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BOARD TO GIVE FORMER SCHOOL TO LOVE CANAL AGENCY

The Niagara Falls School Board agreed Thursday night to give up the former 93rd Street School to the Love Canal Area Revitalization Agency.

Upon an order by State Supreme Court Justice Jacqueline M. Koshian, the agency can now immediately move to demolish the structure before it concludes its own business on May 31.

The School Board had decided to hold a special vote to allow the public to decide whether to sell the building to the revitalization agency for $1.

Because Koshian decided to allow this, the School Board will not have to hold the special vote to sell the property on Feb. 29.

The approval by the School Board and by Koshian also means that the existing building can be demolished more quickly.

In the School Board's vote, members specified that the vacant land will be used as a public park or recreation field.

The agency board had sought to take the property through eminent domain proceedings.

School Board Attorney Angelo Massaro told the members that the agency needed to expedite the demolition of the building in order to receive Environmental Protection Agency funding to do it.

Koshian granted the order on Thursday, and Massaro said he expects her to sign the order today.

Massaro said the demolition will "eliminate an eyesore in the community," and that it will also eliminate a potential hazard.

Closed as a school in 1978, the building has been vandalized on several occasions. The district has been using it for storage.

School Superintendent Carmen A. Granto said employees of the district have moved everything of value from the building.

"We've kept the property that we've considered valuable by the district," Granto said. "The rest of it is pure junk."

In another matter, Finance Director James Ingrasci gave the School Board a long-range financial plan and budget projections for the 2000-01 school year.

He is projecting a plan of $103.9 million, an increase in expenditures of about $4 million from the current year's budget.

Ingrasci said that, though it is difficult to tell just how much tax rates would be under the proposal, "we're projecting that it's not going to increase the tax levy."

Niagara Falls has been undergoing a change in the way the city taxes residents and business owners, slowly making the rates even.

"There will be probably a slight increase in the homestead rate and a slight decrease in the commercial rate," said Ingrasci.

The School Board members also said goodbye to member Nancy J. Joseph, who is leaving to accept an appointment as deputy director of planning and economic development in the new administration of Mayor Irene J. Elia.

Board members have decided to leave Joseph's position unfilled until the May election and have voters cast ballots for three seats instead of two.

The candidate coming in third will serve the final year of Joseph's five-year term, to which she was elected in 1996.

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