Board Welcomes Officer Kowalski

By Jann Wiswall

The August 19 meeting of the Town of Ellicottville’s board started with introductions.

First, Supervisor John Burrell and Police Officer in Charge Don Auge introduced the newest member of the Ellicottville Police Department, Cori Kowalski. Kowalski, who recently moved to the Village of Ellicottville, has previously served with the Buffalo, Salamanca and Franklinville police departments.

The board welcomed Kowalski and offered him their support, noting that it is nice to have a police officer living in and getting to know the community.

Next up, William and Racquel Bursee introduced themselves to the board and briefed them on their hopes to build a small brew pub and distillery at the former Aardvark Home Décor location on Rt. 219 across from Tim Horton’s. The Bursee’s, who have spoken with Ellicottville’s Code Enforcement Officer, Tom Abriatis, will be working with the town planning board to determine whether the location is zoned for the proposed business and to work out other details. If approved, they hope to open a restaurant offering a food, craft beers, and their own distilled vodkas and gins. They also plan to produce bourbon and whiskey, which will be aged at another location.

Town Engineer Mark Alianello suggested the Bursee’s meet with Abriatis and Town Planner Carol Horowitz for an initial working session to review zoning law.

Last month, the board held a public hearing on its proposed Local Alarm Law. Although no one from the public attended the hearing, Burrell asked the board to hold off on a vote until Village Court Justice Jack Rogan could weigh in.

Rogan suggested several changes to the draft which was “designed to regulate, control and establish standards for… emergency alarms which transmit a signal (electronic, audible or otherwise) that may or may not require a police or fire department response for the purposes of investigation, action or safeguarding of property at the location from which such alarm is generated.”

Its intent is to ensure that fire and police are able to contact the property owner if their alarm goes off, either due to a true emergency or a false alarm, and to reduce the number of false alarms.

In order to do so, the law will require property owners to obtain annual permits for their alarm systems and to keep them in good working order. It also will assess fees for false alarms.

Rogan had some substantive questions and suggestions regarding: how the law would be enforced; how citations would be issued; how it would be coordinated; whether the Village was covered by the law; if the law would apply to the entire fire district or only to the town; the fee schedule; and some practical issues regarding communication between agencies and managing processes.

Ellicottville Fire Chief Kevin Morton also was present to ask process-related questions.

The board and Town Attorney Kathleen Moriarty felt that Rogan’s and Morton’s comments were very thoughtful and relevant and agreed that a new draft of the law should be prepared and reviewed again by the board. Because the spirit of the law is not changing, however, the board did not think it necessary to schedule another public hearing.

Department Head Reports

Police: Burrell said he has gotten several complaints about drivers speeding on Poverty Hill Rd., where the speed limit is 45 mph. Auge said he has assigned officers to the area and they have not yet observed speeders.

Highways: Highway Superintendent Loyd Hovey said a resident had asked him if “Children at Play” signs could be installed near his home on Poverty Hill Rd. The board decided that the department could install the signs if the resident purchases them.

Several complaints about the condition of Deer Crossing Rd. have been received. Hovey agrees it’s in bad shape and expects to fill potholes there before winter, however he said Upper Rd. is in even worse condition so it will be patched first.

Engineering: Alianello walked the board through the complicated financial process of paying off one Bond Anticipation Note (BAN) of $1.4 million for the East Tank Project and executing a new $1.125 million BAN for the following year.  The board resolved to take both actions. Alianello explained that this process will be followed for many years, reducing the loan total each year until the project is paid in full.

Alianello also reported that Holiday Valley Rd. construction has picked up since the weather finally improved and that the legal paperwork necessary to abandon the old Holiday Valley Road in front of the lodge and dedicate the new road to the town will be ready for the board’s signature soon.

Alianello asked the board to support his efforts to convince the Department of Transportation to construct a sidewalk along Rt. 219 from the Village to Tim Horton’s. The DOT has denied the request, saying it had determined there is not a significant safety issue.

Alianello argued that there is, indeed, a safety issue, particularly as the town continues to grow in that direction. He is sending the DOT a copy of the town’s comprehensive plan as evidence of need and asked the board to contact area Congressmembers and Senators for letters of support.

Finally, Alianello said he has worked with his Village colleagues (known as the Four Flushers) to devise a process to help property owners with frozen pipes now that the Village’s Department of Public Works has equipment that can defrost them from the inside. If the DPW determines that the freeze is on private property, the DPW will charge the property owner a flat fee of $200. If the freeze is in town lines, which is more typical, there will be no charge.

Alianello suggested that the board establish a formal policy on the subject, which must be approved by the Village board as well.

The next meeting of the town of Ellicottville’s board will be held on Wednesday, September 16 at 6 p.m. at the town/village hall.