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Crews start clearing items from the Aud

Crews have begun carting an assortment of semi-hazardous items from the mothballed Memorial Auditorium.

Op-Tech Environmental Services will spend 60 to 90 days removing about 11,000 items from the idle sports arena. The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. hired the Syracuse firm under a $380,000 contract approved this fall.

"After 11 years, doing something about the Aud isn't just talk anymore," said Charles Rosenow, executive director of the harbor development agency. "This is a big step forward for the Aud and that entire neighborhood."

As part of the $275 million Canal Side plan for Buffalo's inner harbor, the Aud is targeted for demolition. A Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World store will take its place.

Last year, an inventory found the 71-year-old arena contains a lot more than cherished memories of Buffalo Sabres games and rock concerts. Items that require specialized disposal include 3,000 fluorescent light ballasts; several 55-gallon drums of chemicals, solvents and cleaners; 127 air-conditioning units; and dozens of black-and-white television sets.

As the building is cleared of semi-hazardous items, planning is under way for the more complicated and expensive task of removing several tons of asbestos located throughout the building. The harbor development panel will start seeking bids for the estimated $7 million removal project in early December, with the goal of awarding a contract in mid-January.

Asbestos removal hinges on receiving $7 million from Erie County. The county has had the funds in hand since a 2005 bond sale, but the County Legislature and the county's fiscal control board still must take action.

Buffalo also needs to make a final decision on auctioning Aud memorabilia. Mayor Byron W. Brown has signaled interest in selling off these items, but no formal plan has been formulated.


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