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PARK ASSOCIATES DRAWS CRITICISM FROM THE CWA

Park Associates of East Aurora was criticized by a representative of the Communications Workers of America at a hearing Thursday on the company's request for Erie County Industrial Development Agency financing for an office expansion.

The firm, owner of the Aurora Park Health Care Center and nearly 100 other nursing homes, is asking the IDA to issue bonds worth $2.3 million and grant property tax breaks to purchase a large warehouse from Fisher-Price and convert it into an office building.

The building at 300 Gleed Ave., formerly the Southside School, closed in 1983 and was purchased by Fisher-Price as an office and research center, but Fisher-Price later built a new corporate headquarters on Girard Avenue.

Park Associates' request for public financing was attacked by Patricia DeVinney, vice president of the Communications Workers of America Local 1168 Nurses United, as an "absolute misuse of IDA monies and a perfect example of flagrant corporate welfare." Employees of the Aurora Park Health Care Center are not represented by a union.

She also criticized the "incredible workload" due to lack of staff at another Park Associates nursing home, the Village Park Health Care Center in Gasport, where her union represents licensed practical nurses.

A Park Associates representative was present at the hearing but did not respond to her remarks.

The Park Associates office proposal was supported by local officials and by Gary Grote, executive director of the Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce.

A company official said previously that Park Associates planned to double its work force of 130 in five years at the new offices.

Local officials also spoke at Thursday's hearing in favor of bond financing and tax breaks for BioSight, a landlord for four medical product or service companies, which proposes to build a 17,900-square-foot headquarters and become the first tenant of the Commerce Green Industrial Center in East Aurora. The company now leases space at 6576 E. Quaker St., Orchard Park.

The public comment period for both projects continues to Aug. 11.

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