By Jann Wiswall
The Town of Ellicottville’s January acquisition of the Cooperative Extension Service Building and the adjacent Nannen Arboretum prompted Town Supervisor John Burrell to call a special board meeting on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. Members of the Nannen Arboretum Committee, Cooperative Extension Service staff, the village boards, the town engineer and the town attorney also met with the board in the Extension Service Building to clarify policies and procedures, property maintenance, renovations and other topics.
Burrell specifically addressed a number of issues that had been posed by the Arboretum Committee at the February 20 meeting of the Town Board.
Burrell suggested, and all agreed, that the Arboretum would be designated as a park and that the Arboretum Committee would continue to operate much as it has all along, but the committee would be renamed the Nannen Arboretum Society. The society’s function and purpose would be to “use and maintain the Arboretum to benefit town residents and visitors.” To ensure good communication, Burrell also suggested that a steering committee composed of a town board member, a village board member and an Arboretum Society member be formed.
The Arboretum, which was a non-profit organization associated with the Cooperative Extension Service, will need to reapply for 501 (c) 3 status. Town Attorney Kathleen Moriarty will advise the board and society on how to obtain that status as quickly as possible.
Financially, the Arboretum will retain all of its current funds and will continue to accept donations. The Arboretum will be able to seek grant funding, as well.
Mayor Charlie Coolidge informed the committee that the village will take over plowing and mowing the property, and Burrell said that the town Department of Public Works plans to repave the parking lot. The group discussed processes to get work done that is beyond the ability of the Arboretum Society. Burrell said some of that work would need to be contracted out and that decisions on these issues will have to be made on a case-by-case basis.
The last topic brought up for the Arboretum Society to consider was the possibility of locating part of the proposed recreational trail along or through part of the Arboretum. The Society welcomed the idea and said it will look forward to seeing plans when they become available.
Building Renovations and Management
Burrell shared a draft plan for the building that would include renovation of about 800 square feet of space for the Town and Village Courts. This plan depends to a great extent on authorization by the region’s court system, which would need to redirect funds originally intended to make the Town Hall ADA accessible and instead use them for renovations at the Extension Service Building. Renovations may also include upgrades to the restrooms, lighting and appliances, along with reconfiguration of the auditorium, interior painting and other cosmetic fixes.
The town board hopes that, with these renovations, the building will be more appealing for weddings, special events and other revenue generating functions, as well as tenants.
The town board authorized Burrell to immediately begin a search for a part-time facilities manager for the property. The job requires someone with diverse skills who can perform custodial and maintenance duties, keep a master calendar, open and close the building, and manage all other functions of the property.