Niagara Gazette

Local News

May 6, 2013

Community Center suit loses plaintiff

Niagara Gazette — One of two city residents identified as plaintiffs in a legal proceeding tied to a long-shuttered North End community center now says she had no interest in participating in the lawsuit and never has. 

Patricia Alston, identified as a plaintiff in a claim filed last month in state supreme court, said she does not support pending legal action against six members of the Niagara Community Center Association of Niagara Falls, New York, Inc. She also maintains that she never supported the effort to dissolve the association and its board, even back in March when she signed paperwork allowing legal proceedings to move forward. 

Alston now contends that she signed documents verifying the legal petition without fully understanding what it was she was signing, maintaining that they were not fully explained to her by the plaintiffs’ attorney, Robert Restaino. 

“I feel like I’ve been used and I don’t appreciate it,” said Alston. “I would not have put in for a lawsuit against anyone.

“There should be a way we can come together and work this thing out without going to court.”

Multiple telephone calls over the course of several days seeking comment from Restaino were not returned. 

The community center, located on Centre Avenue in the North End, has been closed to the public since 2008. The facility, which for years offered educational and recreational programs, primarily to youth in the neighborhood, was operated by the nonprofit association which is controlled by a board comprised of city residents. Since the building was closed and later condemned, several local pastors and residents have strongly encouraged board members to either take steps to re-open the facility or step down so others could take charge. 

Members of the current board — six of which are named as defendants in the case — say they continue to work on plans for re-opening the facility, including efforts to raise funds needed to install new, more energy efficient heating and cooling systems. 

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