The moral of the Cattaraugus Village saga regarding their two-year effort to regain an old manufacturing building from the clutches of the United States Marshal's Office is clear. If you're willing to put in enough hours and file enough paperwork, and if you're willing to see your building thoroughly (but, of course, legally scavenged), you may eventually get it back - but you're going to pay - dearly.
On July 1, Mayor Bill Myers finally was handed the deed to the Mill Street Setter Brothers building. It seemed no more money could be wrung from it. But wait - Meyers also received a bill for $12,500 from the Marshal's Office for that office's dedicated maintenance of the property for all those months.
In view of what the building looked like when the village took possession, the bill came as a bit of a surprise, and the board had to take out an interest-free loan from the not-for-profit Cattaraugus Local Development Corporation to pay it.
These photos (taken July 10, 2010) document the maintenance performed by the U.S. Marshal’s Office during their two year seizure of the Setter Brothers building.
Adding insult to injury, the very day the deed was legally transferred to the village, law enforcement officers appeared at the site to remove a large milling machine, and two locked safes. One of the safes was very old and bore the Setter Brothers name across its door. It might have been useful to the new owner, Robert Raber, and had obvious historic importance to the village, but was confiscated, nonetheless.
Although the building appears structurally sound, the entire three stories are strewn with litter, left behind after it was systematically ransacked for objects of value. Outside, weeds and small trees have grown into a hedge almost as impenetrable as that which guarded Sleeping Beauty.
Thanks to a resolution passed by the Cattaraugus County legislature, the county's Department of Public Works is furnishing six roll-off refuse containers for the cleanup effort. The physical work of hoeing out all this debris and loading it into the dumpsters will happen within the next week or two.
Despite the endless string of frustrations and the hard work involved, the Cattaraugus Village Board feels that the eventual benefit to the community will be worth it. Mr. Raber has indicated that he is eager to get into the building and start work.