Several citizens speak their minds at recent meeting
By David Yarger
At last Tuesday's North Tonawanda Common Council meeting, the meeting moved along rather quick, but a majority of the meeting was conducted by citizens during public input. Many of the topics discussed involved issues citizens were having in the area and felt the city should take some accountability to fix them.
After approving several agenda items, the council heard from a citizen on Payne Avenue who was concerned about the building of a parking lot behind his home. His concerns included space, safety and snow plowing.
"I talked to some of the neighbors in the area and we feel it's going to create congestion in the alley at night time during the snowy days. ... There should be a light in the parking area, no higher than 12-foot high, not off 265 Payne but by itself, so it doesn't interfere with anybody's windows. The snow plowing; who's going to be responsible for cleaning up the parking area and where do you put the snow," he said. The council had no response.
Next, a citizen on Oliver Street was concerned with a mini-mart opening in the building neighboring hers. The mini-mart moving is currently on Seventh and Oliver Streets, and she said there have been problems with the building at 452 Oliver St. in the past.
"I see more concerns if this mini-mart moves in next to me. The congregating of people out front constantly; we just had parking spaces put in and there's going to be a lack of parking spaces," she said. She added illegal activity has occurred at the location and does not want to see the area decline.
The mini-mart is a proposed smoke shop, and the citizen said she contacted the building manager, who didn't see any concerns and said that they were notified a deli was moving in. She added the new shop is a concern to her safety, building and customers. She also said they're moving locations because of past issues such as serving underage kids and not paying for rent.
City Attorney Luke Brown said, "Get those police reports, find out if they're evicted for non-rent, give that to the property manager. ... Your best bet is; what do property managers care most about? They care about the rent, so if you're showing them that these guys aren't going to pay rent... it's going to be a bigger petty for them than it's worth."
Next, a citizen spoke from Harding Avenue on ordinances and accountability by department heads and politicians. The NT resident said there is a problem with sanitation and people leaving garbage out too early, causing issues of debris and rodents. He said the city should be holding those people accountable for their actions.
"Hire someone permanent or part time to go out and write citations for people of the city that are breaking sanitation ordinances. You go down to Oliver Street and you see these landlords and tenants fill this stuff with piles of debris. ... This city is dirty," he said.
The citizen also had an issue with cinder blocks on the street near his house and asked the council what would happen if a plow hit one of the blocks and they hit him or his car, he asked, "Who would be responsible?"
Two other citizens also spoke about issues with other citizens and said they've called multiple times on the issues, the issue is still reoccurring and nothing has been done. Other issues posed were speeding on Sweeney Street, as well as moving mailboxes to the even side of the street, due to more houses and population on that side. Referring to the mailbox issue, Third Ward Alderman Eric Zadzilka said the city could send a request to the Post Office to try and get the issue taken care of for the safety of residents.
In closing remarks, the councilmen mostly thanked the citizens for raising the concerns and said they'd try to take care of everything they possibly could.
Alderwoman Donna Braun said, "That's what were here for; to listen to your concerns. ... We obviously know there are problems out in the city, so hopefully we can address some of them."
Mayor Arthur Pappas said on the garbage issue, "I want to sit down and re-evaluate our entire garbage procedure. The whole tote pickup and how we do it. Should it be changed? Should we find another way? How often should it take place? I'm a firm believer it should be reevaluated every so many years."
Pappas also said it was disturbing to him hearing citizens saying they don't get a response from city officials and department heads, saying everyone should get a response and he would look into it.
The next City of North Tonawanda Common Council meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5.