By Lauren Zaepfel
Last month, the Department of Environmental Conservation recategorized the Niagara Sanitation site off Nash Road from a class 3 site, which is described as offering no hazard to the public, to a class 2 site, indicating there is a potential hazard to the public.
Town of Wheatfield Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe said the Town Board received notice this week from the DEC that funds are being sought for the remediation process of the site.
"The notice received this week was sent out to the town and to any company of which DEC is aware that may have contributed to the hazardous materials there. Once DEC has identified as many companies as possible, they will call a meeting of all to discuss the next steps in remediating the landfill to remove the potential for harm. This process will be driven by DEC and will likely take some time," Cliffe said Tuesday in an email.
At Monday's board meeting, resident Laurie Galbo asked if a fence could be installed around the site.
"You have ATVers going through there every single day. ... So even though it's been requested of everyone in the newspapers, by you, to not go back there, they are going back there," she said.
"That fence alone is probably $100,000; maybe $150,000," Cliffe said. "So we don't believe that should all be on the back of Wheatfield voters, Wheatfield taxpayers. If ... they call for a cap, or if they call for a remediation, it could be into the many millions of dollars. ... So it's actually DEC's project. It's under the Superfund. They control it."
Galbo also said a resident who lives behind the site informed her the cap on the area where Love Canal waste was placed has been "torn up."
Cliffe said in an email Tuesday he does not doubt this, "However, that particular area is likely the safest area in the whole landfill upon which to ride, as that 30-by-100-foot section has had all hazardous waste removed; this is now filled with clean fill, then topsoil for planting."
"The remainder of the landfill still does have hazardous materials, which needs to be avoided. Best to stay totally away from this landfill," he added.
Residents seek help against National Fuel dehydrator
Residents asked the board if it received any response from National Fuel on a list of unanswered questions asked during the company's natural gas dehydrator information forum held Jan. 13. The board responded it had not recently received updates from National Fuel. Cliffe sent an email to National Fuel spokesperson Patrick Kelly Tuesday asking for the company's responses.
Deputy Supervisor Larry L. Helwig offered labels to residents who wished to write their elected officials on the dehydrator.
"FERC is a federal agency. They're going to be making this decision in Washington, D.C. So, your two senators - Schumer and Gillibrand - and your congressman, Collins ... although they don't have a voting power in this, they do have some influence," Helwig said. "I think all three of them are going to speak up for us if we get enough residents."
Question on Quasar's change of biosolids class
Last fall, Quasar said it is creating class A biosolids instead of the original class B, which was said to contain more pathogens.
The reason for the shift in class was a lack of disposing the material. Therefore, the material sat longer, enabling a transformation to occur.
In 2014, the town passed a law that requires the company to notify it if a change occurs in the process of generating the biosolids.
Resident Julie Otto asked the board, "Are we going to enforce this law and site them for changing their process or producing a different product?"
"It's a difficult law to enforce," Cliffe said. "I think the advice that I was given is that is not a change in process, it's just a change of material in the process - the process would remain the same."
Town Attorney Matthew E. Brooks said, "It's very difficult, because any burden of violation would be on the town to prove it. It's our burden of proof, so it's very difficult and we have our experts and our environmental people looking at it ... and they're telling us ... this is a very fine hair we're trying to split. It would be one thing if they're putting in more heat, if they're actively changing, but this is sort of a passive, remaining in their tank and, by virtue of just (sitting) there longer, the pathogen level goes down.
"If something changes and tips the scale one way, we will take the appropriate action."
Cliffe said, "We do have a responsibility to protect the people of Wheatfield, not only from Equate (biosolids), but also from financial difficulties. We have to look at that, as well."
Planning Board reports on recent proposed site plans
Wendel Project Engineer Tim Zuber gave January's Planning Board report at Monday's board meeting. It included the review of multiple site plans from new businesses in Wheatfield.
On Jan. 6, Finger Foods Products Inc. proposed a site plan for a 33,320-square-foot office/warehouse to be located at 6400 Inducon Drive. The facility would include both production and warehouse space.
