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Several Amherst Town Board members said Wednesday they are happy to hear the Buffalo Athletic Club has agreed to take over the beleaguered fitness center inside the town's Pepsi Center.

They just weren't happy to learn about the deal by reading the morning paper.

Without telling four board members, Supervisor Susan J. Grelick held a news conference Tuesday to announce the proposed partnership with the BAC. The Town Board must still approve the deal.

"I'm happy they finalized the deal," said outgoing board member Todd E. Shatkin. "But (Grelick) should have brought it up. We had an afternoon session on Monday and a board meeting that night. There was ample time to discuss it."

Grelick said she discussed the proposal with any board member who asked, and it has been common knowledge in Town Hall for months that the town was negotiating with the BAC. In addition, since September the BAC has helped the town run the health club at no charge.

"Any board member interested in getting that information could have asked," Grelick said. "Nobody asked about it Monday during the work session or meeting."

In addition to Shatkin, board members Daniel J. Ward, Peggy Santillo and William L. Kindel said they weren't told of the news conference.

If the Town Board approves the deal, the BAC would incorporate the Pepsi Center location into its network of five clubs. Memberships previously purchased for the Pepsi Center health club would be good at all BAC locations. All BAC members could then use the Pepsi Center location.

In addition to the BAC announcement, the same four board members were unhappy to learn from The Buffalo News, and not Grelick, that the health club's previous owner, Todd Champlin, had not paid his rent since April.

Because Grelick refused to comment as recently as Friday on the unpaid rent, The Buffalo News estimated the loss to taxpayers at $60,000, using documents obtained under the state's Freedom of Information Act. Grelick said Tuesday that the loss was $30,000.

The News based its figure on Champlin's not paying $7,050 per month for eight months, plus late fees. On Nov. 22, The News requested a copy of Champlin's contract to better estimate the back rent, but did not receive the document until Monday night.

The town based its figure on Champlin's not paying $6,050 per month for six months. The town also deducted his security deposit from the debt. The difference in rents is due to Champlin's renting an additional room for $1,000 a month. Champlin has said he will repay the town the $30,000, but in the meantime Amherst is taking legal action against him.

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