Town Board OKs fire contracts
By Terry Duffy
The Lewiston Town Board worked at covering a few of the bases at Monday's relatively short but active regular meeting.
Included were addressing some areas of contention over transparency and public commentary time limits, hearing from town residents over past sessions; an explanation on the status of French Landing; and approving a new five-year contact package for the six companies comprising the Town of Lewiston Fire Protection District.
Following up on a suggestion earlier by Councilman Bill Geiben for residents to submit comments to the board early for review prior to meetings, a group of residents did just that.
The newly formed Lewiston Taxpayers Accountability and Action Alliance, comprised of residents concerned with the goings-on in the town, both above the hill and down in the lower river areas, submitted a lengthy April 18 letter to Supervisor Steve Broderick and Town Board members. Included were questions over construction activity - or the lack of it - at the new French Landing housing subdivision on Lower River Road, and town liability on the project.
Pointing to changes that have occurred in a storm water retention system on the development, the taxpayer's group wanted to know why.
"The original plan called for two small retaining ponds," the group wrote. "Since that time the plan has changed to create one lake to retain excess water. We know that the engineer for the town has characterized (that) as 'minor.'
"We are asking why that change was made. Of what benefit is one large pond as opposed to two small ponds? We are concerned that the change is not minor because we are concerned that the lake cuts off access to part of the property in case of an emergency, and that having such a large unprotected lake could ... be hazardous or life threatening."
The residents also voiced concerns over the abrupt halt in construction and removal of equipment at French Landing following an earlier mass tree and land-clearing effort on the property.
In a recent conversation, one neighboring Lower River Road resident described the French Landing site as "looking like a landfill."
Town Engineer Bob Lannon of GHD (formerly Conestoga-Rovers & Associates) told the board and residents the reconfigured one-pond arrangement from two was intended to address its geometry.
"In response to the April 18 letter ... in terms of the two ponds into the one pond ... just a bit of clarification," Lannon began.
"What was going to be in between the two ponds was never ... supposed to be a dry area you could walk through," he continued, calling it a bar retention area. "Depending on the storm frequency or intensity, that area may have water in from one to two more feet in depth. What that (area) consists of is the north retention pond area and the south pond ... a storm water pond system in its entirety.
"What we ended up doing, what I approved, is the change in the geometry in that system. The north and south end stayed the same, water depths stayed the same ... much of that pond system stayed the same. The only thing that changed is the geometry of the center.
"It's still a small pond; it's not a large lake," said Lannon, telling the board the entire revision has been approved by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
With regard to the halt in construction, Lannon said weather has played a factor, with recent winter-like conditions being unfavorable for continuing the road construction (paving) of Wolf Run. "Weather conditions need to allow it," he said.
Lannon said he anticipated the work to resume and said the town is not on the hook whatsoever with regard to any liability for the project. He said a performance improvement bond was submitted earlier by the developer, and the town has the money and the mechanisms in place to return the property "as is" in the event work does not resume.
In other news
•With regard to public comments, Broderick changed the time limit permitted from two to three minutes at Monday's session, and indicated he would be open to a three-to-five-minute comment period in the future, depending on the nature of residents.
Monday's session saw four residents speaking, none going over the three-minute limit.
•As noted earlier, the town approved a five-year fire contract schedule with Lewiston's fire companies - Lewiston No. 1, Lewiston No. 2, Sanborn and Upper Mountain. Under the agreement revealed that evening, in an earlier public hearing that saw no comments, is the following schedule: for 2016, $282,000 each; 2017, $291,870 each; 2018, $302,085 each; 2019, $312,658 each; and 2020, $323,601 each.
The Ransomville Fire District will be compensated as follows: 2016, $32,580; 2017, $33,720; 2018, $34,900; 2019, $36,112; and 2020, $37,386. Pekin Fire Co. will be compensated $1 per year for the years 2016-20 with discussions said to be continuing between the town and the fire company.