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The City of North Tonawanda will bid for a piece of a $25 million state grant to install an elevator and equip lavatories to make the Col. Payne Community Center fully accessible to the handicapped.

The decision to apply for a state Division for Youth grant to pay for the community center project was made by the Common Council at a workshop session Tuesday evening. The Col. Payne center at 460 Wheatfield St. is the home of the city Department of Youth and Recreation.

Department Director John Silsby said cost of the remodeling project is estimated at $200,000.

Michele A. Tow, director of community development, cautioned that the $25 million in grant money covers the entire state and that competition among municipalities will be keen.

Mayor Elizabeth C. Hoffman said that even if the city received a smaller grant than needed, some improvements, such as wheelchair ramps, could be built.

The city Policy Committee Tuesday submitted proposed fringe benefit changes relative to city employees on unpaid leaves of absence or suspensions.

City Accountant David R. Jakubaszek said the recommendations include extending payment of fringe benefits for 90 days to employees who take unpaid leaves to serve in the armed forces in Operation Desert Shield.

Alderman Mark J. Narowski, chairman of the committee, said it will have recommendations for changes in the city's code of ethics ready for Council consideration early next month.

Mayor Hoffman and Fourth Ward Alderwoman Sara K. Hood, Republicans, bumped political heads with Democratic Council President Thomas M. Jaccarino.

Mrs. Hood, seconding an earlier move by the mayor, pushed a request that Jaccarino arrange a meeting of the Council with Lockport Mayor A. Thomas Rotondo Jr. and Niagara County legislators over the $2.8 million rebuilding of Erie Avenue in North Tonawanda.

The City of Lockport's involvement is based on a half-century-old, 42-inch water main that runs from the Niagara River under Erie Avenue to Lockport, and which consulting engineers say should be replaced.

North Tonawanda is seeking financial help from the county and Lockport since a state Department of Transportation agreement to provide $1.3 million in federal transportation money for the project falls $1.5 million short of the project cost.

Mrs. Hood is fearful that if the city doesn't act soon on the project, federal financial aid will be lost. Part of Erie Avenue is in Mrs. Hood's ward.

On another front, Jaccarino accused Mayor Hoffman of "grandstanding" on the issue of a Deerwood Golf Course concession contract with Tan Tara Country Club of Pendleton, operator of Deerwood concessions on a temporary basis since last spring.

Mayor Hoffman denied she was "grandstanding" when she demanded that Tan Tara come to an agreement with the city by the end of the year or face termination of its temporary operating arrangement.

Foot-dragging by Tan Tara negotiators prompted her statement, the mayor said.

Jaccarino reported Tuesday that a proposed concession agreement with Tan Tara may be ready for Council consideration as early as next week.

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