and it's hard to heat. . . . But at this point, we're just looking at the possibility, that's all."
The mayor said that an architectural study would be needed on whether St. Barbara's is even suitable for city operations. "If the figures are outrageous, City Hall won't be there," he said. "We're not a rich community. We can't just throw money around." What could help is a state "Restore NY" grant.
In addition to the church, the property includes a rectory, a social hall and a large parking lot, the mayor said. "I want to do the respectful thing for the church," he said, "so let's see what we can do here. It would be a beautiful addition to the city as City Hall."