The company currently has 18 employees and hopes to add 11 more over the next three years. The board approved the site plan with noted conditions.
A site plan for an Aldi store in the town was also discussed.
"The applicant proposes to demolish the existing entertainment complex at 3939 Niagara Falls Blvd., (which) everyone knows is the Adventure Speedway, and construct a 17,825-square-foot Aldi store. The project would provide a mix of full-time and part-time jobs for 12 to 15 people," Zuber said. "The previously proposed future retail building was removed from the site plan. ... The site plan was also revised to not disturb the existing berm located on the southeast side of the site. It was actually lengthened by 20, 30 feet."
Zuber also said a traffic impact study was submitted to the state's Department of Transportation for review.
Jacobs Ladder proposed its site plan at the Jan. 20 Planning Board meeting. The company is hoping to relocate its business from the Wurlitzer building to the existing structure at 6292 Walmore Road.
The business would utilize approximately 20,000 square feet of the existing 35,000-square-foot building to manufacture exercise equipment. The project involves office renovation, the installation of a sprinkler system and an upgrade to the electrical service.
The Planning Board advised the applicant of several issues needed for review, Zuber said, including a review by the Fire Advisory Board and obtaining approval through the Niagara County Planning Board.
Helwig asked Zuber what the plans were for the remaining square footage of the building.
"I think they are going to own the whole building and they're thinking of either saving that additional space for them to expand in the future or leasing that space out to another business," Zuber said. "Whatever they decide to do, they'll have to come back to the Planning Board."
Board allows state to replace old pipelines during NF Boulevard addition
The board granted New York state the authority to replace old water and sewer infrastructure (some containing asbestos) during the DOT's $6.5 million project to add a fifth lane and sidewalk to Niagara Falls Boulevard from Sy Road to the Bergholz Creek Bridge.
Water and Sewer Superintendent Richard Donner said, "It will cost us nothing."
In an email Tuesday, Cliffe said, "In this process, they look to be covering up the town waterline with the widened road, so they want to move the line further to the side. The nice part of that for Wheatfield is that the state is picking up the full tab to replace some of our older water mains with new!"
Councilman Randy Retzlaff said to approve this was a "no-brainer."
"They were hoping to ... get this project going this summer," Donner said.
The project is expected to take approximately two years.
Highway dept. warns residents to keep vehicles off street overnight
Town Highway Superintendent Paul Siegmann reminded residents to keep their cars off the road from 2-6 a.m. until April 1.
"It's the same people every time we see. We've told the sheriff's department and the (police will) start issuing tickets," Siegmann said. "We usually give out warnings and we have given out warnings, but we're not going to give out any more. We're just going to have cars ticketed, and if they're on a circle (cul-de-sac) that we can't get around, we may have them towed."
Cliffe said cul-de-sacs have been discouraged when proposed for the town. "I think the terminology in the law is that they are discouraged by the Town Board unless there is no other answer, and that's the way it's been handled."
Siegmann said the town currently has approximately 60 cul-de-sacs.
Board approves NiaCAP funds to help those in need
The board approved the town supervisor to sign and enter into an agreement with the Niagara Community Action Program Inc., at a cost of $5,000 to provide housing services to residents.
"Basically, NiaCAP uses our money, mixes it with money that we get from grants, and uses it to help individuals in need. It's money from the state," Cliffe said.
"In years past, our $5,000 has leveraged, maybe, an additional $25,000 or so in grant money. So, our $5,000 gives $30,000 worth of benefit to the community for the people that need it," Helwig said.
Cliffe said, "We had a house on River Road, for example, a gentleman had no resources whatsoever, and his roof was caving in and they came along and they paid to replace it."
The board said those in need of such services can call the town clerk's office or the supervisor's office for information on charitable agencies.
"Depending on what the needs of that individual are, we'll send them to different places," Town Clerk Kathleen Harrington-McDonell said.