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Agency seeks to buy Depew Library

Southeast Works, a nonprofit agency that offers programs and residential services for developmentally delayed adults, wants to buy the Depew Library building to house its program.

After a long and heated discussion during a work session Monday, the Lancaster Town Board received a $400,000 bid proposal from Southeast Works to purchase the library building at 321 Columbia Ave.

The bid represents the first legitimate offer the town has received for the old former library.

The building had been listed last year in the upper $400,000 range, which some interested buyers considered overpriced. Southeast Works had previously submitted an offer for $385,000 for the building, which board members considered insultingly low.

Councilman Daniel Amatura called that offer "a slap in the face."

When Executive Director Judith Shanley and Southeast Works board member John Visone tried to resubmit the same bid during the board's work session, board members said they were still angry at the low-ball offer.

They said they weren't willing to consider the $385,000 offer last year and wouldn't consider one now that the weather is improving and the real estate buying season is picking up.

Visone and Shanley said the town wants more money than the building's value, which is why the town hasn't gotten other offers after all these months. Visone also said the building would still need another $300,000 in renovations for it to become usable space.

Town Attorney Richard Sherwood angrily accused Shanley of previously claiming to have an inside source in town government and vowing never to pay $400,000 for the building.

Shanley responded by saying the board should have made it clear that it would accept only a $400,000 minimum offer.

After a heated exchange, board members seemed to agree that the town might seriously consider a $400,000 offer if the real estate broker they are working with is willing to forgo a commission.

Visone then amended Southeast Works bid proposal by hand to say it would offer $400,000 for the building.

"I'm sticking my neck out," he said.

Because Councilman Mark Montour was absent, town leaders agreed to wait until they could confer with him and their broker to see whether a sale to Southeast Works is possible.

If the building is sold, Shanley said it would house a prevocational program and a "dayhabilitation" program, which would teach developmentally delayed adults both work and daily living skills.

e-mail: stan@buffnews.com

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