by Terry Duffy
Energy savings to the town, Joseph Davis Park plus environmental and zoning topics were among the newsmakers at Monday's Lewiston Town Board meeting.
Steve Bottita, an energy solutions consultant with John W. Danforth Co., opened the meeting with a presentation before Supervisor Steve Reiter and board members on potential energy savings the town could realize at town buildings and facilities should it embark on a performance contracting arrangement with the company. It's "about saving energy at various town buildings, one being the treatment plant, Town Hall and the pump station," said Reiter.
"I think there are some ways I might be able to help you save some energy," said Bottita. He said the Danforth group, if chosen by the town, would assist with evaluations for upgrades to existing plants and facilities. "If the systems are there we can find ways to upgrade," he continued, noting how the company typically does these for a number of clients in Western New York, including schools, commercial firms and government. Among the municipalities it is currently working with are the Town of West Seneca, Wyoming County, Town of Lancaster, Fredonia and the City of Lockport.
Bottita said among the areas it could evaluate are all existing lighting and heating systems in town buildings, pump stations, streetlights, even traffic signals. "Anything that's running, consuming energy, we can look at." Also mentioned were improvements to roofs, windows, etc., in town buildings, many of which are decades old and could be upgraded with substantial energy savings to the town.
And the benefits are many, Bottita continued, noting the availability of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority grants to fund improvements. "There's no need for a voter referendum, no tax increase from capital funding, no upfront capital. There's no out of pocket dollars" he added. Bottita said that fulfilling an energy audit/upgrade could result in anywhere from a 10 to 30 percent savings improvement in town energy bills annually. No cost numbers to the town on the Danforth proposal were discussed Monday. Overall Reiter and Town Board members appeared receptive to the idea but took no action, electing to study it further.
Lou Giardino, president and CEO of CEA International of Rochester, who serves as day-to-day management consultant for the Joseph Davis State Park Local Development Corp., appeared next to update the board on the status with regards to modifying the lease and advancing the capital plan for Joe Davis with officials of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
"The state has responded to our proposals," said Giardino, telling board members that following last month's board presentation LDC has been in touch with State Sen. George Maziarz and Assemblyman John Ceretto which in turn led to an April 17 meeting with the state reps, town officials, LDC and State Parks and a representative of the governor's office in Albany. "Parks reiterated their willingness to continue on supporting our capital improvement under the current operating agreement," he said, noting Parks' insistence on "weighing-in on every one of the details." He said Parks would also require ongoing studies under the State's Environmental Quality Review Act for any changes.
On any modifications to the current 10-year operating lease the town has with Parks, Giardino said, "the subject is currently under review ... they understand our need to modify the lease," and they're familiar with the situation. He said Parks would need to consult other agencies in the state such as the Comptroller's Office in order "research the details and assemble the process" for all parties to follow.
Giardino said the meeting ended with an understanding that there would be bi-weekly telephone conferences open to all town board members, LDC, state legislators and Parks. "Overall we some advancements on our positions ... Parks has not indicated at all that they had any real problems with any parts of our proposal, but indicated that further study would be required."
As a result town forecasted timetables for JDP improvements did not seem likely at this point, he said. Giardino and town officials who attended the session however did appear optimistic that future discussions with Parks would be forthcoming and productive. "I sensed they're moving forward," said Town Board member Mike Marra, who noted he felt one positive element was the enthusiasm by State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey to the plan. "I was very encouraged."
Giardino closed by adding that Parks also reacted favorably to town improvements done at JDP so far. "They appreciate the investment of Greenway funds that would be included in the plan," he said.
In other news from the session:
•Reiter, in remarks later on that night voiced some displeasure on finding out that State Parks representatives had been visiting JDP unannounced to conduct inspections of town improvement work done so far. "I would have liked to know about that," he said. Reiter did say though he was pleased with the response from Harvey and the assistance of Parks thus far to work out the matter.
On a related note concerning LDC, Councilman Al Bax reported that monies to fund the LDC are being budgeted by the town, but that Giardino's contract with the town has yet to be finalized. He recommended the town approved the matter soon.
•April Fideli and the Rev. Charles Lamb from Residents for Responsible Government appeared during community comments. Both requested the town reinstate its funding for environmental attorney Gary Abraham, who has been handling town interests with regards to CWM Chemical Services and its future, with CWM moving through the State Department of Environmental Conservation's site permit renewal process. "The people of this community need environmental representation on this issue," said Fideli.
Both said the Niagara County Legislature had reinstated funding and requested the town to do likewise. No response came from Reiter and the board to the request.
•The Town Board approved a contact with the 360 Professional Services group, a web design and management company to upgrade the town's web site and assist it with its management.
•The board approved the hiring of four part-time laborers for Parks and recreation and announced that open interviews are under way for summer hiring.
•The town approved a public hearing on May 14 at 5 p.m. to address rezoning to commercial in Sanborn at Townline and Saunders Settlement roads for consideration of a Tim Hortons. Friday afternoon, the Town Board held an emergency meeting for the purpose of announcing a second informational meeting in Sanborn for modification of the town's Comprehensive Plan/Zoning Code. No further information was available as the Sentinel went to press.