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Erie County Reaches Agreements on Parks and Capital Bonding

By Joyce Kryszak


Buffalo, NY – After years of sometimes hostile negotiations, Erie County has reached, at least temporary compromises, on two major issues. The county and city reached an agreement that will keep the city parks and pools open for the summer. And a deal with the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority will allow for three years of capital projects to finally move forward.

With summer allegedly right around the corner, a deal on the parks agreement was especially welcome news. Erie County Executive Chris Collins and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown announced Wednesday they have extended the inter-municipal agreement for another six months. The city will pay $3.5 million for services rather than $900,000 over six months. Extra workers will be hired to work exclusively on city parks. Collins said they simply corrected an agreement that was poorly written five years ago.

The Olmsted Parks Conservancy remains part of the agreement. The parties are all working out details of a long-term contract. The deadline for a 2010 contract is August 15. But Collins said he is very optimistic now that they have a framework for the cooperative arrangement.

In another breakthrough, a deal was reached that will get construction crews moving this summer. The plan calls for the county Control Board to obtain a $100 million bond to move three years of capital projects forward. The term would be for 12 months. The county would then obtain long-term financing - if the control board reverts to advisory status or if the state takes away its borrowing power. Collins said the concerns of both sides were satisfied.

If one of the conditions on the status of the control board does not happen in 12 months, the county has agreed to authorize the Control Board to take out another 12 month bond. Both the city-county parks deal and the capital bonding agreement must be approved by the county legislature. Lawmakers vote on both matters later today, as well as a resolution to establish a regional planning board.

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