Story and Photo by Michael DePietro
On Wednesday, the Town of Niagara board held its first session at Town Hall (7105 Lockport Road) since St. Patrick’s Day 2020. The facility had been closed during that time due to the pandemic.
It was an overall light agenda, featuring mostly procedural items. However, the board’s first order of business was to honor someone with a long history of dutiful service to the town.
The board issued a proclamation honoring Patrick Barney, a member of the Town’s Zoning Board for almost 35 years, and a volunteer firefighter for Niagara Active Hose for even longer.
Barney, who was appointed ZBA chairman four years ago, announced his resignation earlier this month, effective July 1.
“As with all of us, it gets to a point in life where you think it's time to look for your family, and towards some other things, and Pat has some family he wants to visit in other parts of the country. He has a son in Arizona. And so, he has decided to step down,” Supervisor Lee Wallace said of Barney, whom he called “a fixture for the town.”
“And so, tonight, we would like to present Pat with a proclamation and a plaque. It says: ‘In recognition of the valuable contributions to the Town of Niagara community for over 40 years. Thank you for your dedication to the positions you have held and your service to our community.’ ”
Wallace said afterward, “Pat’s the kind of guy that doesn’t come around too often – you know, always willing to help. He runs (Niagara Active Hose’s) retirement fund; takes care of all the firemen and reports who is eligible on a year-to-year basis for the service award, which is a retirement benefit. I don’t know what we’re gonna do when he decides to pull off of that (laughs). … But when I needed a new (ZBA) chairman, he really stepped up to the plate, and it's getting tougher and tougher to find people who dedicate their time and work for nothing or aren’t getting paid much. We hate to see him go, but we understand he has a family; and we thank him for his service.”
The board voted to appoint Guido S. Virtuoso as a member of the ZBA to fill the remainder of Barney’s term.
Elsewhere, the board voted to approve a 20-year solar credit agreement with Nexamp Inc., which leaders said will provide the town with approximately $265,097 on electric utility accounts over the life of the agreement.
A public hearing was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. July 20 regarding a special use permit request for Cheryl Bellring to operate an in-home business at 3509 Crestview Drive. Bellring said she and her husband are looking to operate a “fencepost cleanup and restoration” business related to concrete driveway repairs. She said the permit would essentially let her answer the business phone in their house.