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LACK OF FUNDING KILLS 'SUNDAY IN THE PARK'

This Sunday in Cazenovia Park will be like any other.

For the second year in a row, plans for the annual Sunday in the Park festivities have fallen through, forcing the cancellation of the event that had been held for 22 consecutive years without a hitch.

"It just breaks my heart," said event chairwoman JoAnne Panek-Hortman of the South Buffalo Business Association, the sponsor. "We just can't get cooperation from the city, the Olmsted (Parks) Conservancy and now the county."

The bottom line is money. Donations fell far short of even the bare-bones budget that Hortman estimated at $6,000 to $7,000.

Of 100 letters seeking donations of $100 each from businesses, only $600 in checks arrived, Hortman said.

No money was granted by Erie County; the reason is disputed.

"Ms. Hortman never submitted an application for funding to Erie County's (Cultural Resources Advisory Board)," said Jeffrey W. Hammond, a spokesman for County Executive Joel A. Giambra.

Not true, countered Hortman, who said she not only filled out the application but reviewed it during a telephone conversation with someone from the county.

Hortman said she received word Thursday of a $2,000 check from County Legislator Mark Schroeder, a South Buffalo Democrat. "But it's too late," she said.

The recent takeover of city parks by Erie County, with help by the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, complicated matters.

A conservancy fund-raiser tonight in Cazenovia Park's casino pre-empted the set-up of carnival rides for Sunday in the Park, Hortman said. "They put stumbling blocks against everything."

"We didn't tell them that they couldn't have the event at all," responded Deborah Ann Trimble, executive director of the conservancy. "The only concern we had (is) they wanted to set up some of their equipment and things (Friday) night."

South Council Member James D. Griffin lamented the cancellation. "There's no money -- that's the main reason," he said.

Griffin said he's dedicating all of his discretionary funds to the residents of Hickory Woods, the chemically contaminated neighborhood of South Buffalo.

Despite the setbacks, Hortman intends to persevere.

"I'm hoping that Olmsted and the county work something out with the parks where they're festival-friendly again. Maybe we can get some businesses to kick in some money," Hortman said.

e-mail: jhabuda@buffnews.com

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