West Seneca Town Board Meeting Minutes 11/03/2008
Deputy Supervisor Vincent J. Graber Jr. called the meeting to order at 7:35 P.M. with 30 seconds of silent prayer followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.
ROLL CALL: Present -
Absent - Wallace C. Piotrowski, Supervisor
Deputy Supervisor Graber read the Fire Prevention Code instructing the public where to exit in case of a fire or an emergency.
18-A MINUTES TO BE APPROVED
18-B LEGAL NOTICES
1. Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, that proofs of publication and posting of legal notice: “OF A PUBLIC HEARING TO HEAR ALL INTERESTED PARTIES AND CITIZENS FOR OR AGAINST THE ADOPTION OF AMENDMENTS TO THE DUMPING ORDINANCE” in the Town of West Seneca, be received and filed.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to open the public hearing.
Town Attorney Edwin Hunter stated that the Dumping Ordinance was reviewed by Deputy Town Attorney Paul Notaro over the last year and he did a lot of research and made numerous inquiries on this issue. Mr. Notaro consulted with Town Engineer George Montz and Highway Supt. Patrick Finnegan on the changes that were necessary and there were multiple drafts of the ordinance throughout the year. Mr. Hunter thought the final product was workable for the town, would improve service, and would tighten up the restrictions and types of materials that could be disposed of. He commended Mr. Notaro on a thorough and comprehensive job.
No comments were received from the public.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to close the public hearing.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to adopt the amendments to the Dumping Ordinance of the Town of West Seneca as proposed.
18-C TABLED ITEMS
1. Ice Rink Remediation & Rehabilitation Project
Remained on the table.
2. Walter Kolkiewicz proposed subdivision – 862 Seneca Creek Road
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to remove the item from the table.
The petitioner was not present at the meeting.
Councilman Graber noted that the proposed rezoning of 862 Seneca Creek Road was for a 20.5 acre parcel and the petitioner was asking for a change in zoning from R-100A to R-75A. Two-family residences were allowed under the R-75A zoning and the Town Board agreed that they would consider rezoning the property with the “A” designation dropped. This would limit development of the property to single family houses.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to refer the rezoning request for 862 Seneca Creek Road to the Planning Board for their review and recommendation with the exception that the rezoning request be changed from R-75A to R-75 for the complete subdivision.
1. Supervisor Piotrowski re Retirement of John Broderick as highway laborer
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to accept the retirement of John E. Broderick and terminate him as Highway Laborer effective November 15, 2008 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel, noting that Mr. Broderick served the Town of West Seneca for over 17 years.
2. Town Attorney re Outside legal services
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to approve agreements for the following legal services to the town: Michael F. Perley (dated May 8, 2008); Jerry A. Gambino (dated September 24, 2008); Thomas V. Hagerty (dated April 21, 2008); Lawrence J. Vilardo (dated June 20, 2008).
On the question, Town Attorney Edwin Hunter stated that historically many referrals to outside counsel were not brought before the Town Board, but it was felt that it was best to do this for transparency purposes. He stated that Mr. Gambino’s service was for the assessment challenges in town. Mr. Perley’s service was for the Look Outdoor Advertising appeal. The Town Attorney’s office handled the initial stages of the Article 78 and the town prevailed, but the petitioner appealed and it went beyond the time constraints that the Town Attorney’s office could devote to it. Mr. Hunter noted that Mr. Perley was voted top lawyer in WNY in a recent legal publication and his rate was very favorable. Mr. Hagerty’s service was for an insurance defense proceeding and there was activity on this since January 2008. It was a
matter of some urgency and his entire bill from January to the present was only about $1100. Mr. Vilardo’s service was for the Canisius High School litigation on Clinton Street that was ongoing. This also went beyond the time constraints that the Town Attorney’s Office could devote to it, but Connors & Vilardo was a nationally recognized firm and Mr. Notaro secured a very favorable rate from them. Mr. Hunter noted that these were the only referrals this year and all other matters were handled in-house.
