by Terry Duffy
A sure sign of winter appeared before the latest snow falls this week, as Town of Lewiston officials again moved Monday to shut down the popular Joseph Davis Park access road between Pletcher Road and River Road. The barricades are now in place from Pletcher Road to the JDP tollbooth entrance, and the roadway, which offers drivers quick access to and from River Road, is for the most part now limited to walkers and park users.
As State Parks eyes a return of assuming maintenance responsibilities at JDP, Town Supervisor Dennis Brochey, noting the positive discussions he's had thus far with State Parks Western District Director Mark Thomas, suggested the road closure. Brochey said that limited access to the park would be available from River Road to the JDP entrance to serve winter visitors such as cross-country skiers. "The state wants the access road plowed into the state park," Brochey said, adding they also wanted the inside parking lot open for park users.
Highway Superintendent Doug Janese said the rebuilt barricades were ready for installation and told the board the "town's cost would be modest" for plowing.
The Town Board agreed the barricade-plowing gesture was a forward move with State Parks as discussions move toward an expected return of JDP maintenance responsibilities to the state. Recent discussions with State Parks have focused on the town handling the removal of older structures linked with a former pool inside JDP and talks covering easements sought by the town for use of state sewer lines to alleviate drainage issues at River Walk.
In other news:
•The town held a public hearing with no comments heard on creation of a local law to abolish the office of receiver of taxes and combine that position with the town clerk's office. The board went on to approve the holding of a voter referendum on the issue, with a date still to be determined pending discussions with Town Clerk Donna Garfinkel.
•The Town Board heard a presentation from developer Dominic Massaro, who is now moving on completing a long-stalled apartment housing project on Legacy Drive. Specifically Massaro, who assumed control of the project following the deaths of previous associates, is seeking relief on a town fee schedule of some $11,000 for sewer and infrastructure covering two buildings he now has under construction. He noted his group had paid the town $4,175 when the project was initially started in the early 2000s. The town increased its permit fee schedule in 2012.
"We previously put all the infrastructure in," Massaro said, noting it been done in 2008 and that the buildings in question have since been updated.
The problem, according to Brochey and Town Building Inspector Tim Masters, is that the buildings have changed in design from being eight condo units to becoming 16 unit apartments. "We still have an issue with the sewerage costs" from the extra units, Brochey said.
Masters said, on top of that, there's added inspection/connection fees for all the units, along with increased costs to the town from the anticipated added use to the town's Water Pollution Control Center. The facility is already under state Department of Environmental Conservation orders to revamp operations and control INI flows.
WPCC Administrator Jeff Ritter also pointed out the earlier fees were from 1986 and needed to be revised.
Following some back and forth between the board and Massaro, a compromise motion was offered by Councilman Bill Conrad to allow for Massaro to move on his project, with the fee's issue to be ironed out at a later date. It went on to be approved.
•Town Councilman Al Bax, noting the feedback he's received from town department heads over financial issues and the recent budget, suggested a new forum be created at Town Board meetings to allow for their input. "Comments (and cost comparisons to other towns) that have been in papers on this issue are not representative of the department heads' concerns," Bax said, noting the past comments raised on this issue by Financial Officer Paul Kloosterman.
"This makes more sense," he said.
New Councilwoman Beth Ceretto suggested the forum be provided at Town Board work sessions instead of at regular meetings, as Bax initially suggested. Following some discussion, board members agreed on the work session forum.