Library issue back in Wheatfield
by Susan Mikula Campbell
Driving is likely to be challenging in parts of Wheatfield in coming months due to state and county road projects.
"It's going to be a bit of a mess out there," Supervisor Bob Cliffe said at Monday's Town Board meeting.
Work already has begun and a maze of traffic cones greets drivers on Niagara Falls Boulevard near Walmore Road where Bergholz Creek passes under the state road.
The state is installing a new culvert-style bridge and a center left turn lane in that area as a preliminary step to future widening of the boulevard through Wheatfield. Cliffe said half the bridge construction is expected to be done this year and half of next year.
"Unfortunately at certain times, there's a lot of traffic backup, which is bound to get worse as we get into the (tourist) season, and it's bound to be hard on businesses on both sides of the road," Cliffe said.
County work on a new high-pressure water line, plus road resurfacing on Lockport Road also is beginning, which will bring disruptions in that area due to single-lane traffic, Cliffe said.
Herbert A. Downs, administrative director for the county water district, said plans are to have the 36-inch diameter pipe in the ground by the end of November, with restoration work to be done in the spring.
The $10 million project, which also will affect Cambria and Pendleton, will provide an additional water line in case the current 30-year-old line should fail and is part of a larger project to get more water pressure to the eastern part of the county, Downs said. Water is pumped from this end of the county to as far east as the Village of Medina.
In Wheatfield, the water line construction alongside the road will start on Lockport Road (just past Ward Road), then go to Mapleton Road to Shawnee Road and back to Lockport Road.
Preliminary work on the water line is expected to begin June 15, with construction starting in July.
The county had intended to wait until the water line work was finished to begin road repairs on Lockport Road.
"The pavement deteriorated so badly last winter, it's a pretty rough ride," said Michael F. Tracy, deputy commissioner for county highways, bridges and structures. "It's to the point now that we don't think it can wait."
Milling on Lockport Road started Wednesday and blacktopping will be done in June between Mapleton and Hoover roads. Culvert replacement near the Eagle Chase development also will cause some temporary closing of Lockport Road, he said.
•Funding for the North Tonawanda Library is becoming an issue again for Wheatfield. Funding from the town for the current year was cut because of town budget problems until the library threatened to bar Wheatfield cardholders and residents turned out in force to protest to the Town Board.
"We have to sit down and talk about it," said Cliffe, noting that the library wants a three-year contract with substantial increase in funding.
Peggy Waite, North Tonawanda Library director, said Wednesday that Wheatfield provides 16 percent of the library's users, but funds only 3 percent of the library's budget.
"We have had a substantial increase over the years in their (Wheatfield residents) use here at our library," she said, adding that Wheatfield's population is continuing to grow.
She would like to meet with the town by the end of June to negotiate a three-year contract the library is proposing that would increase Wheatfield's share of library funding to $100,000 in 2012, $125,000 in 2013 and $150,000 in 2014. Currently in 2011, the town provides $45,000. In 2010, town funding was $43,500, which was down from $49,000 in 2009, she said.
In other matters at Monday's Wheatfield Town Board meeting:
•Rich Donner, water/sewer director, reported that response to the town's new electronic recycling program has been more than expected. The town will get 3 to 4 cents per pound on the recycled materials. Only electronics, such as old televisions or computers, are accepted. Old household appliances are not collected.
Wheatfield residents can drop off items during working hours, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays at the towns water/sewer department 3313 Niagara Falls Blvd.
•Recreation Director Ed Sturgeon reported that 20 of the town's approximately 40 volunteer coaches, who work with youngsters from T-ball to age 18, recently completed the SUNY Youth Sports Institute program and received state certification. Coaches will have a special sidelines pass to wear indicating, in case there is any question they know what they're doing, that they have received training in topics ranging from dealing with angry parents to childhood development, Sturgeon said. They also have access to a special website for youth sports related questions. Twelve more coaches already have signed up for the next Youth Sports Institute.
More and more confrontations between coaches and parents, between coaches and coaches and between coaches and players are being seen across the country, Sturgeon said. "This is designed to teach coaches how to handle and defuse these confrontations, and how to work with children to develop them into better players."
Sturgeon said next he'd like to challenge parents to try the Start Smart program, which is becoming very popular in the south towns.
•The board authorized Art Kroening, highway supervisor, to purchase a road crack sealer at the low bid of $19,827.
•The board approved a request by Councilman Kenneth Retzlaff to provide $500 for advertising for the weekly Farmers Market, which started Wednesday at the Town Hall parking lot. Once the project is off the ground, the money will be repaid to the town, Retzlaff said.
•Councilman Gil Doucet reported that the YMCA has indicated that registration for the summer camp it will hold at the town's Youth Center this summer has already surpassed the number of registrations at its Niagara Falls and Lewiston sites.
•The next Wheatfield Town Board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. June 13.