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Remains of Hojack Swing Bridge

Hojack Swing Bridge







The Hojack Swing Bridge is no more. It was demolished by CSX, which finally acted on an order from the U.S. Coast Guard. Despite the fact the bridge was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Place, CSX was granted demolitions permits this year by the DEC and Army Corps of Engineers without a single public hearing. A paltry notice by the DEC was published in the Democrat and Chronicle classifieds for people wanting to give input.

Port Huron Railroad Bridge

A similar story is playing out in Michigan, where there’s a public fight to save an old railroad bridge in Port Huron. The Army Corps of Engineers is seeking public input because the bridge is historic. The Times Herald reports:

More than 690 people have signed a petition on change.org asking the State Historic Preservation Office to stop the demolition permit. The Army Corps of Engineers has to consult with the State Historic Preservation Office before authorizing the demolition of the potentially historic landmark.

The train bridge was built in 1931 by the American Bridge Company of New York using a “special patented design that … was only used in eight bridges in the country,” Nathan Holth, a bridge historian and preservationist, previously told the Times Herald.

It looks like people in Port Huron is getting more of a head start and the process might be more open.

Links of the Day:

– There’s a cool plan to turn a historic Albany church into a brewery. Some neighbors object.

– Governor Cuomo is vetoing a bill that would have expanded state tax credits for historic building rehabs. Meantime, this week Sen. Schumer was in calling for expansion of federal tax credits for historic buildings.

– The Syracuse school superintendent is donating her bonus to a group supporting teachers. She notes teachers are stressed out and spending their own money on supplies.

Eastview Mall is overhauling its Von Maur wing.

5 Responses to Bridges Falling Down

  1. December 13, 2012 at 8:54 am RaChaCha responds:

    The Swing Bridge, like the Genesee Brewery building, was torn down, in the end, because no one would file a lawsuit. There are laws & regulations regarding preservation where federal & state entities are involved, and also requiring local governments to follow their own policies. However, like in the case with SEQRA, court action is often required to enforce these laws & regulations.

    A lawsuit might have challenged the Coast Guard order. And on the brewery I feel strongly, given the statements of the out-of-town folks who were demanding Rochester allow demolition of a key heritage building as a condition of their making a modest investment, that had a lawsuit been filed tying up the demolition they may well have walked away. A better project with more heritage-respectful and less intransigent investors could then have been discussed.

    One way folks in Rochester have a shot at losing fewer of these battles is to become less lawsuit averse. The law, like any tool, only works if you pick it up and use it.

  2. December 13, 2012 at 11:31 am Tony Mittiga responds:

    Law suits are not cheap, and there are pesky procedural questions, like “standing”. No one can sue just because they don’t like something. Funny: the brewery building was ignored for a long time then is called a “key heritage building” at the end. For me, the continued success of the brewery itself is a key part of Rochester’s heritage, and applause to the “out-of-town folks” who have helped save it.

  3. ‘The law, like any tool, only works if you pick it up and use it.’

    You forgot the concept…. IF YOU WANT TO USE IT.

    Your basic premise is that the majority of people wanted to save these buildings, and bridges and that there were lots of potential commercial value. The market and public opinion says that’s not true.

    Again you want it you pay for it or organize a group that can completely fund it without any taxpayer support. Don’t look to others to fund and keep things that appeal to your “tastes”.

    What is it about the Fiscal Cliff, the county, state, and city budget deficits that you don’t understand….? there’s no money, the DEMs (mostly0 have spent it all on lots of other things we didn’t need.

  4. I can comment on both subjects. On the bridge, I am from Charlotte. I grew up looking at that bridge. As a boat owner, I also had to dodge that bridge when traveling in the river. I applaud the decision to FINALLY remove it. I also enjoy Genesee beer….often. The owners of the brewery wanted this building removed for the benefit of the business. It’s a no-brainer….you remove the building. It’s probably obvious that I do not value old, crumbling buildings for their “architectural” value. For those that do, gather your friends that share those values, and buy it yourself. There is no place for taxpayers to bankroll the whims of a few.

  5. Regarding the brewery building, I brought a friend from out of town to the rooftop there on Friday. That’s twice now I’ve been to the new brewery, versus zero times I went to the vacant dilapidated unsafe “historical” structure.

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