Old Bethlehem Steel Building to Come Down

March 7, 2013 Updated Mar 7, 2013 at 9:15 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

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March 7, 2013 Updated Mar 7, 2013 at 9:15 PM EDT

Lackawanna, NY (WKBW) - Final preparations are underway for the demolition of the Old Bethlehem Steel Administration building.

Despite several legal attempts by preservationists to save the local landmark, beginning Friday, it is expected to come down.

Whether or not the Bethlehem Steel Building is a blighted sight or a historic gem has been an ongoing and heated debate between preservationists, building owners and the City of Lackawanna.

Cranes were already in place on Thursday afternoon, ready to tear down the Old Bethlehem Steel Building. The site that once gave jobs to thousands of people has been abandoned for three decades.

"This building is not only a symbol of our illustrious industrial past, and what we as a nation were able to create," says Dana Saylor, "but it's a symbol of what we can gain and what we can become in the future."

Others say it is a reminder of what Western New York no longer has -- and that engineering reports deem it unsafe.

Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski explains, ""Two out of three (reports) say it's unsafe and the third one says it may be safe, it may not be safe, we may have to open up some walls to see for sure."

"It looks like hell," Szymanski adds. "It looks like hell from three out of the four sides."

Preservationists insist other reports claim it's structurally sound and that buyers are interested in the building.

However, in court Thursday morning, a judge upheld a previous ruling, denying a restraining order that would keep the Bethlehem Steel Building standing.

Preservationists still hold out hope. Dana Saylor says "The disillusion of the temporary restraining order is just a technicality at this point. We're believing that it's still possible."

However, sowing pictures of the ceiling caving in and floors collapsing, the mayor says there are few choices left for the Bethlehem Steel Building.

Szymanski says, "My stance has been clear from the beginning. Fix it up or knock it down. But you're not going to leave it as it is."

Trees have already been cleared from the area. Crews are expected to show up first thing Friday morning.

Szymanski says the building's owner will donate one dormer to the Lackawanna library.