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Wheatfield board fails to support term limits

by jmaloni
Thu, Aug 12th 2010 01:00 pm

by Susan Mikula Campbell

An attempt by Wheatfield Supervisor Bob Cliffe to fulfill a promise to work for term limits for the supervisor fell flat at Monday's meeting when the Town Board failed to second his motion.

Cliffe's motion proposed the required public hearing be held later this month on his suggestion to limit the town supervisor's term to two four-year terms. Currently, supervisors serve two-year terms with no limit on how many times he or she can be re-elected.

In January, Cliffe, a former town justice, replaced Timothy Demler in the town's top seat in January. The Town Board's dissatisfaction with Demler's methods resulted in a bitter election battle in which his own party failed to endorse him. The Republican and the board's support went to Cliffe. Demler had served 14 years.

Councilman Gil Doucet said he didn't support Cliffe's term limit proposal because he prefers to let voters decide whether or not a supervisor is doing a good job and should be re-elected.

"For me, that's a privilege for us to vote," he said, pointing out that's one of the rights American soldiers, as they have in the past, are now fighting for overseas.

The councilmen also questioned the need to increase the supervisor's term to four years instead of two and were concerned about the possibility of extending the term limits to their own seats.

"I wanted to know more about how this was going to work," Councilman Larry Helwig said of his decision not to second Cliffe's motion.

He pointed out that it is difficult to convince people to run for office. Last year, Councilmen Kenneth Retzlaff and Art Gerbec ran unopposed, and the year before, he and Doucet only had one opponent, he said, adding, "Even the supervisor sometimes runs unopposed."

Cliffe said he believes that after a long time in office the "person in power has all the cookies in his control" and that was a reason why even George Washington wanted only two terms.

"I still believe in it ... I'll probably bring it up again in the future," he said.

In other matters:

  • The board heard from Bergholz residents who complained that the hamlet's volunteer fire department siren was way too loud.

"There's a lot of us in town that really don't want to hear it," said one resident. "I know the firemen love it, but they all have pagers."

Highway Superintendent Art Kroening reported that at its last meeting the fire department had voted to discontinue its 6 p.m. test siren. He added however, that in the case of emergencies, a siren is still useful "if we're out mowing the lawn and can't hear the pager."

Residents also were told that discontinuing the siren could affect fire insurance rates.

  • Several Parkside Estates residents were on hand to ask that a proposed public hearing on the proposed revision to their subdivision's plat plan affecting a park emergency access road be delayed until September when residents are less likely to be on vacation.

The hearing was set for 7 p.m. Sept. 13.

"The town doesn't benefit from this deal, the developer does," said one resident who objected to the plan.

The original developer recently sold the continuation of the development to a new developer. The next part of the development, Phase 3, originally included a paved access road at the back of Fairmount Park. The new developer proposed keeping it a stone road and that in return he would help the town with some park improvements. The town is considering a chip road, gated for fire department access only, instead of the originally planned paved road providing a second public access road to the development.

  • Town Clerk Kathy Harrington announced that a demonstration of new voting machines and an opportunity to do a test vote will be held Tuesday, Aug. 31, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. at the Wheatfield Community Center, 2790 Church Road, next to Town Hall.
  • The next meeting of the Wheatfield Town Board will be at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 23.

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