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Janese asks: 'Where's the money?'

by jmaloni
Fri, Jun 29th 2012 11:10 pm

by Terry Duffy

Money - or lack of it - was active discussion during at least some of the Lewiston Town Board meeting Monday night.

While the Town Board took further action on a planned improvement project geared for Joseph Davis State Park as long-term lease talks with the state continue, members heard now familiar complaints - the lack of funding in other town operations.

Town Highway Superintendent Doug Janese, who has appeared before the board on at least two occasions, returned again with the now familiar question, "Where's the money?"

"I've received more and more complaints from residents wanting paving," said Janese, telling the board that his funding provided for in the 2012 budget is not adequate to do the work.

It turns out board members also heard similar gripes from residents at Monday's session. Meyers Hill Road resident Al Kravitz echoed complaints about the condition of Bridgeman Road. "Why isn't work being done?" asked the resident, who then pointed to Supervisor Steve Reiter, telling him that he "should do road work first before your pet project at Joe Davis."

Resident Sue Ishman of Swann Road appeared soon after, inquiring on what the town can do with a ditch problem in front of her property stemming from lack of highway maintenance that has resulted in pipes caving in and her driveway cracking. "The ditches are never cleaned out," said the resident telling the board now "the driveway needs to be replaced."

"Something needs to be done," said Janese of these and other types of concerns, telling Reiter and the board he's contending with a 2012 paving budget of $100,000, with $50,000 remaining which he termed "unmanageable."

Janese then furnished the board a list of projects said to be now past due for repair work:

•Dickersonville Road, north of Route 104 to the town line -- $184,300 to pave.

•Bridgeman Road -- $152,560 to pave.

•Swann Road, from Creek Road to Model City Road -- $147,808 to pave.

•Elm/Annover drives subdivision -- $87,600 to pave.

"I cannot pave these roads without money," said Janese. He told the board the Highway Department is now receiving one-sixth of the money budget for paving of what Reiter used to get when he ran the department.

"You need to ask us for what you need," responded Town Councilman Ernie Palmer.

"Residents deserve some type of response here," seconded Councilman Al Bax.

Town Finance Director Michael Johnson told the board Janese's problem stems from the town having to deal with the 2 percent state imposed cap on budgets, the town's contractual agreements and a lack of wiggle room. "It's really tough to; but we need to do it."

"We need to come up with a solution here," said Palmer.

"I fear there's a perpetual shortfall of not being able to fund paving because of the 2 percent cap," said Bax.

"They're all bad," returned Janese on the condition of the town's roads. He said he wanted the Town Board's input on how to deal with it.

Reiter sat through much of the discussion without commenting.

The matter was left with members advising Janese they wanted to be more engaged in Highway Department issues as next year's budget process gets under way.

On a related issue, Janese asked the board what was going on with $93,000 in Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements awarded to the town from the April 2011 wind storms and town highway expenses. Johnson said he reassigned those monies to other accounts and was expected to transfer them back to highway. No response came from Reiter.

Of the Swann Road ditch problem, Janese asked for board approval to proceed with a repair he estimated at $5,000. "That is the highway superintendent's job," responded Reiter. "Road culverts are in the right of way. If you see the need to install, it's totally within your decision."

In other news from the session:

•Following a brief executive session at the end of the meeting dealing with contractual and parks issues, the board returned with news on Joseph Davis State Park. It announced a contractual agreement has been reached with CRA Associates to pursue engineering studies for the boat launch project eyed at JDP, funding of which was approved earlier by the Niagara River Greenway Commission.

The board approved a resolution giving Lewiston lead agency status, based on the town's memorandum of understanding with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, that State Parks removed itself from the project.

"State Parks was not seeking lead agency status," commented CRA spokesman Bob Lannon, who said his group would now be working with related agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Conservation toward pursing a "nationwide permit" as part of the engineering process. He didn't name any cost on the planned study.

•The town took no action on its seeking of eminent domain on a portion of Legacy Drive to enable it to pursue dedication of the public road and future work on still unfinished residential projects. Town Attorney Mike Dowd said the town would need to wait until the matter was resolved by the estate of one of the development's principal owners who had passed away.

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