By Rich Place
The Springville Village Board on Monday granted the owner of 37 South Central Ave. one last chance to fix the deteriorating structures at the site within a predetermined period of time or face demolition.
The opportunity for Steven Weber, of Pavilion, to remedy the numerous issues with the multi-family dwelling and adjacent garage at the site came after multiple pleas by Weber at a public hearing on Monday concerning the property’s status.
The hearing, essentially a final step before the board can opt to demolish the structure, spanned over an hour and turned into a conversation between the board and Weber, who gave numerous reasons for his absence from court hearings and not taking care of his property in recent years.
“I hate to demolish a building — hate it, hate it,” said Mayor William Krebs, addressing Weber. “Our architectural heritage is important to us. But you, sir, have put us in a very difficult position.”
The village board was forced to balance its desire to keep historic structures standing with Weber’s neglect of upkeep on the property, and it was decided to demolish the structure unless Weber fulfilled multiple obligations concerning the building’s integrity and occupancy.
In the resolution passed unanimously by the village board, Weber must within seven days provide a performance bond of no less than $60,000 to secure the work to be completed; provide to the village within seven days assurance from a professional engineer that the property can be made structurally safe and secure; within 14 days make those modifications to make the structure safe; remedy the existing issues cited by the village by Sept. 1; and comply with village code concerning occupancy by Oct. 1.
A performance bond is a bond issued to guarantee satisfactory completion of a project that meets specific requirements, in this case those outlined in the resolution approved by the village board.
The board on Monday heard from Weber, as well as A.J. Petrilli, a structural engineer who toured the property earlier in the day with Weber, about why the property had fallen into disrepair and his plans to remedy the numerous issues concerning it.
He noted he broke multiple bones in his back earlier this year, which he said did not allow him to appear in court. Village attorney Paul Weiss told Weber the village received a doctor’s note excusing Weber for one month; Weber’s failure to appear this year including hearings in March, April and May, he said.
In regard to the property’s neglect, Weber told the board the contractor he hired to do the work had dementia to the point he didn’t recognize Weber during a recent visit. And when Weber said he has a contractor ready to do the upcoming work, he did not provide a name when asked by Krebs.
“You remind me of the student who says ‘I didn’t bring my homework in because’ and then gives a list of reasons that are all fictitious,” Krebs told Weber during the public hearing. “Mr. Weber, I’m really upset.”
Near the end of the hearing, the village board repeatedly questioned why Weber comes to the board now with his idea for plans despite performing essentially no work on the property in years.
“I’m getting upset here,” Weber told the board. “I want to fix that building and then I hear all this stuff. Let me show you what it’s going to look like. It’s going to be fixed and then you’re going to be proud and I’m not giving you a line of bologna or anything. Just let me fix it.”
Krebs responded by noting what became a common theme during the hearing — questioning Weber’s integrity and balancing that with the decision of potential demolition of the structures.
“You know, that’s exactly what I think you’re giving us — a line of bologna — to be honest with you, and those are your words,” Krebs said. “If you were serious about fixing this building you would have come with an engineer’s plan to fix it, an estimated cost, a financial statement saying that you do indeed have the funds … and so on and so forth.”
According to Erie County records, Weber purchased the property at 37 South Central Ave. in 1983. Weber said the structure is a four-unit dwelling and there is also a garage on the property.
Weber’s opening comments at the hearing centered around his history in Springville, stating he was a library media specialist at the elementary building and lived in the village for 17 years.
“I love Springville,” he said after introducing himself.
Later in the meeting, the board questioned his love for Springville if he allowed his property to deteriorate.
“We are here because this is the very last straw,” said Krebs. “I’m just trying to impress upon you that your narrative of events of letting your property become extremely distressed — property ready to be demolished — really is very, very late. If you really love Springville like you said you did, you wouldn’t have let it go.”
All village board members offered their thoughts at the public hearing that all followed a similar theme that balanced Weber’s promise of repairing the building with his history of maintenance on the property to this point.
“I’m outraged,” said board member Alan Chamberlain. “I’m outraged that you put us in this position that we have to demolish one of our buildings in this village and lose a rental property, the beauty of our neighborhood. I am outraged you did this to us.”
Board member Nils Wikman commented on the lack of maintenance on the building in decade, and fellow member Elise Rose questioned the damage inside the building, citing the issues she had with water damage at her business in recent years.
“I know what water can do to a building and mine only happens for 5 hours so I can only imagine what kind of damage your building,” she said.
Petrilli, the structural engineer, said the building could be repaired but estimated at least $30,000 in repairs to make it structurally sound. He and Weber said they toured the building earlier in the day.