Public Hearings Set for New Laws
By Jann Wiswall
Board members of the Ellicottville-Great Valley Recreational Trail attended the Monday, May 20 meeting of the Town of Ellicottville’s board to introduce Joe Wright, the new EVGV Trail director of marketing and business development and to brief the board on progress with a grant application.
Wright, whose 10-15 hours/week on the job is being underwritten by EllicottVillas owner and Buffalo business leader Jim Cornell, made a brief presentation to the board about marketing and promotional plans. He explained that, in the near term, he and the trail board will be developing an awareness campaign and a website, implementing a point-of-sale system to accept donations, establishing several subcommittees, boosting social media activities, designating the trail head and breaking ground on the first 800 feet of trail. In addition, the trail will have a strong promotional presence at Ellicottville’s upcoming festivals.
For the long-term, he and the board will develop a formal marketing and fundraising plan to see the project through to completion.
Board member Kate O’Stricker, with the town board’s approval, completed and submitted pre-application forms for the DOT’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant on May 5.
Under the terms of the grant, the Trail Board must identify a local entity that will serve as the project’s sponsor and commit to providing 20 percent of the funding total over five years. The board agreed to be that entity and authorized the committee to submit the full TIGER grant application.
O’Stricker explained that the grant request of $1.8 million would fund the section of trail from Ellicottville Central School to the Town Center. The town’s share would come to $360,000, but the trail board will raise private funds to cover that so no taxpayer dollars would be spent. O’Stricker said that the share could be waived by the DOT altogether since the project is in a rural area.
The full grant application is due June 5.
In regular business, Supervisor John Burrell reported that auditors are nearly finished with the 2014 books. The auditors advised that $37,000 in encumbered funds from a 2014 highway department equipment account be moved to a 2015 equipment account. Burrell explained that all of the 2015 funds in this account have been spent on a truck, loader and tires.
During this discussion, Highway Superintendent Loyd Hovey expressed frustration and confusion about the budget process, saying the only thing he thought he bought was tires. He said the board seems to be doing “whatever you want” and then abruptly left the meeting.
After his departure, the board suggested that Burrell ask the town’s accountant to explain the need for the fund transfer and the account balance to Hovey.
At its May 1 special meeting, the board approved the appointment of former judge John Karassik as town justice, replacing John Nelson who recently resigned his post. Karassik will be able to start in mid-November after attending training. In the interim, the town’s other judge, Andy Stokes, will conduct both of the town’s courts.
Karassik plans to run as a Republican for the elected position of town judge in November. If elected, his term would begin January 1 when the appointed term ends.
Police Officer in Charge Don Auge reported that the department has purchased a body camera. The cameras will not be used in an official capacity until a policy for camera use is approved by the board. That policy is currently under review.
The department also will be equipped and trained in the proper administration of Narcan®, a medication used to counter the effects of opioid (e.g. heroin) overdose.
Proper administration “is an important skill for our officers to have,” Auge said.
Discussion of highway department gravel bids was tabled until the June meeting due to Hovey’s absence.
Burrell said that the town’s insurance company asked to have the contents of the highway barn inventoried. Hovey “did a great job and included serial numbers and identified a lot of items that have never been insured,” he said.
Town Engineer Mark Alianello was able to brief the board on three highway department plans and projects.
The department has obtained pipes to replace a culvert at Witch Hollow at Sommerville Valley Rd. Repaving Sommerville Valley between Jed Ln. and the town line will begin once that work is complete. A culvert on Poverty Hill Rd. also will be replaced.
Owners of a vacation home on Stoney-Lonesome Rd. asked the town to provide information about what they would have to do to turn their driveway into a designated town road that would be regularly plowed by the highway department. Alianello gave the board a proposed route for the road and easements. Alianello will share the information with the homeowners and allow them to obtain engineering and construction estimates.
Alianello also reported that he and Hovey had determined several locations where plow and truck turnarounds are needed, but which are likely to be expensive. He suggested the board develop a long-term plan and begin to budget for them.
On the engineering front, Alianello said materials for repair of Holiville sewer pipes have been approved; a broken pump at water pumping station #2 has been replaced and a backup pump is being refurbished; and a water line associated with the Holiday Valley road realignment project has been approved by the county.
Town Assessor Harry Weissman reported that assessment grievance day for Ellicottville property owners is Tuesday, May 26. Those with grievances may meet with him from 4-8 p.m. in the town hall.
The board is in the final stages of preparing a new Alarm System Local Law that will require homeowners to register their home alarm systems with the town. The law is intended to reduce the occurrence of false alarm calls to the fire and police departments by requiring homeowners to maintain their systems and provide contact information. The board expects to hold a public hearing on the new law at its July meeting.
A public hearing on a town-employee health insurance buyout Local Law has been scheduled for the June 17 meeting. This law will allow eligible town employees to opt out of the town’s health insurance coverage if they provide proof of coverage on another policy. In lieu of the town’s health coverage, they may choose a $4,500 buyout to be paid in equal, taxable payments each pay period.
The next meeting of the town board will be held on June 17 at 6 p.m. in the town/village hall.