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City Hallways (March 1 ) Conflicting reports on North Park Library condition

North Park library: Take 2.

Interesting comments from Gary Bolles, with Buffalo Plastering and Architectural Casting, during a public hearing on whether the vacant North Park library building should be land marked to prevent possible demolition.

Bolles said he recently toured the interior of the building

"I did a walk through," Bolles said. "The library's in great shape. There's no reason not to keep this beautiful piece of architecture."

The comment was stunning, given that city officials have previously said it would cost $600,000 to $1 million to fix up the building because of all the mold and asbestos inside.

In fact, the city closed the library some 10 years ago, saying it was too expensive to clean up all the environmental problems the building poses.

Bolles didn't mention seeing any mold in the building, but did talk about asbestos.

Some pipes are wrapped (in asbestos), but there doesn't appear to be any asbestos in the plaster,  he said. "The paint probably has lead, but the cost is minimal,"  he said.

Bolles was among those speaking at a public hearing Tuesday in Council Chambers.

The city Preservation Board  has determined the library building has historical significance, and  is recommending the Council landmark the building.

The Council previously rejected the Board's landmarking request, but a court voided the Council action, and ordered it to reconsider the request - this time taking the Preservation Board  findings into consideration, and providing a written explanation detailing its decision to either landmark or not landmark.

The Council is required, under the court ruling, to make a decision within the next 30 days.

Whatever happened to "the rent is to damn  high" candidate?

The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority wants to raise rents by 10 percent at the Marine Drive apartments it owns on the city's waterfront.

The rent increase would be the first in some 20 years at the housing complex, where rents are on a sliding scale, based on income, from $420 to $720 a month, tenants said.

Tenants aren't opposed to a 10 percent hike per se, providing it would benefit the residents, said Joe Mascia, the former BMHA housing commissioner, who lives at the Marine Drive apartments.

But they want to know what the benefits would be, and they want to feel those benefits justify the increase, Mascia said.

BMHA officials are promising the extra money will go to better maintain the property and improve its appearance.

The BMHA is also putting a new sprinkler sytem in at Marine Drive apartments, which will enable the BMHA to remove  the towers atop of the buidlings, also improving their appearance, said BMHA Chaiman Michael Seaman. That project is a capital improvement not related to the rent increase, he said.

The proposed rent hike still needs state approval before it can be enacted.

Forgave or forgot

Mascia, of course, is  the one-time BMHA commissioner ousted last year for racist remarks secretly tape recorded by a man Mascia viewed as a friend.

I spoke to Mascia Tuesday evening at a public meeting on inclusionary zoning held in Council Chambers.

Mascia said it was his first visit to City Hall since Mayor Brown removed him from the BMHA board last May.

I noticed numerous people -  black and white - approaching Mascia, shaking his hand, giving him hugs, asking how he's been, and exchanging friendly greetings.

"We haven't seen you in awhile," one city official said to Mascia.

"I've been around," Mascia responded.

In today's Buffalo News  and  on,  here's story my colleague Harold  McNeil did  on  the inclusionary zoning meeting.

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