Council Chambers

Tonawanda, New York

April 1, 2008

 

A Regular Meeting of the Common Council

 

Present:  Council President Zeisz

Present Councilmembers:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis

 

Pledge of Allegiance led by Council President Zeisz

 

Prayer led by Council President Zeisz

 

COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE MAYOR

 

A letter from the Federal Emergency Management Agency dated March 26, 2008, regarding the Flood Insurance Study (FIS) and Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for Erie County.

 

A letter from the Erie County Comptroller dated March 25, 2008, with the Comptroller’s Review of the Costs of Real Property Tax Assessment in Erie County.

 

A letter from Modern Recycling, Inc., dated March 17, 2008, regarding bid #280118-004 that was awarded to them for disposal and collection of scrap tires for Erie County and local governments.

 

A letter from Brian Grassia, 30 Delaware Street, dated March 21, 2008, resigning from the Planning Board, effective immediately.

 

A letter to Alice A. Roth, 60 Morgan Street, reappointing her to the Tonawanda Board of the Visual and Performing Arts, term to expire December 31, 2010.

 

A letter from Empire State Development dated March 24, 2008, regarding Tonawanda RESTORE II – Spaulding Fibre Demolition Project Public Hearing.

 

A letter from the Chamber of Commerce of the Tonawandas, dated March 20, 2008, to all business owners regarding Gateway Energy Service Corporation. 

 

The submission of the Capital Program to the Common Council for their consideration for the years 2009-2013.

            Ordered filed

 

COMMUNICATION FROM CITY OFFICIALS AND CORRESPONDENCE

 

The following monthly reports were received by the City Clerk:

            February Activity Report of the Fire Department

March minutes of the Traffic & Safety Board

            March minutes of the Board of Appeals

                 Referred to the Committee of the Whole

                        Ordered filed

 

A letter from City Assessor Patricia N. Bacon dated March 25, 2008, regarding alternative veteran’s exemption.

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

                        Ordered filed

           

COMMENTS BY THE PUBLIC ON RESOLUTIONS

 

Chuck Heylmun, 66 Syracuse Street – As a general rule, I’ve been pretty supportive of the Council but I see two things in tonight’s agenda.  One I think is ridiculous and I could say something stronger if I wanted to, but the one that is going to limit the school taxes to 4% or the rate of inflation.  We already have something that’s filled in called a contingency budget, which if you don’t pass the budget the first time, you have an option to go to a contingency budget, it’s a little bit higher, I think about a percent higher or so Gary, wouldn’t you say?  The residents of the City of Tonawanda, in addition to voting on their school board members, also vote on the budget.  Something they don’t have the opportunity to do, is to vote on City budget.  So what right does any state government have, that taxpayers don’t vote on their own budget, to limit the school board budget?  That makes absolutely no sense to me and I urge the Council to turn that down.  Secondly, the $250,000, and I understand you may not spend that much, but what did you get for the fire station over on Young Street? 

 

Council President Zeisz – About $163,000. 

 

Chuck Heylmun - So you could spend as much as $90,000 more on the one on William, correct?

 

Council President Zeisz - What was the question again?

 

Chuck Heylmun – I asked you what you got for the one on Young…

 

Council President Zeisz - …right, $163,000.

 

Chuck Heylmun - …to spend up to $250,000 for, you don’t have to necessarily spend that…

 

Council President Zeisz - …right, it’s for a new roof. 

 

Chuck Heylmun – So then my question is, I think a large part of that is the need to expand to hold more people.

 

Council President Zeisz – No, this is for a new roof for the existing building.  

 

Chuck Heylmun – $250,000 for a new roof? 

 

Council President Zeisz – We anticipate the bid to come in anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000 for a new roof.

 

Chuck Heylmun - You’ve got the wrong guy putting roofs on, believe me. 

 

Council President Zeisz – Well, for anyone that doesn’t know, which I’m sure everyone at least knows that petroleum has skyrocketed and the value is up over in access of $100 a barrel, rubber membrane roofs are a petroleum based product. 

 

Councilmember Perkins - Isn’t this the one that we got the low interest loan from New York State on?  Where’s Joe?  So we have to do this too?  I’m sorry to interrupt. 

 

Joe Hogenkamp, City Treasurer – Yes, we still need that and we’ll combine the two. 

 

Council President Zeisz – So anyway, anything petroleum based, the prices have skyrocketed and when the City Treasurer put the bond together he wanted to make sure there was enough to cover it and then when the time comes, we just get enough to pay for the new roof and that’s all we’ll bond, we won’t take any more money than that. 

 

Chuck Heylmun - I just wondered what you’d need.

 

Council President Zeisz - What do you mean, what we’d need? 

 

Chuck Heylmun – What you gain by closing one firehouse and then having to spend that kind of money on the existing one. 

