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Republican Peter Chicola, whose mayoral appointment as Ward 3 alderman was accepted by the Olean Common Council last week in a 5-1 vote, will be sworn in June 26.

In early May, Chicola was tapped to fill the seat vacated by former Alderman Larry Sorokes. Sorokes stepped down to devote more time to his duties as dean of Jamestown Community College's Olean campus. The appointment initially failed to capture the four votes needed to take the seat. Chicola recently met to discuss issues with three Democrats who had refused to support his appointment without more information.

The Council suspended the rules to take the vote last week after Chicola gained committee members' support earlier in the day. Ward 2 Alderwoman Joyce Melfi was the only holdout, voting contrary to her fellow Democrats who had earlier opposed the move.

Chicola will serve out Sorokes' term, which ends this year, and has declared his intention to run for the office in the fall election.

In another matter, the Council indicated support for a measure that would hand over to the Olean Renewal Agency ownership of the former Siegel's Shoe retail building at 107 N. Union St.

The city bought the property in 1999 for $1 at a Cattaraugus County tax foreclosure auction, and the URA paid off more than $22,000 in overdue tax bills owed to the city and school district. Another $16,000 owed the county government was subsequently canceled and settlement of the former owners' bankruptcy action cleared title to the property. The URA transfer is subject to Common Council approval.

Officials said after the meeting that the ultimate fate of the structure is to be decided by the URA, but immediate plans are to improve the appearance of the facade.

The storefront was stripped several years ago of ornamental glass panels and other fixtures to prevent debris from falling on the sidewalk and pedestrians. The building is adjacent to the landmark Manufacturer's Hanover Bank building, now being considered for renovation as an arts center and upscale office complex.

In other action during the committee session, aldermen agreed to send to the Council a bond resolution that would partially fund an estimated $150,000 project to modify wetlands under a modified state Department of Environmental Conservation consent order dating to 1985.

The work would modify wetlands to improve filtration of leachate that is leaking from the city's closed landfill at the Olean Municipal Airport in Ischua.

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