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Town of Lockport steps up home demolitions

LOCKPORT – Town Supervisor Marc R. Smith said the Town Board wants to be “more aggressive” in demolishing abandoned houses, and the board went that route Wednesday, ordering two such demolitions.

A house at 6892 E. High St. was the subject of an emergency demolition order. Chief Building Inspector Brian M. Belson said the water in the house was turned off as of Jan. 1, 2007, so it’s been vacant at least that long.

Town Attorney Michael J. Norris said Niagara County seized the property because of unpaid taxes, but he’s working with the county to gain control of the soon-to-be-vacant lot.

Belson said the house is packed with someone’s personal property, but the structure is has been wrecked. “Raccoons over the winter burrowed through it and just destroyed it,” he said.

The board also gave the owner of 6361 Tonawanda Creek Road 90 days to demolish that house, or the town will do it and send him the bill. The house is the subject of a mortgage foreclosure by Chase Bank, Norris said.

Belson said, “This has been empty since before 2007. The floors are shot, the roof is shot, so everything in the attic is full of mold. The drywall is caving in.”

However, HSBC Bank, which is foreclosing on 4853 Gothic Hill Road, was spared a demolition order because the bank is taking steps to secure and maintain the property. “Right now they don’t own it, so they’re trying to secure their investment,” Belson said.

In another matter, Councilwoman Patricia Dufour suggested that the town replace the current shed behind Town Hall, used for drop-off of electronics recycling, with a 30-by-60-foot storage building that vehicles could drive inside.

The project would cost about $45,000, and the board decided to seek bids for it. The plan calls for a metal pole barn somewhere on the Town Hall property.

Smith said the building could include a 24-hour dog pound for short-term holding of animals scooped up by the dog control officer, as well as general town storage. The current 10-by-16-foot shed could be moved to Day Road Park for storage there, Dufour said.

The board also awarded a $70,200 contract to Allied Fire Protection Systems of Falconer to install a sprinkler system in the town highway garage.

Town Engineer Robert D. Klavoon said bids will be opened May 1 for televising and flushing sewers on Tonawanda Creek Road; May 14 for replacing a dozen pressure reducing valves in the town water system; May 27 for construction of new sidewalks on roads leading to schools; and May 28 for sewer line repairs in the Lincoln Village and Carlisle Gardens subdivisions.

Klavoon said he’d like to set up a public information session in May for residents of Shimer Drive and Locust Street Extension regarding the sidewalk work on those streets as well as planned waterline replacements on Shimer. No date was selected.

Klavoon also said he’ll have a recommendation at the May 7 meeting for a winning bid for four sets of five-row metal bleachers for the Day Road Park soccer fields.

Dufour said the town is planning to renovate the Town Hall restrooms this fall, ahead of next summer’s visit by the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall. It will be placed in front of Town Hall and is expected to draw substantial crowds. The restrooms are not handicapped-accessible.