By Jann Wiswall

The July 17 meeting of the Ellicottville Town Board was held at the Town Center (formerly the Cooperative Extension Service Building) where renovations are moving along well. Supervisor John Burrell noted that the new courtroom space is essentially complete. The only thing left to do is to move furniture and equipment, which is scheduled to be done during the last week of July. Beginning the first week of August, court will be held at the Town Center.

Burrell said directional road signs to the courts and the Town Center will be placed at strategic intersections in Ellicottville, and everyone scheduled to be in court after August 1 will be sent information about the new court location.

Burrell also reported that the Town Center’s auditorium will be painted and final construction items will soon be completed. Councilmember John Northrup said he is donating double doors that were removed from the old Holiday Valley lodge to replace the old auditorium doors leading out of the auditorium to the Nannen Arboretum.

The renovations of the courtroom space are expected to exceed the $30,000 budget by about $5,000, but Burrell said that some unexpended salary will cover the overage. He also noted that the $6,500 budgeted for renovation of the auditorium likely will come in at or slightly under budget.

Burrell briefed the board about a proposed joint fire district that would, ideally, pool the resources of the fire departments of Ellicottville, Mansfield, Great Valley and Humphrey.  The Town of Ellicottville is interested in the concept especially because of its proximity to the new WestMont Ridge Development, which lies in both the Towns of Mansfield and Ellicottville.

Ellicottville’s fire department, which is only a half mile from WestMont Ridge, would be the first responder to any fire emergency there — whether the fire is in Mansfield or Ellicottville. Mansfield’s Fire Department is more than four miles away. Ellicottville argues that it is fair to share the expenses for coverage of what will be a densely populated area when completed.

There are many stumbling blocks to making such a joint district possible, but Councilmember Steve Crowley said he hopes discussions will continue between all parties. Crowley pointed out that it is important that any plan be a long-term one — a 30-year plan, not just five, he said.

In other business, the board reviewed the mid-year revenue and expense report prepared by the Supervisor’s Clerk Lindsey Coburn. To date, revenue is ahead of projections due primarily to higher sales tax and mortgage tax revenue than projected. Expenses are on target, as well, though Coburn indicated that the board likely will need to make some line appropriation adjustments at its next meeting. The board agreed and thanked Coburn for her hard work.

Town Engineer Mark Alianello briefed the board on the status of the East Tank Project. Empire State Development (ESD), which agreed to fund a large portion of the project, sent Alianello a long-awaited “incentive proposal” for board approval. The ESD asked the town to agree to a 23 percent minority- and women-owned business set-aside goal and many other conditions. After discussion, the board decided that it would not agree to the conditions until they are reviewed in more detail and any costs for compliance are determined. The board will ask for a 60-day extension to allow time for thorough review.

There was also discussion of the latest developments of the proposed Ellicottville-Great Valley Recreational Trail. The trail committee plans to apply for a $2 million Transportation Enhancement Program (TEP) grant from the New York State Department of Transportation. This grant requires the sponsoring agency to commit to funding 20 percent of the project, or $400,000. While the trail committee expects to raise the full 20 percent, for purposes of grant applications, the Town of Ellicottville is the official sponsoring agency.  As a result, the board approved a resolution, prepared by Town Attorney Kathleen Moriarty, to commit to the 20 percent share.

The next meeting of the Town of Ellicottville Board will be on Aug. 21 at 6 p.m.