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Quasar: Board hires independent consultant
by Susan Mikula Campbell
The Wheatfield Town Board on Monday hired a consultant to give advice on the Quasar matter, approved a veterans memorial and determined to seek out a culprit in a vandalism case.
In the Quasar matter, the board decided to retain Matrix Environmental Technologies Inc. in an amount not to exceed $10,000 at the current time.
Matrix is an environmental consulting and contracting firm serving the public and private sectors, with offices in Orchard Park, Rochester and Queensbury.
Many Wheatfield residents are protesting against Quasar's request to the town to build a 5 million gallon storage tank for equate at its Liberty Drive anaerobic digestion facility. Among the organic materials accepted for treatment there is residue leftover at wastewater treatment plants that includes treated human waste. Equate is what is left over at the Quasar facility after all the different organic wastes are processed for about a month to harvest resulting energy (biomethane natural gas, motor vehicle fuel, electricity and heat).
Equate is considered a natural, as opposed to chemical, fertilizer that is rich in nutrients for the soil.
Residents have also spoken out against use of equate on local farm fields, fearing possible groundwater contamination and health effects. Application of equate is controlled by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
The Town Board has sat through many long meetings with both Quasar and residents on the issue.
"We're not experts. The problem is that people don't trust the DEC or Quasar," said Supervisor Bob Cliffe. "We need an independent third party who is not paid by either Quasar or the state."
The board will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. April 28, prior to its regular meeting to decide whether to establish a six-month moratorium on the disposal and storage of sludge and derivative products pending revision of the town's solid waste/recycling law.
Town Attorney Bob O'Toole said the lawyers for about four or five towns in the area are expected to meet in the near future to work together to draft solid waste and recycling rules for all their town codes and will talk about the possibility of sharing costs for the consultant.
•The board unanimously approved the Fairmount Park site proposed by its Veterans Memorial Focus Group for the town's new veterans memorial.
Discussion and planning for the project has been going on for several years.
Architect and focus group member Timothy Rider had presented plans in February for placing the memorial at the park or a modified version at the Town Hall campus, but noted his group preferred the park site.
Councilman Art Gerbec, the town's representative on the focus group, on Monday made the motion to let the focus group select the site it wanted, so fundraising could begin.
The park site would be west of the ball diamond, east of the soccer fields and playground and north of the lake in a quiet zone off the end of an existing parking lot.
Rider's star-shaped motif has each point of the star honoring and bearing the flag of one of the five branches of service and an American flag in the center of the star. A walkway and benches would lead to a reflection area at the lake's edge.
•The board awarded a contract to Swogier Construction Inc. for emergency repairs at the Youth Center for $9,250. The board also decided to offer a $1,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of the individual(s) responsible for causing the damage in the building's locker room.
Cliffe explained that, about a month ago, someone noticed that the hot water was left running in the locker room's shower. It is unknown whether the water was running just overnight or for a couple of days, or whether it was a prank or an accident, but the end result was loosened tiles and damaged drywall.
Cliffe said steps have been taken to make sure someone goes through every room, bathroom and locker room in the Youth Center, located behind Town Hall, both when the building opens and when it closes.
"We think it's important to find out how this happened and to make sure it doesn't happen again," Cliffe said.
In other matters:
•The board made a determination, based on a review of the file compiled by its State Environmental Quality Review Act compliance officer Michael Klock that the proposed rezoning of the Wheatfield Lakes Villas patio homes subdivision is not likely to have a significant impact on the environment.
The board went on to approve the rezoning requested by Ryan Homes for the planned unit development subdivision, with written assurance that all current zoning violations would be corrected.
To meet the 25 percent common area PUD requirement and to allow residents to build fences and decks on their properties, Ryan Homes has made a number of changes to its original plan for the development.
•The board accepted the resignation of Don MacSwan as a member of the Planning Board with regret and thanks for his service.
•Councilman Larry Helwig noted that 23 years ago in May a tradition started in the town. This year, the annual Liberty Drive Cleanup by Cub Scout Pack 833 will begin at 9 a.m. April 26. Extra volunteers are welcome. Every year the kids are told someone lost a $50 bill on the street. "They keep looking, but they haven't found it," Helwig said.
•Helwig also proposed website training be done for clerks in all the town's departments to ensure the town's website stays up to date with all the latest town information. "If we don't put good content out there, people aren't going to use it (the website)," Helwig said.