Weekly Feature

2017-06-15 / Front Page

Board anticipates Burchfield litigation


A report regarding the Burchfield Nature and Art Center building has been received by the West Seneca Town Board, but it’s not for public viewing — at least, not yet.

“That report, it’s not finished,” said Town Attorney John Fenz during the board’s regular meeting on Monday night. “The way we’re moving forward with it is anticipation of litigation.”

He said the report was prepared as an expert’s report for the Town Board to determine who they would be charging as responsible for the structure.

“There’s a price tag, something needs to be done, and someone’s responsible for it. It wasn’t the taxpayers, and it wasn’t [this board],” Fenz said. “It’s not a report that was intended for the public.”

In January, the Burchfield Nature and Art Center building was closed and all organizations within the facility were relocated after officials discovered what was described as structural deficiencies. A forensic architect was brought in to find the building’s alleged failings and offer an objective opinion.

Fenz, as attorney for the town, is working to give advice to town officials on how best to proceed in resolving the issue with the Burchfield building.

He, along with John Dreste, of Ernstrom and Dreste, LLP out of Rochester, is developing a strategy from the information provided in the report.

“What’s important with that is, a report prepared in anticipation of litigation is cloaked by the attorney client privilege,” he said.

According to Dreste’s website, he concentrates his practice on complex commercial contract litigation, largely focusing on the fields of construction contract law, suretyship, fidelity, environmental law and other areas impacting the surety, fidelity and construction industries.

“He’s one of the best construction attorneys in the State of New York,” Fenz said. “We’ve had a few conversations about the report. Nothing too exciting to report at this time aside from two lawyers talking over a bunch of stuff.”

The report being used by the board is not similar to the one generated to determine the feasibility of the Seneca Mall site, Fenz explained.

Despite public outcries from those who frequented the Burchfield, Supervisor Sheila Meegan said there isn’t money in the budget this year for repairs.

“The last thing we want to see is the end to that building, so we’re doing everything in our power,” the supervisor said at a March board meeting.

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