Mediator now trying to find compromise over historic grain elevator on Buffalo River

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BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) At the direction of a judge, both sides in the dispute over the fate of the Great Northern Elevator are now in mediation talks to see if there’s a way the building could be spared from the wrecking ball.

“Every day is a victory,” said Tim Tielman, the executive director of Campaign for Greater Buffalo, who is glad that, at least for now, ADM Milling is prevented from demolishing the grain elevator on Ganson Street. “At the time it was built it was the largest grain elevator on planet earth and it was the cover of Scientific American, December 25, 1897.”

But in court Monday morning, attorneys for the owners, ADM Milling, said that just last Wednesday an employee was nearly hit by a piece of sheet metal which blew off the top, and they say the city inspections commissioner was right to grant their emergency demolition order on December 17.

“Once you conclude that there was a rational basis for the commissioner to issue an emergency demolition order, we’re done,” said Brian Melber, the attorney representing the building’s owner. “That’s the only legal question before the court that’s the answer.”

“When the building was opened up and exposed, and we had a chance to look inside with the drone and a chance to review the engineering reports, I had a huge concern,” said James Comerford, the commissioner of Permit and Inspections department for the City of Buffalo. “

It just so happens that on the wall of the courtroom right over the bailiff’s shoulder is a photo of the Great Northern Elevator, a courtroom decoration that was there long before Judge Emilio Coliacovo was asked to decide it’s very fate.

“For better or worse, this building itself, regardless of the condition that it is in is part of our landscape and it’s important,” said Hon. Emilio Colaiacovo, NY State Supreme Court Justice, “But, at the same time, this court is not bound or constrained by public sentiment, promotion, instead it will decide what the law provides.”

Judge Colaiacovo continued a temporary restraining order preventing demolition, and he reserved decision on whether to allow demolition until both sides spend a few days trying to mediate a solution, perhaps even with one of two developers who have expressed interest in saving the building.

“If you’re unable to reach a decision, the court will do it for you,” Judge Colaiacovo told attorneys from both sides.

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