The owner of the rundown Roycroft warehouse has promised East Aurora village officials that some improvements to the property will begin this summer.
But despite his assurances, village officials were left somewhat doubtful about whether he has the money needed to complete all the work.
Stock House owner Boice Lydell, a Roycroft artifacts collector from Lakewood, finally met with village officials last week and brought molds with him that will be used to help duplicate the original building blocks for the warehouse’s exterior.
“It is three years worth of work and $7,000 sitting here. It’s been an unbelievable challenge to get this done,” Lydell told the Village Board of a project that has been in the works for nine years. “You just don’t go in a hardware store and pick this [stuff] up.”
Frustration has escalated for months among village officials about Lydell’s building, which generated many complaints about its deteriorated condition and whether it poses safety hazards. It sits on the National Historic Landmark campus, which is undergoing restoration.
Lydell insisted that the pattern for the block could not be found anywhere else in the country.
“This block pattern was used only on my building and the north side of the Copper Shop,” he said.
Village officials demanded to know when construction would begin to fix the building and improve its exterior appearance, as well as a nearby garage.
Lydell responded that he planned to move to East Aurora for the summer with plans to work on the project, some of it himself and some of it with help. Yet, he would not promise that the work would be done by a certain date.
“I want to get this done,” he said. “By mid-summer, you will see changes on the building ... My interest there [at the campus] since a kid has been to collect and preserve Roycroft.”
Lydell mentioned several times that he is not pleased with the look of his building, but he lamented the cost of the project, which he said could range between $16,000 and $100,000.
“Do you have enough resources to get it done?” asked Trustee Randy West, who is a professional engineer.
“I think so,” Lydell replied.
He later told the board: “It takes time. It takes money. There’s no point in doing this thing and doing a botched-up job. I’m not happy with myself that the building looks the way it does.”
“The board’s concern is to try to motivate you to get moving,” West told Lydell. “We’re a tourist-oriented town. We take a lot of pride in trying to draw people and have [the area] look good.”
When Trustee Patrick Shea asked whether Lydell would allow the village’s engineer to inspect the warehouse, Lydell refused to give an answer, saying he’d already allowed the village’s code enforcement officer and Trustee Libby Weberg in and felt that was enough. He later said he’d think about the village’s request in the next two weeks.
“I want some privacy. It is my building,” Lydell said. “I’ve been more than open.”
West was not pleased with that answer.
“This sounds like absolute hogwash to not allow a structural engineer in there,” he said. “I’m not buying your privacy argument.”