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BENDERSON OFFERS TO HELP TEEN CENTER FIND NEW HOME

Benderson Development Corp., which donated a building for a teen center in Hamburg, has offered to help the center in its search for a new home, and may reimburse the group for improvements to the building.

The Friends Cafe and Soda Bar has been operating out of a building at 98 Pine St. since June 6 last year. But the cafe will close down Feb. 13, because Benderson has found a paying tenant for the 4,000 square-foot building.

"They are willing to seriously look at reimbursing what we put into the building," said Susan Burns Barra, president of the Friends of Hamburg, which operates the teen center.

Volunteers cleaned and refurbished the former state Labor Department office, installing a fire alarm system, as well as making alterations to the plumbing and electrical systems.

"We did try to work something out with them as far as costs," said Anthony Battista of Benderson.

He said representatives of the Friends group will be compiling a list of their investments in the building and Benderson will review it with the aim of providing a reasonable reimbursement.

Battista said he also tried to find a new location for the teen center through Benderson's real estate contacts.

"I had no success in that," he said.

Battista said the company also would help as much as it could in readying a new location once the group finds one.

Ms. Burns Barra has asked the Hamburg Village Board for help in finding a new location, and the board pledged its support.

She said in the past eight months, the center has seen 10 to 20 teen-agers using the cafe on weeknights and 90 to 120 on the weekends. Some have used the cafe to do school projects, others have just socialized. Teens collected food and money for a needy family for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and a number of teens shoveled driveways and sidewalks for senior citizens earlier this month, she said.

"The whole premise of the cafe has been a success," she told the Village Board last week.

She said the Friends group would like to hire a director and apply for grants for programs.

"We're all getting burned out," she said of volunteers. "Twelve people can't run this thing on a volunteer basis."

Before applying for grants, the cafe needs to have a location from which to operate , she said.

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