Niagara Gazette

Local News

April 4, 2007

NIAGARA FALLS: Courthouse crumbles

NIAGARA FALLS — Crumbling concrete, rotting railings, exposed asbestos and mounting amounts of mold.

Welcome to the Niagara Falls Public Safety Building.

Those who visit and work there every day have growing concerns that the home of the city’s cops and courts may be named for safety, but is anything but safe.

“When I walk in every day, I wonder how much longer is it going to stay up,” said Carolyn Henry, a legal assistant in the Niagara County Public Defender’s Office. “There are so many problems here; you wonder how long (the building) will stand.”

Henry’s concerns are no exaggeration. In the main lobby on the building’s second floor, duct tape holds a large window together.

With crime scene tape in front of it, you might think a body bounced off the glass. In reality, the shaking and settling of the building caused the window to crack.

“There is no doubt in my mind that this building is an accident waiting to happen,” said Chief City Court Clerk Martha Farbo-Lincoln.

Farbo-Lincoln has spent 32 years working in the Public Safety Building and has watched it slowly fall into disrepair. You don’t have to look far to find structural faults — there is more police crime scene tape stretched around problem areas at the Public Safety Building then there is on Cataract City streets.

“At one point every public entrance into this building was blocked,” Farbo-Lincoln said.

Concrete steps leading into the building have deteriorated. As the steps crumbled, railings came loose and created additional hazards.

“There is a concern that the underlying factors surrounding (safety) in this building are never addressed,” Farbo-Lincoln said. “The railings (on the front entrance stairs) didn’t get fixed until a man with a cane fell and almost pulled the railing down.”

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