3. Town Engineer re Ice rink engineering services proposal
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to approve the proposal from Abate Associates in the amount of $6800 for providing engineering services to inspect the condition of the wooden, glue-laminated (glu-lam) frames, purlins and roof deck at the ice rink, noting that this inspection was recommended by the committee reviewing the overall condition of the facility.
On the question, Councilman Graber noted that this was part of the preliminary investigation of the ice rink and will be considered as part of the decision on what will be necessary to completely rehabilitate the existing rink or replace it with a new ice rink.
4. Town Engineer re NYSEG backup generator agreements
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize the Supervisor to sign the NYSEG backup generator agreements for various locations in town.
5. Town Engineer re Purchases requiring Town Board approval
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize payment of $4541.20 to DLT Solutions, Inc. for software subscription renewal and support and $2475 to Burgh Schoenenberger for an open channel meter on Burch Avenue.
6. Highway Supt. re Appointment of James Fleming as part-time laborer in Sanitation Dept.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to appoint James M. Fleming as part-time laborer in the Sanitation Department effective November 3, 2008 at a rate of $7.15 per hour and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
7. Highway Supt. re Purchase requiring Town Board approval
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize payment of $1714.46 to Grainger for electrical repairs at the ice rink involved in the mold abatement project.
8. Chief Gehen re Division of Criminal Justice Services grant
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize the Supervisor to execute the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) grant, Project #LG07-1610-D00, noting that the Town of West Seneca will receive $10,000 in financial assistance that will be utilized to assist with costs associated with our youth court program.
9. Chief Gehen re Buckle Up New York grant
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize the Supervisor to execute the Buckle Up New York (BUNY) grant with the Governor Traffic Safety Council (GTSC) during the period of October 1, 2008 through September 30, 2009, noting that the Town of West Seneca has been awarded $16,961 to enforce safety restraint violations throughout the town at specified time frames during the grant period.
10. Animal Control Officer re Budgetary transfer request
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to approve the budgetary transfer request of $1500 from Equipment Acct. #1.3510.0200 to Equipment Repairs & Maintenance Acct. #1.3510.0443 for the Animal Control Department.
11. Recreation Director re Termination of Megan Malachowski as part-time lifeguard
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to terminate Megan Malachowski as part-time lifeguard effective October 1, 2008 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
12. Recreation Director re Title change for Thomas Rennie to part-time lifeguard
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to change the title of Thomas Rennie from part-time Recreation Attendant to part-time lifeguard at a rate of $7.50 per hour effective October 15, 2008 through May 31, 2009 and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
13. Recreation Director re Purchase requiring Town Board approval
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize payment of $8180 to West Seneca Youth Baseball for 2008 umpire fees.
14. Youth Director re Purchase of Youth Engaged in Service vehicle
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to authorize the purchase of a Youth Engaged in Service (YES) 8-passenger Ford Econoline Wagon E-150XL under the NYS bid contract from Van Bortel Ford Inc., Victor, NY 14564 at a cost of $17,278.33.
15. Chief Gehen re Appointment of Michael Walsh as part-time Public Safety Dispatcher
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to appoint Michael R. Walsh as part-time Public Safety Dispatcher effective November 4, 2008 at a rate of $10.95 per hour and authorize the Supervisor to complete and sign the necessary forms for Erie County Personnel.
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
WEST SENECA SOCCER ASSOCATION AGREEMENT
Paula Minklei, Orchard Park Road, referred to the 1999 agreement with the West Seneca Soccer Association that anticipated registration from West Seneca youth players would cover one-third of the yearly bond payments from the registration fees alone and the Soccer Association would take responsibility for 70 percent of the cost of the bond. Concessions and corporate sponsors were anticipated. David Lawson, who was President of the Soccer Association at the time, was reported to have said he hoped to pay off the bond quickly in addition to any capital improvements to the field for which the Soccer Association was responsible. A pouring rights deal with Coca-Cola was going to contribute to the bond cost for the town to save taxpayers from having to pay the remaining 30 percent. Mrs. Minklei stated that a lot of promises had apparently gone unfulfilled and she wondered what kind of example this provided to the soccer players and the rest of West Seneca’s youth and other residents. The soccer park was an impressive place and it was initially expected to cost the taxpayers very little according to former Supervisor Paul Clark, the unanimous Town Board, and David Lawson; however, as it turned out, the taxpayers were paying much more than anticipated since the town had taken over promises of upkeep and payments from the Soccer Association. Mrs. Minklei questioned if there was a written agreement with the West Seneca Soccer Association, and if so, could they still be held to it.
