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WITH EYESORE DEMOLISHED, NEIGHBORHOOD GROUP SAVORS SUCCESS

The walls finally came tumbling down last week.

A run-down, abandoned retail building in Eggertsville, at 1718 Eggert Road across from Arcade Avenue, was razed after months of complaints about the neighborhood eyesore.

Though the demolition may seem routine, it's a success story for one neighborhood group.

And it may be a sign of more to come in Amherst.

The building has been run-down for years, and the owners -- Victor andBibiana Kolber of Amherst -- have been cited for various building-code violations on several occasions since 1995, according to Building Department officials.

But last year, the Eggertsville Community Organization -- a neighborhood activist group formed about a year ago to improve the quality of life in Eggertsville -- complained about the storefront and asked officials to take action against the property owners.

Amherst officials said the building was structurally sound, and there wasn't much the town could do, said Jerry Schoenle, president of the Eggertsville Community Organization.

"We kept the pressure on," Schoenle said.

The Building Department cited the owners again, but still no action was taken. Finally town officials ordered the Amherst Highway Department just to knock the building down and add the cost to the property owner's tax bill.

Earlier this month, the Town Board agreed to pay $12,590 for Cambria Contracting Corp. to remove the asbestos and roof from the building. Officials on Monday agreed to pay the contractor another $8,200 to knock down the rest of the building.

Workers were cleaning up the rubble Friday afternoon.

"It's a good thing that it's down," said Schoenle, who called the demolition one of the group's first big success stories since organizing.

The town has the power to order demolition of old buildings and has done so in the past, said Amherst Building Commissioner Thomas C. Ketchum. But the demolition ordered at the Eggert Road site -- commonly referred to as the former Spectrum Lamp building -- was a bit unusual because the building wasn't beyond repair, Ketchum said.

The Eggertsville Community Organization, however, hopes this is a sign of better things to come as there is more talk about redeveloping Amherst's older areas and tightening the town's property-maintenance rules to address those pockets where homes and buildings are slipping into disrepair.

"I hope property owners who aren't taking care of their properties are taking note," said Amherst Council Member Jane S. Woodward. "We mean business."

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