By Lauren Zaepfel
Plans are moving along to install a fence around the inactive Niagara Sanitation Landfill, which formerly took in waste from various chemical companies.
The Town of Wheatfield received three bids to complete the project, which were read aloud at Monday night's Town Board meeting.
The low bidder was New York State Fence with a total of $106,800. The other bids included one by Woodsmith Fence Corp. at $153,800 and another by Fox Fence at $219,500.
Professional Engineer and Chief Operating Officer at Wendel Timothy G. Walck said the company will contact New York State Fence "to make sure they have a good understanding of the specs, the work, and prepare a recommendation for the next Town Board meeting."
Walck said he thinks the project will be able to be completed this year.
In February, the town designated approximately $80,000 of its appropriated fund balance toward installing a fence. New York State Sen. Robert G. Ortt also secured $75,000 in grant funding for the fence last year.
Town of Wheatfield Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe said the town has not received the grant funds yet. "It would be nice to have that in hand. I've been told by DASNY (Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, I've been told by Sen. Ortt that the money's there, it's just a matter of time."
Earlier this month, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced that results of soil sampling tests conducted at properties adjacent to the former landfill indicated contaminants were not impacting surface soils.
Several people living nearby the landfill joined in filing a lawsuit against the Town of Wheatfield earlier this year. Some suffer from health issues, which they claim were caused by contaminants from the landfill migrating to their properties.
"With the news of the testing results that were released last week, this fence becomes even more important for future generations," Cliffe said.
He further explained after the meeting that the DEC's findings help indicate "The material from the landfill is not migrating out, so, if you can keep people out of there, you know that future generations won't be affected by these chemicals."
An issue that has been brought up by both town residents and board members is that people trek through the landfill using all-terrain vehicles.
"It's not so much people walking through (the landfill site) as it is ATV operators, motor bikes and anything that drives through there that can dig the dirt up," Cliffe said.
He explained the contaminants are covered by a natural clay cap, which has been covered with dirt. "So if you send ATVs through that and you send motor bikes through that (and) they pick up a little bit of dirt when they go through, when does it become a problem?"
The DEC stated in a release sent out earlier this month that further testing will be conducted throughout the summer regarding groundwater and subsurface conditions at the landfill.
In addition, the DEC stated it will dig test trenches around the landfill to ensure waste was not present outside of the landfill property.
The DEC, depending on the investigation's findings, may conduct additional tests, as well.
•The Town Board did not pass a resolution allowing Wendel to look into the cost and work needed to widen shoulders on Krueger Road.
This comes after all board members, excluding Cliffe, voted against accepting a New York State Department of Transportation grant to help pay for a sidewalk on the road after hearing several resident comments both for and against the project.
Cliffe said Monday he thinks adding a sidewalk is still "the way to go," instead of widening the shoulders.
As two board members were absent during Monday night's meeting, "We only have three members here and I'm sort of opposed to the concept," Cliffe said. "So it wasn't going to fly, so just put it on hold for another three weeks and try again."
In order to change the scope of the grant from requesting a sidewalk to widened shoulders, the DOT requires a preliminary engineering report indicating the method in which the shoulders would be widened as well as anticipated costs.
Wendel, as the town engineer, provided a cost estimate of $5,000 to prepare the report. The board may choose to approve this at its next meeting scheduled for Aug. 7.
•Town Board members agreed to send a letter to the DOT asking for another speed study to be done on River Road.
The letter would also suggest other measures the DOT may be able to take to slow down the traffic on the road, including adding rumble strips and additional signage.
"If you recall, just a few weeks ago there was a person killed on River Road, it was a little father down into North Tonawanda," Cliffe said.
He added, New York State Sen. Robert G. Ortt "has had several calls from people in the River Road area and he is very concerned about the speeds there. The speed on River Road is 45 mph until you get into the area where there's no people and then it slows down, which I don't quite understand."
Cliffe noted River Road has a high volume of traffic, where vehicles travel at "extreme speeds."
"There's an awful lot of houses that are on that road that come out directly onto the street ... and it's a road that needs to be looked at," he said.