Councilman Graber advised that there was a lease agreement that the Soccer Association did not live up to, but he questioned where they would get the money from.
Mrs. Minklei suggested that the Soccer Association do some fundraising. She thought there was an understanding that they would pitch in and help out even before the agreement was unanimously adopted by the Town Board. Mrs. Minklei questioned what happened to the plan to get money from the corporate sponsors or the pouring rights agreement with Coca-Cola.
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
WEST SENECA SOCCER ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT (continued)
Councilman Graber responded that not as many corporate sponsors wanted to sponsor the field as anticipated. The town was also supposed to receive some benefit from the concession stand, but that never happened. Councilman Graber stated that nothing at the soccer complex ever turned out the way it was intended to.
Mrs. Minklei questioned the balance of the total debt obligation for the soccer park.
Comptroller Robert Bielecki advised that there was a receivable from the soccer park in the amount of $200,000, but he would have to identify which of the bonds included the soccer park.
Mrs. Minklei questioned if the town had waived the agreed upon financial obligation of the Soccer Association.
Councilman Graber stated that nothing was waived, but the town would not get anything from the Soccer Association. He commented that the Soccer Association went into this with lofty aspirations and made big promises.
Councilwoman Meegan questioned if the town had any legal recourse on this issue.
Town Attorney Edwin Hunter advised that it depended on when the Soccer Association defaulted on the lease and the town would have six years from that point to bring an action to enforce the lease. Assuming that there was still time, they would have to be sued in State Supreme Court. The town would end up with a judgment against an organization that had no assets, and they could attach whatever little revenue the Soccer Association received. This would essentially shut down the soccer program because any revenues they got that probably go back into the program would then come into the town.
Mrs. Minklei thought it might be worth doing this because the Soccer Association might then find a way to pay the debt. She questioned if anyone had looked at their financial situation to see if they were any better off than they were a couple of years ago.
Councilman Graber stated that the Soccer Association would not even provide the documents they were supposed to provide to the IRS. He was not supportive of going after the Soccer Association at the expense of the kids that use the soccer complex. The Soccer Association was the same as before but with different people involved. Councilman Graber stated that the whole idea of the soccer complex was put together by Dave Lawson in November 1997, and it was already moving forward with the approval of Jerry Hicks, Chris Osmanski, and Paul Clark prior to himself and Timothy Wroblewski taking office in January 1998. They had campaigned that they would work together as a team with the other board members, so they weren’t going to start fighting with the existing board members when they took office and they grudgingly went along with the soccer complex. At one point during the planning stages, the project was up to $3.1 million and it was then that they told the other board members that they would not cause problems but would not give them a blank check. The cost was then dropped to below $2 million for the construction part of the project. Councilman Graber stated that at the time there were a lot of grandiose ideas to bring a lot of money in, but it never did and he never believed it would. He also never agreed that the town would not be taking care of the soccer complex, because the rest room facilities became almost unusable and landscaping of the property left a lot to be desired. They did not bring in the money they thought would come in and what they did make was put back into the soccer park.
Mrs. Minklei commented that the board members needed to learn from this issue, because it should not be considered fighting or not being part of the team when a board member raises issues and asks questions.
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
WEST SENECA SOCCER ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT (continued)
Councilman Graber stated that they did raise issues, but at the time this had never been attempted before. Typically, government builds athletic facilities and users do not give them any money. At the time, the Town Board thought they were being progressive by having an association that would help pay for the facility, but it turned out to be a complete failure. Councilman Graber noted that in 2002 or 2003 the Hockey Association approached the Town Board about building a second ice rink facility. They presented all the figures, but the Town Board had learned from the past and didn’t go for it. He further stated that if he could go back in time, he would have put the money that went to the soccer park into the ice rink instead.
