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The Fight Over Paul Rudolph's Government Center is Headed for the Courts

Two weeks ago, republican legislators in Orange County, N.Y. failed to stop a redevelopment plan that would partially demolish and greatly alter Paul Rudolph's Orange County Government Center. Now, it looks as if a local lawyer and a community activist are taking legal action to stop that from happening.

According to Goshen's Chronicle, local attorney Michael Sussman has threatened to sue the county if it goes forward with its current plan. In a press conference last week, he outlined some of the claims that suit might put forth:

· Destruction of a historic building in violation of the New York Preservation Act of 1980.
· Conflicts of interest involving a legislator who was once offered a job at Clark Patterson Lee, the firm chosen for the county's renovation plan.
· Abuse of funds on the part of Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus, who blocked the sale of the center to architect Gene Kaufman (who planned to restore and repurpose the center), thereby ratifying "the illegal use of public funds."
· Neglect of other infrastructure, which could have used the $64M-$74M the county plans to spend renovating the structure.

"This is not a liberal or conservative issue," Sussman told The Chronicle. "Nor is it a Democratic or Republican issue. The lawsuit would be filed to gain space for important municipal purposes."

Meanwhile, CityLab reports that forensic investigator and preservation advocate Vincent Ferri has "already filed a complaint with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, arguing that the destruction of the building is not only a violation of federal historic preservation requirements, but also constitutes, collusion, bid rigging, price fixing, fraud, and judicial misconduct."

Quite the colorful batch of claims here, in what Frank Sanchis of the World Monuments Fund calls the oddest preservation story he's seen in 40 years.

Again, those are to stop this:

Photos courtesy Alexandra Lange

...from turning into this:

· The Soulless Vandalization of Paul Rudolph's Orange County Government Center Moves Forward [Curbed National]
· County may be sued over government center renovation [The Chronicle]
· A 'Building of Awe' With an Uncertain Future [CityLab]