NT Council looking to fix traffic issue between Division Street and Twin City Highway
By David Yarger
At Tuesday night's North Tonawanda Common Council meeting, the governing body took steps to address traffic safety concerns along Division Street parallel to the Twin City Memorial Highway.
City Engineer Dale Marshall said the municipality had been looking for ways to improve traffic concerns in the area. Prior to the motion, two yield signs were in place, which Marshall, council members and residents said were very seldomly followed. The motion will now replace the yield signs with two LED blinking stop signs and two white painted areas on the pavement, which will say stop. The locations are approximately 200 feet north of East Schenck and 150 feet north of East Robinson streets.
"I think everybody in this room has a horror story about people not yielding on Division Street," Marshall said. He added a delay was put into place for the traffic control system before, because, "People are reluctant - they'd come to a complete stop on that off ramp, because they're afraid they're going to get hit. There's no stop sign, there's nothing to tell them to stop their car, but they will bring that car to a complete stop ... putting the people behind them at risk of getting rear ended on a 45 mile-per-hour highway, because they stopped, because there's no room for the storage of other cars beyond the one car ... in the off ramp."
Marshall then cited a video he showed the Common Council, with the sounds of cars revving their engines to try and beat traffic exiting the highway.
"You can't drag race to that stop sign. You're gonna have to get off your gas and slow immediately down," Marshall said of the stop sign. "It will encourage the public to stay on the highway, because it won't be worth cheating anymore and not yielding to people, because they're already delayed and now they gotta bring their car to a full stop."
Marshall added that the highway is "an engineering mistake," but $20 million is not available to get rid of it at the moment, and the stop signs provide a very inexpensive fix for the time being.
Alderman Bob Pecoraro asked the audience, by a show of hands, how many have had a near-accident in the problem area. The majority of the audience, including Pecoraro, raised their hands.
"It happens all the time, so something has to be done. I appreciate that, because it's, to me, ridiculous and I'm a very safe driver and that person won't stop. You end up having to stop because they won't yield," Pecoraro said.
Council President Eric Zadzilka said, "Let's make it safer now and not wait till later."
During closing remarks, Alderwoman Donna Braun said the stop signs are a cost-effective matter for now, and they can be changed if it doesn't work out.
In other news:
- There was a disagreement between Alderman Austin Tylec and other council members. City Accountant Amanda Reimer presented bids from certified public accountants for audit services. In Reimer's presentation, she recommended the council award the audit contract to the Bonadio Group, which had a 4.8 rating and over three years would cost a total of $87,750.
The council elected to go with its usual audit services from Amato Fox & Company, PC, which had a 1.8 rating and would cost $46,800 over three years.
Reimer explained she noticed several errors from the company in years past. Tylec even pointed out the company had the incorrect address listed on the request for proposal.
The council's big concern was paying more for the services during a limited budget year.
When it came to the motion to accept Reimer's recommendation to award the services to Bonadio, Tylec was the only alderman to say "I." With no second to the motion, the council then awarded the services to Amato Fox & Company, PC, but to a one-year contract, via 3-1 vote (Tylec).
Of the motion, Pecoraro said, "You don't understand the financial requirements that we have to make day in and day out - and this is the most financially consistent one that we can make for the city."
Zadzilka added, the council could revisit the audit services in one year, rather than three.
North Tonawanda Mayor Arthur Pappas said, "I would suggest we set up a committee with the accountant and perhaps a couple of council members or whoever to discuss everything Amanda brought out tonight, so that we can really get to the bottom of all these things that she mentioned, so that next year at this time we may decide to move to a different firm.
"I think it's important we take what she said under consideration and I think we should discuss it thoroughly."
Tylec replied, "But that's not consideration for going against her recommendation. Why are we creating more work for everyone when her professional opinion has selected a firm?"
Reimer added that $30,000 is already budgeted for the services, which Tylec replied, "It's budgeted to put towards any of these firms. ... It's the normal amount that we always have. So again, our city accountant is recommending a firm, I would advise to go with her recommendation."
Tylec shared displeasure in the decision during his closing remarks.
"I am disappointed by the decision that the votes went to. We talk about the physical safety ... and I think we also need to consider the financial safety of the city. If someone, like Amanda ... is denied her recommendation, I just frown upon it," Tylec said.
Of the matter, Pecoraro added, "Pennies, nickels and dimes matter. Every penny, nickel and dime this city has to pay for I am going to scrutinize and scrutinize well. And my decisions are based on the best decision at the best cost for whatever we do ... as long as we don't take away from a person's quality of life."
Pappas and Zadzilka agreed with each other and said, although the council may not agree with each other on everything, the group is just looking to do things for the best interest of the city.
- Two bids were received for the Sweeney Canal dock extension project. The Common Council awarded Pinto Construction Services Inc. for a base bid of $594,067.
- The next City of North Tonawanda Common Council meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 16.