Mrs. Minklei thought that the town should at least send a bill to the Soccer Association and let them know that they still have an outstanding obligation.
Comptroller Bielecki stated that he had been in communication with the Soccer Association about the receivable of $200,000 and they gave him some of their 990 federal tax reports. The reports indicated that they were a very thinly financed operation and really had no assets left over at the end of the year.
Councilman Graber stated that $200,000 did not even represent the entire amount, but the town stopped it at a certain point because it was a figure they knew would never be paid.
Councilwoman Bove stated that when she took office and looked at the soccer park situation it was one of the reasons why she thought the town should be in charge of their own parks rather than give it to a third party to run. The Soccer Association knew a lot about soccer, but they did not know much about taking care of things financially. There are families that love soccer and the town was now taking care of the soccer park and that was how it should be done.
Mrs. Minklei commented that the soccer park was a nice park and it looked good for West Seneca, but the people in charge at the time just used the entire story to get the town to fund the soccer park.
Councilman Graber agreed and stated that this was why he was supportive of any rehabilitation or building of a new ice rink being placed on the ballot for the voters to decide.
Mrs. Minklei stated that the board members were elected to make decisions, but she hoped that each of them would look very carefully into the issues before making decisions.
Amy Carpenter, Woodward Crescent, understood there was some expensive refrigeration equipment in the building at the soccer complex. She questioned if it was being used, or if not, could the town sell it and get some money for it.
Councilman Graber stated that they had already tried to sell the equipment, but it had no value.
Highway Supt. Patrick Finnegan stated that there was no interest in the equipment. The town had a contract with someone who ran the snack bar at the concession stand, but the square footage of the freezer was not being used and it was not running.
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
STATUS OF NEW SOUND SYSTEM IN COURT ROOM
Amy Carpenter, Woodward Crescent, questioned the status of an agreement adopted at the June 23rd Town Board meeting concerning installing new chairs and microphones in the court room.
Councilwoman Bove stated that this was on hold at the moment because the Justice Court was looking at new equipment that would be required by New York State. She would check the status of this with Town Justice Dale McCabe.
Mrs. Carpenter hoped that in addition to a new sound system the town would look into getting an LCD projector so the public could view proposals presented at the Planning, Zoning and Town Board meetings.
Dolores Stefanacci, Organ Crescent, asked that something be done to fix the squeaky chairs in the Court Room and presented a can of WD-40 to help resolve the problem.
STATUS OF POSSIBILITY OF EMINENT DOMAIN ON SENECA MALL SITE
Amy Carpenter, Woodward Crescent, questioned the status of a request made at the August Town Board meeting for Town Attorney Edwin Hunter to research the possibility of the town acquiring the Seneca Mall site by eminent domain.
Mr. Hunter responded that he had looked into this request, but this was a matter he preferred to discuss in Executive Session with the Town Board because it involved real estate and pricing. However, he noted that he did not see a lot of favorable prospects for eminent domain over the Seneca Mall property.
Mrs. Carpenter questioned if it would help to build a case if the town had someone that was willing to purchase the property.
Mr. Hunter stated that they would have to purchase the property at fair market value and Pyramid would have to be agreeable, but Pyramid was generally a very disagreeable company.
Councilwoman Meegan noted that the Seneca Mall property was for sale. Their property taxes were over $1 million each year, but their taxes at the Galleria Mall in Cheektowaga were $2 million.
Mrs. Carpenter further commended the Town Board for having Wendel Duchscherer present at this meeting to discuss some topics at the work session and hoped it was as beneficial to the board members as it was to the audience.
LANDSCAPING AT BUFFALO RV AND TRANSIT ROAD CAR DEALER
Karen Lucachick, Greenmeadow Drive, referred to a recent comment in the West Seneca Bee that the berm behind Buffalo RV on Southwestern Blvd. was not complete since the trees had not been planted. About one year ago, Mrs. Lucachick had also brought up that the car dealer on Transit Road at the former Blossom Hardware site was supposed to have green space in front of the property as stated in the minutes. Nothing had been done to enforce these stipulations and she questioned why the town did not go after these people.
