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Report expected on damage at Burchfield Nature & Art Center in West Seneca

A report detailing the extent of the damage at the Burchfield Nature & Art Center in West Seneca is expected in two to three months.

West Seneca Town Attorney John Fenz said he met for two and a half hours with a forensic architect hired by the town to check out the building.

"His initial findings were along the lines of the building is not in condemnation territory, but it does have significant issues," he told the Town Board Monday during a work session.

The architect also will have some recommendations for fixing the 16-year-old building, which is owned by the town.

It was closed Jan. 5 after major structural problems were discovered. The park and trails remain open.

The extent of the damage was found after some of the hardware on windows started popping off the building, located at 2001 Union Road.

Employees in the finance, human resources and town attorney's office were moved to other locations. Equipment and supplies for the all volunteer Friends of the Burchfield Nature & Art Center were put in storage, which the town is paying for, Town Supervisor Sheila Meegan said.

The group provides programming and activities for children and adults, and the center was used by a number of community groups. Most of the events and classes have been moved to the West Seneca Senior Center.

"I think every group that we could help from the Burchfield has found a place to land for now," Meegan said. "I am hopeful in the next 60 to 90 days we'll be able to come back and give an answer as to the direction the town is going to go in with this building."

Burchfield volunteers said they are trying to carry on with their programming after the unexpected move.

"We had just finished our open house," volunteer Carol Yetter said, recalling that she looked around the room at the various groups of people and activities going on and thought, "This is the community building it was meant to be."

Just days later, Burchfield volunteers were scrambling to box up their belongings.

"In four hours we packed and moved," said Carol Williams.

The supervisor said the town had invested more than $130,000 for the exterior comfort station and other improvements, "because we felt that was the most beautiful gem we have."

"We've done all these benefits and improvements to enhance the participation of the park and the last thing we want to see is an end to that," Meegan said.

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