December 7, 2015
Dear Cattaraugus County Legislators:
While I still teach at St. Bonaventure, it’s been a couple years since I’ve been a resident of Cattaraugus County. I now live on part of the Chancellorsville battlefield near Fredericksburg, Virginia, so I literally write to you today from the ground where the 154th New York engaged in one of its best-known actions.
I sympathize that you’ve inherited a run-down Civil War Memorial and Historical Building from previous legislatures, which should never have allowed the structure to fall into the disrepair that it has. You were dealt a bad hand and have been trying to make the best of it.
However, to ram through action on the building before the end of your legislative session seems irresponsible. Here is an instance where you SHOULD pass the work on to the next legislature, not to pass the buck but simply because the work is not yet finished. You have done laudable work thus far. Just because you’ve run out of time in this session doesn’t mean you need to push through a decision just for the sake of wrapping things up.
Previous legislatures ignored the problem, but you have made a good-faith effort to engage the situation and find the solution. You have set up the next legislature to see the hard work through, just as the Civil War veterans themselves had to see through the hard work they had been charged with.
Please delay a final decision on the fate of the Civil War Memorial and Historical Building. Charge the next legislature with seeing the work through. Certainly the efforts of CAMP will ensure that the issue does not fade into the background as so many previous legislatures have let it.
A one-size-fits-all monument to all county veterans is not the answer. The Civil War veterans themselves erected this monument to remind subsequent generations of their unique sacrifices. Those deeds took place so long ago that it’s easy to underestimate their importance today. However, I live on some of the ground they made sacred, so I’m constantly reminded how truly vital their work was.
Those men trusted subsequent generations to remember what they did. They put their faith in “us”. Please do not break faith with them.
Thank you for your consideration.
Chris Mackowski, Ph.D.
Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication
St. Bonaventure University
December 8, 2015
As I peruse the names of the county legislators, I recognize a few “old family” names. Families that have been in our community for at least the last century. People that have chosen this area to spend and invest their lives in, as their fathers and mothers did, and those before them – like mine.
But, this gives no comfort of any constructive representation for me or my family – given the vulgar decision to demolish the war memorial. It shakes my confidence that my county legislators have the strength of character to act as a governing body.
The integrity of a community is based upon an inherent morality. This morality should arise from a reference for the past, a respect for the members of the community and a commitment to create a healthy and vibrant environment for our future.
The proposed demolition shows, in volumes, a lack of reverence for the past, little respect for the community and no commitment or business acumen to a create a vibrant environment for our future.
Finding the funds within a strict budget to avoid committing this indecency is not easy. But, it is attainable and should be an opportunity to create positive change within the town of Little Valley and the county. It should open discussions of potential use and funding avenues that might have been overlooked. It should create a dialogue with the citizens of the community and foster new relationships with local businesses.
Arguments have been presented by CAMP for many months expounding on the unique nature of this structure, not only from an architectural standpoint but the significance of its dedication to fallen soldiers – from one of the most sorrowful wars our country endured. With such a high mortality from this county, the community created this as a memorial for all to acknowledge and revere. This, somehow, had no impact upon the decision making.
The message from my legislators is clear – that the deaths of these soldiers to help shape our nation and our way of life is now perhaps distant and irrelevant. Their sacrifice is inconvenient to honor. It’s not worth the time to find the funds for a new roof, a dome or a practical purpose. Better to create a small area of designated honor at the corner of an enlarged parking lot from the bricks of the destroyed memorial! The proposal itself is indignant with self importance and misguided notions of progress that deplete our community of cultural history.
By advocating the destruction of this memorial of national relevance and importance, you have personally chosen to dishonor the community and it’s future members for generations to come . Your actions will create the history of tomorrow and your name will be remembered not for the good you could have created but the shame of the war memorial destruction.
I urge you to commit to preserve this monument .
December 7, 2015
Here is another example of what the Catt Co Legislators are reading in their email boxes:
As you are undoubtedly aware at the December 9th County Legislature meeting you will be asked to vote on the demolition of the Civil War Memorial and Historical Building. As I am sure you are equally aware a group of concerned citizens descending from Civil War veterans, veterans of other wars and conflicts as well as interested citizens are attempting to preserve this very valuable piece of Cattaraugus County and the United States of America history. In particular a group of concerned citizens, Citizens Advocating Memorial Preservation (CAMP) has formed and worked very hard against, quite frankly, very difficult odds to prevent the demolition and to have the Memorial restored and reused.
