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FISHER-PRICE LAND EYED FOR NEW FIRE HALL, LARGER SCHOOL

The last large chunk of vacant land in East Aurora is under consideration by the village Fire Department, government and school leaders as a site for a new fire hall and any expansion of Parkdale School.

Government and school officials describe the idea as very preliminary and cite numerous variables involving about 42 acres of Fisher-Price land stretching along Girard Avenue and Buffalo Road.

Already, some officials privately cautioned that the land may be far too expensive, especially if the company wants a single sale for the parcel. Government officials have said they wouldn't need a site that large.

Town, village and school officials plan to hold a preliminary meeting today with Fisher-Price representatives. Laurie Oravec, Fisher-Price spokeswoman, said company officials were unable to comment.

"It's in the exploratory stage," Aurora Supervisor Terence Yarnall said.

At the initial meeting, East Aurora Mayor David DiPietro said, participants will "sit down and see where everybody is at."

The site would be a core component of the latest idea for consolidating government operations.

The Fire Department, which just received a state grant for a feasibility study on finding a site, says it has outgrown its 50-year-old fire hall on Oakwood Avenue.

Last week, town officials indicated their interest in the fire hall to house town offices once the town and Margaret L. Wendt Foundation complete the long-delayed sale of the current town hall on the Roycroft campus.

"If it became available, the fire hall would be a viable option," Yarnall said. "It would fit our needs perfectly. We're getting very close to closing on the sale of our town hall, and (finding a new site) will be one of our big issues for next year."

The town and village have been trying to find a joint facility for their offices -- although court and police operations might remain in Village Hall on Main Street.

Aurora Councilman Dwight Krieger favors looking at the fire hall for town offices. "The Fire Department wants to be at the corner of Girard Avenue and Buffalo Road, and the old fire hall would make a good, new town hall," he said.

The School District's interest stems from cramped conditions in Main Street School. A comprehensive study also is looking at the needs of each of the district's buildings.

"Because it's so preliminary, I have no way of knowing how it might shake out in the end," said Daniel Brunson, School Board president.

The School Board has not made any decision about a building project, but Brunson acknowledged that the Fisher-Price land would be ideal if Parkdale is expanded to include third-graders. It now houses kindergarten through second-grade.

Buses also have faced traffic problems at Parkdale that could be eased by access from Girard Avenue, he said.

"It would make sense if we solve space and traffic problems at the same time, but it has to be done in a cost-effective way that the district can afford," Brunson said. "It makes common sense to work cooperatively, but if it's cost-prohibitive, we'll have to consider that."

Yarnall said building a new town hall on Girard Avenue would not be feasible, since that would be too far away from Main Street. The fire hall's proximity to Main Street -- only a block away -- "is something to look at," he said.

e-mail: krobinson@buffnews.com

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