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Road project veto faces override test

Mayor Lawrence V. Soos has vetoed recent Common Council actions to auction a dilapidated building and extend Meadow Drive.

Meanwhile, Council President Brett Sommer is confident the vetoes will be overridden.

The mayor, who said the building at 408 Oliver St. is an eyesore and should be demolished, noted that the costs of a Meadow Drive extension could exceed estimates and affect taxpayers. The vetoes were disclosed in a statement released during a Council work session Tuesday.

On Jan. 16, the Council voted, 4-1, to auction the building and authorized Soos to sign an agreement with the state Department of Transportation to begin the first phase of the $2 million project to extend Meadow Drive about a mile east to Erie Avenue.

The mayor has consistently opposed the Meadow Drive project. He vetoed it last year during the budget process.

A $1.6 million federal grant, obtained through the office of Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence, will cover 80 percent of the cost of extending the roadway.

Although the city is responsible for the remaining $400,000, the state will pick up 75 percent of that sum, leaving a bill of $100,000 for the city to pay. The first phase, which involves preliminary engineering and right of way acquisition, totals $500,000, but will cost the city $25,000.

Soos, a Democrat, says out-of-pocket costs are likely to increase. "I questioned the ultimate financial out-of-pocket costs to the city regardless of the alleged reimbursements through various federal and state aid to the project," Soos said in his letter to the Council. He added that he has concerns about the project's "potential negative" impact on the community.

Sommer branded Soos' vetoes as political and personal. It was Sommer, a Republican, he noted, who led the effort to find funding for the road extension. "The mayor should put aside his political and personal distaste for me for the best interest of the city."

Soos insists that partisanship is not behind his vetoes. He appreciates Reynolds' securing of the funding, he said, but he suggests using it to improve overall road conditions in the community.

The Council will try to override the mayor's vetoes when it meets Tuesday. Four votes are required for an override.


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