Modified: July 20, 2018 3:57pm
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz and Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) today joined City of Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski and elected officials at the site of the former Lincoln School in Lackawanna to observe the final stages of the nearly 100-year- old building’s demolition to make way for new development in the City’s first ward. Built in 1924, the three-story former school building was converted into a Community Center in the 1990’s, but the Center closed and the building sat vacant for over ten years, drawing complaints from neighbors as the structure deteriorated and contributed to blight in the area.
“The demolition of the former Lincoln School removes an eyesore that hurt property values and discouraged investment in the surrounding area. With this blighted building gone, the City of Lackawanna has a new slate to work on as it builds toward the future,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “This project is a good example of what Community Development Block Grant (“CDBG”) funding can do, helping municipalities tackle projects that they could not fund on their own but that are necessary to stimulate economic development or otherwise improve the community. Paired with other funds, CDBG funds are helping communities across Erie County to revitalize their business centers and attract new investments.”
Congressman Brian Higgins said, “Tearing down this long-vacant and dilapidated building provides an opportunity to build up this Lackawanna neighborhood. Federal Community Development Block Grant dollars make neighborhood driven projects like this possible.”
The $1.023 million demolition was funded through the combination of a $500,000 RESTORE NY grant, $400,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding, and $123,000 in funding from the City of Lackawanna.
"For decades, Lincoln Street School served as a hub for generations of Lackawanna students, but over time evolved into a neighborhood hazard instead of an asset," said Senator Tim Kennedy. "With support from state, city, county, and federal governments, we're moving this space forward with a new vision: demolishing the existing, empty structure and creating affordable housing in the First Ward."
"It's always great to see the progress we can make when local, state and federal governments can work together to help spark development in our communities, "said Assemblyman Sean Ryan."With this project, we're going to be able to turn what was a lot with an unsafe building into a contributing asset to the community. It's always encouraging to see new development in Lackawanna, and I'm excited be a part of the progress we're making in the community."
The City of Lackawanna may convert the cleared 2.2 acre site into affordable housing, with possible construction of between 25-30 single family homes for low income households, or may align the parcel with ongoing economic developments at the former Bethlehem Steel site across Rte. 5. Nearby the site the county has funded the construction of three single family homes that are now rented to low income households, on Glenwood Avenue and two on Center Street; a fourth Center Street home project is planned for late 2018.
Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski said, “The eyesore that has been haunting this neighborhood for years is finally gone. Now that the blight is gone, we can look forward to a new future with this parcel of land. We will tread very carefully with this property as we have many paths we can travel down. We can tie this land in with future development with Erie County's plan for the Bethlehem Steel property or, being 5 minutes from Buffalo, we can develop new homes here. What’s important is that federal funds, matched with New York State dollars and carefully managed by Erie County along with our city's local match have shown a complete team effort to join together and fight neighborhood blight."
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