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QUESTIONS ARISE ABOUT PROPOSED MASTER PLAN

With nagging questions surfacing, a master plan to shape the future environment of the 19,000 residents of Lackawanna will go to the City Council next week.

Council President Norman Polanski said that while the plan will be received, he cannot say when it will be approved.

Along with praise from some Council members, the city's proposed comprehensive plan was the target of doubts and criticisms during a final hearing on the draft in City Hall Tuesday. A handful of residents and officials attended.

Among the concerns:

Some Council members question whether a five-member Zoning Board appointed by the mayor would have more powers than the Council.

Leaders of the Yemeni community are unhappy with a proposal to relocate two popular soccer fields.

First Ward residents want a green space, still designated as "industrial," protected for recreational use.

Officials again emphasized that the site and appearance of City Hall may change.

City Clerk Carol Daley, a First Ward resident, expressed reservations about the plan.

"How long do we have to complain?" Daley asked. "When are you going to present it to the people in a way most of the citizens of Lackawanna understand?"

Building inspector Joseph Geyer, acting as chairman, said planning participants and a citizens group will make final changes this week so the documents can go to the Council Tuesday.

"This is actually our last step," he said.

One copy of the 300-page planning book is in Lackawanna Public Library, and a second is in the Senior Citizens Center on Martin Road.

The future of City Hall was outlined in the tentative document.

Fourth Ward Council member Ronald Spadone recently suggested trading the current City Hall site on Ridge Road near South Park Avenue to a hotel developer, who would build a new City Hall elsewhere and give it to Lackawanna.

Some suggest the old Kmart lot on Ridge between Abbott Road and Holy Cross Cemetery as the site for a new City Hall.

The proposed comprehensive plan suggests demolishing the 1970 paneled addition fronting City Hall, returning to the early-19th-century facade of old City Hall, with an addition on the north, toward the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens.

Leaders of the 460-member Lackawanna Yemen Club objected to a proposal to relocate the two soccer fields at Ridge and Lehigh Street to a more central location and to sell the land for industrial use.

"There is not space in the First Ward to move," said Abdul Noman, president.

Third Ward Council Member Gerald DePasquale said he wants a clear understanding of Council and Zoning Board powers under a new draft zoning code.

DePasquale noted the current Zoning Board gave the OK for an oil-change business on South Park Avenue and a huge billboard on Route 5 -- after each proposal was rejected by the Planning Board.

Jocelyn Gordon, a planning consultant, said planners tried to develop in-depth information on city life and what the city owns. This information was coupled with surveys distributed to more than 600 residents and two public presentations. She said she had hoped more citizens would have attended the public meetings.

"The thing that was hardest to get was the citizens' opinions, where they wanted to see Lackawanna going," Michael A. Alspaugh, Erie County senior planner, who worked with a citizens committee, said after the meeting.

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