Karen Carr Keefe
Senior Contributing Writer
A new era in town government began on Monday as the Town Board accepted with regret and a certificate of appreciation the Aug. 4 resignation of John Whitney as town supervisor.
Whitney served for three years and seven months in the post, and logged in 31 total years of employment with the town including his tenure as town engineer.
Citing personal reasons for his resignation, Whitney wrote in his letter to the board, “I want to thank every one of the citizens for giving me the opportunity to serve Grand Island.”
“Thank you for all your work, John,” Councilmember Christian Bahleda said.
Deputy Supervisor Peter Marston conducted the meeting in the role of acting supervisor. Marston and fellow Councilmember Michael Madigan are vying to become the next supervisor in the Nov. 7 general election, on the Conservative and Republican lines, respectively.
Staley Road Updates
As the meeting got underway, Staley Road residents concerned about neighborhood safety got some good news during the public comment section.
Highway Superintendent Dick Crawford told them, “We’ve had some real good discussions. We have pricing information to widen the shoulders by 4 feet and to micropave it in 2024. Hopes are to get this work started this fall.”
The goal is to alleviate problems residents have identified along the narrow residential road, especially from heavy traffic at peak times going to and from the pharmaceutical companies, Thermo Fisher and Fresenius Kabi, that share the end of the roadway nearest to West River Road.
Crawford said that storm sewer cross-overs are also being discussed. He said the plan for 2024, upon approval, also calls for temporarily double-striping Staley Road in yellow and marking guidelines for the shoulders. He said the town would also need to come up with a plan with the residents and the post office to move some mailboxes to safer spots.
Additionally, as the work is being done to dig up the shoulder, a culvert could be opened for fiber-optic cable installation on Staley Road, Crawford said, as, “It makes sense to dig once, not twice.” The town’s Technology Advisory Board is working with ErieNet, Erie County’s upcoming broadband open access network, whose mission is to address the broadband needs and improve services in underserved areas such as Grand Island.
Speeding on Staley Road is still a problem, residents said at the meeting. “We’re not seeing police enforcement,” Sherrie Kern said, zeroing in on peak travel times when residents would like a police presence.
Crawford said Grand Island Police Officer in Charge Thomas Franz has issued a communication to all officers to have daily patrols on problem streets, and that it should be easily done to make sure Staley Road is monitored at peak times.
Residents also want the speed limit reduced to 40 mph. Crawford replied that the state has yet to act on that request.
The Town Board also:
•Adopted a local law granting property tax exemptions to volunteer firefighters with the Grand Island Fire Co.
•Failed to pass an amended motion to set new hours of 8 a.m. to dusk for the town pickleball courts at Havenwood Park in response to a noise complaint. The vote was tied at 2-2 on a motion by Councilmember Thomas Digati. The current hours of dawn to dusk will remain in effect.
Before voting against modifying the start time, Madigan said, “I prefer full utilization of the courts, but I think we need to put sound screening up – or something – as opposed to trying to limit the use of the courts. That’s probably my preference.”
Bahleda said, “It’s also Pandora’s box with every other park on Grand Island.”
•Approved a bond resolution in the amount of $592,349 for the purchase of equipment, machinery and apparatus for use by the Highway Department.
•Awarded a concrete repair mini-bid for an estimated project total of $34,995 to Niagara Custom Concrete for the Regency Drive driveway and sidewalk replacement project.