James Comerford retires after long career in Buffalo City Hall

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BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) — James Comerford, the commissioner of Permit and Inspections for the City of Buffalo is finally calling it quits after serving under three different mayors.

“Things have changed a lot since I started in the late seventies,” said Comerford, who first started working in Buffalo City Hall in 1978. He sees downtown development and housing as being the biggest improvement, not to mention the nine thousand vacant homes that his department has demolished in the past 15 years. “We’ve completely changed neighborhoods, and there’s a lot of lots, but there are people in those neighborhoods that were so happy to see us come in there and remove the blight.”

His last high-profile decision was signing the demolition order for The Great Northern grain elevator, which lost a portion of its north wall during a wind storm earlier this month. “I certainly didn’t want to leave here as ‘Demolition Man’, but I also didn’t want to leave here thinking I jeopardized anyone’s safety and that’s why I made my decision from.”

Between 1986 and 1995, Comerford also served on the Buffalo School Board, once serving as school board president. “You could call me the conservative member of the school board, but anything I did, I did with the children in mind.”

Comerford now has nine grandchildren, and is proud to bring them to the Sahlen Feild, which he was the city’s project manager for when it first opened as Pilot Field in the late 1980’s.

“Part of the reason I left is because I want to have more time with grandchildren, my family, and you know it’s time for me to go. Everybody’s replaceable as they say George, but I’ve enjoyed my time here and I think I gave as much as I could to the city and I’m proud of what I did.”

Comerford left to work in private construction between the years of 1995 and 2007, but the remaining 31 years were spent working in Buffalo City Hall. Comerford retires this week.

George Richert is an award-winning reporter who first joined the News 4 team in 1998, later returning in 2018. See more of his work here.

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