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Poloncarz, local leaders push to keep federal grant money

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz and other local leaders on Wednesday pushed back against the proposed federal budget that would eliminate $3 million in local community development block grants and federal housing grants next year.

Poloncarz joined U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins and Lackawanna Mayor Geoffrey Szymanski in a morning visit to Dona Street in Lackawanna, where the former Lincoln School is slated for demolition this year, thanks in large part to $300,000 in federal grant money.

“Here in Lackawanna and all across Erie County, CDBG funds are used to build stronger communities and a better quality of life for all,” Poloncarz said.

Higgins, a member of the House of Representatives Budget Committee, said the grants "reach into the core issues impacting neighborhoods," from road reconstruction and vacant housing restoration to senior services and small business assistance.

"White House proposals to cut or eliminate CDBG funding is backward thinking, will cost local taxpayers more in the long-run and hurt efforts to grow jobs and rebuild struggling communities," he said.

The deteriorated building at 100 Dona Street has been vacant for over 10 years and has been condemned. Plans for the site after demolition include affordable housing with the construction of 25-30 single family homes for low-income tenants.

In a visit to the Clarence Senior Center, Poloncarz was joined by Clarence Supervisor Pat Casilio, other elected officials and concerned seniors to review how federally funded improvements to the center make a difference, and to highlight the importance of the county's Rural Transit Service.

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