By Autumn Evans
Despite a recent countywide collection of hazardous wastes, Wheatfield officials continue to face issues with improper disposal by residents.
Highway Superintendent Paul Siegmann told the Town Board Monday people have been dropping off hazardous waste at night and on weekends at the Highway Garage, despite the fact the Highway Department no longer accepts hazardous waste.
He said one unidentified person even went so far as to unhook the garage's gates after hours and leave boxes of waste in a lean-to behind the building.
The gates are left unlocked because fire companies need to get in to get fuel, plus locks tend to freeze up during cold winters.
"I just can't believe somebody would have the gall to unhook the gate, open it, go back, drop off two boxes and go back out - they locked the gate back up, that was the one nice thing they did," Siegmann said.
He also said anyone caught dumping materials on garage grounds will be charged for both that and trespassing.
Councilman Larry Helwig suggested it might be beneficial to purchase security cameras to catch the person responsible.
Siegmann listed three upcoming hazardous waste disposal events. They are June 6 in Niagara Falls, Aug. 15 in Lockport and Sept. 12 in Lewiston.
Supervisor Bob Cliffe reminded residents a company called Hazman in Tonawanda collects hazardous waste every weekday for a fee if they can't wait.
In other Town Board news:
•In light of a motion to pay $8,850 to repair the Community Center, resident Julie Otto questioned whether such repairs, which are being done to fix design flaws, could be charged to the original contractors.
"If there's a flaw in the design or construction, shouldn't the builder be responsible?" she asked.
Town Attorney Bob O'Toole said it was possible, but the statute of limitations in New York state is three years for negligence and six years for contracts, so the town's buildings no longer qualified.
Otto asked whether dedicated staff could do maintenance on the buildings to avoid problems. Cliffe said the town did hire two formerly summer-only employees to work year-round so they could do more maintenance.
"That doesn't make up for design problems like we're running into at the Community Center," he said. "It didn't really rear its ugly head until this year."
"I just think there's room to tighten our process to make sure we don't have to spend money on things that could potentially be avoidable," Otto said.
Cliffe said the town did have to make some changes given the harsh winter and more changes would be looked at.
•The board approved a motion to submit the town's efficiency plan reflecting savings from instituting recycling totes for the state Property Tax Freeze Rebate Program. The town expects approximately $121,000 in annual savings as a result of the recycling program and subsequent decrease in landfilling fees. Under the program, if the town and school follow their tax caps for the next three years and then show savings of 1 percent, it will result in a small rebate for residents.
•Cliffe announced new dates given to him by DEC regarding remediation of the Niagara Sanitation landfill. DEC expects to finish removing material in the coming weeks, backfill by the end of May and finish restoring the area around mid-July, signaling the end of the project.
•A public hearing regarding a proposed amendment change to electronic message display signs outside of buildings will be held at 7:15 p.m. before the regular meeting June 8. The amendment requires dimming lights at night and allows schools, places of worship and emergency responders to have EMDs in a noncommercial district.
•In honor of Senior Citizens Month, Wheatfield Seniors Director Arlene Mante announced the group will hold a Fun with Flags event at the Community Center from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Friday, May 22. There will be a presentation on the history of the American Flag.