By Jann Wiswall
The Village of Ellicottville is installing new lights along its streets in preparation for the upcoming holiday season. The lighting was designed by Doug Sitler, the artist behind the popular NIGHT LIGHTS installations.
Mayor John Burrell said the lights were purchased on the Village’s behalf by the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce. The Village Christmas tree, to be placed on the lawn in front of the 1887 building at Jefferson and Washington Streets, was donated by Town of Ellicottville resident Mary Vari.
Burrell updated the board on a number of ongoing and new activities. The “Four Flushers” committee of town and village staff involved in public works efforts has been discussing the formation of a joint water district between the Village and District 1 of the town, which share a public water system.
Town and village leaders are also discussing the possibility of hiring a Director of Public Works who would oversee all town and village activities related to water, sewer, highways and other public infrastructure services that inevitably require town and village cooperation.
Burrell reported that he had discovered an error in National Grid billing that goes back at least two years. The discovery indicates that the village has a credit balance of some $28,000. While more research into the error is needed, Burrell said he is working with National Grid to be reimbursed.
“No one caught it,” Burrell said. “Not the village, the company, the auditors or the state. It’s unclear how long the credit has been there, but it’s been more than 24 months.”
The board praised Burrell for the “good catch.”
Burrell also reported that the village has delivered 10 park benches to the Lion’s Club, which has volunteered to provide the labor to repair them. Once that work is done, another 10 will be delivered. The village is paying for materials.
In other business, Burrell announced that he has been elected to serve on the board of the WNY Southtowns Scenic Byway. He is the first representative of Cattaraugus County to be elected to the board since the byway was expanded into the county this year.
Also, Burrell said he is working with Southern Tier West (STW) to seek out potential New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) grants toward becoming a “green community.” He is looking for volunteers to work with the village on this effort.
Village Planning Board Chair Nancy Rogan reported that her board is looking for ways to improve the public hearing notification process to ensure that all of those impacted by neighbors’ construction plans are informed in a timely fashion.
“We follow the public hearing laws by the book,” Rogan said, but because “we have so many non-resident owners, we need to find additional ways to communicate, especially with our Canadian vacation homeowners.”
Rogan also said that she and several other planning board members attended a seminar at STW and, among other things, were directed to language that can be used in Village zoning law to guide regulation of roof-top solar panels.
Village Department of Public Works head Harold Morton reported that a speed bump has been installed on Hughey Alley to slow traffic as it nears Monroe Street from the west. Signs are being installed soon.
The board approved Morton’s proposal to run two regular snow removal shifts this winter: 4 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 -11 p.m. Staff will be on-call on weekends as needed.
In engineering department news, a noise complaint by a resident on Donlen Drive prompted the board to contract with engineering firm Nussbaumer & Clarke (N&C) to conduct a “Sound Pressure Level Testing” study to determine if the village wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) improvements conform to noise regulations. The comprehensive study concluded that “the aeration upgrades that were performed … were found to be consistent with the design requirements and no immediate action is required to mitigate sound pressure level complaints.” However, the firm also said that the issue may be related to sound produced by vibrations, and that it may be possible to “dampen sound frequencies.” N&C said, “Further investigation would be required to determine the best course of action.”
The board asked N&C to share its findings with the resident.
Following an executive session with N&C regarding final payments to WWTP contractors, the board returned and made a resolution to “authorize the mayor to contract to complete the required engineering for the WWTP with either N&C or another engineering firm at a price not to exceed $10,000. The mayor and the village clerk are authorized to pay the invoices from STC & O’Connell once we have engineering certification.”
Board member Greg Cappelli reported that all eight security cameras have been installed at the village park and that activity will be monitored 24/7 by police. Additional village and town staff are authorized to monitor the cameras via their smart phones and computers. The board is confident that the new security will reduce vandalism and protect visitors. Coincidentally, he said, the Ellicottville Fire Department also installed security cameras on its property. Those cameras also can be monitored by police.
Finally, Village Clerk Mary Klahn requested and received authorization from the board to forward a Collector’s Report on Unpaid Taxes to the county treasurer for billing. She also reported that the new accounting software has been integrated with the old system; the water and sewer billing system will be integrated into the new program before the next billing cycle.
The next regular meeting of the Village board is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 12 at 6 p.m. in the village/town hall.