Teslow grain elevator, Part II

Back in January, this editorial space covered the topic of the Teslow grain elevator, saying it looked like the time had come to say goodbye to the local icon that has long stood as a sentinel over the city.

Among reasons cited for this were wind damage to the building and what seemed like an impossible task of coming up with funds in time to save the nearly 110-year-old structure from demolition. Livingston developer Chris Salacinski, who acquired the grain elevator, was at the time beginning to take it down.

But my, how things change. 

On Feb. 13, just two days before the demolition was scheduled to begin, a local organization, The Teslow Group LLC, formed and quickly came up with enough funds to halt the tear-down. 

According to an Enterprise story by Hunter D’Antuono, the group bought the building from Salacinski, presenting him with $46,000 to cover the costs he had already incurred, and has so far raised a total of $60,000 in pledged funds — which includes the $46,000 — toward restoring the building. The group, which is applying for 501(c)3 status, says it will need $50,000 to $60,000 to make essential repairs to the building, like fixing its damaged top, as well as repairing walls and securing loose metal sheets. 

Since this development, some criticisms have been made about how there seems to be money to save an old building but not for other community needs like affordable housing or fixing/replacing the deteriorating McNair Skate Park for our youth.

Concerns about that disparity have merit, but it needs to be remembered it’s not the city putting money into the Teslow — it’s a nongovernmental group with private funds. If The Teslow Group LLC members are excited about restoring an old building, especially a beloved local icon, that’s not only their right, it also provides cultural and historical benefit to the community by reminding us of our agricultural and railroad roots. After all, Livingston exists today in part because of the function structures like the elevator provided. 

The group has so far been successful in part because it is well organized, and sophisticated in its marketing and networking — it has a website (www.theteslow.com) a hashtag (#SAVE THE TESLOW), T-shirts, pins and stickers. 

Perhaps Teslow Group’s success can be used as a model for those worthy and much-needed local projects such as affordable housing or building a new skate park, showing what the concentrated efforts of community members can accomplish.

— Dwight Harriman
Enterprise News Editor