By Allison Deutschman
Thursday's Youngstown board meeting was dedicated to improving the quality of life for the residents of the village.
Before the public participation segment of the meeting, New York Border Patrol Supervisor Adam Matuszewski, Senior Border Patrol Agent Dean Mandel and Border Patrol officer Frank Gutierrez - a Youngstown resident - presented information about the Citizens Academy.
The academy is a six-week course open to the general public. Starting June 24, it runs from 6-9 p.m. every Friday at the Niagara Falls Station, 1708 Lafayette Ave. The border patrol's intent in hosting these classes is to educate the community on what officers do and how others can become more involved.
Mandel has been a part of the Citizens Academy for the past five years, with the upcoming Buffalo classes being his 10th session. He said there are an estimated 26,000 border patrol agents throughout the U.S., roughly 300 along the New York side of the Canadian border and only 50-60 in the Niagara Region.
"There's a lot of border to cover and not many agents. It's not like it is down south," Mandel said. "Who knows your neighborhood better than you?"
Matuszewski mentioned that, due to assistance from locals, officers were able to detain someone who was crossing the border illegally via boat at last fall.
"Citizen calls are the best," he said. "We have cameras at Fort Niagara. ... Technology is the best when it works, but it doesn't usually work."
Border Patrol officers need the assistance of active community members to continue to prevent unauthorized entry into this country and to keep residents safe.
With safety in mind, the Youngstown Village Board voted to oppose the transportation of hazardous waste and PCB truckloads in front of local hospitals, residences and Lewiston-Porter schools.
"The New York state hazardous waste facilities siting plan concluded there is no need for additional hazardous waste management facilities or expanded hazardous waste management capacity in New York," Village Clerk Cynthia Tripoli read. "And where as commercial management waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities pose risk to public health together with adverse economic effects. ...
"Be it resolved, that the Village of Youngstown continues to oppose the permitting, siting or operation of commercial hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities in Niagara County."
Tripoli told those in attendance that Lewiston and Porter already bare a considerable burden of the disposal of waste in New York.
The Village of Youngstown joined the Town and Village of Lewiston in voting to oppose the permitting, citing or operation of hazardous waste facilities.
Youngstown resident Paulene Kaiser addressed the board, commending its decision to sign the resolution and suggesting such action was overdue.
"Some words came to stand out in what was just read: 'health, safety and general welfare.' That is what you guys are tasked with," Kaiser said.
She then added, "We need to do something about the tour busses that run on Water Street."
Kaiser said she was almost hit by a tour bus, and cited the fumes caused by busses and the noise resulting from bus operations.
"These, too, are an issue of health, safety and general welfare. Please stop them," Kaiser continued.
Not all of those in attendance agreed with Kaiser.
"I walk Water Street everyday and I see no problem with the busses," Eddie Wojcik said. "Where I live on Main Street, I put up with the noises and fumes from the other businesses run there and I don't complain about it. If I don't like it, I would move."
Wojcik spoke warmly about how bustling Youngstown once was when he was growing up, when the army base was operating at Fort Niagara.
"It's beginning to grow again and being the way it used to be. That's because people are coming here," Wojcik said.
The board did not directly respond to either party's opinion on the tour busses. The next Youngstown Village Board meeting will be an organizational board meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 2.