State Grant, Sidewalk Conditions Top Village Agenda
By Jann Wiswall
NY State has sent the Village of Ellicottville a higher-than-budgeted contribution to highway maintenance through its Consolidated Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS) and the Pave NY program. Village Mayor John Burrell reported the good news at the Village board meeting on Monday, Jan. 9.
A total of $26,332.54 from both state programs was received, which represents a 46.3 percent boost over what the Village had budgeted.
In other good news, three Department of Public Works (DPW) employees passed exams to qualify for advance water operator licenses. Burrell and the board congratulated Jigger Stokes, Jesse Klahn and Tom Dineen for their achievements.
In his report to the board, Burrell announced that Kelly Frederickson has started his part-time job as a laborer with the DPW. Frederickson will be working with Building Inspector/Code Enforcement Officer Tom Abriatis to learn the job and to attend state-sponsored trainings. Frederickson will be required to pass all training exams and, eventually, the Civil Service Exam, before he can be hired to take over for Abriatis as both town and village building inspector. Abriatis is retiring.
Burrell said village and town representatives met with Municipal Solutions advisor Jeff Smith to learn about applying for state consolidation grants to help the municipalities form joint water and sewer districts. The state grant would fund the research, asset inventory, data collection and legal costs necessary to create the districts.
The idea was prompted, in part, by the pending retirement of Mark Alianello as the town’s engineer. Burrell explained that Town Supervisor Matt McAndrew and the town board do not want to hire a new town engineer until a thorough analysis of options is concluded and the feasibility of creating a DPW director position is considered. If created, a DPW director would oversee the town’s highway department and the village’s DPW, as well as the joint water and sewer districts.
Burrell noted that there is some urgency to the issue, so Smith is looking for ways to expedite the grant application process.
In other business, Burrell reported that the DPW has been working as quickly as possible to remove snow and keep streets and sidewalks clear during these past weeks of record snowfall. They were doubly challenged by the breakdown of the old sidewalk plow, the purchase of a replacement and the replacement’s breakdown within days of purchase.
Burrell referred to an article in the Springville Times (www.springvilletimes.com) that quoted Mayor William Krebs as saying that the priority for the Village of Springville’s DPW is to keep the streets open and that sidewalks are plowed after everything else. He said: “When we get a foot of snow in 24 hours…it just takes time…we need our residents and store owners to understand that this is a partnership and they need to clear the snow and ice from their sidewalks.”
Krebs went on to say that village code states that the owner of the property must maintain their sidewalks.
Burrell suggested that Ellicottville might need a more formal policy that would require business owners to share the burden with the DPW.
He also suggested that the village could supply commercial district businesses and residents with ice melt to help them maintain their sidewalks when it snows before or after the DPW staff’s work shifts.
Finally, Burrell directed board members to a draft budget development calendar, noting that the Village’s 2017-18 budget must be in place by June 1. Several special budget committee meetings are scheduled toward that end.
Nick Dobmeier has officially replaced Mike Smith as village engineer, following Smith’s retirement from Nussbaumer & Clarke. Dobmeier has been attending village board meetings for several months and was the lead engineer on the wastewater treatment plant overhaul.
Dobmeier reported that a “certificate of substantial completion” had been prepared for the general contractor on the wastewater treatment plant project. The board approved a resolution to authorize Burrell to sign off on the certificate. Dobmeier said a certificate for the electrical contractor will be available for signature as soon as a subcontractor has completed several remaining tasks.
Dobmeier also asked the board about N&C’s proposal to conduct an arc-flash study on behalf of NYSERDA. The board moved to executive session to discuss the proposal and returned to say that it still has some questions about the proposal and would table it for the time being.
For the longer-term, Dobmeier said N&C has some ideas for important village water infrastructure improvements, which will require capital funding. However, he agreed that these discussions should wait until a joint water district decision is made.
Village Clerk Mary Klahn reported that the first time the new software system was used for quarterly water and sewer billing in December there were some flaws, but that corrections are being made. She and Burrell are confident that the system will be effective in the long run.
Business from the Floor
The owners of a home at 94 Elizabeth Street, David and Andrea Andison, attended the meeting to inform the board about issues they have with a home that is being built next door to them at 35 Washington Street.
The Andisons wanted to go on record with the board to cite some tangible impacts of the home’s construction on their existing home, noting that the new two-story home’s north wall is 7 feet 4 inches from the south wall of their home. Those impacts include concerns about runoff and drainage, loss of sunlight and related increased heating bills, icicle formation on the new home’s eaves above one of their doorways, loss of privacy and other issues.
The Andisons, who live in Canada, said they did not receive any notices about the project by mail.
Burrell explained that the village is following all procedures in its zoning law to investigate their concerns and that these and several pre-existing variance issues are being researched by code enforcement officer Tom Abriatis. His report is forthcoming. The board promised to keep the family informed.
The next meeting of the Village Board is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. in the village/town hall.