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Ellicottville Joins ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ Movement

By Kathleen Kellogg

The Ellicottville Town Board voted to join the “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” movement during the Feb. 21 meeting. A resolution in support of the initiative was adopted, with the goal of fostering a welcoming and supportive environment for residents with special needs.

Town Supervisor Matt McAndrew pointed out that Ellicottville has been mindful of this issue and one prominent example can be seen at the ski areas. For many years, opportunities have been provided to skiers with special needs at both Holiday Valley and HoliMont.

  “The adaptive ski programs are truly amazing and it’s been here for years. My feeling is we should adopt this,” said McAndrew, before a vote was taken to pass the resolution.

   The move was prompted by a Jan. 31 letter from Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro, who launched the initiative in 2015.  On the organization’s website, www.thinkdifferently.net, 38 towns, eight cities, three counties, and 17 villages are listed as having the resolution in place.

  Also, there are suggested steps to foster a compassionate community and unite residents for the common good. Those could include seeking partnerships with community groups and finding sponsors for creative community events, like the one-mile “Think Differently Dash.” Adaptive playgrounds, special needs Little League, movies shown with lowered volume, and “autism supportive environment training” are some of the other approaches taken in communities that have seen positive results.

  Town Planner Gary Palumbo presented a proposed draft of a town zoning law amendment to relax restrictions on illuminated signs, which was to be presented Monday night (Feb. 26) to the Town Planning Board.

  While some of the language of the amendment clarifies that lighted signs are permitted, it also proposes the addition of dimmer capabilities, discouraging advertising for other businesses and eliminating the twice-daily interval timing between wording changes. He suggested the interval should last somewhere between one and 10 minutes and signs should be located in industrial or commercial areas.

  Currently, illuminated signs are in place at Holiday Valley Road and in front of BOCES on Route 242.

  Board members asked Palumbo to first poll the town’s Planning Board members on their wishes for the length of the intervals and other provisions of the amendment.

  Palumbo explained the signs should not use visual effects that would be distracting to drivers.

  In another matter, a public meeting with an eye toward grant funding will be held at 6 p.m. March 22 at the Town Center on Parkside Drive. The topic of the meeting is a community survey that is being mailed this week and must be returned by March 9 for the purposes of a grant application. Additional meetings of the town and village boards will follow, on March 24 and April 14.  Town Board members will be present at the sessions.

  Following a public hearing, the Board amended its 2009 law that had granted Cold War veterans a partial exemption in town real property taxes for a period of 10 years. The 10-year sunset provision was removed from the law, but Board members were reminded the exemption does not extend to taxes levied by the school district.

  The Board also discussed sidewalks, pavement and potholes. One of the topics involved a complaint and a request to seek pavement repairs on Route 219, which is breaking down due to heaving, salt and age. The Board members agreed to direct the town’s engineer to request a rebuilding plan from the state.

  “People are slowing down,” one Board member commented.

  Sidewalk plowing on an as-needed basis, an equipment expense shared with the Village and performed by the village crews, will be monitored in the future by the town’s engineer for timing in an effort to resolve complaints.

In another matter, a payment to engineer Mark Alianello of $4,700 was authorized to adjusted payment error from the 2017 budget.

  In other Board action:

• Employment of patrolman David Tobia was approved a rate of pay of $18.37 per hour.   

• The engineer’s report was received, containing an estimate of $150,000 for new windows and doors in the Town Hall. Grant funding for the payment will be sought.

• Shawn Lafferty, an employee of the Town Highway Department and a volunteer for the West Valley Volunteer Hose Company, was recognized. He was named West Valley Firefighter of the Year on Jan. 20. In recognizing Lafferty, Board members noted he is an asset to the West Valley Hose Company and the towns of Ellicottville and Ashford.

• Supervisor McAndrew reported on the Feb. 5 Four Flushers meeting, where 10 residential properties were counted as still in line for the new “remote-read” water meter heads. Once completed all meters in the system will be installed and can be read in just one day.

The next Ellicottville Town Board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 28.

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