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Peters Dry Cleaning to be demolished next week, DEC says

LOCKPORT – A former dry cleaning store, listed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation as an inactive hazardous waste site, will be demolished next week.

The DEC announced Wednesday that work is about to begin at Peters Dry Cleaning, 316 Willow St.

It will take about two weeks to raze the structure – or what’s left of it.

The brick building partially collapsed Dec. 15, 2011, leading to a legal battle over the demolition of the structure.

Peters Dry Cleaning, which opened in 1927 in the middle of a residential neighborhood, already was listed as a hazardous site before the cave-in, because of dry cleaning chemicals in the soil that were producing vapors in some neighboring homes.

In 2005, the DEC removed 30 tons of soil contaminated with what it called “a chemical solvent” from the property, along with two heating oil tanks.

The last owner of the business, Patrick S. McFall of Newfane, did not clean up the rubble of the building’s west wing. He resisted demands from the city and the state for an asbestos survey of the building.

Eventually, McFall pleaded guilty in City Court to violations of the city sanitary code. He was placed on probation and agreed to pay the city $36,877, including back taxes and water bills.

In June 2012, McFall “sold” the property for $1 to a man who said he was illiterate and didn’t realize what he was getting into. In March 1, a judge canceled the sale.

The city obtained a court order allowing the DEC access to the site while forbidding McFall from interfering. The cleanup is being paid for from the state Superfund.

After clean soil is laid, if that is deemed necessary, the city is expected to take possession of the vacant lot and sell it. The property is zoned for single-family residential use; the business predated the zoning ordinance.

City Treasurer Michael E. White said Thursday it hasn’t been determined if 316 Willow will be auctioned or whether the city will try to make a deal to sell the land to the owners of adjoining properties.

White said the city’s Property Management Committee will make that decision.