Town of Niagara delays decisions on future projectsby jmaloni
by Susan Mikula Campbell
A tied vote delayed action on a late resolution introduced by Councilman Danny Sklarski at the Town of Niagara Town Board meeting Tuesday.
The resolution listed duties for the part-time town engineer serving in the town's building inspector's office.
Sklarski, deputy supervisor, was filling in for Supervisor Steve Richards at the meeting. He expressed disappointment at the 2-2 vote, saying that the items on his list were needed in the town and would not cost the taxpayers money.
Councilmen Rob Clark and Marc Carpenter voted against the motion, saying they wanted a chance to review the items at a work session.
Sklarski had proposed the engineer be assigned to develop a request for proposals (RFP) for the reuse of the old Army Reserve Center on Porter Road, be authorized to work on the town park on Lockport Road (protective dugouts and a new shelter roof), find ways to cut expenses on utilities, update the master plan and zoning laws, and revamp policies and procedures for development in the town.
Sklarski said after the meeting that Clark had asked him about the engineer's duties at the last work session and he had put a list of obvious needs together.
The town is expecting to receive full ownership of the old Army base within the next few months.
"We want to be proactive and have an RFP in place," Sklarski said, noting that any costs would be covered by a federal grant given to the town for the project. "This is economic development, affecting not just the Town of Niagara, but Niagara County as a whole."
The dugouts in the park would be covered by funding from the New York Power Authority.
"This is to protect our kids; it's not an added luxury," Sklarski said.
As for zoning laws and policies and procedures, recent problems such as demolitions of abandoned, unsafe buildings in the town, show that "those documents are out of whack," Sklarski said.
In other matters:
•Councilman Charles Teixeira said that although the proposal for a dog park on SPCA grounds seems like a good one, someone from the SPCA and the Wheatfield group working on the project should come to a meeting or work session to talk to members about the plan. It also was suggested that the town would need to hold a public hearing on the matter before the town could become active in seeking grant funding.
•Teixeira also asked, since the building inspector is now a part-time job, that the hours the office is open be posted on the town's website for people who need building permits.
•The board agreed to hold a public hearing at the beginning of its next regular meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 19 on Town Attorney Michael Risman's proposed amendment to the town's zoning code.
Risman explained that the town's current B-1 business zoning does not provide for commercial offices or records storage. This type of usage would be good for some of the older, smaller plazas with vacancies, he said, but the cost and time involved in getting variances and rezoning could deter owners. The change would allow additional uses for older plazas and in turn, provide more jobs, he said.
•The board named members of its Ethics Board, a matter delayed from the reorganization meeting earlier this month: John Jesz, Patricia Pullano and Nancy Tierney.
•The board approved a request by Maria Schenk, chairman of the Niagara County Senior Walk in the Park, to use Veterans Memorial Park on Lockport Road for this year's walk on June 6. This will be the 12th annual walk and the second year for it to be held at the Town of Niagara park.
•Board members wished John Sullivan, former deputy highway superintendent, a happy retirement.