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Residents want library labeled historic

A group of LaSalle residents want a former Buffalo Avenue post office and police station that now houses a branch of the Niagara Falls Public Library placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The City Council today will be asked to approve a resolution that supports the nomination of the building to the state and national historic registries.

Members of the community group LaSalle Pride hope the designation could mean additional funding for the building, which was constructed in the 1920s before the Village of LaSalle joined the city of Niagara Falls.

The library expanded into the entire two-story brick building after the post office moved out of the facility in the 1950s. The building still has jail cells that were once used as a police holding center.

The LaSalle library was the center of public debate two years ago when library trustees considered closing the branch because of budget cuts.

The Council will also vote today on a measure to spend $20,000 from the city's fund balance on emergency repairs to the roof of another historically significant building, the 1863 U.S. Customs House on Whirlpool Street.

City Administrator William Bradberry told the Council at its last meeting that the roof needs to be repaired immediately to protect the structure before the city moves forward with a $35 million plan to build an international train station and transportation hub at the site.

Mayor Vince Anello said the building cannot make it through another winter without roof repairs.

"It's to protect the structural integrity of the roof," Anello said.

The customs house is already on the National Register of Historic Places. The stone building was named one of "Seven to Save" in 2005 by the Preservation League of New York State.

City Historian Thomas Yots said city leaders want to make sure the customs house is preserved for when they are ready to move forward with the train station project.

"It's so sad to see it happen that when the funding finally comes in the building is so far deteriorated," Yots said. "I don't think that's the case here, but I've seen it in Buffalo and other areas of the state."

Niagara Falls has secured about $14.7 million, mostly in federal grants, for the project to update rail lines and build a new train station at the customs house site. The expansion of the customs house into an international train station would be the last of three phases in the project, but City Senior Planner Thomas DeSantis has said work to refurbish the building could begin next year.

The Council will meet at 4 and 7 p.m. today in City Hall, 745 Main St.


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