Time finally will move on for an aging East Side landmark to which it has not been kind.
A $15,000 state grant will restore the huge illuminated clocks high on the Central Terminal tower, erasing the effects of abuse and vandalism to breathe a little new life into the historic but time-ravaged train station.
"It was the Buffalo Central Terminal clock that ensured that everyone in the East Side, and Lovejoy, got to work at the right time, opened shop at the right time, caught their trains at the right time," said Tim Tielman, executive director of the Erie County Preservation Coalition.
The grant announced today by Assemblyman Paul A. Tokasz, D-Cheektowaga, will fund repairs and lighting of the bronze and glass clocks that are 9 feet in diameter and 160 feet above the terminal plaza.
"I consider myself a progressive in government, but today we're going to have to turn the clock backward a little bit," Tokasz said during ceremonies at the terminal.
Jeff Ingersoll of Ingersoll Painting & Construction said the grant should get at least the front clock restored and working next spring and might also include the remaining three more extensively damaged clocks.
All of the metal clockworks and even the hands of time have been stripped from the dials and the clock rooms behind them, and some of the bronze frames have been cut away from the faces not readily visible from Memorial Drive. Much of the clock face glasswork also is broken.
"The movements are gone," Ingersoll said. "They need new mechanisms and hands and repair of the dials." New electrical movements, which could range up to $5,000 per clock, are needed, and power must be restored to that part of the building.
"Once the clocks are illuminated and working, it'll keep (terminal restoration) before the public," he added. "They're visible for miles away, and readable -- they're huge."
"We're trying to undo the damage that was done in the past," said Fillmore District Council Member David A. Franczyk, who pledged to continue efforts that led to city funding for other restoration projects at the landmark.
County Executive Gorski said he wanted to see the terminal "not only restored but used in the best interests of the City of Buffalo and the Niagara Frontier."
"It still has a pulse, it still has a living presence in this community," he added. "The Central Terminal is part of our heritage, it's part of our legacy, it's part of the tradition of what it is to live in Buffalo and Western New York."
Demolition of the 1929 tower would cost $16.5 million and deprive the East Side of a major landmark, Franczyk noted.
"The stabilization and restoration will be into the millions of dollars," the councilman added. "There's no question about that, and it's why we have to take small bites at a time."
So far, the building has been sealed against further vandalism, and leaky roofs have been repaired. This spring, more than 500 volunteers -- three-fourths of them from the suburbs -- turned out to help clean up the grounds and plant trees and flowers.
After a series of private owners and failed development proposals, the structure now is owned by the Central Terminal Restoration Corp. Tokasz said Niagara Mohawk and Local 97, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, have joined talks about the clock project, which he called "one small piece of a larger puzzle."
Erie County Legislator Greg Olma, D-Buffalo, said county contributions to the project prove that governments are committed to "rebuild the community," and Thomas Gleed, aide to Mayor Masiello, pledged continued city cooperation.