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Former gas stations being converted into green spaces

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Brian Rusk
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Efforts are underway to beautify five former Buffalo-area gas stations that have been closed for several years. Three of the projects have been completed—two on Buffalo's West Side and one in Lackawanna. Work has included landscaping, grass planting and security measures. Two more lots are next for the company, one on Delaware Avenue in the Town of Tonawanda and another on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst.

The properties, owned by United Refining Company, drew the attention of elected officials, who called them eyesores. They were formerly the sites of Red Apple and Kwik Fill gas stations, some of which closed more than a decade ago.

John Catsimatidis, the chairman and CEO of Red Apple Group, says the issue was brought to his attention by Sen. Charles Schumer

"I looked into it and I decided that okay, we closed them. We are thinking of reopening again someday. Let's beautify them so they're not a sore eye on the community," Catsimatidis said.

Catsimatidis says the total cost for the company to spruce up the properties is approximately $250,000. He says the cost of landscaping and maintaining the properties is being undertaken entirely by the company, which hopes to someday reopen gas stations on the sites.

"We're not putting any burden on the municipality," he said.

United Refining, a subsidiary of Red Apple Group, operates two dozen gas stations in Western New York. Catsimatidis says the company prides itself in selling 100% American gasoline.