Rural Metro terminates contract with town
By Lauren Zaepfel
The Town of Niagara Town Board agreed to declare a public safety emergency and seek assistance from the New York State Department of Health Tuesday night after the ambulance service company Rural Metro, recently bought out by American Medical Response, terminated its contract with the town.
The company has given the town 30-days notice to find another provider before pulling out.
"AMR will tell you that they're doing this to better serve those that they serve," Town Supervisor Lee S. Wallace said. The company will no longer service most Niagara County municipalities including the Town of Wheatfield.
Wallace said the town had been in negotiations with Rural Metro in June. The company wanted to know what it could do to keep the town's contract.
After a few weeks, the company was bought out by AMR and a meeting was scheduled for Monday between the company and the town. However, when Wallace checked his mailbox that morning, he said he found a letter "that basically said we're terminating our contract with the Town of Niagara."
Before June, the town reached out to other companies to consider its options.
"We've reached out to some of the other providers," Wallace said. "They're so stretched. It's so hard to find somebody."
He added, "The days of the fire companies doing this are long gone. The liability, the amount of time that they have to put in, they have to have full-time EMTs and paramedics. It's just too difficult for the firefighters to do it now."
Now, Wallace said the town is "very diligently" looking for another provider to take over after the 30 days.
In other news
•The board unanimously voted against making modifications to Miracle Motors' existing auto repair special use permit, which would have allowed the company to receive and transport customized guns, rifles, and parts at its location at 2910 Louisiana Ave.
Prior to the board's decision, attorney Connie M. Lozinsky, agent of Artisan Stock & Gunworks Inc., argued in favor of the permit. She reassured the board guns would not be sold on the property. She said guns and related items would be boxed and "taken directly from a delivery truck, signed for and placed in a safe. Within 24 hours any deliveries will be removed from the premises." She added, "In essence, this is just a minimal mailing facility."
Despite Lozinsky's arguments, residents spoke out against the proposed permit, and expressed safety concerns for children who live and play nearby.
Jody Parfinski, who lives on Louisiana Avenue, said the new Belden Center playground is nearby the business and "There's constantly kids roaming around the neighborhood." She added, "We don't feel that it's the best location."
John Parfinski said, "We have kids that come up and down the road from the park. It's too close." He added, "As a homeowner there for many years, I really feel very strongly that this isn't the right thing to have."
•Reger Holdings' request for the rezoning of the former Walmart site at 5555 Porter Road from general business to light industrial was granted to make way for the company's plans for a warehouse facility.
With the new light industrial designation, the company can combine both the former Sam's Club building, which it also owns, and the former Walmart building by constructing a new connecting storage facility in between the two to make one complex.
During a public hearing before the Town Board meeting, resident Richard Zimmer said he was concerned about traffic from tractor-trailers loading and unloading at the site.
"It's the perfect place (for it), but the people on Porter Road are not going to like the noise at all," he said.
Wallace said he understood Zimmer's concerns and "There will be stipulations on what is allowed to be in there and what is allowed to be done."
•The board voted to purchase 12 Taser Axon Body 2 camera systems with accessories for $7,111.26. A grant from New York state's Stop DWI program will reimburse the cost of the upgraded equipment.
•The board approved Michael J. Richards' request to temporarily use the rear section of his property at 4911 Saunders Settlement Road for parking while constructing a new parking lot. A white house located adjacent to the property, which Richards also owns, is planned to be demolished to make way for the new customer parking lot. The temporary parking use will be effective until Dec. 31.