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Grand Island Town Board: Whitney lauded for 30 years of service; Westfall appointed town engineer

Fri, Oct 6th 2017 07:00 am
Retired Town Engineer John Whitney, left, accepts a certificate of appreciation form the Grand Island Town Board for his 30 years of service to the Town of Grand Island. Supervisor Nathan McMurray, right, and the board made the presentation during Monday's Town Board meeting at Town Hall. (Photo by Larry Austin)
Retired Town Engineer John Whitney, left, accepts a certificate of appreciation form the Grand Island Town Board for his 30 years of service to the Town of Grand Island. Supervisor Nathan McMurray, right, and the board made the presentation during Monday's Town Board meeting at Town Hall. (Photo by Larry Austin)
By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Grand Island Town Board promoted from within to fill the shoes of retired Town Engineer John Whitney.
At Monday's regular board meeting, the board appointed Robert Westfall, an assistant municipal engineer in the town's Engineering Department, to be the new town engineer, replacing Whitney, who retired earlier this year and was hired on a part-time basis during the search for his replacement. Whitney, who spent 30 years with the town in its engineering office.
The board presented Whitney with a certificate of appreciation at the beginning of the meeting.
Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray said Whitney "kept this town going for 30 years."
"John, you are a remarkable man in many ways," McMurray said, describing Whitney as full of life and energy and a great leader.
"Thirty years is no joke, and the way you conducted yourself on a day-to-day basis, the confidence you brought to this building, you are a good man and you did a great job," McMurray said.
Status report given on West River Connector Trail project
Council members Ray Billica and Bev Kinney provided the board and public with an update on the West River Connector Trail project after they had a meeting with representatives from the state.
Billica said the only thing the state is working on currently is the design of the multi-use trail, and they are not designing landscaping nor amenities.
Bid for work on the project will go out and be awarded this fall, with construction worked projected to start in the spring, Billica said. Closure of the parkway, a bone of contention to neighboring residents who prefer that the West River Parkway remain open, will take place when construction starts.
"I'm attempting to get a drawing, a depiction of what the design looks like," Billica said, so that Islanders will see the new design of the roads that currently exist and cross from the service road to the parkway. He said the river overlooks are changing, with one access and entrance for vehicles. Kinney added that the original plan was for a road split with two-way traffic, but now the plan calls for three 8-foot wide paths.
Councilman Mike Madigan said the state doesn't have enough money to make the trail look like what was depicted in renderings it presented to residents in November. He claimed sidewalks and walkways to the river drawn in the renderings are not in the plan currently.
Madigan said of the landscaping depicted in renderings, "none of that is in the plan, and none of that will go out to bid."
"That's pretty significant to me. To me, it's another bait and switch," Madigan said Thursday.
Golf Course Villas
Two residents on Greenside Drive spoke to the Town Board at its work session meeting preceding Monday's regular meeting to ask the town, again, to take over maintenance of their road.
Dave Gillen, joined by Dick Szafran, said the situation hasn't changed since the last time the residents asked the town to take over the road. They were told by McMurray that essentially the town's stance on the matter hasn't changed, either. McMurray said other R2 developments are watching the board's decision on Greenside Drive. If the board takes over their road, other homeowners associations and developments will want the same.
Gillen said that his neighborhood, approved in October 2006, is different in that the town "illegally" approved the development off Whitehaven Road despite the project not having the minimum 25 percent green space. "There's absolutely zero green space in our development," Gillen said, claiming that they are zoned R1 houses in an R2 district.
Golf Course Villas is partially completed with 24 single-family residences and 41 platted, Gillen said. Homes aren't selling in the development, which they blame on the high cost to their homeowners association to maintain the roads.
Gillen mentioned that previous boards were reluctant to set a precedent by taking over the road, but he said that didn't apply because "there is no other R2 development like ours on the Island."
McMurray said there would be no resolution that night.

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