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Town Board Debates Expansion, Special Events Police Coverage

EVLtowncenterBy Jann Wiswall

Jefferson St. Cemetery Plaque Unveiling Nov. 14

The Town of Ellicottville’s Board meeting on Wednesday, September 18, began with a presentation from Gail Carucci, project manager for the Jefferson Street Cemetery Restoration and Preservation Committee. Carucci announced that on Thursday, November 14 at 1:30 p.m. there will be a formal unveiling of a new plaque at the cemetery, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012. State Senator Cathy Young and State Assemblyman Joe Giglio will be in attendance, as will Nicole Watkins, the Western New York ambassador for the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, which provided a grant to fund the plaque. A reception will follow at the Ellicottville Town Center.

Carucci said she and the entire committee are grateful for the support the Town of Ellicottville has provided for their work over the past several years and she hoped that the board would continue to support efforts to complete the restoration of the Jefferson Street Cemetery and to potentially begin work on restoring the Niles Cemetery.

Following Carucci’s presentation, Town Supervisor John Burrell reported that new phone and internet system upgrades are underway at both the Village/Town Hall and the Town Center to ensure secure communication for the courts. The Village/Town Hall is now equipped with WiFi, he added.

In addition, Burrell said that two sets of double doors that were preserved from the old Holiday Valley lodge by John Northrup and donated to the Town have been installed in the auditorium at the Town Center.

Department Reports

Police officer Don Auge could not attend Wednesday’s meeting, but Burrell asked the board to consider using the space on the first floor of the Village/Town Hall being vacated in October by the assessor’s office for some new computer equipment and files for the Police Department. The plan is for the new Town Assessor, Harry Weissman, to share space in the DPW building with Building Inspector and Code Enforcement Officer Tom Abriatis.

Board member Steve Crowley said that, before expanding the Police Department offices, he would like the board to “look at the big picture of the way the Town Government has expanded” since the acquisition of the Town Center building. “We need to evaluate all of the Village/Town space,” he suggested.

After discussion, the board agreed that the issue should be addressed in more detail during coming meetings.

Burrell also relayed Officer Auge’s concerns about police coverage for the upcoming Fall Festival. Burrell said that the cost for police services this year will be about $4000. Last year, organizers were able to fund that cost with a grant, but this year it must be split by the Village, Town and Chamber of Commerce.

Burrell said that Auge “can’t live up to his budget when all of a sudden he has to cover extras” for special events. Burrell thought that, in the future, perhaps event sponsors should be required to pay for such expenses.

Board Member Ken Hinman disagreed, saying it is “the Town’s obligation to protect its people.” Greg Fitzpatrick pointed out that the town and village benefit from special events through sales and bed taxes and other revenue. Both felt the expense was justifiable.

The board agreed to continue the larger discussion at its next meetings, but also agreed that it was the town’s responsibility to cover its share of the cost this year.

Town Engineer Mark Alianello related the “ongoing saga” of the East Tank Project. Alianello is now evaluating another location for the tank site, which hopefully can be agreed to with property owners.

The board reviewed the new proposed site map and revised costs for this location. Alianello said the plan does fall within the established budget and meets all of the project’s objectives. The board asked him and Town Attorney Kathleen Moriarty if they thought contracts with property owners could be drawn up within a month or so. Both felt it was possible, and agreed to work toward that goal.

Under “new business,” Board Member Fitzpatrick recommended that the board pass a resolution to waive the 2% tax cap to ensure the action gets on the record as the board begins the 2014 budget process. The board approved a resolution to that effect.

Fitzpatrick also reminded Burrell that the town needs to update its Web site by October 1 to reflect the new assessor’s name and location.

In other new business, Burrell announced that the Rotary Club of Ellicottville has donated funds to renew the floor in the Auditorium of the Town Center. In exchange, the club asked the board to name it the “Rotary Auditorium.” The board approved that request.

Hinman updated the board on progress on the proposed Ellicottville-Great Valley Recreational Trail. Another $1,000 donation has been received from a private citizen, and development of the master plan is well under way by Mark Alianello and consultant Rick Manning. Hinman said Alianello and Manning have invested an enormous amount of time and effort “to make this plan happen.” Alianello explained that the resulting map under development is intended to be “conceptual,” and that it shows where the trail “could” go, not “will” go. “There will be obstacles and opportunities all along the way,” he added. The Trail Committee will have a booth during Fall Festival near the Village Gazebo.

The board meeting ended after an executive session during which the board discussed the position of interim Town Judge. Current Town Judge Elizabeth Kerns has resigned and will be moving out of the area. At a special meeting on September 4, the Board appointed the Town’s other Judge, Andrew Stokes, to serve in the interim position as well as his own until the end of 2013. At the September 18 meeting, the board appointed attorney John Nelson to the position beginning January 1, 2014. Nelson’s appointment will end when a permanent judge is elected by the public in November, 2014.

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