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Town seeks status quo on Legislature

by jmaloni
Thu, Mar 17th 2011 03:00 pm

by Susan Mikula Campbell

When final redistricting for the Niagara County Legislature is decided, Wheatfield would prefer no changes.

The Town Board agreed at its meeting Monday to make its wishes known to the Legislature's redistricting group. Currently, no definite changes are being proposed until the county has in hand the official census data, but by the time voters go to the polls this fall, there should be 15 instead of 19 seats on the Legislature.

Currently, Wheatfield is represented by one full Legislature seat, held by William Ross and partial seat, held by Danny Sklarski, who also represents Town of Niagara.

The board's main concern, Supervisor Robert Cliffe said, is that if the town ends up sharing a legislator with another municipality, as it currently does with Sklarski, that it be another town, not a city, such as a Wheatfield-LaSalle or Wheatfield-North Tonawanda combination. "The goals of a town are different than that of a city," he explained.

In other matters:

•Councilman Kenneth Retzlaff reported that plans are under way to revive the Farmer's Market that debuted in the Town Hall parking lot last fall. This year's market could be open as early as the end of June, selling items such as plants and flowers, he said. The town's senior citizen group is also considering setting up a table to sell crafts.

•Residents attending Wheatfield's Local Waterfront Revitalization Program public input meeting on Feb. 10 seemed more concerned about River Road traffic than the waterfront itself. Cliffe said Monday, that the residents' main request - that the LaSalle Expressway be extended to North Tonawanda - is unlikely to be granted in the near future. However, the state Department of Transportation has indicated it will take another look at traffic and speed on River Road.

In the meantime, Cliffe said he has asked the Sheriff's officer assigned to the town to do some ticketing of speeders at the North Tonawanda end of River Road. In North Tonawanda, the speed limit is 55 mph and drivers go from four lanes into two at a blind corner jockeying for position as they come into a more residential area. At the Niagara Falls end of River Road, the speed limit is 30 mph, and Cliffe pointed out, "there's nobody there."

Councilman Larry Helwig has been chasing Time Warner Cable for about six years on franchise fees that were credited to other towns, now estimated at about 230 to 250 Wheatfield residences.

"They owe us about four and a half years of revenue," he said, noting that every time he deals with the company they seem to "keep passing the buck to someone else." Franchise fees paid to Wheatfield were $149,000 in 2006, while in 2010 (I think they finally got our inventory correct") it was $192,000, Helwig said.

He estimates the town is owed about $50,000 and wants the board to agree to legal action at its next meeting if the matter isn't resolved by then.

•Paul Cozad, head of the town's Firearms Committee reported that the group is planning another pistol permit course, probably to be held in April or May.

•The next Town Board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. March 28.

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