By David Yarger
The Town of Niagara Town Board held its regular meeting Tuesday night and majority of the time was taken up by residents voicing their opinions on certain subjects.
The meeting began with two public hearings, which heard no comments. The first was in regards to imposing a fine and penalty for use of town fire hydrants without a permit and the second was regarding a combination of lots request on Rhode Island Avenue.
During public input, several citizens spoke their mind to the board. The first resident, of Isherwood Drive, spoke about town employees and the job they're doing. The resident's big concern was that he felt the employees weren't doing enough and presented pictures of town employees and described them with captions. The resident was also angered the town hired temporary workers for the summer when he commented, "You don't have work for these guys."
Councilman Marc Carpenter told the resident, along with the pictures, to come back with documentation and the board would handle any issue the resident may have.
"If you really have some concerns, which obviously you do, just document it for us. Give us some pictures, tell us the dates, the times - just saying they were here or there without any dates and stuff - how can we confirm your concerns? ... I would think, hopefully, our workers are doing what they're supposed to be doing ... and if not, then we need to look into it," Carpenter said.
The next resident, from Colonial Drive, praised town employees, as well as the Town Board.
"When it snowed out and the snow was 6 inches deep on the ground, every street in this town was plowed. ... My colleagues that I used to work with did a tremendous job and I'm here to tell you, I salute them and if I had anything I could do, I would give them raises, because they did an excellent job at two, three, four o'clock in the morning, while my butt was in bed sleeping.
"Lee (Wallace), I wanna thank you. Because you took it upon yourself to put Noel at Niagara in that park at Christmas time. ... This man did a great job and service by putting those lights in that park for our children and my grandchildren," he said.
Another resident from Miller Road asked about the objectives of the Planning Board. The resident said the Planning Board was vindictive due to an item that was tabled at the board's meeting a couple weeks back.
"I just attended the last one we had and a young man was asking to get a parking lot expanded and you know what the chairman of the board asked him? What's the occupancy of your establishment? He said, 'I don't know.' Even one of the members of the board said to the chairperson, 'Why would he need to know that?'... You know what she told me after the meeting? 'I wanted him to know that we're doing things by code here.' "
The applicant also said at the Planning Board meeting he had done everything he needed to do in order to get the expansion, but Building Inspector Charles Haseley said that was incorrect and the applicant was missing several notable details needed.
The same resident raised concerns about the Fourth Avenue pathway, linking Royal Park apartments to Military Road, and the town's splash pad being used by non-town residents.
The board said the town is required by law to open up the splash pad to all, because if the town doesn't follow through the Greenway money will be revoked.
Councilman Richard Sirianni said he spoke with John Caso of the City of Niagara Falls DPW on the status of Lockport Road.
"It's horrendous down there," Sirianni said. "He told me that he was going to get it done this summer. He will not tell me when, but it will get done this summer. From the 190 to Norman - take it right out, whatever process they do. He indicated he was gonna ... patch and zip. ... They take them out maybe 10 foot by 10 foot - it's a good process."
In other news, the board approved LaBella Associates to proceed with architectural and engineering design services for the state-of-the-art Western New York First Response & Preparedness Center to be built at the old Army Reserve Center for a lump sum of $249,221 to be released at the conclusion of the design phase.
Town Supervisor Lee Wallace said the sum is "a grant, so that won't cost the taxpayers any money."
The Town Board also approved bonding for the Fourth Avenue pathway project.
The board also acknowledged the state environmental quality review for the Porter Road right-of-way was issued a negative declaration and the town accepted the title to the right-of-way.
The right-of-way between Mighty Taco and Clancy's restaurant is known for its potholes and Wallace said, "We've talked about Lockport Road, this road is 10 times worst. ... It won't get fixed and nobody will do anything with it, because it was abandoned by the county. So, what we're trying to do is get control of this road, so once we get control of it, we can deed half of it to each of the property owners adjacent, so then they'll own it and then between the two of them, they can decide who's going to take control of it."
During board member items, Sirianni took his time to say some things about the Monday concert series in the town. Sirianni noted in past meetings he was against certain aspects of the concert series, but was happy for the organizations that gained money from it.
"I'm glad the different organizations ... are benefitting from raising the money in the park. Those are good things, and there's no reason for those things to stop. ... As a representative of our town I have come to realize, through phone calls and people reaching out to me, residents who don't use the concert series, who don't benefit that much are concerned and they have questions. Are we spending unnecessary money over there and could it possibly concern them? That's what they're concerned about," Sirianni said.
Sirianni added that he's been to several concerts on Mondays and he enjoys them, but said, "My only concern was what I think is unnecessary spending - whether it's the fund balance or whatever you want to say - that doesn't need to be spent, but still have a good concert."
Sirianni finished by saying the town has to be responsible with its spending.
In other news, Town Clerk Sylvia Virtuoso said the U.S. Department of Agriculture would be going into various neighborhoods to inform residents of the European cherry fruit fly, a new invasive bug, which is now attacking certain trees in the area.
Wrapping up, Wallace said Saturday, June 2 is Neat Up Niagara day, a day used to help clean up the town, and Wallace called on residents to come out and volunteer.
The next Town of Niagara Town Board meeting is at 6:30 p.m. June 19.