by Terry Duffy
Discussions on Joseph Davis State Park, Greenway, electrical discounts, paving, bonding and more were all part of a news-filled, but short, Lewiston Town Board meeting Monday night at Town Hall.
In what's now become a familiar war of words between resident Paulette Glasgow and Town of Lewiston Supervisor Steve Reiter over JDP funding using town resources, Reiter announced that the town received $450,000 this month in Niagara River Greenway Commission funding to be designated for the park. The money is in addition to the earlier $5.7 million in approved Greenway funds designated for JDP projects but not yet allocated.
That announcement followed an earlier lambasting by Glasgow during the public statements segment on the town monies being designated for JDP. Notably, Glasgow cited, $168,000 going to pay Louis Giardino, president and CEO of CEA International for his role on the JDP Local Development Corp. Raising issue on what she says has been $865,000 spent thus far on JDP with money coming from town accounts, Glasgow charged, "We're paying money on an asset we don't own. When is enough, enough?" she asked and then stormed out of the meeting.
Reiter said the Greenway money received would enable the town to now start paying back accounts it had delegated to JDP-related expenses. He said the town receives an annual Greenway payment totaling $510,000, and that the town has another $300,000 in accumulated Greenway monies in the bank.
On a related matter, the Town Board approved the authorizing of Greenway funds for deposit in First Niagara Bank, resulting from the recent bank branch transfer from HSBC where the town had its accounts.
In more news on JDP, Reiter said the JDPLDC was not expected to take any action on a negative declaration on the boat launch project at its meeting that night. "I had asked LDC to wait for the letter of intent (from State Parks), which we got this week," said Reiter. "I doubt that they'll announce it tonight."
It was reported at Monday's session that the letter of intent covered amending the operation-maintenance agreement the town has with State Parks on JDP with respect to lease extensions and allowing the town to hold lead agency status on park projects. It was further reported that while details on the lease extensions are not yet specified, the actual intention of State Parks toward lease extension was contained in the letter. The board gave its tentative approval on the matter pending further review by Town Attorney Mike Dowd.
"The two projects that they (LDC) are going to take SEQR action on are the boat launch and the campground," Reiter continued. "We want to get ahead of those and then start having the two different engineering firms to work on those two different projects so we can start generating some interest in the park and some revenue in the park."
Reiter said he didn't anticipate any actual work this year on either project due to planning issues and the number of required permits involved. "I would love to see construction late next summer, early next fall," he said.
For this year Reiter said the town would focus on addressing overdue paving work at the park. "We're interested in keeping the park open; next year (we're) hoping to do some nice things there," said Reiter.
One option under consideration would involve extending opportunities to outside vendors to utilize the park's assets and in return provide the town revenue. "We've had several vendors approach us about running some small boat ride-type things, like paddle canoes," said Reiter. "Where they offered to pay some kind of percentage of revenue, for renting space down there.
"It just takes time," said Reiter of the park's potential. "I wish Mrs. Glasgow, instead of just criticizing, would come with some helpful suggestions."
In other news from the session:
•Reiter reported the town was making progress on it reconcilements with National Grid resulting from deficit problems incurred by the earlier power discounts package afforded to town residents and businesses. "The town was able to reconcile differences," said Reiter, pointing out money owed by the town to the company had gone from $1.2 million to $100,000, and the town was now moving toward accumulating money.
Reiter said with the power discounts package expiring, new discussions are under way with the power company and new proposals being offered for the town to consider. "The money (electrical savings) would be used for town residents' benefit," said Reiter, noting that some savings areas could include electrical costs on town buildings, even water billing for residents.
•Reiter instructed Town Highway Superintendent Doug Janese to submit paving funding needs for work on Bridgman and Dickersonville roads by August to enable paving to be done in September.
•The board approved a $5 million bonding schedule intended to fund water line improvements and sewer line projects in the town, plus planned rehab improvements at the Water Pollution Control Center. Town Finance Director Mike Johnson reported the town was able to secure a "highly favorable" 0.667 percent bonding rate for the projects. Reiter suggested the environment might now exist for the town to begin pursuing future bonding money for anticipated projects.
•The board approved a new fee schedule covering a number of town services, from issuing site plans to zoning permits. Reiter commented the new schedule, which is similar to those followed in many other Western New York towns, "would make the job for developers in the town a lot easier."
•Dowd reported that a draft on a revised town noise ordinance had been provided to Lewiston Police Chief Chris Salada for his review, but that the matter was still a work in progress.
•Finally, Town Councilman Mike Marra reported that the state Department of Transportation, responding to an earlier town request to study speed issues on Military and Saunders Settlement roads, had decided there would be no changes to lower speeds on either of the state roads. State DOT did agree to lower the speed limit on Saunders Settlement in the area of West Street Elementary School to 35 mph during school hours, Marra said.