By Rick Miller
Town officials frustration with the state Department of Environmental Conservation over a variety of issues boiled over at Monday night’s town board meeting.
Great Valley Supervisor Daniel Brown notified town board members that DEC officials were looking for town permission to sample groundwater near the old town dump behind the Town Hall and highway garage.
After receiving a 30-day notice from DEC that they want to come on to town property, Brown noted that the town still has “a few things up in the air” with DEC. He said he would not give the DEC permission until after notifying the town board.
Brown said the town has been waiting for more than 15 months for an answer to its application to remove a berm at its gravel pit behind the Town Hall to expand it slightly and provide a continued supply of gravel for the town for years to come.
The answer was supposed to come in 30 days. It’s been over a year. “They say they are short-staffed,” Brown said.
Town Attorney Peter Sorgi said the town’s options are to allow the DEC access to the property or force them to get a court order.
Brown said the town dump operated from the mid 1950s to the early 1970s. The DEC might better test area homes wells, he said.
With the town’s application to expand their gravel pit is still in the hands of the DEC, Bown said it would be “a waste of time” to sue over the state failing to act promptly. They would claim being short of staff.
Brown said DEC had fined the town $1,000 each for two sewage spills involving private septic systems. The fine was levied by DEC after the town failed to register on a DEC website in the allotted amount of time. Then Brown said there was trouble with the state website and now all the information will have to be entered on a new site, ALERT NY.
Sorgi said he explained the situation to DEC officials, who reduced the fines to $500 each from $1,000 each. “We’re still arguing with them. I said we’d sign it, but cross off the $500 fines.” First the reporting system didn’t work, then DEC junked it.
Then, Brown said, DEC sought the town’s help in installing a fish migration pipe beneath Christian Hollow Road. The town agreed, but asked a $500 installation fee. That sparked what Sorgi said were “unprofessional emails” from DEC in return.
ON ANOTHER ISSUE, Brown told the board the Kill Buck Community Grounds will be available for rent to groups this summer for $150 a day, $50 of which is refundable if the grounds are cleaned up. Electrical power will also be restored to the facility.
Kill Buck residents are talking about holding a Great Valley Bicentennial Picnic at the Community Grounds.
The grounds will be mowed by two different area contractors and a bid for a contract for the remainder of the summer will be let in June, Brown said.
The park “will never pay for itself,” but the board sees it as a service for residents, Brown explained. He said the old kitchen should be opened up and turned into an amphitheater.
The Salamanca Sports Boosters will be the first group to utilize the Community Grounds as they move back there for an annual event.
A meeting has been scheduled for 7 p.m. May 22 at the Kill Buck Fire Hall to discuss the Community Grounds.
Bob Patterson, who lives near the Community Grounds, said bricks from the old Kill Buck School had been obtained from the Seneca Nation could be used to build a memorial at the Community Grounds.
Brown said recent rains had shorted out a smoke detector in the courtroom at the Town Hall, setting off fire alarms several times in the early morning hours.
“We need a new roof on the building,” Brown said. “I climbed up and tarred the roof (where it leaked).” The board later held an executive session to discuss advertising for bids to replace the roof.
Brown also announced that Assessment Grievance Day would be May 24 from 4 to 8 p.m. Residents will need to fill out a form from the assessor to present to the Assessment Board of Review.