FALCONER – Residents and officials in Falconer are happy to see a large amount of debris from a building destroyed by a fire more than 18 months ago is finally being removed.
On Friday morning Falconer Mayor Jim Rensel was joined by other village officials and representatives from Chautauqua County and Jamestown city government to highlight the cleanup effort at the vacant lot at 29 W. Main Street.
“We’ve had kind of a cloud hanging over the village hear, as far as this cleanup finally taking place. A lot of work went into this as far our attorneys talking with property owner attorneys and getting the property encumbered with us so that we could do this,” Rensel explained.
The delay in getting the debris removed largely stems from the former property owners not having adequate insurance to cover the cost. In an agreement that included the village holding the property owner harmless, ownership of the lot was transferred over from the previous owner to the village.
Rensel said that not only did the Chautauqua County Land Bank also help in facilitating the property transfer from the original owner to the village and with the cleanup effort, but the village also received help from nearby communities who provided land fill credits to Falconer so it could afford the cost of removing the debris.
“The towns of Poland, Ellington, Gerry and Carroll and the village of Celoron all assisted us with their landfill credits so that we could get this cleaned up. I humbly asked for their assistance and got a good response from them. I just can’t say enough for the teamwork involved with that. It’s very appreciated by the village residents and I want to thank everybody very much,” Rensel said.
Jamestown Development Director Vince DeJoy said the also helped Falconer with the removal process.
“The city of Jamestown, through the Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency, performs demolition project management services for the Land Bank for just about every other community in Chautauqua County. We basically do all the leg work, getting all the permits, working out the bidding process, and working with the contractors to make sure it is a properly done demolition and/or clean up,” DeJoy said.
Rensel said that once the debris is removed, the village will begin moving forward with redeveloping the sight and has already been talking about possible projects at that location.
With the clean-up completed the vacant parcels are now ready for redevelopment. “The Mayor’s West Main St. Redevelopment Committee was meeting frequently in early spring when we surveyed the community and met with multiple interested developers,” said Daniel Heitzenrater, committee member and Ellicott Town Councilman. “Questions regarding site control and debris removal had stalled our work. We are excited clean-up is complete so we can get back to work.”
“We’ve been meeting right along. We’ve had development committee meetings, deciding on who wants to do our redevelopment plan,” Rensel said, adding, “This is a good day. This isn’t the end. It’s the beginning of a new chapter and with the help of our partners we’ll be able to get it done.”
Interested parties in developing the site can contact the Village of Falconer office at (716) 665-4400.
The rubble has been sitting at the lot since March 2017 when an arson fire broke out at the multi-story building in Falconer’s business district, affecting several businesses and residents who lived there.
The person who is allegedly responsible for the fire, 20 year old Jonathan Young, is still awaiting trial in County court for the incident, along with a dozen other fires he allegedly set in Jamestown during the same time period.