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URBAN RENEWAL AGENCY FACING $1 MILLION DEFICIT FOR SALARIES

The Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency faces an unavoidable deficit of at least $1 million in the current fiscal year, according to Joseph W. Ryan, head of strategic planning for the city.

The shortfall represents salaries for 30 to 35 employees -- some assigned to other departments -- whom the agency cannot afford to lose, Ryan told the agency this week.

"I bring a budget that is out of balance, and I don't have a solution," he said.

The budget tops $5 million, with more than $4.6 million going to salaries and costs directly related to jobs. Estimated revenues are below $4 million.

Ryan said that the sales for redevelopment have cut down the inventory of city properties owned by the agency.

The sales represent a higher use of the land and improve the appearance of the city, such as part of Exchange Street that now looks suburban, he said.

Another budget, retroactive to June 1, was presented by the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp., also a major arm of city redevelopment.

It projects three major loans, not yet proposed to the Common Council, totaling $13.7 million. They include:

$1 million towards construction of the new Tops International market on Niagara Street.

$9.3 million toward Adelphia and Memorial Auditorium development projects.

$3.2 million for the Union Ship Canal area redevelopment.

David Stebbins, Renaissance senior vice president, said the agency will operate on $250,000 less, a 9 percent cut. He said staff was cut 4 percent.

The agency voted continued funding for half a dozen community organizations.

"Good things are happening because good partners are at the table," said Mayor Anthony M. Masiello.

The largest grant, $349,478, will go to Northwest Buffalo Community Center, 155 Lawn Ave. The former School 79 was abandoned a quarter century ago but is directly connected by an overhead passage to a new $30 million-plus educational institution next door, Pfc. William J. Gabriarz School of Excellence.

Masiello hailed the planned cooperation between school and center and the services the center provides neighborhood children and their families.

"We estimate that over 1,200 people utilize our facility daily," Lawrence T. Pernick Jr., executive director, said after the meeting.

Pernick said the center, with multiple funding sources, houses 20 programs and agencies and expects to offer after-school recreation and community services soon in the new Gabriarz building.

A health care facility that accepts people who cannot pay is an off-shoot and now operates in the center, but under another board, he said.

The Northwest grant will also underwrite community center operations in former School 42 on Grant Street. That building, after standing vacant a couple of decades, was transformed into 64 units of senior housing by the YWCA, Pernick said.

A third site of the Northwest Community Center, devoted to day care, is at 902 Tonawanda St.

The facilities and their cooperative programming represent a vision shared by many residents, Pernick said.

Ryan noted that a member of his staff, analyst Martin A. Grunzweig, is chairman of Northwest Community Center. Ryan said Grunzweig was not involved in preparing the center's funding request.

The agency also approved $52,000 in emergency funding for Langston Hughes Institute, 25 High St., and amended the lease for the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center to give the urban renewal agency six of 11 appointments to the board.

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