Seeks Estimates for Park Improvements

By Jann Wiswall

Bids received for general contracting services to construct the new Village Waste Water Treatment Plant significantly exceeded engineering estimates, leaving the board with no choice but to reject all bids and authorize that the project be rebid based on a revised scope of work.

Village Engineer Mike Smith, who is CEO of Nussbaumer & Clarke, Inc. — the firm that designed the plant and wrote the bid specifications – said he was very disappointed that general contracting bids came in “extraordinarily high.” The low bid was $5.8 million for a project he expected to come in at $4 million. The other four bids ranged from $6.2-$6.5 million.

Smith explained that his firm had designed a plant that “was the best that we could design and get the results we need,” to accommodate all village development and expansion well into the future.

Board members commented that they wanted to be sure that the village does not end up with a sub-standard plant after all of the years of planning and expense to date.

Smith assured the board that his team is looking at making changes to the size of some equipment, elimination of a building structure, simplifying some design elements and reducing other costs only to the degree that “we still feel comfortable with the quality and effectiveness” of the plant. He also is working with the state Department of Environmental Conservation – which mandated that the village build the new plant in the first place – to look at other mutually acceptable changes to the approved design.

Smith said he continues to seek federal or state grant funding to offset the project’s costs.

In other business, the Board and the Department of Public Works plan to develop a new policy for residential brush removal to address annual issues that regularly tax the DPW staff’s ability to do their job.

Currently, the Village policy states that the DPW will pick up brush on the first Monday of the month only. In recent weeks, however, residents doing their spring yard clean up have been leaving large piles of brush on the curb every week. The DPW has had to remove it since the piles get in the way of their other road and sidewalk maintenance duties. In addition, residents are leaving non-brush material such as large tree limbs and other landscape debris for pick up. The DPW cannot handle this type of material.

The board is considering its options – including, perhaps, reducing brush pick-up service to just once during the spring and giving residents the responsibility of removing all other debris themselves. The board noted that Casella Waste Management will pick up residential bagged brush on its regular pick-up days when it takes over village trash service on July 1.

Mayor Charlie Coolidge asked the board for its authority to seek estimates for baseball diamond improvements at the Village Park in response to recent comments on social media about the poor condition of the fields. The village had budgeted to replace the roof on the grandstand this summer, but Coolidge would like to address the fields instead.

Board members suggested that outside funding might be available for the project. Coolidge noted that parents from all over the area have volunteered to help in whatever ways they can. If it is within budget, work could not begin until after the Little League season is over since the fields would not be playable while work is underway.

Coolidge also referenced a letter he sent to the Armor Inn regarding the restaurant’s desire to host a special “Armor Inn Bike Day” event every Sunday afternoon during the summer in the Wingate Hotel’s parking lot. The letter cited numerous reasons the event “will violate Village of Ellicottville Local Laws,” including restrictions described in the restaurant’s and the hotel’s special use permits, particularly related to guest parking availability and “representations made in the Environmental Assessment Form upon which State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) approval was based.

The letter stated that “Although the Mayor and Board Trustees are supportive of Village businesses, Village government has a responsibility to enforce the Local Laws to protect the health and safety of the community as a whole. … Bike Day will place a significant strain on the public safety resources of the Village.”

Finally, the board held its annual reorganization meeting for the next fiscal year which begins on July 1. No significant changes were made to committees, policies or procedures. The board did appoint attorney Kathleen Moriarty as acting village justice and named Christine Barlow to a vacant seat on the Village Zoning Board.

The next meeting of the Village Board is scheduled for June 8 at 6 p.m. in the Town/Village Hall.