Tonawanda News — Nine months after fire destroyed the Elk’s Lodge 860 in North Tonawanda, the club’s members are poised to move into a new home in a new city.
After almost a century north of the canal, the abrupt loss of the 1921 structure the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks called home until last December has for the time being erased the group’s presence in North Tonawanda.
Today, the club is scheduled to close on the purchase of a building at 55 Main St., in the City of Tonawanda, until now occupied by the Knights of Columbus.
The two-story structure was put on the market in May and sold for $150,000.
The K of C, meanwhile, has stated plans to move into a rented space in a business plaza on Hinds Street, also in the City of Tonawanda.
Knights of Columbus President Fred Priano said taxes and utilities had become a burden at the Main Street location the club had occupied for the past 15 years. He said their new location is expected to cost the organization roughly an eighth of what they pay now.
Priano said the insurance premiums the group pays will go from about $8,000 per year to about $800.
”It’s sad but it just had to happen,” he said, adding the move also accompanies a change in philosophy for the club.
He said the organization had been running more of a public business in recent years, including live music, open mic nights, food and other draws out of the Main Street building.
“We’re still going to be active in the community. We’re still going to cater and things like that. We’re going to go back to being a club instead of being a business,” he said.
While Priano said he’s sad to see the club lose their building, he finds at least some comfort in the continued use of the structure by a community organization like the Elks.
“I’m happy that way but personally, I spearheaded the whole (move there) when we did it — but we’ve got to move on,” he said.
Priano, who is vice president of Gateway Harbor Inc. and serves on the board of a group called ForDNT, which each year organizes a New Year’s Eve celebration on the canal.
The Knights of Columbus also handle concessions for the Twin Cities’ summer concert series, a function that will also continue.
“We’re still here. We’re still going to be visible in the community,” he said.Contact city editor Neale Gulley at 693-1000, ext. 4114