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Small Talk

There has been talk of peacemongering between the Erie County Democratic Party’s new chairman, Jeremy Zellner, and Mayor Byron Brown, who was long at odds with Zellner’s predecessor and mentor, Len Lenihan. Brown even attended an ECDC presidential inauguration party at Zellner’s invitation. But there may be storm clouds on the horizon: The ECDC camp is reportedly looking to replace a Brown ally, Jack O’Donnell, on the Erie County Water Authority, with attorney named Chris O’Brien. O’Brien has been a reasonably big donor to ECDC and its candidates, and gave $2,000 to Zellner’s campaign to become ECDC chairman last year.

• Preservationists will file a lawsuit this week seeking to interrupt the demolition of the former Bethlehem Steel administration building in Lackawanna. Among their arguments is a structural engineering report that state officials requird the building’s owner, Gateway Trading Center, Inc., to commission in August 2012. The report catalogs the building’s decay but concludes that it appears structurally sound—“not at risk of imminent collapse at this time”—contradicting a report by Lackawanna’s code enforcement officer, as well as the city’s rationale for ordering and emergency demolition. As of Sunday, the main building, with its beautiful facade facing Route 5, had been spared the wrecking ball, but demolition crews have already taken down adjoining structures behind it.

• There certainly is no short of talk about investment and planning along Buffalo’s waterfront and its adjoining neighborhoods, from the Inner Harbor, along Ohio Street, to the Outer Harbor. The next public forum takes place Thursday, February 21, 7-8:30pm, at the Old First Ward Community Center on Republic Street. The “Resilient Economies Panel Discussion,” sponsored by Buffalo Rising, the Old First Ward Community Center, and the non-profit Designcircuit ( is moderated by Chris Hawley, from the City of Buffalo’s Office of Strategic Planning, with panelists Sam Hoyt, representing Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation; developer Sam Savarino, whose interests include the Erie Freight House on Ohio Street; Rigidized Steel’s Rick Smith, the developer of Silo City; preservationist Bernice Radle, of Buffalove Development; Designcircuit’s William Haskas; and developer James Pitts, who is driving the Perry Choice Neighborhood initiative.

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