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Friday, November 15, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Lathan Tree Service donating 30-foot Christmas Tree to Le Roy community to be placed at Wiss site

post by Howard B. Owens in Lathan Tree Service, Le Roy, Wiss Hotel

Where the Wiss Hotel once stood this holiday season will stand a huge amount of Christmas cheer thanks to Andrew Lathan, owner of Lathan Tree Service, and his family.

The Lathans are donating a 30-foot tall artificial Christmas tree to the community.

Businesses and families are asked to provide ornaments to the tree. The ornament should have a name or business logo on it.

Ornaments can be dropped off at Town Hall by the end of November.

Ornaments should be at least 6-inches tall. 

"This is a very large tree," the Lathans note. It will be as tall as the existing buildings on the west end of Main Street.

The tree will be lit Dec. 7 as part of the community's holiday celebration.

Pictured are Jack, Jay, Aubrey and Carrie Lathan with the unassembled tree.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 10:57 am

Photo: Le Roy's Presbyterian Church without the Wiss

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Presbyterian Church of Le Roy, Wiss Hotel

At one meeting about the future of the Wiss Hotel building, Trustee Jim Bonacquisti said he looked forward to driving south on Route 19 and seeing the Presbyterian Church without the Wiss blocking the view.

After the building was done, Mayor Greg Rogers said, "The other day I had the opportunity after the building was somewhat down to come up Lake Street. My personal opinion is nothing looks more inviting and I'll say more New England than to see a wooden white church with a steeple and and open porch as you drive into a community. It's pretty striking. It really kinds of shows you the place where we all live."

This is a picture taken this morning of the church from behind where the Wiss once stood.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Le Roy mayor wants to see the village take its time on deciding the future of former Wiss property

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Wiss Hotel

Ignore the rumors, whatever they may be, Le Roy Mayor Greg Rogers said tonight during a village board meeting.

If there were any offers for the now vacant lot where the Wiss Hotel once stood, he would know about it, and there have been none.

"Any time you hear a rumor, because I think I'm the guy they have to call first if they want to buy it, don't get in an uproar, because people like to start rumors."

Previously, Rogers had said that by the second meeting in April he would have a plan or an idea of a plan about what to do with the corner of Route 19 and Route 5.

The plan right now, he said, is to wait.

He wants to give the village residents six months to absorb the idea of that empty corner and present ideas about what they think should be done with it.

After six months, he will seek an outside real estate broker to get it appraised and see if there are any suitors. 

Rogers said early on the gas station chain Fast Track contacted the village, but he said he discouraged them.

"They have beautiful stores, but that's not what we're looking for," he said.

At one meeting during the debates about the Wiss, Trustee Jim Bonacquisti said he was looking forward to seeing what it would be like to drive into the village without the Wiss blocking the view of the Presbyterian Church.

"The other day I had the opportunity after the building was somewhat down to come up Lake Street," Rogers said. "My personal opinion is nothing looks more inviting and I'll say more New England than to see a wooden white church with a steeple and and open porch as you drive into a community. It's pretty striking. It really kinds of shows you the place where we all live."

Most of the responsibility for determining what happens with the corner will fall to the village and town planning board, but since the village owns the property, the trustees will have quite a bit of say about what happens with the lot.

And Rogers is mindful that whatever happens, at least half the people will be angry.

"No matter what goes there, half the people are going to be mad and you're looking at five idiots and the other half are going 'that's not so bad,' " Rogers said.

Friday, April 19, 2013 at 1:01 pm

Photos: Taking down the Wiss

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Wiss Hotel

Demolition should be largely wrapped up today.

Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 11:31 pm

What now?

post by bud prevost in LeRoy, Wiss Hotel

Well, the demolition is underway. Whether you agree or disagree with the board's action, you have to commend them for doing something. The Wiss had to go. I appreciate the hard choice that was made, but it's time to move on. What happens now?

First, the view looking east when sitting at the southbound intersection is going to be improved 843%. The Creek, the library, and the school campus are all preferable to  that protruding brick corner that made walking dangerous.

Second, the DOT needs to address a busy intersection that is only going to get busier. Busier? "Why" you may ask. Brings me to

Third, the increase of truck traffic out of the Agri Yogurt park. Do you really believe they will go through the city to hit 98, or take 33 to 490 and backtrack to the thruway? Nope, the majority of trucks gettting on the thruway will proceed through Leroy to 19 north. That is a legitamate concern, and I would recommend we focus our efforts on getting that intersection reconfigured.

Perhaps Mr. Hyde from the GCEDC could help. He seems to have free rein with taxpayer money. Maybe he could pull some strings and make that widened intersection happen. Senator Raz. and Ass. Hawley are extremely enamored by him, so please Steve, help us poor peons in Leroy.

Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Photo: The Wiss's sagging third floor

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Wiss Hotel

On my way out of Le Roy, I stopped by the Wiss again and got there just before Tim Hens did.

I know from previous conversations, Tim was pretty interested in how a third floor was added to a wood-frame building.

It looks like the third floor was just built right on top of the roof of the original structure. What we're seeing is the back of the original structure and a portion of the added on third floor, which was built across the original structure and a later extension to the back of the building.

The other key thing -- and this picture doesn't really capture it as obviously as it is visible in person -- is how much the third floor and second floor ceiling is sagging.

Hens and Bob Lathan talked about the condition of the building a bit. As you know from our previous tour of the building, there was a sheet of ice on a large portion of the third floor.

Lathan said since then we've have a few thaws and refreezes.

Hens said ice weighs as much as concrete.

Lathan said the string he had stretched through the second floor to measure settling of the building had dropped 3/4 of an inch in the last month.

Though Hens said it's just his opinion and not scientific, based on what he observed today, he doesn't think the building would have lasted through another winter.

Hens said it probably still would have taken a developer gutting the building to accurately access the soundness of the structure.

Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Photo: Wiss demolition,

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Wiss Hotel

Just a photo to show the progress of the Wiss Hotel demolition.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 12:16 pm

The final days of the Wiss begins today

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Wiss Hotel

Crews have spent the morning getting the demolition site ready for removing the former Wiss Hotel building from the corner of Main and Lake streets in Le Roy.

The first backhoe whack at a wall will take place sometime after lunch hour.

A supervisor for Empire Dismantlement Corp. said demolition starts at the back of the building and works toward the front. First order of business is to make room for dump trucks to park on the building site.

By Saturday, crews should be ready to take down the front facade. When they get to that point, Main Street will need to be closed for a time.

The building is being taken down "hot," meaning that any existing asbestos in the building has not been removed prior to demolition.

We've also learned that the iron awning that was on the west side of the building has been removed. The owners of the Smokin' Eagle (formerly the Eagle Hotel, and soon to be the last standing old hotel in the Village) plan to use it on their back entrance. Demolition crews will recover the chains that held it to the Wiss when demolition gets to that point.

UPDATE 4:36 p.m.: Had to leave Le Roy a little earlier than anticipated because of the situation at the middle school, but did snap a couple shots following the start of actual demolition.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 5:56 pm

Wiss demo scheduled to start tomorrow

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Wiss Hotel

Contractors will arrive in the Village of Le Roy tomorrow to start demolition of the former Wiss Hotel building, Mayor Greg Rogers confirmed.

Tomorrow, work crews will begin prep work.The entire demolition process is expected to take about a week.

Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Letter from Bob Fussell regarding the Wiss Hotel building

post by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Wiss Hotel

Submitted by Bob Fussell:

It’s a mystery.

On 3-13-13 three trustees voted “no” to sell the Wiss Hotel to the Le Roy LLC for $10,000, and “yes” to pay a Grand Island demolition company $132,000 to destroy the building. The Board also paid almost $4,000 for an asbestos removal study, and will pay between $5,000 and $10,000 more to another company to monitor the air quality during the demolition, making a hit to the taxpayers of at least $151,000, and that’s only what they’ve committed to spend so far.

But it seems that only those three know why they cast those votes. (One of the “no” voters is a member of the Conservative Party, and another is a Republican - parties that say they strongly oppose spending taxpayer dollars.)

One of the three said, about his community, “we’ve gotten better” after other Village buildings were demolished. But, he didn’t tell us if Village taxpayer paid for those demolitions, or present any proof that Le Roy actually got “better” because of the demolitions.

Many Le Royans disagree with that trustee. They believe the demolition of those older buildings is, instead, directly related to our economic decline that’s been spiraling downward at an ever-increasing rate over the last 50 years. This decline, many believe, began decades ago when a mansion was demolished and replaced with what is now Save A Lot.

All three of the “no” voters said they gave the issue “a lot of thought” -- one claiming he “lost sleep over it.” Others claimed they spoke to a lot of “people” about the issue.

But what “people” did they talk to? And, what expertise and knowledge did these people have that convinced the three to vote to demolish?

Taxpayers don’t know the answers to those important questions because the three won’t answer them. (I specifically asked them and they refused to disclose the names of the people they spoke to, as if they were members of a secret club, instead of elected officials in a free and open democracy. I asked them to tell me who they spoke to, because all three admitted they aren’t experts in demolition or rehabilitation, so they had to get their knowledge and information from others.)

All three admit they “respect” the “hard work” done by the LLC. But, of course, that’s because the LLC earned their respect by doing much hard work, such as:

Hiring an outstanding architect to do a study to answer important questions, such as  - (1) Is the structure of the Wiss too far gone to save? And (2) Can the restored building be profitable for investors?

