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WAY CLEARED FOR LONG-SOUGHT RAZING OF GRAIN MILLS

The long-awaited removal of the Town of Tonawanda's aging Military Road grain mills is getting closer to becoming a reality, officials said Wednesday.

Local leaders said they erred in prematurely announcing in July that a company located near the mills, Permclip, had refused a monetary offer for a piece of property necessary to allow demolition work on the mills to begin.

Although town and county officials looking to tear down the mills had held private discussions about the offer, Permclip had not yet received a written proposal and did not in any way hold up the process, the officials said.

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency -- lead agency for the demolition project -- and Permclip have reached a new agreement to work together to bring the mills down, representatives of both parties said.

"The goal is to bring the elevators down as quickly as possible, and we're going to work with all the parties involved to accomplish that," said County Legislature Chairman Charles M. Swanick, D-Kenmore, who is helping to spearhead the removal efforts.

"From the very beginning, Permclip has indicated that they are more than willing to negotiate in good faith and want very much to see the grain mills come down," he added.

Buffalo attorney Arnold Weiss, speaking on behalf of Permclip, agreed with Swanick and said the company wants to see the removal of the mills go as smoothly and quickly as possible.

While Weiss said the company was "flabbergasted" at the previous information released by officials, he said Permclip is appreciative of efforts to clear the misunderstanding and start the removal process again.

Officials said the process will begin moving quickly now that construction bids on the demolition work have been solicited from 11 contractors and will be returned by Sept. 7.

Town Supervisor Carl J. Calabrese, who said he regrets the delay to the work caused by the Permclip situation, called the removal of the mills "very important to the Tonawanda community."

"Over the years, four lives have been lost and the site is a substantial threat to personal safety, not to mention the blight it wreaks on the adjoining neighborhoods," Calabrese said.

Swanick said the removal of the mills could signal a bright future for that part of Military Road.

"I think our ultimate goal after demolition is to use the cleared land for redevelopment opportunities, possibly new businesses and job creation," Swanick said.

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