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TOWN GETS 7.5-ACRE PARK, COUNTY SAVES $30,000

West Seneca will get a 7.5-acre park that it will open to all Erie County residents, and the county will save $30,000 a year that it paid the town to cover the taxes on the former Madison Wire site, under an agreement reached this week.

With the approval of the Legislature Energy and Environment Committee, a request to transfer the parcel for $1 will go to the full Legislature Thursday.

The county paid the town the amount of taxes that the property would produce every year from 1982, when the parcel stopped producing taxes. Currently, the level is close to $30,000.

West Seneca Supervisor Paul Clark said the town will miss the $30,000 it received from the county but will celebrate eliminating the "brownfield." The county collects suburban taxes and pays municipalities the entire amounts they are owed up front, thereby covering the taxes left unpaid by property owners. Such payments cost the county more than $1 million a year.

Erie County delayed foreclosing on the contaminated industrial site to avoid becoming responsible for the contaminated site. During this time, the federal and state governments invested $6 million in cleaning the site.

Foreclosure was completed Sept. 24, and county Commissioner of Environment and Planning Richard J. Tobe said that opens the way to transfer the former brownfield between Route 400 and Indian Church Road to the town.

But, first the county will use a $90,000 grant to demolish the remaining four buildings, Tobe said.

"We think this will be the first completed brownfields project in the county," he said. West Seneca firefighters report they were summoned to the Madison Wire site more than 30 times in the past five years. Fire Chief Norman Eberle of the West Seneca Fire District board of commissioners said children have fallen off and through the roof.

"My concern is injury to a child or a firefighter, injury or death," said Eberle.

Madison Wire operated its plant on the land from the early 1930s until it failed in 1978 and was acquired by Orban Industries. Four years later, Orban, too, closed.

Some time in the future the new park will be linked with other parks and bikeways, Clark predicted. He even visualized using an adjacent nearby railway bed, now vacant, as part of an interconnecting system.

"We're anxious to showcase this site," he said.

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