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Residents air concerns on library sale

Many Depew residents speaking out against the sale of the old Depew Library Monday night said they are not prejudiced against the developmentally disabled.

"It's unfortunate many people had to stand up and say they're not prejudiced," said Madeline Dirienzo, adding the real issue is taxes. "It's coming down to dollars and cents."

The sentiment among the 30 speakers at a Village Board hearing Monday night was about 2-to-1 against the sale and granting of a special use permit to Southeast Works, which a number of speakers praised for its work with the disabled.

The nonprofit agency that serves 400 adults with developmental disabilities has offered the Town of Lancaster $400,000 for the vacant library building at 321 Columbia Ave. The sale is contingent on the Depew Village Board granting a permit allowing the agency to operate two day programs at the site.

While the town did not pay taxes to the village for the building, residents said the village needs the revenue, during a hearing on the request for the permit.

Southeast Works has not bought property in the village since it bought its headquarters at 181 Lincoln St. in 1986, Executive Director Judith A. Shanley said. The agency operates a workshop at Lincoln Street that employs 200 people, and it owns and operates seven residences in Depew and surrounding towns, she said.

The 50 clients who would attend the two day programs at the library already attend programming at nearby Lincoln Street, she said.

Many residents of Columbia Avenue said they don't want increased traffic, and others fear Southeast Works wants to expand. Shanley said the footprint of the library building and its parking lot would not change.

Not all residents opposed the sale and permit.

"In a year and a half, no one else has wanted this building," said Sharon Snyder of Woodview Drive. "It's a good fit for the neighborhood. I don't want to see this building sitting here."

The village Planning Board will consider the permit at its meeting at 7:30 p.m. July 5, and make a recommendation.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com

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