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Land banking, historic designations discussed in Angola

Several issues dealing with the economic future of the Village of Angola were brought up at the board meeting Monday night (Jan. 14), with land banking and a possible designation as an historic district taking precedent.

Village Mayor Howard Frawley should know within the next few weeks if the village, as well as other municipalities in the county, will qualify for land banking, which is a way to sell tax delinquent properties to developers with positive intentions for the property.

Frawley recently attended a two-day conference on land banking and economic development from Syracuse to Buffalo in Syracuse, and was able to have dinner with Sam Hoyt, who serves as Empire State Development Regional President. Frawley asked Hoyt for $3 million for Erie and Niagara counties to support land banking.

“We need seed money to get going,” he said.

The request for the $3 million was made with intentions of paying it back, Frawley said.

“(Hoyt) was kind of impressed about that,” he said. “He didn’t say flat-out no...we definitely need the money.”

On Jan. 28, there will be a meeting at the Rath Building in downtown Buffalo for all of the municipalities in Erie County, to get the ball rolling on land banking, which Frawley will attend.

“I’ll be down there representing the Village of Angola on the 28th of January,” he said. “I’ll let you know how that is going to proceed.”

In terms of historical designations for the village, Frawley requested that the board take a look at the programs the village may qualify for. Invoking the Village of Hamburg’s designation as an historic village, Frawley said the designation would open the door to various grants for the village.

“They got four grants back-to-back when I met with them last October,” he said, referring to the Village of Hamburg. “They have a film presentation on this and I want the village board to take a look at this thing moving forward. It’s just another tool for us to use.”

Between the historic designation and land banking, “the puzzle” may come together, if the board goes in that direction, Frawley said.

“I think it’s a good thing for the village,” he said. “It’s worth taking a look at, and you can always say no.”

Trustee John Wilson concurred.

“If you don’t go after it because it’s not enough, you won’t go after anything,” he said. “You have to go after whatever you can get.”

In other board matters:

• Charles LaBarbera, from the Town of Evans Building and Code Enforcement Department, provided the board with a letter saying that routine maintenance will no longer be done for the Village of Angola unless it’s specifically requested by the board. LaBarbera was upset about a Freedom of Information request submitted under what he said were “political” motivations, requesting information on who the village uses for maintenance and how they’re paid.

Several board members questioned why LaBarbera would end the way maintenance is currently handled in the village, when the arrangement works for everyone involved.

“So you got a FOIL request, so what?,” said Trustee Charles Katra. “Why does that stop everything you’re doing?”

“This is me watching my back,” LaBarbera said, about the letter.

LaBarbera asked the board to stand behind him, and received assurances that the board would. Regular service will continue as it had before the letter was sent.

• The resignation of former court clerk Melissa Kapuszak was accepted by the board and Kelly Shanahan was approved to take over the position, effective Jan. 1.

• Trustee Carole Kin gave a report on the new library. The ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Jan. 5, and was well attended. There is space available for new programs, but the room needs to be furnished. The library is on a county-wide list to review furniture that may be available for the room.

• Several resolutions passed, including the approval of $96,359 in payments for the S. Main Street Drainage Project and approval for $10,844 for decals on the new chief’s vehicle for the Angola Fire Department. The meeting was closed in memory of Gary Vassallo II. The board will reconvene on Monday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m.

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