Fall Festival Plans Approved
By Jann Wiswall
The Ellicottville Village Board, at its Sept. 9 meeting, stated it will not revise the laws enacted in April that set new quarterly water and sewer rates for village businesses and residents beginning with the July billing period.
The new rates have been a subject of much discussion since bills were mailed in June. In addition to rate changes, the board established a new classification of commercial customers — non-restaurant businesses with 5/8-inch or 1-inch water meters. Many owners of businesses in this class complained about the $150 increase to their quarterly, minimum water/sewer bills. In the past, these businesses had been billed as residential customers, which the state required the village to change.
In response to these customers’ concerns, the board has considered over the past several months whether the laws should be rewritten. Such a change would require the village attorney to rewrite the laws at significant cost to the village and would have required new public hearings on the issue — a process that could take months.
Mayor Charles Coolidge reminded the board that these new laws were mandated by the State Comptroller’s Office and were critically important as the village works to improve water pressure and fire protection for the village. He also pointed out that the village’s fees are very low compared to other municipalities in the region, citing Salamanca’s rates and its extra line-item fee for fire hydrants as an example.
“Our rates are not unreasonable,” Coolidge said, as he asked the board not to change the laws.
Deputy Mayor Bob Brogcinski said he felt the water rates were fine, but made a motion to lower only the commercial sewer minimum rate. This motion was not seconded, so it did not advance to a vote. As a result, the law stands.
Ellicottville Fall Festival
Special Events Committee Chair and Board Member Patra Lowes provided the board with a list of rules, regulations and processes that have been developed with extensive input from police, the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce, bar and restaurant owners, the board and others in order to curb some of the late-night, alcohol-related problems that arose at last year’s Fall Fest.
Until this meeting, Special Events Committee discussions with the board largely have been held during executive sessions in order to keep police and security plans confidential. While the information provided at Monday’s board meeting was not shared in full with the media, Lowes said a press release with many more details will be made available soon.
All parties involved in the event have agreed to enforce the village’s noise and open container ordinances and have put plans in place, including establishing regulations for the outdoor tents sponsored by Balloons and Ellicottville Brewing Company, arranging for advance police and code enforcement officer walk-throughs of bars to confirm occupancy maximums, beefing up police presence with extra officers from around the region, holding bouncer training, arranging for a judge to be on hand for the weekend and much more.
Brogcinski pointed out that last year food vendors were setting up and opening in the morning and afternoon of the Friday before the weekend event. Because the event is intended for just Saturday and Sunday, the board approved a motion that Jefferson Street will not be closed to traffic until 6 p.m. on Friday and that vendors may begin to set up after that time. If vendors want to open on Friday, they will be permitted to do so only between 6–10 p.m.
The board also discussed the fact that Fall Fest, a chamber of commerce fundraiser, is a significant expense for both the village and the town, and it keeps getting more expensive. DPW, town and village police and others work many extra hours in advance, during and after the event, and must hire extra staff as well.
Board Member Greg Cappelli said the Special Events Committee is looking carefully at “what we’re spending versus what we’re taking in” by asking all departments to track their hours and spending related to the event. The board then will look at its “return on investment” and work on resolving any issues with the chamber next year based on that analysis.
DPW head Harold Morton reported that his department has been busy replacing sidewalks, removing trees, repairing the village park’s grandstand, responding to dig requests and handling regular maintenance over the past month.
Constable Howard Gifford said eight vehicle and traffic summonses were issued in August, along with four verbal warnings. There was one arrest for disorderly conduct, one arrest for underage possession of alcohol, five arrests for open container violations and one complaint for criminal mischief. In addition, Gifford stopped two erratic drivers and responded to three noise complaints from one residence. Fourteen parking tickets were issued by the Constable and 12 were issued by town police.
Village Engineer Mike Smith asked the board to approve hiring a “data logging” firm to do a nighttime (low usage) analysis of 15,000 feet of village water pipes in an attempt to locate leaks. If the leaks can be located and repaired, the village should see improvements in its water pressure. The board approved the project.
The October meeting of the Village Board has been moved to Oct. 7 due to the Columbus Day holiday, also allowing the board to meet one more time before Fall Fest.