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REFERENDUM SCHEDULED ON LONGER COUNCIL TERMS

Voters will decide in November whether they want to extend the terms of aldermen to three years from two years.

The Common Council voted unanimously Wednesday for a referendum on the change. If it passes, the longer terms will take effect with the winners of the 2007 election. Those elected this year will serve two-year terms.

In 1998, the voters narrowly approved four-year terms for the mayor and city treasurer and reducing the Council to six members from eight. Council terms were not on the ballot then.

"I didn't even think of four-year terms," Council President John Lombardi III said. "Honestly, I think three years would be long enough to provide some longevity."

The only speaker at a public hearing on the issue denounced the reasons for lengthening the terms as "superficial."

"This is a small city. There's only six of you," said Doralyn Marshall. "Your wards aren't that large. I don't think you're running the whole year you're seeking re-election."

In other matters, the Council voted unanimously to let the Police Board hire two patrolmen to fill vacancies. Starting pay is $39,793.

The aldermen also voted to sell a vacant house at 261 Genesee St. according to the city's "best use" policy. That use, the city's Property Management Committee has decided, is a parking lot.

First African Methodist Episcopal Church, 123 South St., has submitted a request to use the property at Genesee and Washburn streets as a parking lot.

African-American activist Steve Huston had sought to buy the run-down three-story house for $300 to renovate it into apartments, but Mayor Michael W. Tucker said restoring it would be too expensive.

The Council rescinded an earlier resolution setting the Lockport Business Association's "Blues, Brews and BBQ" celebration for the weekend of Aug. 20-21 in Ida Fritz Park.

The Taste of Lockport will be held there Aug. 21, but closing Park Avenue for the entire weekend proved unpopular with nearby business owners. Kathy O'Keefe, the business association's marketing director, said city restaurateurs will meet Monday to discuss the future of "Blues, Brews and BBQ."

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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