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
LANDSCAPING AT BUFFALO RV AND TRANSIT ROAD CAR DEALER (continued)
Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski stated that there was a hill at Buffalo RV but never a berm and this was clarified at one of the meetings. Evergreens had been planted on top of the hill as specified in the plan and they were there when the certificate of occupancy was issued. Mr. Czuprynski stated that the car dealer on Transit Road was instructed to put the green space in, but at the time they were negotiating to purchase the property next to that site and that would have changed the landscape plan for the front. He would check to see if they were still negotiating.
Councilman Graber asked that Mr. Czuprynski look at the Buffalo RV project and report back on what they promised to do and what was actually done.
STATUS OF REQUEST FOR THREE LANES ON ORCHARD PARK ROAD
Karen Lucachick, Greenmeadow Road, questioned the status of a request for a third lane on Orchard Park Road.
Councilman Graber stated that he had been in contact with Assemblyman Mark Schroeder on this issue along with a request for sound barriers on Klas Avenue and would have his office contact Mrs. Lucachick with an update. He also discussed with Assemblyman Schroeder the possibility of a traffic signal for Reserve Road at Orchard Park Road.
PART-TIME EMPLOYEES RECEIVING HEALTH INSURANCE
Karen Lucachick, Orchard Park Road, referred to Item #12 on the agenda for this meeting and questioned where the part-time lifeguard worked in the winter. She further questioned which part-time employees received health benefits and if the council members were part-time.
Councilman Graber responded that the lifeguard worked in the school as part of the town program. The council members were considered full-time at 30+ hours per week and he was not aware of any part-time employees receiving health insurance.
SEMINAR ON LABOR NEGOTIATIONS
David Nagy, Tracy Lynn Lane, stated that the Association of Towns of the State of New York was holding a very important seminar on Monday, November 17th, and he questioned if anyone on the Town Board would be attending. A large portion of the seminar was relative to collective bargaining issues including: prohibited practices with collective bargaining, negotiation trends, how to prepare for negotiations, how to cost out a union proposal, updates on PERB, and court decisions affecting municipalities. The cost of the one day seminar was $75 and Mr. Nagy was hoping that someone from the Town Board would go.
Councilman Graber noted that union negotiations were conducted by the town’s labor attorney and Town Comptroller Robert Bielecki. If anyone were to go to this seminar, he suggested that it be Mr. Bielecki.
PROPERTY MAINTENANCE AT SENECA CITY LINE
Linda Toy, Burch Avenue, referred to the poor condition of the former Hills department store property on Seneca Street at the city line and noted that there was now a construction trailer parked there with a fence around it. She questioned if anything was going to be done with the property.
ISSUES OF THE PUBLIC
PROPERTY MAINTENANCE AT SENECA CITY LINE (continued)
Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski advised that new lines were being put in along Seneca Street and the trailer and fence were placed there without the town’s permission. They will be going to the Zoning Board of Appeals for permission to put a temporary trailer on the property. Mr. Czuprynski stated that he could not force anyone to sell the property, but he understood the rear portion was being sold.
PRESENTATION OF COMMUNICATIONS BY BOARD MEMBERS AND DEPARTMENT HEADS
PUBLIC HEARING FOR RESCISSION OF SEQR LOCAL LAW
Town Attorney Edwin Hunter referred to the work session with Drew Reilly of Wendel Duchscherer and his recommendation that the town rescind the local law concerning SEQR since it is outdated and does not comply with the NYS statute. Mr. Hunter stated that he drafted a notice of public hearing for rescission of the local law and hoped it could be scheduled for later this month.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan to schedule a public hearing for December 1, 2008 at 7:30 P.M. for rescission of the local law concerning SEQR.
WORK SESSIONS SCHEDULED TO DISCUSS BUDGET ISSUES
Motion by Councilwoman Bove, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to hold a work session with the department heads in the Caucus Room on Monday, November 17th, and a second work session on Tuesday, November 18th, at 7:00 P.M. to discuss questions and concerns on the proposed budget.
Motion by Councilman Graber, seconded by Councilwoman Meegan, to adjourn the meeting at 8:35 P.M.
PATRICIA C. DEPASQUALE, RMC/CMC