EVGV Trail Gets Sen. Schumer’s Attention

By Jann Wiswall

At last month’s meeting of the Town of Ellicottville’s board, two members of a group of owners of a vacation property on Townline (a.k.a. Stoney Lonesome) Road asked the board about the status of their request to re-institute town maintenance of the road leading to the home. The board said at the time that it needed more time to consider the situation and to get Town Highway Superintendent Dave Golley’s input.

At this month’s meeting on Sept. 24, Ann Williams and Richard Steinberg returned to contest a letter they received from Town Supervisor John Burrell stating the board determined that the road is actually a driveway, was never legally owned by the town and would not be maintained by the town going forward.

Williams and Steinberg said that they have evidence that the road was maintained at least until 2003, implying town ownership. It is still being plowed, though that is being done by the Town of Ashford. Williams stated that the “decision seems arbitrary and doesn’t take into account the evidence.” They asked the board to reconsider its decision.

Burrell said he is open to continuing the discussion, but that Golley must definitively weigh in on the decision as the elected official in charge. Golley did not attend the meeting.

After Williams asked the board to formally “withdraw the letter,” the board broke into executive session to discuss the matter further. Upon its return, the board made a motion to let the letter stand but to table further discussion until its next meeting, pending the highway superintendent’s opinion.

Also at last month’s board meeting, Police Officer in Charge Don Auge reported that two of his officers and the county dispatcher had trouble finding a judge to arraign an individual who had been arrested on a felony charge at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night.  Ellicottville Justice John C. Nelson attended this month’s meeting to report that the 8th Judicial District is developing a plan to establish a better process to ensure a judge is always available for late-night arraignments.  He also assured the board that local judges have worked out an after-hours schedule for Fall Festival weekend.

Supervisor’s Report

Burrell reported that he is working on developing policies, contracts, pricing and other details related to renting the Town Center auditorium and Nannen Arboretum space for weddings, parties and other special events. Burrell said he is considering requiring a security deposit or cancellation fee at the time of booking. The information will be presented to the board at a later date for its approval.

After discussion with colleagues at a recent county supervisors meeting, Burrell has concluded that the county’s alarm law and processes for regulating home security systems is not adequate for the needs of Ellicottville. The board agreed that the town needs its own law and system. It will begin the process by drafting an amendment to an existing law and developing administrative processes for permits and enforcement. The board hopes that these efforts will help reduce the number of false alarms received by the fire department.

2015 budget preparations have begun and several budget work sessions were scheduled for the board. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for the next regular board meeting on Oct. 15.

Engineer’s Report

Town Engineer Mark Alianello reported that he had conducted a final inspection at WestMont Ridge and that the contractor is working on the final punch list. A next step in the process is for HoliMont to “dedicate” sewer and water utilities to Mansfield. Once that is done, Mansfield must finalize an agreement with the village to continue to treat the wastewater and maintain the collection system, and with the town to provide water and maintain the distribution system. Once that months-long process is complete, owners of the single family lots can begin to apply for Mansfield building permits.

The East Tank Project is moving along smoothly. The water tank was constructed in less than two weeks; waterline placement and other work is under way. The project must be completed and operational this year.

The board authorized Burrell to sign a contract with Municipal Solutions, a consulting firm that handles all the financial aspects of the East Tank project, which obtained bond anticipation notes for the first year of the project at a rate of less than one percent.

Alianello also reported that the water distribution system’s booster station #2 broke down on Aug. 30, causing massive water damage to all of its electrical systems, transformers and the telemetry panel. The exact cause of the breakdown is not known, but was probably due to a worn, 30-year-old pump. Alianello described the list of damages and interim fixes that were done, and relayed conversations with the insurance company’s engineer. He estimates long-term repairs will cost some $50,000, much of which will be covered by insurance and will result in a “renewed” booster station.  The board agreed to cover the balance of repairs.

Finally, Alianello was informed by the State Department of Transportation that the “HoliMont sidewalk” project, which includes redesigning the intersection at Fillmore Road, Elizabeth Street and Route 219, will not be completed this year as promised.

Recreational Trail Update

Board member Ken Hinman said that, as a result of a press release sent to and published in the Buffalo News, an aide from Senator Schumer’s office called to ask how the Senator can help with the Ellicottville/Great Valley Recreational Trail. Committee members described the project and its efforts to obtain state grants and invited the aide to attend the EVGV Trail open house on Oct. 5 at the Town Center and Nannen Arboretum. The open house, Hinman said, is open to all and the committee is expecting a great turnout.

The next meeting of the Town Board will be held at 6 p.m. on Oct. 15 in the Village/Town Hall.