Erie County marking the traditional start of construction season, April 1 (also known for another tradition), by announcing plans to expand the Edward A. Rath County Office Building skyward, adding not only office space but also an accessible rooftop area.
The roof will include an observation deck, restaurant and walkable gardens, with a light helipad extending from the side over Pearl Street "that can be expanded and converted as transportation needs and means change."
The construction will add 10 floors to the building.
"The work will bring the seat of Erie County government into the 21st century. By adding floors we are adding an opportunity to bring other county employees and offices here downtown, increasing efficiencies, saving costs, and bringing a less-stressful atmosphere for employees as well as for thousands of visitors," said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. "However, as the Drifters sang back in 1962, the best place to be will be up on the roof.”
He explained further, for those who don't realize the project is "Fool-ish."
“We will have unparalleled views from the 26th floor rooftop gardens, with an observation deck and small restaurant, an area for private parties, and much more," the county executive said in a musical voice. "In addition, there are over 750,000 square feet of space up there, so we will be installing a convertible helipad for emergency travel that will be suitable for travel needs now and well into the future. This is a forward thinking project that will convert the stodgy Rath building into a contemporary, attractive destination.”
While the pad will be used for helicopter travel for the foreseeable future, the capacity to accommodate self-flying vehicles or even light spaceships in the future will also be built into the rooftop travel center. A potential partnership with Tesla SpaceX is being explored to accelerate the transition as well as add new vehicles to the county’s existing galactic force.
To honor former Erie County executives, certain public areas of the new #RathRooftop will bear their names and likenesses. “Imagine walking through the gorgeous Gorski Gardens and stopping to enjoy some cool shade in the Tutuska Tiki Hut. Guests can enjoy a stroll on the Rooftop Rath Path and a great meal at Ned & Ed’s Rooftop Restaurant, take time for a workout in the Giambra Gym, or for people who just want to get away from the crowds and be alone there’s the Collins Quiet Cubicle,” said Poloncarz. “This will allow us to remember our former county executives in an appropriate way every day and let them be a part of the new rooftop experience as well.”
As envisioned, #RathRooftop is a dramatic departure from the county's day to day work of pothole filling and snowplowing, and it is possible, planners admit, that they may have to wait until next April 1 to see any proposals to pay for it. No doubt they would be equally creative.