Tonawanda News

Local News

June 9, 2013

Group sues to stop gorge work

Tonawanda News — A preservation group has filed a preliminary injunction in State Supreme Court in Niagara County in an attempt to stop work being performed at the site of the former Schoellkopf Power Station.

Members of the Niagara Preservation Coalition snapped photos posted online last week of mangled steel girders they say were ripped from the power plant as it tumbled into the gorge 57 years ago being loaded into a Dumpster for metals reclamation by construction crews. Workers are currently busy converting the historic site into a new docking facility for the Maid of the Mist Corp.

Louis Ricciuti, president of the not-for-profit preservation coalition, said he recognizes the exact girder in the posted photos that was being loaded into a bin with other materials to be scrapped, as he has climbed over it hundreds of times while hiking the site.

“It’s outrageous, what they’re doing,” Ricciuti said.

Ricciutti said the girder can be seen in historic photos from inside the power plant. It was the one of the first of its kind when poured in the early 1920s and was so big it had to be poured in parts and pieced together.

To see the girder being loaded into a scrap bin is painful for Ricciuti as he has been fighting to preserve the Schoellkopf site for future generations, he said.

“That’s my historic legacy being loaded into that Dumpster,” Ricciuti said. “It’s going to be smelted down to go into lawn furniture and Toyotas.”

In response to questions about Ricciuti’s concerns Friday evening, Connie Cullen, director of media relations for the New York Power Authority, said an inventory of historic features is kept as part of the site’s placement on the National Register of Historic Places and officials from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and discussing plans for what will be done with them. She said site workers have been instructed on what to look for during construction and have brought objects to NYPA’s attention for evaluation.

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