Some believe clock tower could have been saved, next steps for alumni

CORNING, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - The clock tower of the former Northside Blodgett school was torn down on Wednesday morning. 

Devastated is an understatement to explain how members of the Northside High School Alumni Association feel. 

Just this week they were brainstorming ideas to save it and they believe there wasn't transparency in the process. 

Bob Crocker, the association's president, had been trying to rescue it for years. He explains his emotions after seeing the footage.

"I watched it yesterday in the afternoon... I was really rather upset," Crocker said. "It did come down in one piece. I don't really think it was rotted."

Last week, Arbor Housing and Development said the wood was so dry rotted, engineers could not guarantee its removal without crumbling and that nothing could be done to save it. 

Crocker was doubtful of this from the beginning and seeing it come down in one piece confirmed his suspicions. 

Ernie Newman, a private contractor, wanted the clock tower for himself on his own property before learning about the alumni's efforts. Newman said he was on site, went up, and took a look at it when demolition first began at the school. After hearing of the alumni's troubles, he was willing to use his own equipment to help them out at little to no cost.

"It was an awesome piece of structure," Newman said. "I just wanted to save it. The clock was awesome inside. It was in real good shape. I have a tree service. I know what dry rot is."

Newman has been in the business since 1982, has salvaged many items throughout the years, and believes his expertise is accurate. 

Arbor sticks by its initial claims saying conditions were unsafe. 

"The demolition contractor had multiple subcontractors come in," Rocco Soda, real estate development director at Arbor, said. "We did have two bids along with the engineers that indicated that it was severely dry rotted and it was not structurally sound."

Crocker, who has an auditorium chair from Northside High School, says this goes beyond sentimentality. 

"Believe me," Crocker said. "It is not nostalgia. What it is, is a landmark of Corning just got destroyed."

As for what's remaining, the alumni still want to salvage whatever possible, but Arbor says the debris is still on site and anything left doesn't appear to be salvageable.

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