by Susan Mikula Campbell
The Town of Niagara Town Board got verbally spanked by one of its senior citizens at its Tuesday meeting. During the public speaking portion of the meeting, the Pretoria Street resident said, "When is this fighting going to stop. It's so petty. It's time to grow up and work together."
Supervisor Steve Richards said he agreed with her comments and said, "One board member is changing the whole complexion of the board."
Wrangling between Richards and Councilman Rob Clark came to a head at a work session earlier this month. Clark had posted on his Facebook page that Richards had hired a private investigator to follow him.
In reality, Richards said the investigator was part of a workman's compensation investigation of one of Clark's Belden Center neighbors, and the result of the Facebook posting was the investigator complaining of being harassed by Clark's neighbors.
Councilman Charles Teixeira was upset by Richard's revealing the name of the person under investigation during the work session and said either the supervisor or the town attorney should have called for an executive session instead of speaking before the press.
Clark also agreed with the woman's remarks, but said that because Tuesday's meeting had become lengthy, he believed enough has been said about the dispute. He said he was not happy with the town's self-insurance representative and "not really happy with the way any of us acted."
Councilman Danny Sklarski said the real issue was cost to taxpayers for the excessive ($312,000 per year) workman's compensation claims in the town, especially regarding the town's fire department (Niagara Active Hose).
He said the town needed to look into where workman's compensation money is going, not only now, but in the past.
In other matters:
•Richards said an informational meeting was held with Army brass on Tuesday on the status of the transfer to the town of the old Army Reserve Center on Porter Road next to Niagara Falls International Airport. The transfer could be complete by the end of the year, he said.
•Volunteer firefighter Mark Dembitski, former Town of Niagara and county fire inspector, urged the board to be sure fire companies are heavily involved in plans for expansion of Fashion Outlets of Niagara USA on Military Road. Fire departments were involved both when the mall was first built and with the last addition in 1995, but as yet have not been contacted about new plans, he said, commenting, "It's a lot easier to correct problems before the steel goes up and any blacktop goes down."
•The board accepted the resignation of part-time police officer Michael Corcoran, who is being promoted to lieutenant in the Niagara Falls Police Department.
•A resident complained that Sue Kotlarz, recreation/parks director, was leaving her position. Kotlarz, who was at the meeting, said she had put in her resignation that day feeling it was time for a change in her life.
•The board approved holding the town's annual summer concert and fireworks display on July 1 at Veterans Park on Lockport Road.
•The board approved the purchase of three radar units for the police department at a price of $5,586 using traffic safety funding.