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Rhoda Overstreet-Wilson

Denise Farrington and Rhoda Overstreet-Wilson, representatives of the Booker T. Washington Community Center, present at Thursday's city council meeting in Auburn. 

AUBURN — The Booker T. Washington Community Center in Auburn, which provides an array of services to Auburn families and individuals, could soon see new ownership. 

Originally established to support the city's African-American community, the center runs before- and after-school programs, senior programming and more. The facility, built in 1974 by the city, could soon be in the hands of the Booker T. Washington board. 

At Thursday's city council meeting Jennifer Haines, Auburn's director of planning and economic development, told the council that the board has submitted a purchase offer that will be brought before the council within the next couple of weeks. She said that for about 17 years, different directors, council members and city managers have been working toward a BTW Board-run facility. 

"We are ready with BTW's team and (the city's) team in place for this to happen," she said.

She added that over the years, $230,000 of the city's Community Development Block Grant program has been invested into the facility. 

Denise Farrington, the center's executive director, who attended the council meeting with Rhoda Overstreet-Wilson, president of the BTW board, said the deal is almost ready. A few repairs to the facility's structure need to be taken care of before the transaction happens though. 

Farrington said the center helps anywhere up to 700 children in the area and averages about 83 employees. In the last year and a half, programs have "almost doubled."

"We keep growing and growing and growing," Farrington said. "It's time that we took the building ... that way we can get help from the foundation and (secure) different grants."

Echoing Farrington, Overstreet-Wilson said the community center is a "huge resource" that services the entire community. 

A council resolution regarding the transaction is expected to appear before council at its July 25 meeting.

In other news

• Wednesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced $9 million in grant funding will be distributed among 48 New York municipalities, including Auburn.

The grants will be used to help address "zombie homes" or vacant properties and create affordable housing. Auburn will receive a two-year $142,500 grant to fund a portion of salaries in the city's corporation counsel and code enforcement departments for vacant property-related work. The grant will also be used to purchase new software to complement the software code enforcement is currently using. 

Council resolutions related to the grant and software will appear on next week's agenda for consideration. 

• Thursday, Auburn's engineering office received a letter from the New York Department of Transportation informing the city that the state's Extreme Winter Recovery Fund was included in the final 2019-20 New York State budget. 

The fund, which helps New York municipalities repair roads after harsh winter weather will award about $92,000 was awarded to Auburn for this next fiscal year. 

In May, Auburn Mayor Michael Quill sent a letter to state assemblyman Gary Finch urging him to restore the fund, which had been zeroed out at that point. 

• Seneca Stone Co. Inc. was awarded a bid to re-pave Lincoln and William streets. Auburn Superintendent of Engineering Services William Lupien said roadwork will begin in a couple weeks on Lincoln Street and William Street by the YMCA. The project will have two phases, starting with work on Lincoln Street.

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Staff writer Dan Orzechowski can be reached at (315) 282-2239 or dan.orzechowski@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @OrzechowskiDan.

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