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Garden Village Plaza getting a makeover; Buffalo Bread Co. rising in Cheektowaga

The Garden Village Plaza at French and Union roads in Cheektowaga will get a makeover this year with some of its long-vacant buildings scheduled for demolition, Town of Cheektowaga Supervisor Diane Benczkowski said during her State of the Town address on Thursday.

Benderson Development plans to demolish a portion of the plaza and build four warehouses, which is expected to created 80 jobs, Benczkowski told the annual luncheon gathering sponsored by the Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce at Millennium Hotel Buffalo.

In addition, the Buffalo Bread Company, a start-up wholesale bakery and retail store on Nagel Drive, is planning to create 29 jobs thanks to a $200,000 loan from the Cheektowaga Economic Development Corporation and Community Development, said Benczkowski.

Benczkowski’s address also highlighted partnerships the town established to trim spending in what has become Erie County’s highest-taxed municipality. This year, the town will partner with the Chamber of Commerce and the senior center and youth foundations to sponsor the Polish Festival. So, too, a collaboration of town, county and state placed 30,000 lunches on the table at the Senior Center through the Stay Fit lunch program.

Cheektowaga’s aging and outdated sanitary system remains the supervisor’s main focus, however.

“The town remains under a state Department of Environmental Conservation consent order to address the inflow and infiltration of storm water into the sanitary sewers which has caused sewage overflows into our creeks and streams,” said Benczkowski.

To help repair the sewage system Benczkowski and her staff obtained a $5 million grant and a $15 million interest free loan through Environmental Facilities Corporation’s Clean Water Relief Funds.

A new town ordinance could also help the situation. Enacted in February 2016, it requires homes up for sale to have town-certified drainage systems at the time of closing.

“Thanks to our Building and Plumbing Department, we were able to process 950 time-of-sale permit applications,” said Benczkowski.

The Cheektowaga Police Department also changed policy in 2016 - no longer requiring police applicants to reside in the town. “This will create a more diverse, talented and knowledgeable police force,” she said.

The town is also taking aim at the zombie home problem plaguing many municipalities throughout the country. A $250,000 grant will jumpstart the program, she said.

“After a three-year hiatus, we will tackle the problem of zombie and vacant homes more aggressively through demolition,” said Benczkowski. “Zombie homes hurt our neighborhoods and our residents should not suffer any longer.”

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