We have dealt with the Public Works Committee as we were informed was the proper way. We have presented a feasibility study prepared by the Clinton Brown Company Firm, a historical preservation architecture expert. By the way, NOT ONE PENNY OF TAXPAYER MONEY PAID FOR THIS STUDY. I hope you have seen and reviewed this study.
The Clinton Brown Study shows the building can be preserved. Is it inexpensive? NO. Does CAMP believe Cattaraugus County should pay for the restoration? NO. Does CAMP want to work with Cattaraugus County to save the memorial? YES.
CAMP met with the Public Works Committee several times…one to present our case, one to present the Clinton Brown Study, and lastly to ask that several issues be clarified.
We have at all times acted in a respectful manner. Points we asked to have clarified:
1. Will the County commit to not demolishing the building?
2. Would the County work with CAMP to find future use(s) for the Memorial and sources of funding?
3. Would the County commit funds appropriated for demolition towards the preservation of the Memorial?
4. Was the issue of a “reverter clause” in the gifting of the land to Cattaraugus County no longer an issue? As an aside, there has been considerable discussion on this issue with conflicting opinions offered by several attorneys. Why not have it evaluated by an attorney specializing in these areas?
County Administrator Jack Searles has said the county had given C.A.M.P. “more time than they requested” to see if they could save the building. First of all, CAMP did not request any time…the committee informally said that they would postpone the decision. At no time was CAMP given, in writing, a definitive time frame, despite asking for formalization of their intentions many times.
I would have to disagree with Mr. Searles’ assessment. CAMP could not “save the building” with out formal action by the Legislature. We could not ask people to give money for a project that may or may not happen. CAMP could not apply for grants given that Cattaraugus County owns the Memorial. What CAMP has done has funded the Feasibility Study, collected many indications of support for the effort, including letters of support from Senator Cathy Young, Assembly Joe Gigolo, the Civil War Trust, formal support of Cattaraugus County American Legion, as well as well as multiple petitions signed by CATTARAUGUS COUNTY RESIDENTS. Through CAMP’s efforts the Memorial has been placed on the “Five to Revive Listing” developed by the Landmark Society of Western New York. The Memorial is the ONLY building listed in Cattaraugus and neighboring counties.
This is what the Five to Revive announcement of the inclusion of the Memorial on this list said:
Built 1911, the Cattaraugus County Memorial and Historical Building is a unique example of a Civil War Memorial that was designed for use as a municipal building. Designed by the Jamestown architecture firm of Freeburg and Fidler, the Memorial Building is located in Little Valley, the county seat for Cattaraugus County. The building is prominently sited on the village green, adjacent to the County office building. An elegant Neoclassical style building, it once housed a library and, until 2004, the County Historical Museum. In 2013, county officials announced plans for its demolition. A newly formed organization, Citizens Advocating Memorial Preservation (CAMP), has been working with The Landmark Society to advocate for reuse. A highly visible landmark for over 100 years, the Memorial Building has excellent potential for rehabilitation as a community resource in the 21st century.
Imagine the surprise of the Society that before any action or assistance could be given that the Public Works Committee has decided to DEMOLISH THE MEMORIAL!
I ask you to seriously consider other alternatives to demolishment of the Memorial. I ask those of you who are veterans or who know a veteran to consider how you would feel if you knew that in a 100 years your sacrifice was not worthy of being remembered in a memorial erected by grateful citizens of Cattaraugus County because it is not convenient to find other alternatives than tearing it down. Ask yourself if a small replacement is adequate to memorialize those who not only saved our nation but contributed so much to the many of the improvements in modern living conditions. And lastly, ask if a restored Memorial can help support the mission of Cattaraugus County to encourage tourism.
Please consider giving CAMP and the County to find other alternatives. Please vote NO.
