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Vacant seat on Cheektowaga Town Board to stay that way until November election

A vacant seat on the Cheektowaga Town Board will remain that way until a candidate is elected in November.

The board Monday night withdrew a resolution appointing Dennis A. Smith Jr. to fill the seat formerly held by Supervisor Diane M. Benczkowski on the seven-member board. The board had tabled the resolution at its Jan. 19 meeting after concerns were raised about the process for selecting an appointee.

“After lengthy conversations with the supervisor and fellow board members, and listening to the public, at this point we’re going to forgo this major distraction and get on with the business of our residents, which is our No. 1 priority,” said Councilman Timothy J. Meyers, who is also deputy supervisor.

Smith, an investigator for the Buffalo Sewer Authority, said he was endorsed for the seat last month by the Cheektowaga Democratic Committee with 84 percent of the vote. Smith, who was present for Monday’s meeting, acknowledged he was disappointed to not be chosen, but said he was intent on running for the seat in the fall.

“I feel it’s best to let the residents decide,” Smith, 47, told The Buffalo News. “I feel I proved with 84 percent of the vote that I am the best candidate because I work with all factions. But it’s about the people’s business and not me personally, and I just want to do what’s best for the Town of Cheektowaga.”

Also Monday, the board approved borrowing $2.8 million to fund improvements at the town’s ice rink on Harlem Road. The work includes replacement of the ice chilling system and improvements to locker rooms, bleachers, snow melt pit, dasher boards and lighting and energy savings improvements.

The facility currently has no separate male and female locker rooms and no changing room for officials. The changes will bring the rink into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, said Councilman James P. Rogowski.

“It’s something we need to comply with,” he said. “Since we do have full ice time, almost 24 hours a day as the board has heard, this is something we needed to do, not only for our hockey players, but for those who come into the town for state tournaments that play at our town ice rink.”