Featured News - Current News - Archived News - News Categories

Pay raise OK'd for Marston

Sat, Dec 9th 2023 07:00 am

By Karen Carr Keefe

Senior Contributing Writer

“Please accept my resignation of my position as town councilman effective Dec. 31, 2023, at 12 midnight.”

With these words on Monday, Supervisor-Elect Peter Marston asked the Town Board to clear the way for him to quit the Town Council in order to take on the new job of supervisor as of Jan. 1, 2024.

Council member Christian Bahleda obliged: “So moved.”

“Trying to get rid of me?” Marston quipped.

The move to accept Marston’s resignation was seconded by Councilman Tom Digati and it passed, after a bit of discussion.

The move was a formality, but had to be done as Marston prepares to step into the town’s top job for the next four years, after winning the election Nov. 7.

In discussion before the vote, Council member Mike Madigan suggested it would be preferable to make both the resignation and the new job title effective Nov. 8, the day after voters chose Marston over Madigan for the supervisor’s job.

“That ship has sailed, unfortunately,” Digati replied.

“I personally think it’s ‘potato, po-tah-to,’ ” Marston said.

“It’s a distinction, not a difference, I think,” Digati said.

There were three “ayes” for passage of the motion. When it was Marston’s turn in the roll call, he said, “I don’t know if I vote on there. I don’t think I do – but thanks for asking.”

With voting complete, Digati made a motion to increase Marston’s pay, effective Dec. 4, to reflect the move from deputy to supervisor. The board then approved the supervisor’s pay raise, with Marston recusing himself from the vote.

The council member salary in the 2024 budget is $21,603.73; the supervisor’s salary for 2024 is $82,267.20. The differential in his pay for Dec. 4-31 will be about $4,000, Marston said, adding that an exact figure for the raise will be determined according to wage steps that the town sets.

Digati noted of Marston, “He’s supervisor-elect and he’s been pulling the weight since August … I think this is appropriate.”

Former supervisor John Whitney resigned Aug. 4, citing personal reasons.

Overpass Project Hits ‘Detour’

A proposal by Marston to place a “Welcome to Grand Island” sign on the thruway overpass at Beaver Island Parkway revealed a potential change in status for the ongoing reconstruction project.

The Town Board voted in favor of the sign, agreeing to pay $25,000 upfront for it and expecting to be reimbursed later by outside sources.

However, there are a couple of “detours on the road” to installing the sign.

As of now, there’s no road to put it on.

The welcome sign can’t go up until concrete is poured for the overpass, which may not happen until next year. But the town has to commit to and pay for the sign this year, according to thruway requirements.

Warmer weather is considered ideal for concrete to set. When steel for the roadway was a month late due to supply chain issues, it affected the project timetable, Marston said.

Highway Superintendent Dick Crawford explained the steel delay, in turn, delayed concrete installation by Union Concrete and Construction Corp. Then cold weather set in.

“Otherwise, it most likely would have been done a week or two ago or maybe longer,” he said. “But that put them behind, and now the Thruway Authority and Union Concrete certainly have been working jointly together, looking at the weather and the conditions to pour concrete.”

“My understanding is, most likely on Tuesday, (Dec. 12), that final decision will be made for the final schedule – if it gets put off until the spring, or if they feel there’s the ability to pour concrete,” he said.

“We can only hope we have a mild winter – which is predicted by some – and that, like last year, we don’t get a lot of frost in the ground, which will lend to an early spring and getting them out there as soon as the weather dictates for them to pour the concrete.”

The Thruway Authority had set an end-of-the-year deadline to complete the overpass – but Crawford said it was weather-dependent. He noted the steel delay meant a close timeframe for completion in 2023.

He said that, certainly, taxpayers would want to see something done under prime conditions.

“Everybody wants it done, but I’d rather have it be a better bridge,” Marston said Wednesday.

Other News

In other business, the Town Board:

•Authorized the deputy supervisor to sign the previously unexecuted agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to make grant funds of $750,000 available for upgrades to the Grand Island Senior Center Improvement Project. The project includes asbestos abatement and the rebuilding, reconstruction and installation of the new HVAC/air handling equipment in the portion of the center that was constructed in 1954.

The town intends to hire an environmental consultant to do the initial investigation and survey of the building, and to prepare the plans and specifications needed for an open, competitive bid. That same consultant will represent the town as a construction manager during the asbestos abatement and the rebuild/reconstruction of the center, including the addition of the new HVAC system. This information is contained within the HUD documents pertaining to the grant funding.

The town was originally allocated $61,000 in Erie County CARES funding for the new equipment, but the money had since been withdrawn when the town was unable to meet the tight timeframe to spend it, due to the asbestos abatement that is necessary.

The town has not yet hired a consultant and no other work has been started. The town intends to hire the environmental consultant during the first quarter of 2024, with asbestos abatement/construction to start in the winter of 2024-25.

•Approved the appointments of Sara Vescio to the vacant full-term position on the Economic Development Advisory Board, expiring Dec. 31, 2025; and Ryan Clarke to a three-year term on the EDAB, expiring Dec. 31, 2026.

•Approved setting 2024 sewer rents in the Consolidated Sanitary Sewer District of the town at a rate of $5.80 per 1,000 gallons of water usage. The vote was taken after a public hearing in which there was no public comment.

•Again tabled consideration of Local Law 6, which would amend the town zoning code regarding allowable uses in the M-1 District. Proposed zoning changes previously have centered on downsizing the permissible square footage of buildings within the M-1 zone to a suggested size of either 300,000 square feet or 100,000 square feet.

The draft law was the subject of discussion in the Town Board’s earlier workshop meeting Monday night. Council members talked about alternatives, such as one that would set a lower “soft cap” size limit, with a range between 75,000 to 150,000 square feet. In that context, they also discussed special use permits, zoning variances and incentive zoning with Town Attorney Peter Godfrey.

The effort to downsize permissible projects, thereby limiting “mega warehouses,” arose in light of a proposal by Acquest Development for a 1.1 million-square-foot warehouse/distribution center for 2780 Long Road. Residents have voiced concerns of potential increase in traffic and decrease in quality of life.

Amazon had originally proposed – then in 2020, scrapped – a plan to build a 3.8 million-square foot warehouse on the same parcel that Acquest is now hoping to develop.

Hometown News

View All News