That architect, Rick Hauser, could be the best person in Western New York to answer those questions. He not only obtained a master's degree in architecture from one of the top three architectural schools in America, the University of Virginia, after graduating from Cornell, and teaching architecture at Hobart University, but also, most importantly, has rehabbed buildings that were in much worse condition than the Wiss, and did it in a way that revitalized communities.

Former Le Roy mayor Jim DeLoose said in a comment on The Batavian that, “Le Roy has a very low-median income …. What a developer is willing to spend in Le Roy is much different than what they’re willing to spend in Fairport where the median income is approximately 3 times that of Le Roy’s.” This is an admission that Le Roy has reached such a sorry state of financial decline, that we can’t stand up to Walgreens and get it to construct an architecturally appealing building in our community –the kind of pharmacy stronger communities would require it to build. Our squat WALGREENS building, with its huge, bright neon signs, tells potential newcomers that Le Roy is too weak and poor to have an attractive pharmacy and encourages people, who might otherwise want to live, and pay taxes in Le Roy, to move elsewhere. (I doubt that Fairport’s median income was 3 times that of Le Roy’s in the past. If so, why has Le Roy declined while Fairport prospered? Is it possible that Fairport is better managed than Le Roy?)

And despite what some Le Royans claim, Mr. Hauser doesn’t need the Wiss, or Le Roy, to make a fine living. He’s got plenty of work elsewhere. Unfortunately for Le Roy, we need Rick Hauser, much more that Rick Hauser needs Le Roy.

After conducting his study, Mr. Hauser answered "no" to the first question the LLC asked him and "yes" to the second, so the LLC moved forward in its attempt to save, not just the Wiss, but Le Roy itself.

The LLC then consulted four highly respected local contractors, to investigate the issue -- Joe Condidorio, of Whitney East, Jerry McCoullough, of Ryan, Bryan Colton, of Master Care, and Jim Sickles, of Sickles Corporation. All investigated and agreed the project was doable, and showed interest in the restoration project.

The LLC also prompted research into the question of the owner of the land where the Wiss is located and learned that the State owns part of it, and that once the Wiss is demolished the size of the portion of land left for the construction of a new building will be smaller.

When the LLC asked the architect and contractors what it would cost to rebuild the Wiss after it was demolished, they said it would cost much more because, even though the building is a filthy, moldy mess, the building’s “shell” is still intact, meaning the new (smaller) building would have to be rebuilt from scratch. One contractor said that about 25% of the rehab work is already completed, because the foundation, and the rest of its shell are sound and straight.

One of the three “no” voters said he hopes the community can “respect” their decisions.

But respect is earned, and it takes more than just “thinking” and “talking” to unnamed “people” to earn the respect of the taxpayers – those who will ultimately pay the upcoming huge bills.

Maybe if the three would give us details of the “work” they performed before deciding to cast their “no” votes, they might earn respect.

Maybe if they told us, for example –

  • What studies they relied upon when making their decision? (The Village engineers did a study, but that study doesn’t help them, because it concluded the building can be restored.)
  • The names of the “people” they talked to?
  • The backgrounds these “people” have in building restoration and/or community revitalization?
  • The studies these “people” conducted on the Wiss building, or on the economic condition of Le Roy?
  • The biases or prejudices these “people” might have about the restoration plan?
  • Any agendas any of these “people” might have that led them to hope to make sweet profits for themselves after taxpayers pick up the demolition tab for them?
  • Any facts showing these “people” had no confidence in Le Royans to restore the Wiss. “People” who believe Le Royans aren’t smart, driven or community-minded enough to take care of themselves or their community. ”People” who instead, hope a “Big Brother” corporate power from far away will save us. (“Corporations, who, of course, care only about enriching themselves while impoverishing us -- that is by whisking money out of local pockets and slipping it into their faraway pockets.)

Just think –What if the three “no” voters worked for an independent businessman (instead of the taxpayers of our community) whose building was in serious need of repair and had the choice of accepting an offer to sell it for $10,000 or spending a bare minimum of $151,000, to demolish it. And this boss trusted the three to study the question, and to make the right decision. And what if the three came back to him several months later reporting only that they had, “thought about it to the point of losing sleep” and had talked to a lot of “people” and that based on this thinking and talking they rejected the offer to sell, and signed a contract to pay $141,000 of the boss’s money to destroy the building. And when the boss asked the three to tell him the names and qualifications of the people they spoke to before making their decision, the three refused, claiming the names were confidential. How, do you think that boss would react?

In this case, we taxpayers are the bosses of those three. What should we do with them?

It’s great that Le Royans are very concerned about their History.
But, don’t you think it's time we get as involved in our future as we are in our past?

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