NIAGARA FALLS -- Grievances between the executive director and some employees of the Love Canal Area Revitalization Agency erupted into a shouting match among the employees and board members at Wednesday's agency meeting.
The personnel dispute, which has been festering for months, led to the recent two-day suspension of Daniel T. Gregory, rehabilitation director, and subsequently to the resignations of two members of his staff. The staff members attended the meeting and complained of "daily harassment" by Harvey N. Albond, executive director, despite the fact they said their office had completed a record number of housing rehabilitations in the past year.
Albond said Gregory was suspended because he refused to turn over his computer password, which was "not the first time he used his own subjective judgment to determine whether he must obey an order of the executive director." Wheatfield Supervisor Terry W. Kuehn, chairman of the agency, has backed Albond in his differences with the staff. Gregory has denied the insubordination charge. And, Gregory claimed, the "harassment has increased" since Kuehn was elected chairman in January after a year's absence from the post.
Kuehn finally cut off the debate, saying he would call a Personnel Committee meeting for next week to air the grievances. Kuehn promised the meeting would be open to the public. Gregory said the agency is in crisis and there may not be any personnel by next week.
The two members of Gregory's staff, who walked out in protest following Gregory's suspension, have since resigned. They are Georgia A. Schoelles, rehabilitation assistant, and Suzanne M. Macri, rehabilitation secretary. Mrs. Macri said the passwords were originally implemented and were an issue because "things were missing from our computers."
Kuehn said the whole incident had been overblown. Kuehn has complained that housing rehabilitations haven't moved fast enough. He said he wants the remaining 50-60 homes the agency owns rehabilitated and sold so the agency can go out of business.
"I think we spend entirely too much time on internal bickering. I'm personally frustrated. I want it to stop," he said.
In another matters:
The 260-home Summit Park Village subdivision proposed for the former Griffon Manor site by Buffalo developer Samuel Tuchman is still on hold because of questions regarding sewer capacity.
The Griffon Manor public housing project was demolished as part of the Love Canal remedial project after chemical contamination was found in the soil around the former canal bed.
The agency voted to withdraw as co-lead agency with the city for the environmental review process to allow the city Engineering Department to begin its review of Tuchman's project more quickly.
The agency agreed to sell the former Frontier Fire Hall to the Socko Contracting Co., which submitted the high bid of $161,000.
The agency will negotiate with Socko for the sale of an additional 5.7 acres from the fire hall north to the dead end of 103rd Street.