by Larry Austin
The Grand Island Town Board approved a $1 million service contract with the Grand Island Fire Co. at its meeting on Monday.
During a public hearing on the contract, Greg Butcher, chairman of the board of the GIFC, said the contract with the town "has been longstanding and the fire company provides an incredible amount of services to the residents of Grand Island, and I would challenge any other community in Erie County to provide as many services as we do to this community."
No one spoke in opposition during a public hearing regarding the contract, which calls for the town to pay $1,056,538 for fire protection, a 1.5 percent increase above 2013, plus $25,000 for either debt service or future expenditures for a total of $1,081,538, made in quarterly installments of $270,384.50 on April 1, July 1, Oct. 1 and Dec. 1.
The board approved the agreement with the fire company by a 5-0 vote.
Also at the meeting, the Town Board elevated the Commission for the Conservation of the Environment, commonly called the Conservation Commission, to the status of a town advisory board.
Councilman Richard Crawford said the resolution would change the name of the body to the Conservation Advisory Board. He said the move "designates them as an advisory board to make recommendations to the Town Board for projects that we will take under consideration, and we can agree or disagree with what their advisory recommendation is."
Paul G. Leuchner, vice chairman of the Conservation Commission, said the status change "is an incentive to us because we now have the same level of responsibility as any other advisory board in the town, and the fact that we get to see all the projects and provide what expertise we can."
The matter passed 5-0, though Councilman Gary Roesch sounded a cautionary note when he said, "I just want to make sure that we do not impede any type of development, that we've got a 45-day window here, and if in fact we don't get any recommendations back from the Conservation Advisory Board within that 45 days, we just move it on."
"That's part of the law," Crawford said.
Leuchner said Roesch "was worried that we might be in a position to be holding up projects, but that's not our intent. Our intent is to provide the town with what they need to make an informed decision."
The change will take place in January.
Leuchner said the town's business community "shouldn't be worried" that another advisory board will look at development projects.
"It's better that we review these projects early in the planning process rather than having these issues come up after all the engineering is done, and then it will cost them time and money to address them," he said.
In the past, the Town Board would "spoon-feed us projects," Leuchner said.
"They'd send us one project out of 10, but there might have been four or five others that we should have saw, and given them some advice on, but we didn't see them. Now we'll see everything."