by Terry Duffy
The Lewiston Town Board heard quality of life issues and moved on approving a new highway superintendent Monday evening at Town Hall.
Leadoff discussion saw continuing concerns by neighboring residents regarding the Lewiston Police firing range on Harold Road.
Following a meeting of town officials and Lewiston Police with residents at the Senior Center in early April, the town moved on addressing concerns by sharply curtailing range hours, heightening berms and developing operating procedures and a new policy. Since then, discussion also occurred with fire companies and police on future plans involving the range site. Monday the residents came and fired back.
Porter Center Road resident George Brown called the town's response, particularly LPD's reduction of shooting hours, "a huge improvement," but he chided the board about other agencies still using the range. Despite reductions, he called range activities "aggravating and impacting property values." Telling the board and Supervisor Steve Reiter he wanted "the range monkey" off residents' backs, Brown argued the range continues to negatively impact properties, saying residents can't even consider selling.
Swann Road resident William Kraft, who was vocal with Reiter earlier, said LPD has since been "operating in good faith" but also criticized use of the range by other agencies, the types of weaponry used, and hit the board on the range's impact on property values. Kraft said many residents own large tracts of acreage, pay taxes and are negatively impacted. "The board needs to remember that it works for residents. It's not the other way around," said Kraft.
Porter Center Road resident Ken Davis echoed the concerns on the range use, the noise and safety, and said he can't sell his property. "Are you taking this seriously?" he asked.
Reiter responded that yes the town is aware of their concerns and the board has been acting. He said meetings are planned for June and in September. The board elected to table action on the firing range agreement Monday as LPD Chief Chris Salada was not in attendance. Town Councilman Al Bax and Town Attorney Mike Dowd discussed the document that they called "an indemnification agreement" and said the measure was intended to specify its use to other agencies. It's intended for "verification of agencies using it," not permission to enlarge its availability, said Dowd. "It's not meant to imply expansion."
Town Councilman Ernie Palmer, who serves as board liaison on LPD issues, said the agreement was "one step in the process" in addressing the range issue. Other areas still to be addressed are a policy manual which will give the town better control on who may use the facility and who may not. "We will have better control," Palmer said.
Another quality of life issue heard was unsightly properties, where Saunders Settlement Road resident Daryl Glayton complained to the board about a neighboring parcel. "It looks like a junkyard," said Glayton of the property, whose owner, he said, collects and stores various items and burns debris. Glayton said that for years he has tried to appease the situation but now he is at his wit's end. He also complained to the board of "summer-long yard sales" held by the neighbor.
Town Building Inspector Tim Masters called the man's concerns "an ongoing issue." Masters also said Lewiston has its share of unkempt properties as he discussed his property maintenance report with the board. Among significant concerns, Masters said, are a property on Country Club Trail, started and framed in 2006 and never completed, and burned out and un-repaired properties, including one that's been in that condition for 10 years. Currently "demolition is the only recourse we have," said Masters.
Of the concerns, Reiter, the board, Dowd and Masters all concurred on addressing them "very aggressively." Actions discussed included developing a working notification process and spelling out what actions the town will take. "Let's get moving on it," said Reiter.
The matter is expected to be revisited at the board's June 14 work session.
In other news:
•The town announced the naming of Hillside Drive resident Doug A. Janese as interim highway superintendent. Janese who has 20 years experience in the construction industry, will receive an annual salary of $64,224. He will be up for election in November.
•Tim Lockhart, administrator of the Lewiston Water Pollution Control Center, presented the annual storm water report for 2009-10 to the board. Lockhart said that Lewiston, like Porter and other communities, has increased its number of outfalls due to its MS-4 criteria being expanded to encompass areas out to the town's municipal boundaries. He reported the town currently has 12 of 44 outfalls inspected and further testing by the town, under the Western New York Storm Water Coalition guidelines, is ongoing.•The board discussed, but took no action that night on a maintenance pact for Joseph Davis State Park, due to continuing matters being discussed in the State Legislature.