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Building buyer accused of stalling

The North Tonawanda School Board and School Superintendent Vincent J. Vecchiarella apparently have had it with Kevin Gersh.

At Tuesday's board meeting, Vecchiarella said he believes Gersh, who was supposed to purchase the Lowry Middle School building last year for his proposed Gersh Academy, intentionally has "dragged his feet" on closing the deal so district taxpayers would be stuck paying the bill for winter utility, insurance and other costs.

It worked.

"We estimate Lowry has cost taxpayers about $70,000 since October for things like heat, electricity, maintenance and insurance," Vecchiarella said.

He said the board and Gersh's representatives will be in State Supreme Court in Niagara Falls on Thursday to see if the court will rule that Gersh is in default of his contract to buy the building from the board for $700,000 or whether Gersh will get another extension and a free ride on the taxpayer's dime.

He said Gersh now claims he will close on the school sale next Tuesday.

To aggravate the board and district officials even more, Gersh now has claimed the district is removing school supplies and equipment from Lowry that, under contract, belong to him as part of the sale.

Vecchiarella said nothing in the sale agreement suggests the board ever intended that to be the case. He said the board has been using Lowry since it closed as a storage facility for materials the district needs to use in other school buildings and never would have agreed to any such thing.

Now Gersh has asked the court to rule that the contents of the building belong to him and his academy.

Vecchiarella said Gersh's claim "defies logic."

But Gersh disagrees and is demanding the court rule in his favor.

Vecchiarella said he has pointed out to the court the absurdity of Gersh's claim.

He said he believes the board acted in good faith with Gersh but believes Gersh never had any intention of returning that favor.


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