Niagara Gazette

Local News

April 23, 2013

Community center lawsuit filed to dissolve association in charge of shuttered site

Niagara Gazette — Two members of the board of directors for the long-shuttered Niagara Community Center have filed a lawsuit in an effort to dissolve the organization currently responsible for the building.

The lawsuit, filed last week in State Supreme Court in Niagara County, asks the court to formally disband the Niagara Community Center Association of Niagara Falls, New York, Inc. on the grounds that the “directors in control of the corporation have wasted the corporate assets.”

The plaintiffs in the case, Garden Avenue resident Charles Searcy and 21st Street resident Patricia Alston, are both identified in the legal filing as members of the organization’s board. In their lawsuit, filed on their behalf by Niagara Falls attorney Robert Restaino, the pair contend that they have “not been allowed to participate in decision-making for the corporation.”

“Apparently, they are going to just try to get this association to do what it should be doing at least in terms of the its certificate of incorporation and its purpose,” Restaino said, referring to his clients’ motivation for filing the lawsuit.

The suit contends that six other members of the association’s board “have not allowed any efforts to improve the condition” of the Centre Avenue building and have “resisted directors and other community members, interested in the purpose of the corporation and the usefulness of the property, from advancing plans for remediation and utilization.” The plaintiffs maintain that as a result of the lack of programs inside the building and maintenance of the structure, the association’s primary asset - the building itself - has been devalued.

The community center, located at 1364 Centre Ave., traces its roots in Niagara Falls back to 1928 and is one of the city’s first institutions organized by members of the local African American community. It served for many years as a recreational and educational site for children and residents living in the north end. It closed in 2008 amid the loss of programming funds from a pair of support organizations, including the United Way of Niagara and the Niagara County Youth Bureau.

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