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COUNCIL REJECTS LOCATION FOR HARBOR HOUSE

One lawmaker pleaded for compassion and caring and spoke of the "special people" in our community.

Another asked for fairness in demanding that neighbors also have a say in where those people get help.

In the end, Common Council members sided with the neighborhood. They rejected the location of a new treatment center for the homeless and mentally ill at 250 Genesee St.

The sponsoring Restoration Society is considering a legal challenge to the city's decision.

"Where do these people go?," asked Delaware Council Member Alfred T. Coppola. "How do we live with ourselves?"

Critics claim the issue is not the program but the location.

Residents of the nearby Pratt-Willert neighborhood have opposed the location of the program, known as Harbor House, on Genesee Street.

They object to its location at the gateway of one of the city's new home ownership and economic development zones.

"These are compassionate, these are caring people," Ellicott Council Member Barbara Miller-Williams said. "No one has said, 'Not in my backyard.' "

Mrs. Miller-Williams said the neighborhood is willing to help find a new site for Harbor House but the Restoration Society refuses to cooperate.

The city's Planning Board approved the project and said the center's relocation to Genesee would not lead to an over-saturation of human service agencies in that neighborhood.

That had long been the complaint in the Allentown neighborhood where the center is housed in the old Painters Hall on Elmwood Avenue and Virginia Street.

The Restoration Society must find a new location because the city purchased the building two years ago for a new fire station.

In other business, the Council:

Delayed action on a $250,000 out-of-court settlement for police officers who care for police dogs. The officers are demanding overtime for some of the time they care for the dogs at home.

Approved a law to create an Office of Telecommunications. The office will oversee issues related to cable television and other communications issues.

Postponed action on a request for a $7 million reduction in Niagara Mohawk Corp.'s tax assessment. The utility, which would have saved about $273,000 a year in taxes, is threatening to take the city to court.

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