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DEBATE PUTS HOLD ON PLAYGROUND PLAN

Several claims by north Olean residents about city officials' past promises to demolish a warehouse scuttled Tuesday night's planning session for a playground near the new water filtration plant on River Street.

The Common Council's Division of Youth and Recreation Committee began discussions on the merits of two possible designs for the new Polo Park playground. It will replace a park eliminated by construction of the new water plant.

The less-costly option would refurbish the 60-by-150-foot brick warehouse, and install new playground equipment, a small gazebo and a basketball court at a cost of $51,200 over three years.

Ward 7 Alderman John Padlo said residents of the neighborhood indicated in two meetings that they preferred the second option, which calls for razing the warehouse for a total construction cost of $62,700 over a four-year construction period. But Ward 3 Aldermen Ray Wangelin suggested keeping the warehouse for much-needed city storage, or for a new home for the city's Electrical Department.

Mayor William Quinlan agreed the plan is more economical, with a new building costing more than $50,000 to replace. But several residents opposed the idea, charging the matter had already been decided.

"Now you're reneging," said Genevieve Borowski, who lives next to the park. "It's our neighborhood but you're going to dump everything on us. We're the trash cans of the city. We'd like our neighborhood to be nice like the rest of the town."

Pine Street resident Paul Pavlock warned that children will be "monkeying around" the building if it is left standing.

Quinlan said the Council plans to build a park at the site and reminded them that he considers it his neighborhood too because his own family members once resided there.

None of the aldermen could recall specifics of the water filtration plant planning process and asked that the issues be researched thoroughly. Padlo agreed to table his proposed park funding legislation until a later date.

In another matter, City Clerk Stephan J. Piechota told members of the City Operations Committee that fewer cellular phones are in use by city employees as the result of Council's complaints of escalating costs and his recent memo asking department heads to review their usage.

Twenty-five of the city's cellular phones were turned in, with another 63 still in use, Piechota said, adding that a policy will be articulated more clearly, in addition to establishment of a phone pool for employees who need phones when they are out in the field.

The Fire Department is still evaluating the situation and has not surrendered any of the phones. After that is done, Piechota said he will hold another meeting with Cellular One, the city's wireless provider, to determine other ways to reduce the $1,400 to $1,500 now being spent monthly on the service.

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