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Resource center to continue operation

An agreement that allows a community resource center to continue operations in a former library was approved Monday by the Tonawanda Town Board with a twist: Membership is free to all town residents.

The board voted unanimously in favor of an occupancy agreement with Friends of Brighton Place, a nonprofit group that has operated a resource center in the former Brighton Library since 2006. The town, which owns the building, will pick up the tab for water, natural gas and electric bills -- up to $10,000 a year. Friends of Brighton Place are responsible for telephone and cable.

According to Councilman Daniel J. Crangle, the latest occupancy agreement stipulates free membership for town residents. But they would have to pay $5 for membership cards.

Current annual membership fees, as indicated on Brighton Place's website, include $15 for students and seniors, $20 for individuals and $35 for a family membership -- providing everyone lives under the same roof.

Crangle cited the grass-roots effort that revived the Brighton Road facility, which was one of three branches closed in the Ken-Ton community during Erie County's budget crisis of 2005.

"They did everything they could to keep this open," Crangle said. "This will only help benefit our town residents."

At the Town Board's afternoon work session, Crangle justified the town's financial support, saying: "I think it's small, considering what we are going to get in return."

Town Supervisor Anthony F. Caruana noted that Brighton Place has been successful in obtaining grants to help pay expenses.

Jeanne Phillips, secretary of Brighton Place, was present for Monday night's vote.

"I would like to thank the board for your support of Brighton Place over the last five years," Phillips said. "Hopefully the residents will appreciate it also."

Councilwoman Lisa M. Chimera, noting the ongoing uncertainty of county support for the library system, said: "Now, more than ever, it's important that that facility stay intact and continue to serve residents north of Sheridan [Drive]."

Operations continue at the Kenmore and Kenilworth library branches, which again face funding reductions in the 2011 county budget. Former County Executive Joel A. Giambra's promise to provide $2.5 million in county funds toward construction of a new town library hasn't been fulfilled.

e-mail: jhabuda@buffnews.com

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