Turtle preservation moves to council


The Niagara Falls Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously Thursday to recommend a historic preservation designation be placed on the long-abandoned turtle building on Rainbow Boulevard.

The Turtle, designed by indigenous architect Dennis Sun Rhodes, is owned by Niagara Falls Redevelopment.

The commission allowed speakers at the meeting, to the surprise of several of the 18 audience members present.

Carl Skompinski, an historian and long-time advocate for preservation was among the first to step to the podium and suggested coming together to build a plan.

“The folks working to revitalize the turtle can disagree with the owners,” Skompinski said, “but we don’t need to be disagreeable.”

Emily Jarnot, a preservation planner with Preservation Buffalo Niagara stood forth and identified herself as a Falls resident and PBN’s Niagara Falls liaison.

Jarnot panned the stance of NFR as well as those in opposition who have argued the Turtle doesn’t qualify for Historical Designation because it is not 50 years old.

“The law reads ‘usually’ 50 years old,” Jarnot said. Her argument was that “usually” modifier matters. She sees the process as two-step, 1 save the building and 2 develop it.

Tim Johnson, of North Tonawanda, a citizen of the Six Nations of the Grand River said he worked at the Turtle before moving to the Smithsonian with Rick Hill. Many of the ideas and displays at the national museum at the Smithsonian originated with the Turtle.

Samika Sullivan pointed to the NACC as a success story.

“We have a history of seeing something and wanting to demolish it,” Sullivan said. “The problem is we never put something back.”

She pointed out the NACC was going to be a shopping center and parking lot but instead was preserved to become a vibrant community center.

After Sullivan spoke, the commission unanimously passed the recommendation which will now go before the Niagara Falls City Council.

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