Weekly Feature



2011-09-15 / Front Page

Town Board takes heat for politics, lack of responsibility

by KIMBERLY MCDOWELL Editor

There’s no question that it’s a major election year in the Town of West Seneca.

(Click here for editorial)

Several residents took to the podium Monday night during the Town Board meeting, one day before the primary, for a fiery round of political questionings and accusations.

Some accused the board members of having political agendas and questioned the campaign literature that’s been distributed around town, but a few took them to task for their actions as board members, not candidates.

Those residents questioned such topics as unspent money that was appropriated three years ago, as well as the sewer district dilemma. There’s been little discussion and no decisions made on the topic since two presentations were given by the town engineer a few months ago.

Amy Carpenter of Woodward Crescent, a frequent attendee of the meetings, questioned the board on a motion that was passed at its Sept. 8, 2008, meeting.

From those minutes, she cited the board approving the resolution to authorize “the issuance of up to $50,000 in serial bonds ... to finance the cost of the purchase of radio system upgrades and GPS units for use by the Highway and Sanitation departments.”

The motion was made by former Councilman Vincent Graber and unanimously approved by the then-board, which included the three current members as well as Erie County Legislator Christina Bove, a former councilwoman.

The topic was most recently discussed in June. At that time, the current board was in disagreement as to why the money — the $50,000 bond resolution and a matching state grant that was secured in 2009 — had not been spent on its intended purchases.

In November, Supervisor Wallace C. Piotrowski told Carpenter, who questioned the status of the $100,000 in bond and grant funds at the board’s Nov. 1 meeting, that the town did have the funds.

He said that no purchases had been made, but he hoped to go forward with the project.

“You voted to do this in 2008, and nothing has happened,” a frustrated Carpenter said Monday night, calling it a lack of responsibility to ensure that the funds were spent appropriately.

Three years later, the project has yet to come to fruition. Meanwhile, residents continue to pay for the unused bond funds that are collecting interest.

“So we’re paying for something we haven’t purchased? Who’s the watchdog?” she asked.

Outside the meeting, Councilwoman Sheila M. Meegan said the town’s interest has changed from wanting to purchase GPS units to security cameras.

The town, according to Meegan, has targeted three locations that often fall victim to vandalism and could use the added security: the Burchfield Nature & Art Center on Union Road, which houses the offices of the supervisor, town council and comptroller; as well as both Sunshine and Harlem Road parks.

“The concern is the graffiti,” she said, calling the words written on playground equipment at the Burchfield and parks “vile.” The security cameras would be linked with dispatch at the West Seneca Police Department to continuously monitor these areas.

She said the hope is to have the item, to bid for the security cameras, on the next agenda.

The supervisor told The Bee on Wednesday that he didn’t know the amount of interest that has collected on the bond but said that funding, as well as the monies secured through the 2009 state grant, are still earmarked for the town’s use.

“I don’t know the exact time [period] the grant is good for; many grants ... go on for years,” Piotrowski said. “The funding is there ... now we have to use it.”

In another matter, Beverly Leising of Harwood Road sought updates on remediation plans for the town’s distressed sewer system.

In late June and early July, residents learned of possible resolutions detailed in two presentations by Town Engineer Richard B. Henry III.

At the time, Henry recommended that the board adopt a bond resolution for $30 million to address the sanitary sewer issues. This would cover only districts 5 and 13. Both are south of Route 400 and are the two districts requiring the most repair.

“At this point, we are waiting for a date for a vote,” Henry said on Monday.

He said it wouldn’t be on Election Day, since the borders of Sewer District 13 are different from that of the election district; the vote would likely be sometime after the elections, he added, but before the end of 2011.

In other matters, Ronald Garra of Knox Avenue expressed concern about two traffic issues in his neighborhood. His street runs parallel to Harlem Road and is perpendicular to and connecting with Mineral Springs and Indian Church roads.

Garra questioned street parking on Knox, which he said has been a longtime problem, most recently when a high volume of vehicles were parked on both sides of the street for a neighbor’s party. This left barely enough room for one car to drive down the two-way street, he said.

He also complained of the lack of stop signs at the neighborhood’s intersections. He reportedly had two close calls with vehicles while bicycling through the intersection of Barnsdale and Arcade streets.

Police Chief Edward Gehen said his department would look into the issue.

Also, the Town Board has scheduled a public hearing on several proposed legal laws for its next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26.

A copy of the proposed laws — modifications to the town’s sewer chapter and to its building code administration and enforcement, among others — are posted outside the Town Clerk’s Office and on the town’s website, www.westseneca.net.

email: kmcdowell@beenews.com

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