Endorses Scenic Byway

By Jennie Acklin

Two public hearings were held during the Village of Ellicottville’s monthly board meeting on Monday, Feb. 10.

The first was a hearing on Local Law #4 of 2013 to make Hughey Alley one-way from east to west, between Monroe and Jefferson streets. The change was first proposed back in October as a way to make the intersection of Hughey Alley at Monroe Street safer for pedestrians.

At the public hearing on the matter in November, several village business owners attended the meeting, brought up some issues with the plan and suggested some alternative solutions to the problem. Over the next two months, the board looked at other options, but concluded that the original proposal was the best solution. No members of the public attended Monday’s hearing, and the law was passed as written, though it was renamed Local Law #1 of 2014.

The second public hearing was held to allow public comment on the 2014-15 village budget. No members of the public attended.

The budget includes a 4 percent salary increase for village employees and board members, and a $1,000 increase to the village beautification line item (from $3,000 to $4,000), which will go toward the efforts of the Alley Katz and the Lights on Main Street program.

The board noted that a planned new sidewalk plow was not included in the 2014-15 budget. The Village and the Town of Ellicottville have been discussing the possibility of sharing the cost of a new plow and various models were under consideration. Department of Public Works Chief Harold Morton has received estimates ranging from $120,000-$140,000.

Mayor Charlie Coolidge and the board discussed the possibility of purchasing a used plow instead of a new one.

“All options should to be explored,” Coolidge said.

Regardless, Coolidge and Village Attorney Bob Smith agreed that a contract between the town and village would need to be drawn up to clearly define details of a shared purchase and use of the equipment.

The 2014-15 budget was approved by a unanimous board vote.

In other business, Coolidge asked the board to authorize him to sign an Environmental Assessment Form indicating approval of the SEQR applications related to the redevelopment and rezoning of the 16 Martha Street property. There was some confusion about whether or not the paperwork provided to the board was accurate. After lengthy discussion and a failed motion to allow the mayor to sign the document, several board members agreed to schedule a meeting with Jason Paananen, the Planning Board’s engineer, on the following day to get clarification.

[That meeting, which was held behind closed doors on Feb. 11 at 5 p.m., apparently provided board members Patra Lowes, Greg Cappelli and Sherman Wilkins with the answers they needed. The contractor for 16 Martha Street was told afterwards by Cappelli that he “was good to go” as far as SEQR approval is concerned. Paananen explained later that the issue was a matter of confusion over the SEQR documents.]

Department Reports

DPW’s Morton reported that his team had completed snow removal and equipment maintenance as needed, patched some potholes and repaired some frozen water lines. All regular sewer maintenance was completed as well.

Village Engineer Mike Smith presented a detailed, proposed drawing of the village’s renovated wastewater treatment facility, noting that the drawing and estimates are still being revised. The plant will include extensive electrical upgrades, new equipment and new systems. Smith asked to schedule a work session with the board to discuss details of the project and funding options. He noted that the project, which was initially estimated at $1.6 million, has grown to approximately $4 million. Grants and Consolidated Funding Applications (CFAs) will be needed in order to pay for the project. Importantly, he mentioned that upgrading the system will allow future development projects to come to Ellicottville.

Special Events committee chair Patra Lowes said the committee had met recently with Police Officer in Charge Don Auge and that plans are in place for an additional police officer to be on duty for the Mardi Gras parade on Saturday, March 8, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. She also mentioned that the committee had received applications for a summer cycling festival and a “Summerfest.” Details of those events are to be determined.

The village board agreed to formally endorse an effort to extend the Western New York Southtowns Scenic Byway into Cattaraugus County along 26 miles of Route 219 from Concord to Great Valley. All impacted municipalities must endorse the project in order for next steps to be taken.

The next meeting of the Village Board will be held Monday, March 10, at 6 p.m. in the Village/Town Hall.