From historian Mark Dunkelman, we receive news that “there have been noteworthy and positive recent developments in the fight to save the Cattaraugus County Memorial and Historical Building in Little Valley (NY).”
Since then, preservationists have mobilized. Mark shared with us a timeline and some relevant newspaper links.
On December 1, the Olean Times Herald reported the organization of CAMP—Citizens Advocating Memorial Preservation.
On December 3, CAMP Chair Tom Stetz appeared before a meeting of the county legislature’s Public Works Committee and made an eloquent plea for a one-year delay in demolishing the Memorial to explore preservation possibilities.
On December 8 the bids for asbestos removal were opened. Two days later the county legislature met, but no action was taken on the bids. The legislature then adjourned for the year, to reconvene and reorganize on January 7, 2015. In the meantime, indications were that CAMP would be granted a delay.
On December 12, the Olean Times Herald published a letter supporting CAMP from Paul Spaeth, Director of the Library, and Dennis Frank, University Archivist, at St. Bonaventure University—the gentlemen who oversee the Dunkelman and Winey Collection on the 154th New York.
On December 13 I [Mark] wrote to the seventy Cattaraugus County residents on my e-mail lists asking them to join CAMP. CAMP’s numbers consequently grew.
As the holidays approached, CAMP member Gail Bellamy placed a wreath on the Memorial’s door—a sign that the place was in our thoughts.
On January 5, 2015, the Jamestown Post-Journal published a front-page article by reporter Jim McCarthy, “Historic Battle,” recounting the preservation struggle to date and the formation of CAMP, noting it had grown to about thirty members.
CAMP held a meeting in Little Valley on January 7 and then attended the county legislature’s organizational meeting, where CAMP members held informal conversations with various legislators. Chair Tom Stetz reported, “CAMPERS left the County building feeling that we made a positive impact on everyone present and that CAMP is slowly gaining more County support for our preservation efforts.” Two days later, CAMP applied for a $3,500 grant from the Landmark Society of Western New York to fund a feasibility study, to be conducted by the Clinton Brown Company Architecture firm of Buffalo, specialists in historic preservation.
On January 11, Olean Times Herald reporter Rick Miller—who has been following the story closely since it began—had a front-page story summarizing the recent developments.
On January 23, Caitlin Meives of the Landmark Society of Western New York notified Tom Stetz that the LSWNY grant committee had awarded CAMP $2,500 to fund the feasibility study, leaving $1,000 to be raised. On January 26 LSWNY Executive Director Wayne Goodman sent Chair Stetz a formal letter acknowledging the grant. The county legislature was made aware of the grant at its meeting on January 28.
As of this writing, CAMP has had a major impact in the struggle to preserve, restore, and reuse the Memorial and Historical Building. The group has caused the county to continue to delay its demolition plans and to avoid awarding an asbestos abatement contract. It has promised the county it would come up with practical plans to achieve its goals, and with the awarding of the LSWNY grant it has taken a significant step closer to that goal. During its brief existence, the organization has grown to about fifty members.
CAMP welcomes new members, whether they live in Cattaraugus County or elsewhere. If you would like to join the effort, please e-mail your name, postal mailing address, and a message of support to Tom Stetz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your e-mail will be used to bolster CAMP’s case with the county legislature and in applying for grants, and Tom will keep you updated with the latest news in this ongoing historic preservation crusade.