By Joshua Maloni
Village of Lewiston Mayor Terry Collesano said Monday there's no point in rushing, and he and the Board of Trustees tabled a vote on the State Environmental Quality Review of Ellicott Development's proposed plaza.
Trustees were poised to issue a SEQR declaration of impact, and had such action listed on the work session agenda. They declined to vote, however, citing Ellicott Development's recent brownfield cleanup program application to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
Additionally, engineer Michael Marino and Department of Public Works Superintendent Terry Brolinski are still formulating how Ellicott Development will compensate the village for plaza wastewater contributions, while Lewiston No. 1 Volunteer Fire Co. leaders remain concerned with fire personnel's ability to transport trucks or hoses within the projected 4.1-acre mixed-use plaza.
Collesano said the board is considering asking Ellicott Development CEO William Paladino to expand the plaza's Center Street entrance - and make it two-way, which is a concession residents have sought for more than a year. The enter-only route, as presently drawn, was based on the recommendation of the Planning Commission and a traffic study conducted by Rochester's SRF Associates.
Lewiston No. 1 Volunteer Fire Co. director Barry Beebe said he's had conversations with Ellicott Development's project engineer, R. Christopher Wood of Buffalo's Carmina Wood Morris, with regard to the firefighters' access to the three buildings set to be erected within the plaza.
Though Ellicott Development agreed to install a fire hydrant in the center of the plaza, Beebe said Lewiston No. 1 still has concerns about water pressure across the property, which steeply slopes from Center Street down to Onondaga Street.
"The big concern not only is turning radiuses, but access in," Beebe said. "Right now, they designated the entrances and exits at Eighth and Onondaga as fire lanes, and not the (Center Street) ramp. Well, that's well and good, but, depending on where the fire is, we may have to go down. So, if we're utilizing that ramp, it has to follow the same (National Fire Protection Association) requirements as the rest of the site. We haven't got that totally worked out yet."
Center Street Access
Beebe said fire trucks "could have turning radius issues getting in there. Not only that, Eighth Street itself, with two exits, we could possibly have overlapping traffic and accidents right there. ... That's a concern.
"We would like to see the ramp expanded to in-and-out across Center Street. And on the outside, (traffic) directed west down towards the Frontier House. That way you don't get the overlapping traffic that you could get coming up Eighth and turning there."
He told trustees "Just direct it like you guys did with Rite-Aid. Direct the traffic in opposite lanes - there's one way in, one way out. Or (like) with Tops. One way in; basically one way out.
"It would create better access for us coming down Center Street. And mutual aid fire companies could get in there. ...
"I would like to see us revisit that, and make it two lanes, and have a directional to the west on the way out."
Lewiston No. 1 Chief John Penzotti said Beebe, "Echoed my thoughts."
Deputy Mayor Bruce Sutherland said, "We want to make sure that you can fight the fires safely. And, if that requires a change, so be it."
Marino said he would discuss the matter with Wood.
"From their perspective, as they've said at previous meetings, the architect has said that was kind of the direction they were given in their design round (by the Planning Commission), and they were substantiated by the traffic study," he said. "So, that's the position that they're at. We'll have to have further dialogue with them, if you want them to look at an alternative."
"I would like to discuss it with them," Sutherland said, "and see what it would take to make those changes."
He added, "It's not a directive for them to change it. We'd just like to look at it and see what problems and things it causes, and how it could be done (differently), if it needed to be done."
After the meeting, Collesano said the addition of a Center Street right-turn exit lane was something he had been thinking about since hearing the traffic study results last month.
He said it did appear Ellicott Development specifically designed the Center Street entryway according to the Planning Commission's request, and "I'm not sure if that is the right way to go."
Brownfield Cleanup Program
Sutherland said the BCP plan is on file at the Lewiston Public Library, and reminded the public the DEC will accept comments for another three weeks.
The Village Board will continue to review the information.
"We haven't had time to digest what that submission is," Marino said. "That would be an element to consider in the SEQR."
After the meeting, Collesano said both he and Sutherland had visited the library to look over the application details.
"One of the first things that kind of popped out to me was that it looks like this brownfield situation ... the results may not be determined until 2017 sometime," Collesano said. "It could be another year from now. ...
"A lot of what we do is going to have to be based on what the results of this brownfield are. I don't think we're going to say, 'Oh, let's go with the project,' if the results are bad, and it looks like there's got to be a lot of remedial work."
Click HERE for more on the BCP.
Marino said Brolinski is working on an evaluation of the sewer system, and tagging deficiencies.
"Erie County sewer, actually, has developed a table that DEC tends to subscribe to. ... It shows you, if you find certain deficiencies, what kind of credit you can take for that," Marino said. "He's building that right now, and we can look at some actual projects. Otherwise, we can identify some areas that we know need rehabilitation, and put a dollar figure to those."
Brolinski is identifying "specific areas of broken pipe or manholes," Marino said, "and we should use that to help frame around this contribution table a dollar estimate for removing that four times their (inflow and infiltration)."
If the plaza plan is approved, Ellicott Development will be responsible for the removal of four gallons of rainwater for each one gallon of wastewater produced in the plaza.
"All these improvements that we identify would have to be made before they connect to our sewer system," Marino said.
The remedy often prescribed at village meetings is having Ellicott Development pay to repair municipal inflow and infiltration problems (within reason). Marino said developers typically prefer to create a fund to finance municipal projects instead of actually assuming responsibility for repairs.
Brolinski has said he expects the DPW to tackle some sewer repairs, while utilizing outside contractors for larger projects.
Trustees have tentatively slated a public hearing for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17, prior to the board's regular monthly meeting. This comment period was originally scheduled with the understanding trustees would issue a final vote on the plaza project.
In light of this week's actions, and the board's desire to further examine the BCP and fire company issues, Collesano said it is unlikely such a vote will occur at the meeting.
"We don't want to do anything that would hold this project up, either against it or for it, but we have to search out every possible question that is made by the public, or in our own minds," he said.