by Susan Mikula Campbell
Neighbors living near abandoned properties at 7464 Townline Road and 2488 Reynolds St., in Wheatfield will have to continue to wait to see the decaying houses torn down by the town.
The owner of the Townline Road house showed up at Town Hall on Monday for a public hearing on the property, and the Town Board reluctantly agreed to give him until Sept. 1 to take care of the matter himself.
The house has been boarded up since being extensively damaged by fire about a year and a half ago. Building inspector Joe Caturia said the owner has been sent multiple notices about grass cutting, cleaning up debris and demolition.
Owner Kenneth Kumm said he has been going through a divorce and moved a few times. He said he only recently received the insurance payment due from the fire and had the check in his car. The car was stolen and he is waiting for the check to be re-issued, he said.
Town Attorney Robert O'Toole told him "it's already been too long," and noted that it would be cheaper for him to arrange to have the structure demolished himself, than wait for the town to take charge of it. The town would put a lien against the value of the property for its costs.
No owner appeared to talk about the Reynolds Street property. Caturia said he had checked the building and found there were no rodents and "the building is still safe for the time being."
That being the case, the only way the town could take over the property would be for back taxes. Since the bank holding the mortgage has paid the taxes up to this point, the town can do little for at least a year, according to O'Toole. Although there are code violations at the property, the owner is believed to be in Delaware and can't be extradited for a building code violation, O'Toole said.
"So as long as the guy keeps paying taxes, I keep looking at an eyesore," complained one disgruntled neighbor.
O'Toole said he would try to contact the owner to find out whether he might give up the property to the town and the hearing was adjourned until the board's next meeting.
•The next regular meeting of the Wheatfield Town Board will be at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8. Prior to the meeting there will be a continuation of the public hearing on the Reynolds Street property at 7 p.m., and Supervisor Robert Cliffe has invited the town's auditors in at 7:15 p.m. to talk about the town's financial report received last week.
In other matters:
•Cliffe reported that construction work on the state bridge replacement project on Niagara Falls Boulevard near Walmore Road has stopped while the contractor waits for supplies.
•The board approved three street lamps for Richan Terrace (off Ferchen Street).
•The board approved a reduction of assessment by $30,000 for a vacant parcel of land on Williams Road owned by David Smith Buick. The property was assessed at $80,000 and is now assessed at $50,000.
Resident Jack Cindrich objected, saying that he has seen the dealership parking overflow cars on the property when they have specials.
•Councilman Larry Helwig reported that the day camp run by the YMCA at the town's Youth Center keeps growing and is now up to 33 enrollments.
•Councilman Art Gerbec reminded residents to take advantage of the Wheatfield Farmers Market from 3 to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays in the Town Hall parking lot. If local residents don't take advantage of the fresh food products and crafts available, the market could start losing vendors, he said.
•Senior Director Arlene Mante reminded residents that the Wheatfield Seniors will help the American Legion Riders pack the Jammies for GIs truck from 9 a.m. to about noon on Friday, July 29. Donations of clothing and toiletry items for wounded troops still can be dropped off on Friday.