Niagara Gazette

Local News

April 23, 2013

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


Niagara Gazette — In the years since, some community members have lobbied the association’s board to either find the means to re-open the center or step aside to allow others to assume positions on the board.

The association’s board is selected by community center members who pay annual membership dues. The lawsuit identifies six board members as defendants, including President Shirley Hamilton, former city public works director Paul Colangelo, Faaedaa Muhammad, Donna Wilson-Harris and Keith Renford. Also named as a defendant is New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The lawsuit calls on the court to dissolve the existing board on the grounds that the directors are “so divided” that the votes required for action “cannot be obtained.” The claim suggests directors of NCCA have “rarely” called or held meetings and that directors are “not uniformly noticed for meetings” and no minutes are taken from sessions that have been held.

“As a consequence no action can be taken to address the vacant building of the corporation, obtain assistance from other community members and advance the purpose of the corporation as the current board is so divided that no agreement can be made,” the lawsuit reads.

A third cause of action in the claim seeks dissolution based on the grounds that the corporation is “no longer able to carry out its purpose,” which includes, among other things, the promotion of social, recreational, health and cultural activities and programs for young people, with an emphasis on the community’s African American population.

The lawsuit alleges that the corporation has not provided appropriate programs or services and has not filed complete disclosure statements with the state attorney general’s office for several years as is required in connection with the activities of non-profit organizations like the association.

Hamilton said she had not yet seen the lawsuit and did not know it had been filed until reached by a reporter on Monday. She acknowledged that Searcy remains a member of the board, but questioned Alston’s standing with the organization. She said Alston may no longer have standing as a board member as she has not attended recent meetings, nor has she kept current with dues for membership.

“As far as I’m concerned, she has no standing,” Hamilton said.

As for the community center itself, Hamilton said board members met just last week and are still in the process of securing the funds necessary to re-open the building and run it in a more efficient manner by installing a more energy efficient heating and cooling system.

“We’re just trying to get funding to green it,” Hamilton said.

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