Board plans for public hearing
By Allison Deutschman
At the Village of Youngstown organizational meeting Thursday evening, Tim Lockhart and Stephen Zastrow were sworn into office. Lockhart is taking on another term as deputy mayor. Zastrow, meanwhile, replaces Steven Suitor, whose second term ended after he held the trustee position for eight years.
"I would like to welcome Trustee Zastrow to the board. I look forward to working with him," Lockhart said to all of those in attendance.
The meeting was shorter than usual board assemblies, due to the absence of the police chief, the DPW head and the building inspector, as well as a limited agenda and the fact the previous Village Board meeting was only a week ago.
The Board of Trustees authorized the annual business assignments and scheduled another meeting for 7 p.m. Thursday, June 16. A public hearing will be held specific to four subjects: property maintenance, traffic issues, traffic control on Water Street and parking. Drafts of proposed changes will be available at the village office before the public hearing.
Upon conclusion of the organizational meeting, the board entered into a work session that was open to the public.
Board members bounced ideas back and forth about what codes could be put into place to better regulate the maintenance of vacant homes and properties.
Lockhart mentioned the possibility of enlisting a private contractor through Building Inspector and Code Enforcer John Stevens, who would mow the lawns at a cost to the village, which would then be passed on to the properties through taxes.
Lockhart also suggested, at Stevens' recommendation, that the code require the lawns to be mowed to the same point in which they were before the properties were considered noncompliant. There could also be a mandatory 6-inch mark at which the land must be mowed.
"Let's uphold the standards of the neighborhood," Trustee Tim Adamson said. "There's buildings around this village, some are commercial buildings, and there are major pieces of fascia missing. We're going to have to send the building inspector over there and tell them to keep these properties up."
It was remarked some of these businesses are currently being issued permits, but they are allowing cars to park on the sidewalks out front and not maintaining their buildings in the business district.
"Some of these things are in the code, we just need to enforce them," Mayor Raleigh Reynolds said.
The next issue discussed during the work session pertained to keeping the tour busses off of Main Street. The main drag has become increasingly congested with traffic, and complaints from the general public have continued to arise at board meetings. Putting a designated bus route in place was mentioned.
"I think the trolleys need to come on Main Street to get to the fort, but the tour busses, I don't really see any advantage to them being on Main Street, because they are not stopping and letting people off," Reynolds said. "I really think if we can figure out a bus route to get them through the village to the jet boats that will help cut down on some of the traffic."
Nothing was finalized, but trustees suggested encouraging the tour busses to go from Water Street straight onto Church Street and turning left onto Third Street, then turning onto Lockport Street either toward Fort Niagara or back to Creek Road.
Board members and attendees then took a field trip down to the waterfront to see firsthand what area could be best for designating a loading and unloading zone for busses and a separate place for boat preparation.
"That's roughly 60 feet," Lockhart said, motioning at an area in between the curb and a sewer grate on the west side of Water Street that is currently marked no parking (in front of the John Young Store Line historical sign).
"And busses are typically no longer than 45," Attorney Caserta added.
No decisions were made during the work session, but the board now has more information prepared to share at the public hearing on June 16.