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West Seneca probes why Burchfield building is dangerous

West Seneca has hired a forensic architect to determine why the town's Burchfield Nature & Art Center is so unsafe no one can enter the 16-year-old building.

Walls are sagging in the building that was closed by the town Jan. 5.

Problems were discovered when hardware on some of the windows started popping off, and staff had trouble opening windows. When the walls were opened up, it was discovered water had collected in a pocket along the floor, and rotted out the wood around the structure. That caused part of the building to sag.

Town Attorney John Fenz said the forensic architect took a cursory look at the perimeter of the building, and wants to have thermal imaging done to determine how far the water has penetrated. The architect also looked at copies of the original drawings on which the building construction was based, he said.

Water-rotted wooden supports in the Burchfield Nature & Art Center in West Seneca. (Courtesy Town of West Seneca)

"I'm going to meet with him this Friday and he is going to review the drawings with me, so he can show me the problem areas as he sees them," Fenz said.

He said that information will be instrumental in conversations with the insurance carrier adjuster as the town learns what options might be available.

The 5,500-square-foot building at 2001 Union Road opened in 2001. The town developed the adjacent park, which remains open.

Employees in the three town offices located there – finance, human resources and town attorney – were moved to other locations. The building also has been used to house art exhibits, concerts and classes, which also have been moved.

Supervisor Sheila Meegan said staff members will remove what items they need from the building, and it will be emptied. Files will go to the town archives in the senior center for storage.

"Where everyone landed they will stay until the community center and town office space is completed in 2018, so there is no need to move them twice," she said.

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