Tommunisms stepped into the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library Central location today, and entered “The Ring of Knowledge” to hear Carl Paladino speak there Tuesday afternoon as part of the “Imagining Buffalo Series: Why Preservation Matters” speaker series.
First off, as I parked my car downtown, the meter I was feeding quarters into was broken (true story, bro). Don’t we have people to maintain these?! Oh wait, nevermind…
The obsequious emcee whose name I neglected to write down gave a softball for Carl in his intro, to get him to talk about how he saved the Ellicott Square building. Carl gave some back-story on this, mentioning how he and a few others took the risk with no subsidy, and no tax breaks. You can tell the building is a source of pride for Carl.
Paladino refers to himself as a “true preservationist” saying he enjoys taking older properties and finding new uses for them, but under the banner of practicality. He cited the Court Yard Mall downtown as a success story.
In Paladino’s sights were “preservationists” that he likens more to “obstructionists”, citing various unreasonable demands from those who say things should be done a certain way, and that “they know a guy”. He likened Tim Tielmann (of the Buffalo Preservation Board and executive director of The Campaign for Greater Buffalo History) as one such obstructionist, and in general he derided those he labeled as “uninformed” making judgements on how buildings should be preserved/restored.
Paladino, known for being “mad as hell”, was generally subdued during the speech. In fact, the topic that seemed to get him the most animated was regarding asbestos, and how he says NYS is the only state that requires the cleanup of “non-friable” asbestos (like a floor tile or shingle) to be abated the same way (and then, same cost) as friable asbestos. One can become airborne, the other you’d have to “eat it” to ingest the asbestos.
Here’s a few tidbits from his talk:
- To develop the Our Lady of Lourdes, his company will need the property nearby.
- “Occasionally, you have to knock some things down”, but he stressed that has only happened when structures are too far gone.
- “Liberals took charge and destroyed this city”
- Carl really didn’t answer the question regarding the status of the Greystone Hotel, but related the types of set back and slowdowns he faced over the years with the property and his plans.
Mr. Paladino took some time at the end to slam developer Mark Croce, regarding the Statler Hotel property. He claims Croce doesn’t have sufficient cash to develop the Statler, and will need more funds at some point (“sinkhole” was a term Carl mentioned). Paladino also accused Croce of “pumping up his numbers” in regards to getting support for development of the site. Finally, Carl called the selective subsidy used to get Croce some 5 million dollars from the Dormitory Authority of NYS part of an “unlevel playing field”. Nothing new on that end, Carl has held that position for a while, and has never been secretive about it.
I would’ve gotten a question in, but the emcee was hogging the microphone too much. I was hoping to get Carl to talk about the new Ellicott Development proposal at 50 Ct. St. But Buffalo Rising has nice write up on that anyways…
So, without me editorializing too much about this, what do you think? Does Paladino count as a “True Preservationist”? Or is he at least a businessman out to make a buck and perhaps save a few old buildings at the same time?