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Town of Lewiston: Dead ash trees, green space woes

Sat, May 19th 2018 07:00 am
Up to 80 percent of trees affected; board reviews proposed law on subdivisions
By Terry Duffy
Editor-in-Chief
Town of Lewiston-owned green space issues again came into discussion as Parks/Recreation Director Mike Dashineau briefed Town Board members Monday on the continuing problem of dead and dying ash trees - a situation he said now affects 80 percent of all trees in Lewiston.
Reviewing change orders to allow for the removal of trees in green spaces along Michelle Court, Dashineau told the board that recent windstorms have wreaked havoc on the dead ash trees in the town, with large numbers of them being knocked down.
"The windstorm knocked down a bunch of different trees throughout the town green spaces," he said. Dashineau told members that, as a result, a number of concerns have cropped up - including safety issues from downed/damaged trees, the need of having to schedule special contractors, and new problems of down trees impacting neighboring property owners.
"There was one in particular where we had a dead tree fall and hit a different tree, which is now leaning into a yard," and it needs to be taken down," he said.
Dashineau said he is currently awaiting bids back from tree contractors so he could submit the required change orders for board approval in order to proceed on the tree removals.
"This windstorm really did something," he said.
Commenting on the mounting number of diseased/dead ash trees in the town, Supervisor Steve Broderick backed up Dashineau's accounts.
"I wanted to say, for anyone who has not driven down Eddy Drive East, or Mary Lane, or Michelle Court, or Powell Lane, it's an eye-opener. I believe, I would say 99.9 percent of the trees in there are gone," he said. "It is incredible how many trees have been removed because of this ash bore disease."
Dashineau said the dead tree problem is also beginning to cause what he called ecosystem problems in the affected green space areas, with root systems from dead trees impacting soil, drainage and potential flooding patterns. Moreover, dead trees are now affecting the wind shear patterns of existing trees in green space areas, creating potential problems.
"We haven't heard the last of the green space issue," he said. "There's going to be more. After everything is complete, and all the checks are paid, we're going to have to sit down and figure if we're going to run ditch lines through there, or address it any further." Dashineau referred to impending drainage/flooding issues in the green space areas.
"The decision (on addressing drainage) is going to come before the board, probably sooner rather than later," he said.
Discussions closed with Town Board members considering various corrective measures, from the planting of new trees to installing new drain tiles on the town-owned lands and how to handle paying for it. More on this to come.
In other news:
•The Town Board discussed, but took no action on a proposed law governing new subdivisions in the town. Councilman Rob Morreale said the Planning Board reviewed the matter and recommended a new section be added that covers sunset provisions covering the allowed time period for new builds in the town. Currently, no such provision exists.
Referring to similar language contained in a Town of Ithaca law, Morreale proposed the following: "Unless work has materially commenced in accordance with the final site plan within one year from the issuance of the PIP, authorizing such work, or within 36 months (of Town Board giving final site approval of the project) ... if no action is taken within the year, site plan approval is revoked."
Attorney for the Town Ryan Parisi commented that the town's building and engineering departments sought to revamp the subdivision law "to make sure it's working properly."
"A draft was put into place, the Planning Board reviewed it," Parisi said.
He noted the Planning Board had some concerns about adding a sunset provision, and the proposed measure from Morreale came to be after Planning Board Chairman and Deputy Supervisor Bill Conrad researched the matter from the Ithaca law and came up with the language.
Parisi said he continues to review the proposal for submission to the Town Board for approval. He said that, once in place, the submission will assist the board in its planning for new subdivisions. On a suggestion by Town Councilman John Jacoby to include language concerning sunset provisions for planned unit developments in a proposed law, Parisi said he would review and consider it.
•On a related matter, the Town Board approved state environmental quality review procedural matters pertaining to a proposed four-unit development on Ransomville Road by Posa Builders. Included were approvals of the town as lead agency; as an unlisted action under SEQR; SEQR sections 1, 2 and 3; and a negative declaration for the project.
Soon after, the board granted its approval for the Ransomville Road subdivision.
•The board approved a number of Parks/Recreation Department hires. Included were Cynthia Marcoli as a part-time clerk typist at $15.50 per hour, and Daniel Bax Jr. as a recreational aide at $10.48 per hour. Morreale abstained from voting on the clerk typist position while Bax did the same on the recreation aide.
In addition, the board approved 29 seasonal hires in the Recreation Department. Dashineau told the board this represented the first round of summer hires and that the town is still taking applications.
For more information on applying, contact Dashineau via the Rec. Department at 754-8281 or online at www.townoflewiston.us/recreation-department.
•Wrapping up, Town Councilman Bill Geiben announced the long-sought cable broadcasts of Town Board meetings will soon become a reality. Geiben said various equipment required for the operation has been installed, is now up and running at Town Hall. Broadcasts of Town Board meetings will "be functional" as of the end of this month. They will air on Lockport Cable Television on Spectrum.

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