By Jann Wiswall

The Town of Ellicottville’s board continues to work with the Village board to create a new department of public works. The department will be headed by a director who will oversee a joint water/sewer district, as well as the town’s highway department and the village’s existing public works department.

During its board meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 15, Town Supervisor Matt McAndrew briefed the board on a recent meeting of town and village officials with Batavia’s mayor and engineer. Batavia recently created a joint water and sewer district for its municipality.

During that meeting, the Batavia engineer, Steve Mountain, described the process used to develop an overall concept, an organizational structure, a job description for the Batavia department director and hiring that director. He also noted that the town applied for and obtained “efficiency” grants to help fund shovel-ready projects.

By the end of that meeting, Ellicottville officials asked Mountain to prepare a proposal to do the same for the joint district here. The proposal, not to exceed $10,000, will be funded through the Village sewer fund; the Village board approved the expense at its Feb. 13 meeting.

The completed proposal was not yet available for review by the village or town board last week.

Another necessary step toward forming a joint district is to create a thorough inventory of water and sewer department assets, which includes locating and developing an updateable database of all utility-related hydrants, tanks, pumps, valves, pipes, etc. Village engineering firm MDA Engineers has submitted a proposal to do the inventory, which the town board approved pending Village board approval. The cost of the project would be equally shared.

A next step, which has not yet been requested, will be to use the asset inventory data to create a detailed GIS map of all utilities. Both sets of data can then be used to prioritize maintenance and plan future capital projects.

McAndrew also reported that the town has received a check for $7,754 from the State Department of Transportation for work paid for the town during the Rt. 219 sidewalk construction project.

Police Officer in Charge Don Auge reported that he had worked with the county’s emergency dispatcher to develop a weekly fire and burglar alarm tracking system that will help authorities track false alarms and identify residential or business alarm systems that need repair or maintenance.

Auge also reported that the department now has bullet-proof vests for all officers and that a new patrol car should be ready for use within the month.

MDA Engineer Jake Alianello, sitting in for his father Town Engineer Mark Alianello who was on vacation, reported that the village had received bids for the town/village hall’s HVAC system. The Village’s engineer has recommended accepting the low bid, which came in under $100,000. The town board will review the recommendation and will respond by the next meeting. Alianello said that, if the approval schedules are met, the project could be substantially complete by the end of May.

In new business, McAndrew said the WNY Southtowns Scenic Byway Committee has asked the town of Ellicottville to become a formal municipal member. Dues are $250 per year. The board approved the request.

And, the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has announced a new Clean Energy Communities grant cycle.

Grants are available to municipalities that can show they have taken four of ten eligible “high-impact actions” toward becoming a Clean Energy Community (CEC). Once they qualify, CECs can apply for grants to fund additional clean energy projects.

The purpose of the program is to help local governments “implement clean energy actions, save energy costs, create jobs, and improve the environment. In addition to providing tools, resources, and technical assistance, the program recognizes and rewards leadership for the completion of clean energy projects.”

McAndrew asked the board to help identify four actions the town can take to qualify for CEC designation. One will be a benchmarking project that will lead to the town’s adoption of a policy to report energy use in municipal buildings. A second will be to adopt a “Unified Solar Permit” that will streamline the approval process for solar installations. A third will be to install electric vehicle charging stations in the town. And a fourth will be to train the town’s building inspector on energy code best practices.

The next regular meeting of the town of Ellicottville’s board is scheduled for Wednesday, March 15 at 6 p.m. in the town/village hall.