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Public works facility dedicated

Heralded as a historic occasion, Akron and Newstead on Saturday dedicated their joint public works facility, the first such collaboration in Erie County.

Several community residents turned out for a three-hour open house at the $4 million facility on Clarence Center Road, which a handful of local, county and state officials said represents the type of collaborative effort needed to hold down costs of delivering services.

While a handful of communities across the state have joint public works facilities, this is the first in Erie County, officials said

"Being from Newstead and Akron, you may take for granted such collaborative efforts but in 2009 when the state was adopting consolidation laws" a lot of municipal officials across the state reacted negatively, said Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, R-142nd District.

Communities are "looking at options" to hold the line on costs, she said, and the joint facility represents "a creative way" to effect savings while still delivering quality services.

Newstead Supervisor David L. Cummings said the 32-acre complex "has been a long time coming and there were obstacles along the way, but it's something you can be very proud of."

The open house was held even though the complex is not in full use. The major holdup is a problem with the proper adhesion of an epoxy coating to the garage's concrete floor.

Cummings also acknowledged the presence of two former town councilmen who had a major role in bringing the project to fruition, Harold Finger and Thomas George. The latter was engineering consultant on the project.

Cummings and Akron Mayor Carl Patterson praised town and village employees, led by town Highway Superintendent Michael Bassanello and village Public Works Superintendent Jon Cummings, for the estimated $500,000 to $600,000 in site work they did. That included grading, drainage, roads, parking lots, landscaping and some utility work.

The cooperation between the town and village work crews "during the building process has put to rest concerns some had of 'Oh, how is this going to work?' " Cummings said.

The site work saved money on the $4 million project, also funded by $275,000 in grants, which allowed some additional work to be done, including expanding the 16,000-square-foot garage to seven bays from its original four and adding insulation to the cold storage building in case it's heated in the future.