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Residents beg board to save branch library

Residents poured into the Council Chambers during Monday's Town Board's meeting to make an eleventh-hour plea to save the Brighton Library

But town officials said the matter was out of their hands.

The branch, scheduled to close Nov. 1, is one of the three libraries out of the five in the town to be shut down because of Erie County's financial problems.

A parade of children and adults spoke of the importance of the Brighton branch and suggested numerous ways to keep the library open -- from a largely volunteer-based staff to the town paying some of the operational costs.

Sixteen-year-old Kathleen Byrnes gave board members petitions with 2,600 signatures urging them to save the library. Kathleen and four other teenagers spearheaded the campaign. She also detailed a plan to keep the library open, which included the town footing the bill for half the utilities and town businesses donating money to operate the branch.

Town officials were sympathetic but said the matter legally was out of their hands.

"We, as a Town Board, have no control; we only appoint members of the town Library Board," said Councilman John J. Flynn, who is also chairman of the town's Library Committee.

But the residents persisted.

Kathleen Andolsek, who stays at home with her five children, said she walks them to the library, which is minutes away. When it closes, they won't have access to a library because her husband uses the family's vehicle, leaving her with no transportation.

"A library won't be an option anymore," she said.

Kathy Mirando, a student, said various levels of government appeared to be shifting the responsibility and are overly concerned about money.

"Education and literacy are more important than money," she said.

The Kenmore and Kenilworth branches, both located south of Sheridan Drive, will remain open.

Residents said Brighton would leave a geographical hole because it serves the northern part of the town, where the Greenhaven branch, which will close Oct. 1, also is located.

e-mail: esapong@buffnews.com

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