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Town Looks at Energy Sources, Broadband Connection Effort

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By Kathleen Kellogg

The Town Board adopted a resolution March 21 to sign an administrative agreement to join the Energy Next Inc. and a pool of 18 municipalities for an aggregated supply of natural gas and electricity through MEGA and Community Choice Aggregation.

The move came after a presentation from Danielle McMullen of EnergyNext, Inc., of Saratoga Springs, who explained the group’s process for competitive bidding to find low-cost suppliers to governments and non-profits, and how costs are structured. She said the primary source for power generation in New York and New England is now natural gas, with prices dipping recently to a 17-year low, at $1.70 per decatherm.

The town could participate under one of two programs that could extend 18 to 36 months. Community Choice Aggregation, a new program McMullen said was joined recently by the Town of Farmersville and the City of Olean, has been expanded to include suppliers of renewable energy, hydro power, wind and solar. Participating communities must adopt implementation and data protection plans, along with a local law authorizing participation in the CCA. The rates would be better for customers within the municipality and some consumer protection.

Officials were also informed about a new broadband connection effort targeting the 2018 installation project to span Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany, Livingston and Steuben Counties, reaching Ellicottville as part of an effort to provide several speeds of broadband phone and internet service to underserved or unserved Census blocks.

Miranda Cambria of Armstrong, a 60-year-old phone and internet provider which has been awarded the first two phases of a Build New York State Broadband contract, plans to string 2,000 miles of fiber optic cable across 80,000 electric poles. Eligible homes will be able to receive a free modem and a cable drop to the home at no charge. 

She said the company is seeking a contract for Phase 3 installation in an expanded area of Census tracts that may have been omitted from the program. She cautioned homeowners to check for eligibility because some unserved areas have been found outside of the targeted Census blocks. Homeowners can find out if they can be included in the installation by visiting the website, www.nysbroadband.ny.gov/contact, or sending an email to nysbroadband@esd.ny.gov, or by calling the State Broadband Office at 866-322-5787.

Land use planning issues were addressed by Town Planner Gary Palumbo. Some discussion centered on a request for a temporary certificate of occupancy for the Stillhouse Brewery, set to open in April, but unable to meet site plan conditions by that date for parking lot paving due to weather delays. Part of the discussion was about the developer’s request to use Roller-Compacted Concrete instead of asphalt as a paving option after the weather settles down. Board members agreed to support the temporary certificate and refer the request back to the Town Planning Board for action.

The board’s proposed sign code amendments in the town’s zoning ordinance were reviewed and referred back to the Town Planning Board for a recommendation and a coordinated review with the Cattaraugus County Planning Board. The Changes include updated provisions for message sign criteria and to change wording every five seconds or longer, instead of twice daily as the ordinance currently provides.

The Board expressed gratitude to Engineer Mark Alianello for his many years of service and accepted his resignation, effective March 30. The board then adopted a resolution to hire Niles Pierson to fill the vacancy, according to the terms of a contract previously approved.

Pierson said he is building a GIS database for the village and town that will be used as an asset management system once 30 miles of pipeline and 500 manholes are located. Once completed, Cattaraugus County will host the database on its server as a shared service.

The Board then discussed recommendations to improve the Valley Village road and return it to a 37-member property owner association for the cost of maintenance of the share that was to include a 10-foot parking right-of-way and a retaining wall. The public/private snow removal arrangement became problematic due to the slag materials used in construction, the topography and construction of the development within the right of way.

Some information was provided by Alianello regarding the need for culverts to cure the erosion problems in the creek, caused by Dave Golley Drive’s location at the foot of Bryant Hill off Route 242.  Alianello said repeated cleaning of gravel that had been deposited in the stream bed exacerbates the problem.

In other matters, the Board:

• approved a motion advertise for cemetery mowing bids

• approved a motion to schedule the American Cancer Society Relay for Life boot drive May 5, 2018 at the intersection of Route 219 and Route 242.

• approved ratification of hiring patrolman Jesse Barber at $18.37 per hour, accepting the resignation of Dave Tobin.

• received a report on the EVGV Trail regarding the March 31 target for removal of trees along the new portion, and continuing work to receive donations of trail easements from two landowners.

• expressed appreciation to the Ellicottville Central School student and staff efforts to stuff envelopes for the mailing of the community planning survey.

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