Niagara Gazette

Local News

June 13, 2013

Court takes lead as steps taken to reopen North End community center

Niagara Gazette — A scheduled court appearance in an ongoing legal matter involving a long-shuttered North End community center did not happen as expected on Thursday.

Instead, attorneys representing both sides in a pending lawsuit, along with a lawyer from the New York State Attorney General's Office, met behind closed doors with a state supreme court justice in Niagara Falls to discuss a possible "road map" for future operations at the site.

In April, a pair of Falls residents claiming to have standing as members of the board for the facility's operator — the Niagara Community Center Association of Niagara Falls —filed a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the group amid concerns about its assets, including the Centre Avenue building where the center has been located for decades.

Thursday was to be the first court appearance on the matter, however, the plaintiffs' attorney, Robert Restaino, and the defendants' attorney, Steve Pigeon, instead gathered for a private conference with State Supreme Court Justice Frank Caruso. A third attorney, William Maldovan, represented the attorney general's office during the discussion. The attorney general's office, which oversees activities of nonprofits like the community center association in New York, was named as one of the defendants in the lawsuit and is expected to be an active party during talks moving forward, according to Restaino.

"They are in this now to see it through to completion," Restaino said.

The community center traces its roots back to 1928 where it once operated on Erie Avenue as recreational space serving mostly neighborhood youths. Operations moved to the Centre Avenue location in 1952. The nonprofit association in charge of the center's operation is run by a board comprised of city residents. Since the building's closure, several local pastors and residents have called upon current board members to either take steps to reopen the facility or step down so others could assume leadership roles.

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