Juanita Stein Ried
December 7, 2015
Gretchen Gaede submitted this open letter that she wrote for all Catt Co Legislators who will vote on the demolition of the Memorial Building in Little Valley, NY:
December 7, 2015
Although I live in Cleveland Ohio, I wish that all Cattaraugus County legislators be
aware that their recent decision to demolish the Civil War Monument in Little Valley is a
decision that will reverberate through communities far from your own and for a long time
to come. The momentum for saving this richly historic structure increased monthly and
the fact that it was recently listed as one of New York’s Five to Revive should not be
ignored or taken lightly. It is ironic that the town’s legislature agrees that there should
be a memorial to the over 35,000 Cattaraugus County war veterans but would tear
down the current one, dedicated in 1913, to erect some sort of symbolic afterthought in
its place. Apparently the legislators also agree that there are key structural components
that should be salvaged so why not just maintain this unique and historic structure
precisely as it was dedicated, especially when the study provided by Buffalo’s
preservation firm of Clinton Brown suggests that the cost of restoring the building for
reuse would be almost half of what County officials would have you believe.
It would seem that the legislature is not listening to the voice of the community that they have been elected to represent. The very idea that the CAMP committee was blindsided by the news that after all of its efforts to prove the value and worth of this building, it was earmarked for demolition within a closed door conference, does not reflect well on the leadership of your community.
I urge you to listen to the passionate voices of those who call upon you to preserve the
rich history that you have been entrusted with and in so doing vote AGAINST the
demolition of this Memorial. The past and future citizens of Cattaraugus County, along
with so many others watching from afar, implore you to put all politics aside and do the
right thing for those who served your county so bravely in the past, as well as current
and future generations who would have the opportunity to honor their service within this
deserving historic structure.
December 5, 2015
As descendants of Cattaraugus County Civil War Veterans slowly learn of the recommendation of the Cattaraugus County Department of Public Works to demolish the Memorial Building in Little Valley, NY the emails are already starting to come in to CAMP and the Catt Co Legislators. Here are some of the first to arrive in CAMP Historian, Mark Dunkelman’s email box:
From: “Donald Moody”
Subject: Sad News
Date: December 5, 2015 at 11:47:38 AM EST
To: Mr.Jack Searles
It is very disturbing to hear the news that your Public Works Committee announced suddenly that the Cattaraugus County Memorial and Historical Building in Little Valley would be demolished! The fact that this decision was made in secret, behind closed doors, without any public discussion is most troubling. This is not how you and your fellow legislators are supposed to act as representatives of the people. This is not the American way and I am very disappointed in the legislature’s spoiled brat actions that seemingly took place away from public interaction. I have supported CAMP and their efforts as they are trying to honor all American veterans by saving a very historic building and piece of land in your county. I pray that a final decision , more just and friendly to the citizens and veterans of your state and our country, may be thoughtfully worked out very shortly. The demolition of this historic building would be an unfortunate loss of another irreplaceable artifact of our country’s history.
Please feel free to share this communication with your fellow representatives.
Very Sincerely Yours,
Donald Moody, president
Muskingum County Civil War Association
Zanesville, Ohio, 43701
From: Michael Movius
Subject: DEMOLITION RECOMMENDATION
Date: December 5, 2015 at 11:51:21 AM EST
I wish to express my dismay that the Public Works Committee’s recommendation to demolish the Cattaraugus County Memorial and Historical Building in Little Valley, and did so against the precepts of open government. Your constituents within Citizens Advocating Memorial Preservation (CAMP) have developed several professional historical preservation relationships, brought them forward for discussion, but seemingly have been ignored by the PWC. An open and frank discussion is a fundamental part of our democratic process.Those of us who revere the sacrifices and contributions of our Civil War ancestors are appalled at the manner and substance of the recommendation and urge that the Legislature to preserve the county’s most significant Civil War memorial.Mike Movius, Vice President
Puget Sound Civil War Roundtable
From: “David Onan II”
Subject: Cattaraugus County Memorial and Historical Building destruction
Date: December 5, 2015 at 12:19:36 PM EST
Dear Mr. Searles,
My G-G-Grandfather, Warren Onan, was a resident of Cattaraugus County most of his life. He served in the 154th NY Inf. Vol. during the Civil War. Forty years ago, at the start of my investigation of family history, I visited this building in Little Valley. The people I met there and the information led me on to many other useful Cattaraugus County locations during two trips from Minnesota.
