MacSwan, Town Board gets backing from residents for four-year term during public hearing
By David Yarger
Monday evening, the Town of Wheatfield Town Board held its regular meeting for July. The meeting began with a public hearing regarding terms of office. The board’s goal is to extend the term limit for supervisor from two years to four.
This upcoming election will be Supervisor Don MacSwan’s first full term at the helm of Wheatfield. Currently he is running for re-election unopposed.
During the hearing, MacSwan got backing from resident Carl Calabrese, who spent time on the Tonawanda Town Board.
Calabrese was elected as the Town of Tonawanda’s Town Board in 1985 and then supervisor in 1993. Prior to his election, Calabrese said, in 1983, there was a two-year term limit for supervisor in Tonawanda, which was later approved and extended to four years. He added that the move was the proper one and there are a lot of disadvantages with two-year terms.
“I lived my tenure as town supervisor with a four-year term,” Calabrese said. “We all hear people say ‘Why is there so much politics in government?’ … I think a two-year term kind of answers that, because it seems no sooner you’re elected, then you’re in political mode, you’re in re-election mode. That changes the way you look at things. … I think it’s a detriment and it’s a constraint to being innovative and creative. … If you only have one year before you’re back into political season, at least for me anyways, I probably would’ve been much more reluctant to put forward some really different and innovative proposals changing the structure of town government.”
Calabrese added that his experiences in town government proved to him that four-year terms work for government and, if installed into the Town of Wheatfield, it should work well.
The public hearing drew another comment from a resident who also backed the idea.
To wrap up the hearing, MacSwan read a letter he published regarding the possible term limit extension.
The letter read, “I am approaching the completion of my first term and second year as supervisor. It has been an extremely busy time.
“I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by qualified people. Ed Mongold, our budget director, does an extremely efficient job and without his ability and experience I would be lost. We have the highest quality of department heads, including our town clerk. They have many years of experience and are very qualified at what they do. Our Town Board is made up of seasoned veterans that always consider what is best for our community and I value their input. Matt Brooks, our town attorney, confers with me on a regular basis related to all legal and H.R. matters.
“This public hearing is not about me, it’s what is best for the residents of Wheatfield. I have been very fortunate to go unopposed once again and I greatly appreciate all that have supported me.
“I’m also fortunate to have almost 40 years with the town working for various departments, including many years as building inspector. This experience with the town gave me a head start when beginning my first term as supervisor. I can’t imagine that a new inexperienced supervisor could accomplish anything with a two-year term, especially if he has to start campaigning basically at the completion of his first year in office.
“We all recognize that the wheels of government turn slowly and most projects take time to develop and follow through to complete. A good example of this is our town’s efforts to convert our street lighting to LED lighting. Our board has been working on this project for approximately two years.
“As the town continues to grow, the responsibilities of the supervisor also grow. These responsibilities are numerous and diverse. Dealing with residents on a daily basis, addressing town business every day and many more issues too numerous to mention.
“In my experience, I spent a great portion of the first term learning the various policies and procedures of town government and establishing a solid working relationship with the Town Board and county and state officials.
“Therefore, the Town Board and I agree that extending the term to a four-year term will allow myself and future supervisors to be more focus and give the Town of Wheatfield residents a more productive and efficient town government.”
The hearing closed following the letter and the board took no action on the matter.
In other news
•Bergholz resident Jack Cindrich was at the meeting with a petition in attempt to restore a bridge in the hamlet.
Cindrich said the bridge, built in the 1880s, has been closed for a couple of years.
In a letter to the Town Board, part of it read, “Built in the 1800s, this has been closed due to lack of maintenance for several years now supposedly due to a lack of funding. We wish to alert everyone to the fact that it has made two streets in the village dead end streets.”
The streets listed in the letter include Hunt Street and Cayuga Street. The closing of the bridge, according to Cindrich, has impeded traffic and the town should bolster the idea of getting it reopened.
MacSwan said Cindrich should talk with he and Highway Superintendent Paul Siegmann and talk about the matter.
Niagara County Legislator David Godfrey added he would take a copy of the letter and hand it off to Legislator Rebecca Wydysh. The bridge is located in Wydysh’s district.
“Whenever you meet, if you get a hold of me – I don’t know if Becky is held up in court – but if you meet sometime during the day, I’ll be glad to attend just to move that information along. Because I’m aware of that situation (from) over a year ago. … I’ll take that letter and toss it to Becky and attend whatever meeting the supervisor sets up with highway,” Godfrey said.
For more information regarding the bridge initiative, call Cindrich at 731-9384.
•The Town Board approved the final plat and construction drawings for the Woodland patio homes with conditions. The project must comply with the conditions specified by the town Planning Board in the June 5 site plan review results, and it must comply with the conditions noted in Wendel Engineering’s approval recommendation letter from June 20.
•Councilman Curt Doktor said the Comprehensive Plan Task Force is currently looking at ideas to attract more people to Wheatfield via Niagara Falls Boulevard.
“We’re going to look for opportunities to make it better, make it more attractive,” Doktor said. “Niagara Falls Boulevard is in a lot of ways a gateway to Wheatfield. There are thousands of cars that pass through it on a daily basis. We want people to know they’re passing through Wheatfield.”
“It would be nice to bring Wheatfield some identity,” MacSwan replied.
•MacSwan closed with some discussion regarding the Greenway trail along River Road, which will connect Niagara Falls to North Tonawanda. He said, in an email he received from Niagara County, the brownfield money would be sufficient to complete the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the 4.3 acres of Wheatfield. The acreage will give residents access to the Niagara River for recreation, fishing and a number of leisurely activities.
“The email said the money is there and it won’t cost us a penny. So that’ll be nice,” MacSwan said.
•The next Town of Wheatfield Town Board meeting is at 7 p.m. Aug. 5.