West Seneca closed the Charles E. Burchfield Nature and Art Center in West Seneca two years ago, after walls were sagging and hardware started popping off the windows.
The town is appealing the dismissal of a lawsuit against three firms involved in the design of the building, and a section of the building has been reopened.
And now the town is looking for input from the public on the future of the building.
"We have some serious issues structurally with the building," Supervisor Sheila Meegan said during Monday's Town Board meeting. "We know the heating system is up in the attic; it doesn’t belong there."
The question is should the building be taken down, or is there part of it that can be salvaged, she said.
"Now we know we can go in there, I think we need to have a public hearing," she said.
Board members hope to schedule the meeting in March. One of the possibilities for the building is bonding, or borrowing, the money to fix it up or replace it. The meeting also is expected to gauge public reaction to holding a referendum on whether to borrow money, Councilman Gene Hart said.
The 5,500-square-foot building at 2001 Union Road opened in 2001. The town also developed the 29-acre adjacent park. The building was the home of West Seneca Americorps, and later three town departments had offices there: finance, human resources and the town attorney. Those offices and art exhibits, concerts and classes were moved when it closed. The classroom area opened last May.
The town hired a forensic architect after it closed the building Jan. 5, 2017. He concluded design flaws are responsible for the sagging walls. Water had collected in a pocket along the floor and rotted the wood around the structure. That caused part of the building to sag, according to Kenneth Pearl of Building Science Services. He estimated the cost of repairs at $993,000, and a new building could cost up to $1.77 million.
The town sued Nussbaumer & Clarke, Louis Design Solutions Architecture and Kideney Architects, but State Supreme Court Justice Joseph R. Glownia dismissed the legal action because the statute of limitations had expired. The town is appealing the dismissal.