By Lauren Zaepfel
At Monday night's meeting, the Wheatfield Town Board unanimously approved a five-year contract with the North Tonawanda Public Library for its services in which the amount paid by the town would decrease each year.
The town will pay a fee of $150,000 in 2017, dropping to $145,000 in 2018, $130,000 in 2019, $115,000 in 2020 and $110,000 in 2021, the final year of the contract.
"You don't always win in negotiations, but I think the taxpayers won in this one," said Wheatfield Deputy Supervisor Larry L. Helwig, who was part of the town's negating team.
The library originally wanted to increase the town's fee annually by $25,000, starting at $175,000 in 2017.
"We studied what other municipalities were paying for libraries, and we had all our facts and figures. They had their facts and figures. And things worked out our way," Helwig said. "So, we're going to save, over four years, almost $400,000."
He added, "In five years, we're going to be negotiating, potentially, a new contract. We'll be starting off at $110,000. ... North Tonawanda's contract, if they would have gotten what they wanted, we would be at $275,000."
Last December, due to the anticipated fee increase, the town and the Town Center Focus Group looked into the pros and cons of building a town library.
The cost of building a 6,300-square-foot library was estimated to be approximately $2.2 million, with additional annual operating costs of around $360,000.
In reference to the town's new agreement with North Tonawanda's library, Helwig said taxpayers should be "quite pleased."
In Other News:
Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe spoke to residents and Town Board members Monday about the crash that took place early Saturday morning on Shawnee Road, which resulted in the death of two teenagers.
Earlier this week, the Niagara County Sheriff's Office reported four individuals were walking northbound in the southbound lane of Shawnee Road near the fog line when a southbound vehicle struck three of them.
Two 18-year-olds, Melanie Aronow of Amherst and Quincy Harper of Lockport, were pronounced dead at the scene. Quincy Byrd of Lockport, also 18, was flown by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical Center and was later released. The fourth pedestrian was unharmed and called 911.
The Niagara County Sheriffs Office stated, during the incident, there were numerous vehicles parked on both sides of the road for a nearby party.
"Shawnee Road is not a safe road," Cliffe said. "To have parking on both sides is probably the cause of the problem."
Reports state the driver, Carly Marrs, 20, was transported to DeGraff Hospital for minor injuries. As of Wednesday morning, no charges were filed against Marrs.
Investigation of the incident is ongoing by the Niagara County Sheriff's Office. In the meantime, Cliffe said he asked Town Highway Superintendent Paul Siegmann if the town could put up traffic signs on Shawnee Road to allow parking on only one side of the road. However, Siegmann told Cliffe the town can't do that, because it is a state road.
"I don't know if it does any good to ask the state for approval to do that? That's something that we can consider," Cliffe said.