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Construction begins on new Seneca Babcock Community Center

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Tue, May 15th 2018 10:00 am
Shovels will be dug on the approximately 12,600-square-foot, $4.5 million community center, which will serve children, families & seniors in one of Buffalo's poorest neighborhoods
Construction is underway to build a new Seneca Babcock Community Center in the heart of South Buffalo, a 12,600-square-foot facility that will serve underprivileged families. Site work begins at the new community center, located at 82 Harrison St., Buffalo, on Tuesday morning.
Following a brief, ceremonial groundbreaking, work will immediately begin clearing the site, preparing the property for drainage, installing the foundation and utilities, followed by work putting in brick and steel throughout the site.
Construction on the $4.5 million facility is expected to be complete in eight to 10 months.
"As construction begins on the new Seneca Babcock Community Center, this $4.5 million investment will help improve our residents' quality of life," Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said. "I thank Dr. Daniel Alexander, Mr. Roger Hungerford and others who donated and provided in-kind services for this project. The City of Buffalo made the initial investment to prepare the site for sale, and will use city funds to revitalize Mullen Park. This community center will give our youth a safe place to learn, socialize and play."
Russell Anderson, owner of Premier Contracting, is the lead contractor on the charitable project. Ciminelli Real Estate Corp., led by President Paul Ciminelli, is lead developer to build the new Seneca Babcock Community Center. Former Buffalo firefighter Dr. Daniel and Gail Alexander donated $1 million toward the total $4.5 million cost.
Businessman Roger Hungerford also donated $1 million toward construction. The City of Buffalo, under the leadership of Brown, spent $600,000 remediating the almost two-acre site. Local leaders, public officials, business owners and families served by the new center will attend a ceremonial groundbreaking as construction begins.
Daniel Alexander said, "We are putting ceremonial shovels in the ground. Then we are getting right to work. There's no time like the present to get this new community center built. Construction begins mere minutes after we gather to celebrate a major milestone. This is a great day for the hard-working and proud families within our tight-knit, Seneca Babcock community. I am grateful to so many private sector partners that are donating their time and money to benefit the poor. Many thanks to Mayor Brown as well, for helping turn our dream of building a new Seneca Babcock Community Center into reality."
In addition to the $1 million donations from the Alexanders and Hungerford, the John R. Oishei Foundation contributed $250,000 for the project. The New York State Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program has allocated $124,000, along with a $100,000 HELP Grant and $50,000 from the Cullen Foundation. Ciminelli, Premier Contracting and other project vendors are providing $829,000 for "in-kind" services to build the physical structure.
Anderson said, "This is a labor of love to give back to a community I care deeply about. Premier Contracting is going to build a first-class facility for the great people of Seneca Babcock. They deserve it. We are grateful to be part of such a worthwhile project."
Ciminelli said, "This is what Buffalo is all about: hard-working people from the private and public sectors partnering on a noble project to help the less fortunate. Together, we will build a community center that will serve many generations of Seneca Babcock families."
Buffalo based attorney Lawrence Rubin, from the firm Kavinoky Cook, donated hundreds of thousands of dollars of billable hours toward completion of the project. Painstaking legal work was necessary on the complex transfer of the property between numerous layers of governments and to oversee the proper environmental remediation.
Seneca Babcock Community Center Executive Director Brian Pilarski said, "I cannot thank Larry Rubin enough for his dedication and diligence. He worked very hard for us: the children and families of Seneca Babcock. We would not be able to put a shovel in the ground without his great legal mind and great work ethic. It was tough. It wasn't an easy process. Larry never complained. He worked hard for us.
"I cannot wait to begin offering expanded programs, especially for kids and the elderly."
Construction on the new Seneca Babcock Community Center could not begin until the formal transfer of the Harrison Street property from the City of Buffalo, which took place just days prior.
Daniel Alexander said, "I'm happy to dedicate my life serving families, first as a Buffalo firefighter, now as an orthopedic surgeon. I was an English major at the University at Buffalo. Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature. His most powerful prose is only seven words. Changed my life forever. He wrote: 'All that is not given is lost.' That sums up this project for me. I've lived a great life. Now it is time to give back. In this day and age, isn't it nice to see so many wonderful people giving their time and money to the poor? If we don't, it is truly lost."

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