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Mayor Seeks Power Authority Funding for Area Culturals

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Several area cultural agencies say they want to benefit from the New York State Power Authority re-Licensing settlement dollars.

The Power Authority has offered Buffalo and Erie County $2 million a year for 50 years as part of its re-licensing settlement. But Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello says that's not enough. He's now asking for $5 million.

Masiello says that money could be used as a new funding source to help the region's cultural assets. He stood with other cultural leaders in front of the polar bear exhibit at the Buffalo Zoo to announce his request.

"If you really want to protect and invest in the cultural institutions, then you have to make sure they have a funding stream for the future," Masiello said.

The Mayor and cultural leaders all say the ice boom used to protect the Power Project's water intakes from serious damage affects Buffalo's weather and delays the tourism season. Masiello says that hurts the city's economy and creates longer winters.

"There is an economic price not only to the cultural institutions but every institution, homeowner and church in our community that deals with longer winters, higher heating bills, and impact on places like the Zoo," Masiello said.

Buffalo Zoo President Donna Fernandes says the city should be rewarded for the negative impact caused by the ice boom.

"And we feel the best way to pay back this community, which is negatively impacted by the Power Authority, is to allow this community to continue to celebrate its rich cultural heritage."

The Buffalo Science Museum, Historical Society and Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra are also calling for the Power Authority to boost its offer to the city and Erie County.

The County Legislature has also voted against the $2 million offer, and supports a proposal to seek $10 million a year.

The Power Authority's offer to Niagara County is $1.2 billion over 50 years.