Considers Solar Energy for Wastewater Plant
By Jann Wiswall
The Village of Ellicottville’s October board meeting was held a week early, on Wednesday, Oct. 8, to accommodate the Columbus Day holiday and to give members a chance to meet and review final preparations before Fall Festival weekend.
Board Member and Special Events committee Chair Patra Lowes reported that she felt that the village was well prepared. The board complimented the committee for its hard work and felt that everything that could be done in advance had been done.
Board Member Greg Cappelli shared that he had received an inquiry from some part-time residents about giving vacation homeowners representation on the committee. He told them he thought this would be a fine idea, and reminded them that it would require a year-round commitment, as the committee is involved in all village events, not just Fall Festival. He will keep the board informed about any volunteers that come forward.
John Northrup, who is converting the 1887 Building site into a condominium property, briefed the board on his request to trade some small strips of land surrounding the building with the village to ensure that workers have access to certain areas of the building for repairs. Village attorney Bob Simon, who was not present at the board meeting, had previously stated that Northrup and co-developer Krog Development must present a site plan for review by the Village Planning Board. Northrup said he planned to do so at the Oct. 14 meeting of the planning board (see Planning Board story, front page).
Superintendent of Public Works Harold Morton reported that about half of the roof on the DPW building is leaking, causing damage to parts of the interior including the records room. The board authorized him to have the roof replaced at a cost of $28,830.
Morton said that the department has completed water line repairs at Elk and Elizabeth streets and has started work on similar repairs at Martha and Madison streets.
He also reported that a check for $88,980 had been received from the village’s insurance company to cover repair costs for the ultraviolet disinfection system at the wastewater treatment plant that was struck by lightning in August. Repairs will begin in the next few weeks.
And he noted that leaf pick up in the village will continue through the end of the month.
Village Engineer Mike Smith reported that final engineering and design work for the town and village’s new wastewater treatment plant continues, with construction set to begin in spring 2015. The board approved a transfer of $315,000 from the sewer account to the sewer capital reserve budget line in order to pay engineering bills.
In his continuing efforts to look for cost reductions for the plant, Smith said that he had spoken with a firm about installing solar panels. Through federal and state incentives, the panels could be installed at no cost to the village, with the exception of some required land preparation. Under the agreement, the panels would last 20 years and the village would pay only for the energy it uses at a rate that would be contractually less than it spends on fossil fuels.
The panels would not entirely eliminate the need for fossil fuel use, but Smith said he believes the ongoing cost savings would be significant, and would reduce carbon emissions. He will report back to the board with more information next month.
Local Law Update
As has been reported frequently in the Ellicottville Times, new flood plain maps for the village and town were authorized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and are available for the public’s review at the village/town hall and online at www.ellicottvillegov.com/html/tbldgdept.htm, then click on “Flood Zone Map.”
In preparation for the maps’ adoption in February, the board will hold a public hearing at its Nov. 10 monthly meeting on the new maps to allow residents to ask questions and make comments. The board also is working on making amendments to its associated Flood Protection Local Law. A public hearing on that law will be scheduled once the board approves its draft.
Mayor Charles Coolidge asked the board to override the state’s 2 percent property tax cap and the 1 percent property tax freeze for 2015 in light of the fact that the board likely cannot hold tax increases below those rates next year due to the cost of the new wastewater treatment plant. The board agreed.
Finally, Coolidge said that the official village Halloween trick-or-treat will take place on Friday, Oct. 31, 5:30–8 p.m. He noted that the American Legion Halloween party will be held from 6–8 p.m. on the same evening.