By Michael DePietro
Interim Tribune Editor
On July 6, the Wheatfield Town Board held its first public meeting at the Town Hall since it was shuttered in March due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Town Hall reopened July 15 with a slew of new safety precautions. Rows of seats in the courtroom have been taped off to ensure social distancing, and board members are spaced widely apart.
Prior to Monday’s meeting, the town released a statement featuring a number of new procedures for meeting attendees:
√ Preregistration is required as to not exceed the restricted occupant load.
√ All entering must wear an approved face mask.
√ All entering will be asked to fill out a brief contact tracing questionnaire.
√ Those who wish to speak at the meeting should state their business when registering.
√ Any organization or large group may be represented by no more than two attendees.
√ Attendees will be placed in their seats to maintain social distancing by our constables.
√ Social distance of 6 feet must be maintained throughout the meeting.
√ Registration confirmation must be obtained by calling the supervisor’s office at 716-694-6680.
The overall agenda for Monday’s meeting was rather light. Notably, the town gave negative environmental declarations and scheduled public hearing dates for a pair of prospective projects, as presented by Wendel, the town's engineering firm.
The first agenda item involved the installation of new, 10-inch waterline, and four new fire hydrants and appurtenances along Shawnee Road. The project would replace nearly 1,600 linear feet of 8-inch waterline currently installed in the area, which is said to be in deteriorated condition. Wendell estimates the project will cost $910,000.
A public hearing on the project will take place at 7 p.m. Aug. 3.
The second agenda item involved a subdivision application from DJC Land Inc. to subdivide a 53-acre parcel of land located between Shawnee Road and Townline Road, north of Slusaric Road, into 73 single-family residential lots – referred to as Wheatfield Crossing.
Per the motion, the Wheatfield Planning Board has reviewed the project and, although it is not ready to make a recommendation on the subdivision, members requested the Town Board complete the SEQR process to receive input from other agencies.
The public hearing will take place at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 3.
One noteworthy update came about near the end of the meeting. Supervisor Don MacSwan announced sales tax in the town was down approximately $237,000 over two months.
“It just shows you how the economy took a hit, and (the virus) affects everyone. That's a two-month hit for a municipality that doesn't have a town tax,” MacSwan said.
Elsewhere, in the department head statements, Highway Superintendent Paul Siegman urged patience from residents as paving is being done on town roads. He said the department tries to notify residents allocated in the pavement sites by the day before.
He also discussed complaints from residents regarding woodchipping.
“I have two chippers on the road right now, which is ridiculous for July,” Siegman said. “Part of our problem is everybody's home with nothing to do, so they're all trimming their trees and cutting their bushes, and we're buried in this stuff. Once we (begin paving), I use all my guys. So, the chipper comes off the road a week.
“If you put brush out, you don't want to sit there for a couple weeks. Don't put brush out.”
The next regular town board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 3.