Demolition is underway at a centuries old symbol of Western New York's industrial past but that isn't stopping local preservationists from trying to save it. YNN's Meg Rossman has more on the fate of Bethlehem Steel and how local officials are reacting.
LACKAWANNA, N.Y. — "It's pretty sad that they started demoing it," preservationist John Nowak said.
But after 30 years of vacancy, dozens of court orders and a fight from the Lackawanna Industrial Heritage Group to preserve its façade, Bethlehem Steel is finally coming down.
"Everyone thinks that I woke up one morning and wanted to knock down historic buildings,” Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski said. “That is not the case."
In fact, Szymanski said during his tenure on the city council and as mayor, he pushed the building's current owners to find use for the site.
"I was really hoping that the owners of that property would have done anything with it,” he said. “Unfortunately, they've done nothing."
Which led to its decay.
Despite calls to save it, demolition crews and Szymanski say it's unsalvageable.
"It is shot. We have posted pictures on our website so everyone can look at what it looks like on the inside."
He said a 90-day stay on demolition to allow owners Gateway Trade Center to find developers produced no results.
But Nowak says otherwise.
"There were two developers earlier interested in the building; one from New Hampshire, another local developer,” Nowak explained. “They were turned away by Lackawanna officials and the developer."
Szymanski said it would have been cheaper for Gateway to sell the building instead of knocking it down.
"I wouldn't be made aware of it because we're not the owners of that property."
And despite the fact that work is already underway, Nowak, who's been camped outside the building for days, isn't giving up hope just yet.
"Have to keep hoping they stop before they get to the oldest section of the building soon."
The demolition company says the process could take several months.
YNN reached out to Gateway Trade for comment but our calls have not been returned.