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Proof needed for action on shop Lockport neighbors call suspicious

Without firm evidence, the city can do little to quell what a resident considers suspicious activity on Washington Street, Mayor Michael W. Tucker said at Wednesday's Common Council meeting.

John Whalen of the Washington-Allen Block Club complained that youths are congregating at a former barbershop, where he believes drugs are being sold.

Vehicles pull up, he said, and people go in, then leave after brief visits.

He also said tinted mirror windows had been installed.

" 'Possible drug dealing' doesn't cut it for us," Tucker said. "We can't arrest people on assumptions."

The mayor said the police were monitoring the privately owned building, where the city had prevented the owner from opening a grocery store.

Whalen reported that a pool table had been put in, and Tucker said the city won't permit an unlicensed pool hall.

Washington Street has been a focus of complaints of disorderly conduct for years.

Some members of the block club refer to the corner of Washington and Allen streets as "ground zero."

At Wednesday's brief meeting, the Council approved a state-funded program making up to $19,000 available to each of as many as 21 first-time home buyers.

It also accepted a $277,000 state grant that can be spread among up to 15 homeowners for rehabilitation projects and a federally funded home rehabilitation program bringing another 15 families up to $17,000 each.

The Council also approved a five-year renewal of an agreement with the Hydraulic Race Co., operators of Lockport Cave, to use an 8-foot-wide path along the Erie Canal for access to the attraction.

The company, which has been using the path since 1995, does not pay the city for access.

The aldermen also decided to seek bids to buy two one-ton dump trucks, a fire pumper truck and a radio system for communication with its water pumping station in North Tonawanda.

Alderman Patrick W. Schrader said the city hasn't definitely decided whether to buy the fire truck or the radio system, but wants to determine the prices.

The city had intended to buy the dump trucks through a state contract price.

But Highways and Parks Superintendent Michael Hoffman has decided that seeking bids directly would save money and speed the purchase.

e-mail: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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