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FAMILY'S DREAM HOUSE MIGHT SOON BE REALITY

The city's demolition of a vacant light blue house on Lemon Street last week could play an important role in the future of one East Side family -- and a Buffalo neighborhood.

"I'm hopeful because I see them acting on their words," said Schuyler A. Banks, who had become frustrated in his effort to buy the lot and build his dream home in the city. "Hopefully, it will work out for all of us.

Mayor Anthony M. Masiello has the same hope, saying the city appreciates the Banks family's investment and will work to accommodate them.

"The house was demolished, and they are going to realize their dream," he said. "I'm very happy to have people of their professionalism stay in the city."

Masiello added that he was upset to learn that the Bankses had to jump over so many hurdles to get the house demolished and get other problems addressed.

"I wasn't happy about the process, and I had let my staff know," he said. "We need to make sure that we expedite these requests. But I'm glad this story has a happy ending."

The house at 254 Lemon St. used to sit on the fourth and last lot that Schuyler and his wife, Linda, needed to build the $150,000 home they'd always wanted. Banks, a longtime Fruit Belt resident, and his wife made plans four years ago to build their 3,200-square-foot home on the street.

They were convinced that their four-bedroom home would inspire others to move into the area and help rebuild the blighted community.

But the family became frustrated when the city failed to demolish the vacant house and provide city services, such as putting up a street sign and repairing potholes and sidewalks.

Disillusioned by the City Hall bureaucracy, the Bankses, who have four children, said they were looking to move to a "more progressive city" after he obtained his master's of business administration degree in two years.

The couple's plight was detailed in a Buffalo News story Jan. 28.

Last week, the house was demolished and some of the potholes were repaired. And now Banks, a Niagara Mohawk supervisor, said he's been talking less about relocating and more to local builders.

He said he wants to see his new house go up by the end of the summer. He added that the mayor is now working to help him quickly purchase the lot at 254 Lemon St.

"It's disheartening that I had to go through all of that to get the property taken down," he said. "(But) I'm now encouraged because people are sincere in making this community better."

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