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New site clears way for boat-building program

Land at South Park Avenue will be used to break the logjam that has prevented Buffalo State College from placing its boat-building program near the new Frank Lloyd Wright Rowing Boathouse.

The boathouse has taken shape, 100 years after Wright designed it, at the Black Rock Channel on land once held by the college and still overlooked by its Great Lakes Research Laboratory.

Years ago, County Executive Joel A. Giambra agreed to compensate the college if it provided some of its land for the county-supported boathouse. He said the county would provide a replacement site nearby upon which the college would place the boat-building program it wanted at Lake Erie's edge.

County officials in 2004 said they would free up land by relocating the truck depot operated a few feet away by the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs.

The trick was to find the state division a new location for its trucks and its training of "engineer soldiers."

That's where the 2.4 acres at 929 South Park Ave. comes in.

Aides to Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer let the county expand its search area for a new site, and the land offered for $50,000 on South Park Avenue seemed to fit the county's goal.

The Erie County Legislature voted, 11-4, Thursday to let County Attorney Laurence K. Rubin start drawing up a contract, which would need the approval of the state-appointed Fiscal Stability Authority. Rubin said the land is owned by Roger Pascarella.

County government also must build the new truck facility for the state. Rubin said he is hoping for state money to help with financing if the cost exceeds $800,000, the amount government leaders were willing to spend in 2004 to compensate Buffalo State.

County lawmakers inserted some attempts to protect the neighborhood around 929 South Park. For one, they said the contract must require the division to maintain a landscaped buffer around its new site.

Lawmakers also said the Division of Military and Naval Affairs should be expected to work with the neighbors, particularly the Valley Community Association, to "enhance the quality of life and well-being of the neighborhood and the overall community."

In other business Thursday, lawmakers voted, 11-4, to spend $250,000 to study the best way to pay for police services in Erie County because Giambra for years has said towns without police forces should pay for their Sheriff's Office road patrols.

Lawmakers took the final step to change the 1974 law to charge a "hotel occupancy tax" to finance tourism promotion. Lawmakers changed the law to say that hotel or motel owners who fail to turn over the money they collect should be identified by the government, despite a provision that says most other business information should remain secret.

e-mail: mspina@buffnews.com

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