Personnel from MDA Consulting Engineers, PLLC and SJB Services, Inc. prepare to stake out soil boring locations for geotechnical exploration at the proposed East Tank site.
Personnel from MDA Consulting Engineers, PLLC and SJB Services, Inc. prepare to stake out soil boring locations for geotechnical exploration at the proposed East Tank site.

by Jann Wiswall

What was the most memorable thing about the winter of 2013-14? Was it the polar vortex — that Arctic weather system that overstayed its welcome and brought us one of the coldest winters on record? Or was it the consistently great snow conditions that brought some of the best skiing/boarding to Western New York in years?

If you’re a glass-is-half-full kind of person, you’ll remember the latter.

In the weather-dependent ski industry, there is only one thing for certain each year: There’s no predicting Mother Nature. Despite the weather extremes and an average amount of snowfall for the area, both Holiday Valley and HoliMont report they had generally terrific seasons.

According to Jane Eshbaugh, Holiday Valley’s marketing director, the area had a good early start in late November/December, then a few rainy Saturdays, followed by the cold and blizzards that kept “the new snow we got and the snow we had in great condition.” Once the temperatures normalized and the snow kept coming, “March turned out to be one of the strongest we’ve had in years,” she said.

Looking ahead, there was some great news for the ski areas from Governor Cuomo’s office. A new I Ski NY bus program will be introduced next season that will provide charter bus service to Holiday Valley, HoliMont and other Western New York ski areas from Toronto during the week and on weekends. HoliMont’s marketing director, Dash Hegeman, said this will be a welcome program for the resort and for Ellicottville in general.

He said, “We’re always looking for ways to get more people coming down from Canada.”

The Generosity of Many

The winter season is always full of fun and games, but there’s also a lot of serious work that gets done behind the scenes at Holiday Valley, HoliMont and many Ellicottville civic organizations to coordinate dozens of fundraising events that support the efforts of many non-profit and charitable organizations.

This year, these events raised tens of thousands of dollars for organizations such as Boarding for Breast Cancer, the Buffalo area’s Women’s Oncology Program at Camp Good Days, United Way of Cattaraugus County, Lounsbury Adaptive Ski Program, volunteer Ski Patrols, Mercy Flight, Aspire of WNY, the Ellicottville Food Pantry and many more.

Ongoing Area Projects and Improvements

Area municipalities spent the winter months working on plans for several infrastructure projects.

The NYS DOT’s sidewalk project, which includes construction of a sidewalk from HoliMont into the village along Route 242, improvement of the Elizabeth/Fillmore/Route 219 intersection, and rebuilding the handicap ramps and curbs at five intersections in the village along Washington Street, is scheduled to begin as soon as the ground thaws.

The East Tank water project also is moving along, and a bond counselor was hired to come up with a bonding plan for the four municipalities that will benefit from the tank — the Town and Village of Ellicottville, the Town of Mansfield and the Town of Great Valley. Some details still need to be worked out before a joint public hearing for all municipalities can be scheduled for May.

The Village of Ellicottville is working on plans for a renovated wastewater treatment facility that will upgrade the system and allow for future development. The cost of the project has grown from an initial estimate of $1.6 million to as much as $4 million. Grants and other funding sources are being sought in order to help pay for the project.

A floodplain remapping project that was completed by the town, village and two area developers has been reviewed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA agrees with the project’s conclusion that existing floodplain maps for the area are obsolete and should be formally revised by the agency. For funding reasons, however, FEMA will not begin to redraft the maps until 2015. Once the maps are formally revised, town and village property owners may ask their mortgage companies to reconsider their flood insurance policy rates, potentially resulting in potential savings of thousands of dollars a year.

A proposal put forth by the WNY Southtowns Scenic Byway board of directors to extend the existing byway from southern Erie County into Cattaraugus County, along Route 219 for about 25 miles, has been endorsed by nearly all Cattaraugus County municipalities that would be impacted. However, some members of the county legislature have expressed opposition to the requirement that new billboards would be prohibited along the route (existing billboards would be grandfathered in). Ellicottville’s Town Supervisor John Burrell noted that most of the municipalities involved already have sign ordinances limiting or banning billboards.

New Local Laws 

For pedestrian safety reasons, the Ellicottville Village Board passed a law making Hughey Alley one-way from east to west between Monroe and Jefferson streets. Cars, delivery trucks and other vehicles will no longer be able to cut through the Alley from Jefferson to reach Monroe Street. Watch for one-way and directional signage to be installed soon.

The Town of Great Valley’s board passed a new property maintenance law to encourage residents to take better care of their properties by making it illegal to create unsightly and unsafe conditions caused by unkempt property, dilapidated buildings and the accumulation of trash such as junk cars. The law provides a mechanism for the municipality to enforce the law according to state guidelines by formally citing the property owner for violation and assessing fines. A provision to the law also allows the town to work on completion of cleanup and add the town’s cost onto the landowner’s tax bill.