By Mike Pidanick
The condition of roads in North Tonawanda has long been a topic of concern for city residents. Officials and workers are doing something about that - at record-levels - in 2016.
North Tonawanda Mayor Arthur G. Pappas said the city is looking at a record-setting year for road repairs. Normally, about 9 or 10 miles worth of road repair is completed in a year; so far about 12 miles of work has been done and more is on the way.
"A lot's going into it this because, as we all know, a lot of the streets and roads have not been really good," Pappas said at Tuesday's Common Council meeting at City Hall. "We've been making some real effort to rectify the situation."
The roads were one of the topics discussed at Tuesday's meeting, which lasted less than a half-hour. Common Council President Philip "Russ" Rizzo praised the work done by the Department of Public Works and commissioner Bradley Rowles for helping the city repair the roads without tearing up the budget.
"We've been told for years by the DPW ... that they could do the paving that we contract out, they could do it cheaper and they could do it just as well," Rizzo said. "So far, they have fulfilled that wish. They've done a great job.
"The streets are in nice shape." He added, "Even the little side streets, they've done a good job. We're proud."
Pappas took advantage of his closing comments portion of the meeting to applaud the work done by city departments and officials, calling himself "one lucky mayor." He also praised the work by the city workers addressing several recent water main breaks in NT, caused by extreme heat as well as age of some of the pipes.
"These crews have been out there in some very, very hot weather and have been repairing these leaks," the mayor said. "They've done an excellent job. Great job, Brad and his boys."
The meeting was also a welcomed return for Rizzo, who has been battling well-publicized health issues. He returned to run Tuesday's session.
"It's good to be back again," Rizzo said. "I feel great. I'm hoping that's the end of my chemo. I had the last one and I've had no reactions. I'm very pleased about that. My colleagues did a good job filling in for me and I really do appreciate all the help."
In other news, the council unanimously approved the NT Fire Department's late request for permission to close the Renaissance Bridge from 6:15 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sept. 11 for ceremonies remembering the 2001 attacks.
Third-Ward Alderman Eric Zadzilka took the time to praise the work of fellow alderman Bob Pecoraro and Ronald Sciandra, co-chair of 2016 Healing Field activities that begin on Friday and run through Sunday.
"I'd like to thank them for putting this event together," Zadzilka said. "Somebody had said to me: 'What is the city doing for 9/11 weekend here?' And I said: 'Well, not only are we doing something, we're doing something Friday and Saturday and Sunday.' To me, it's a big undertaking that took place over months and months of planning and working with several committees and subcommittees. I think it's a great way to honor those who have fallen in many capacities serving this county and I'm certainly pleased to attend."
In other business, the council OK'd a local law adopting the North Tonawanda criminal history record check policy for prospective city employees as well as the appointment of Lee Larson as the storekeeper of the Public Works Department.