Brief meeting hears couple comments, passes several items
By David Yarger
On Tuesday night, the Town of Niagara Town Board held its monthly meeting. The meeting was relatively quick, but drew a few public comments and passed several items.
First, a resident from Louisiana Avenue asked Supervisor Lee Wallace about police patrol in his neighborhood, furthermore, about activity with an abandoned house behind his home.
Wallace said three patrol cars operate during the day and, for the most part, one operates at night. Reason for it, Wallace said, "Usually midnights are a time when, believe it or not, not as much goes on, because businesses are open during the day, car accidents during the day, burglaries and thefts at the Outlet Mall - things like that. ... At night, we cut back."
The resident said, "I called Chief (H. James) Suitor about a month ago ... I still haven't heard from him. ... The neighborhood kids broke into a house behind my house and the officer told me 'We've been dealing with these people for a year and a half.' I said, 'Why don't we lock them up?' We can't even do that."
The resident said he made the call for the break-in, but Suitor said because the resident was not the homeowner he is not the victim, and it's not an arrestable offense. The resident and Suitor then said the house was abandoned.
This sparked a discussion about "zombie homes" in the town, as the resident said raccoons and skunks were living in the home, which has been abandoned 15-20 years.
Wallace said, "We're in the process right now of trying to tighten up our legislation on zombie homes to try and make it tighter and try to make the people who own these places more accountable - that takes a little bit of time.
"The state just passed new legislation within the last year to allow us to do these kinds of things."
Shortly after, the board scheduled a public hearing about the demolition of an unsafe structure, single-family home at 2118 Maple Ave. for July 17. Wallace pointed out to the resident this is the process needed for removal of abandoned houses.
"This is exactly what you're talking about and we can only do so many of these yearly, because, first of all, we have to go through a huge procedure trying to locate the owners, and this house is another situation where if we all went over and blew on it, it would fall over - it's dangerous."
"So, we have to go through a public hearing and we have to have that it's on record we tried to get a hold of the owner, tried to do our due diligence before we can tear it down. That's what we're doing here," Wallace said.
Another resident commented about stop signs in the area of Rhode Island Avenue. The resident requested more stop signs on the road, because drivers have sped several times in the area around Hyde Park Boulevard.
Suitor responded and said stop signs can't be used to control speeding. Wallace added the town has been in the midst of applying for grants for portable electric speed signs.
Also, during the meeting, the board approved an access easement and restriction agreement between the town and Buffalo Niagara Waterkeepers relating to the improvement of the Weber property. The Weber property has been on the agenda numerous times and Wallace said, "This is our attempt at working with Buffalo Waterkeepers to take a bit of the flooding issues that occur on Roberts Drive and the Tuscarora area."
In other news, the town accepted a bid of $354,906 for a new and unused combination sewer cleaner truck from Cyncon Equipment Inc. Wallace said the truck is a "crucial piece of equipment for the Water and Sewer Department," and parts for the truck currently owned by the town can no longer be purchased.
Next, the Town Board approved to purchase a new emergency auxiliary pump for the Rhode Island Avenue lift station for a cost not to exceed $40,000.
The board accepted the resignation of police officer Kyle Martin effective June 11. Wallace said Martin accepted a position in Florida and "we wish him well."
The Town Board also approved a service awards financial investment committee comprised of Wallace, Jackie Siegmann (principle account clerk), Richard Sirianni (town councilman) and Patrick Barney (service awards program coordinator). Wallace said the approval is a retirement program for the firefighters.
To end the meeting, Wallace announced the Planning Board meeting scheduled for July 3 was rescheduled to July 24.
The next regular Town Board meeting is scheduled for July 17.