Old things are tough to maintain; but once they are lost, they are gone forever. History matters. The history of our country is best preserved in landmarks which cannot be perverted by political whim. When I stand on the graves of my ancestors or in the places they stood, I get a true feeling of attachment. I’m 82 now and won’t be back, but it will sadden me to think of my kids and their kids and all the others who will not be able to experience the same.
Please make copies of this for the members of the council who are considering tearing down the building. I ask that they preserve it.
David W. Onan II
Fort Myers, FL 33908
From: “Thomas O’Hare”
Subject: Re: Historic Preservation Crisis
Date: December 5, 2015 at 12:46:27 PM EST
You are doing a great job as the leader/advocate for saving the Memorial Building. Some of the legislators have sided with the preservationists. Lets identify and focus on those who are determined to destroy the building. Perhaps heavy pressure could be brought to bear on them. But who are they? Could a list of anti-building legislators together with the areas they represent be released so the local media (including Buffalo) and individuals can focus on them? I can envision an article in a Sunday edition of the Buffalo News with a headline “ Nine Cattaraugus County legislators determined to destroy Civil War Memorial”
Your reaction please. Regards Tom O’Hare
From: Betty Lou Gleason
Subject: Civil War Memorial
Date: December 5, 2015 at 2:10:38 PM EST
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
I am writing regarding the Cattaraugus County’s Civil War memorial. My ancestors were a large part of the Cattaraugus County area and many served in the Civil War. They are looking down and urging all of you to vote against destroying Cattaraugus County’s most significant Civil War memorial. And, I am strongly urging you to vote against this destruction.
Betty Lou Gleason
Family Ancestors – Howlett’s and Casten’s
Betty Lou Gleason
Simpsonville, SC 29681
CAMP hopes that it may publish your email to Cattaraugus County Legislators declaring your opposition to the demolition of the Memorial Building. Please also demand that the public be included in the decision to preserve, re-use or demolish this important, historical monument to our Civil War Veterans. You may email copies of your emails for publication to: firstname.lastname@example.org
December 5, 2015
These are the talking points that were presented to CAMP members who attended the 12-minute “work session” on December 3, 2015:
1. The county does not have the ability to sell this property and will not entertain a sale of this property
2. The county owns this property and will retain its title
3. All actions pertaining to this property must be approved by the Legislature in writing
4. No entity can apply for funding or a status change on behalf of the County without the express written permission of the County
5. The County is interested in a monument to all veterans in Cattaraugus County at the site of this building
6. Cattaraugus County will proceed to demolish this building at County cost on a timeline favorable to the County
7. Cattaraugus County is interested in saving key structural components of the current building for incorporation into a memorial for all veterans
8. Cattaraugus County welcomes discussion about these key structural components that would be salvaged and discussion around the design of a new memorial
December 5, 3015 by CAMP Historian, Mark Dunkelman
On December 3, 2015 representatives from Citizens Advocating Memorial Preservation (CAMP) met with the Cattaraugus County Legislature’s Public Works Committee. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss proposals made by CAMP for the preservation and reuse of the Cattaraugus County Memorial and Historical Building in Little Valley.
There was no discussion. Instead, what transpired was a complete surprise.
A legislator read a series of talking points that had been adopted by the Public Works Committe behind closed doors the previous day. One of them read: “Cattaraugus County will proceed to demolish this building at County cost and on a timeline favorable to the County.”
The protests we have raised, the many positive steps CAMP has made, the advice of historic preservation professionals at the Landmark Society of Western New York and Clinton Brown Company Architecture of Buffalo—all have been ignored by a Legislature that apparently made up its mind a year ago. As before, they are proposing “Saving key structural components of the building for incorporation into a memorial for all veterans.” But as I wrote when they first made this proposition in 2013, “Will any new Civil War memorial you concoct have the substance, symbolism, dignity, and historical significance of the Cattaraugus County Memorial and Historical Building?”
On Wednesday, December 9, the Cattaraugus County Legislature will hold its final meeting of the year (a new Legislature, with fewer members, will take office next year). They will then vote on whether to authorize the demolition of the Memorial and Historical Building.
Between now and then, please write to the Legislators listed below and urge them to vote against destroying Cattaraugus County’s most significant Civil War memorial. Our voices must be heard at this crucial time. Our ancestors need us to speak up on their behalf.
