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TRANSFER OF PHONE EXCHANGES IS OPPOSED

The Arcade Area Chamber of Commerce has begun a public campaign to keep the 492 and 496 exchanges within the 716 area code.

Chamber leaders said the state Public Service Commission and the Federal Communications Commission have been notified about the group's wishes to stay in the 716 area code. Those agencies will help decide whether the Arcade (492) and Chaffee (496) exchanges need to move out of the 716 area.

"At this point, we have done everything to initiate the process," said Marty Griffith, chamber president. "There are direct costs and indirect costs of splitting the two exchanges."

Under one proposal, the City of Buffalo and Erie, Niagara and Cattaraugus counties would keep the 716 area code, while Wyoming, Orleans and Genesee counties would get a new area code.

Chamber leaders said the Arcade area is closely tied commercially to the Buffalo area and should not be removed from the 716 area code.

"The problem is, the business in all of Arcade is oriented to Buffalo, not Rochester," said Ed Barber, a former chamber president who is studying the issue with a chamber committee.

Chamber leaders said the proposed area code change would cost local businesses hundreds of dollars because business promotional material and advertising will need to be redone. In a recent poll of the chamber membership, business leaders said a public campaign against such a change should move forward.

"We had fairly good consensus of chamber members, from big and small businesses," Griffith said.

Barber said 40 letters of support regarding the campaign from chamber businesses were also sent to the FCC, which is studying the need for the new area code after a federal agency, North American Number Plan, turned down the request earlier this year.

He said the chamber is also asking the Public Service Commission for more time to present the case that the 492 and 496 exchanges should remain in the 716 area code. The state agency has not responded.

"This is not a foregone conclusion," Griffith said.

Barber said legal action would not be likely if the area code switch were made. Griffith said state and local political leaders have been contacted about the campaign.

"If we get turndowns, we have some time to go to the political route," Barber said.

Barber said a chamber meeting may be held if the FCC and the Public Service Commission respond to the chamber's request to keep the 716 area code.

Griffith said the chamber has about 400 members from Erie, Cattaraugus and Wyoming counties.

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