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County to appeal ECC pact ruling

A judge's order that Erie Community College rebid a contract for free student parking at its downtown campus will be appealed by the county government, the county's two top lawyers confirmed.

County Attorney Laurence K. Rubin and George Michael Zimmermann, first assistant county attorney, said they will ask the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court in Rochester to overturn State Supreme Court Justice John A. Michalek's Oct. 25 new-bid order.

Zimmermann said Michalek will be faulted for allegedly misreading state law concerning such educational institutions. Under state law, ECC is not required to solicit public bids on the parking even though it had for over a decade, he said.

Though a government appeal of a court ruling routinely stays enforcement of such a court order, Zimmermann said the parking lot appeal won't cause problems for the downtown school because of the interim deal school administrators worked out with Sheehan Memorial Hospital for parking.

The Sheehan deal, which gives the college 108 spaces on the hospital property on Michigan Avenue near Clinton Street five blocks from the school, gives ECC "plenty of parking" for the time being Zimmermann said.

James T. Sandoro, a downtown parking lot owner, launched the court fight after his 12-year deal with the college was ended this summer, claiming he was not allowed to officially bid on parking for the current school year. He said he is glad the county is appealing.

Sandoro said he expected his lawyers to ask Michalek soon to impose legal sanctions on the college and the county administration of outgoing County Executive Joel A. Giambra for ignoring his ruling.

Thursday, ECC interim President William D. Reuter, at an informational session on the parking dispute before the Erie County Legislature's Community Enrichment Committee, said the college hopes the county's fiscal control board eventually approves a three-year deal with Sheehan on the student parking.

Reuter told the legislative committee the college's board of trustees on Oct. 24 approved a deal to pay Sheehan $55 a month per space for 108 spaces in its lot some five blocks from the downtown campus until a multiyear contract can be approved by the fiscal control board.

e-mail: mgryta@buffnews.com

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