Thank you for taking a stand on this important historic preservation issue.
Mark Dunkelman, CAMP Historian
County Administrator Jack Searles, email@example.com
William H. Weller, firstname.lastname@example.org
David M. Koch, email@example.com
Linda M. Edstrom, firstname.lastname@example.org
Steven H. Teachman, email@example.com
Richard L. Klancer, firstname.lastname@example.org
James Joseph Snyder, Jr., email@example.com
Paula J. Stockman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard J. Lamberson, email@example.com
William E. Sprague, firstname.lastname@example.org
Patrick J. Murphy, email@example.com
Norman L. Marsh, firstname.lastname@example.org
Donna M. Vickman, email@example.com
Gary M. Felton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan M. Hale, email@example.com
James L. Boser, firstname.lastname@example.org
Carl W. Edwards, email@example.com
Susan Labuhn, firstname.lastname@example.org
John Padlo, email@example.com
James J. Snyder, firstname.lastname@example.org
Matthew J. Keller, email@example.com
Howard VanRensselaer, Sr., firstname.lastname@example.org
December 3, 2015
Cattaraugus County Department of Public Works committee members and members of Citizens Advocating Memorial Preservation will meet for a joint work session at 4 PM on Thursday, December 4, 2015. The purpose of the special session will be to to discuss efforts to preserve the county’s Memorial and Historical Building. The Memorial Building was dedicated to all Cattaraugus County Civil War Veterans by the county on September 7, 1914.
All members of CAMP have been asked to attend the work session to be held in the Cattaraugus County Building in Little Valley, NY.
For more information please read the Olean Times article that appeared in the online edition on December 4, 2015.
November 24, 2015
CAMP historian, Mark Dunkelman, has posted an article on the New York History Blog about the proposed demolition of the Cattaraugus County Memorial and Historical Building. It is entitled, “An Imperiled Civil War Memorial”. Visit Memorial Building in the News on the CAMP web site to read it.
November 13, 2015
Citizens Advocating Memorial Preservation (CAMP) members attended the 11 AM Veterans Day ceremony held by the Little Valley American Legion Post #531 at the Little Valley Rural Cemetery in Little Valley, NY. The solemn ceremony was well-attended by the public despite the inclement weather conditions. The ceremony was officiated by Allie Burdick, a member of American Legion Post #531. Color Guards were present from Post 531 and were joined by a Civil War re-enactor Color Guard representing the CAMP organization.
Immediately following the ceremony at the cemetery, CAMP held their own Veterans Day ceremony at the steps of the Cattaraugus County Memorial and Historical Building located a few blocks down Court Street. They were joined by American Legion members and spectators. The ceremony was officiated by CAMP Chairman Tom Stetz. Pastor Nate Lange of the Little Valley Methodist Church provided the opening and closing prayers for the event.
CAMPers, John Stengel and Tom Place were part of a 5-man re-enactor Civil War Color Guard present during the ceremony. They were joined by another re-enactor, Steve Teeft, who is the executive director of the Echoes Through Time museum in Springville and a representative of the Sons of Union Veterans.
Mr. Stengel placed a wreath at the door of the Memorial Building on behalf of the entire CAMP organization in honor of all American veterans. Mr Teeft placed a wreath at the Memorial Building on behalf of the Sons of Union Veterans.
Several members of the audience spoke in rememberance of their veteran descendants. CAMPer, Nancy Barger, noted that a Mr. Bishop, who is a World War II veteran, honored CAMP by his presence at the ceremony. Mr. Teeft honored his Civil War descendant and spoke about the importance of the Memorial Building as a lasting memorial to all those brave Americans who gave their lives and their service for their country during the Civil War.
A video of the entire ceremony can be viewed on this web site’s Video page: 2015 CAMP Veterans Day Ceremony
(Click on images to enlarge)
The Veterans Memorial at the Little Valley Rural Cemetery in Little Valley, NY
Allie Burdick Delivers his Veterans Day Speech
The American Legion Color Guard
CAMP’s Civil War Re-enactor Color Guard
The American Legion Presents a 7-gun Salute
CAMPer, Clark Casler at the Am Legion Vets Day ceremony.
CAMPer Nancy Bargar and Chairman, Tom Stetz, waiting for the Am Legion ceremony to begin.