 

Council President Zeisz – Well, the thing is, we have to maintain the buildings we do have and if we had Delaware, Delaware needed a lot of work so we’d just be spending money on another building too along with the buildings we have. 

MOTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS

 

76.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Whereas, the tremendously high property tax burden on New York families and businesses is the number one issue facing our community today and the sheer cost of living in New York has forced many residents and businesses to leave, thus slowing the economic engine of the state; and

            Whereas, young people are finding it difficult to purchase homes, seniors are struggling to maintain their homes and businesses are facing immense challenges to create and retain jobs; and

            Whereas, New Yorkers face the highest property taxes in the nation and when measured as a percentage of home value, nine of the top ten property tax rates in the entire country belong to counties in New York; and the State must act now to thwart the detrimental effects that high property taxes are having on local governments; and

            Whereas, Assembly Minority Conference Members have introduced the “New York State Property Taxpayers Protection Act” (Assembly Bill 8775-A), which puts forth new and innovative ideas for property tax reform that limit the amount school districts can raise annually through local tax levies to four percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less; in addition the Act would relieve municipalities and school districts of unfounded mandates, reduce county Medicaid costs, strengthen financial accountability over school tax dollars, promote local government efficiency and encourage local option insurance pooling; and

            Whereas, the “New York State Property Taxpayers Protection Act” will help fix New York’s broken property tax system, providing homeowners, businesses and municipalities significant and lasting relief from the crushing burden of skyrocketing property taxes; and now, therefore be it

            Resolved, that this Common Council pause in its deliberations to acknowledge New York State’s property tax crisis and urge the immediate passage and chaptering of the “New York State Property Taxpayers Protection Act”, which will help local governments reinvigorate New York’s economy by providing incentives for people and businesses to move and stay here; and be it further

            Resolved, that a copy of this resolution, suitably engrossed, be transmitted to the Governor of the State of New York, the Temporary President of the New York State Senate, the Speaker of the New York State Assembly and to each member of the New York State Legislature.      

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

77.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Resolved, at the recommendation of the City Engineer, Jason J. LaMonaco, P.E., that award for on-call Engineering Services be made to TVGA Consultants and be it further

            Resolved, that costs on future projects will be negotiated on a per project basis and grant writing services will be a no cost to the City.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

78.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Resolved, at the recommendation of the City Engineer, Jason J. LaMonaco, P.E., that the completion date for Main Street Beautification as stated in the contract between Mark Cerrone, Inc. and the City of Tonawanda be adjusted to June 1, 2008.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

 

 

79.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Resolved, at the recommendation of the City Engineer, Jason J. LaMonaco, P.E., that the completion date for Benton Street Improvements as stated in the contract between New Frontier Excavating and Paving, Inc., and the City of Tonawanda be adjusted to June 1, 2008.

           

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

80.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Resolved, at the recommendation of the City Engineer, Jason J. LaMonaco, P.E., that the completion date for Virginia Street Reconstruction as stated in the contract between Robinson Paving, Inc., and the City of Tonawanda be adjusted to June 1, 2008.

           

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

81.       By Council President Zeisz                                     seconded by Councilmember Kossow

            Resolved, that the reading of the following resolution be waived.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

82.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

                A BOND RESOLUTION, DATED APRIL 1, 2008, OF THE CITY OF TONAWANDA, ERIE COUNTY, NEW YORK (THE “CITY”), AUTHORIZING THE RECONSTRUCTION AND CONSTRUCTION OF IMPROVEMENTS TO A BUILDING LOCATED AT 44 WILLIAMS STREET, IN A MAXIMUM AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED $250,000, AND AUTHORIZING THE ISSUANCE OF SERIAL BONDS IN AN AGGREGATE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED $250,000 OF THE CITY OF TONAWANDA, ERIE COUNTY, NEW YORK, PURSUANT TO THE LOCAL FINANCE LAW TO FINANCE SAID PURPOSE, SAID AMOUNT TO BE OFFSET BY ANY FEDERAL, STATE, COUNTY AND/OR LOCAL FUNDS RECEIVED, AND DELEGATING THE POWER TO ISSUE BOND ANTICIPATION NOTES IN ANTICIPATION OF THE SALE OF SUCH BONDS TO THE CITY TREASURER.

           

BE IT RESOLVED, by the Common Council (by the favorable vote of not less than two-thirds of all the members of the Council) as follows:

 

SECTION 1.  The specific purpose (hereinafter referred to as “purpose”) to be financed pursuant to this resolution is the reconstruction and construction of improvements to a Building located at 44 Williams Street, including preliminary costs and costs incidental thereto.  The maximum cost of said purpose will not exceed $250,000.

 

SECTION 2.  The Common Council plans to finance the maximum estimated cost of said purpose by the issuance of serial bonds in an amount not to exceed $250,000 of said City, hereby authorized to be issued therefore pursuant to the Local Finance Law, and the levy and collection of taxes from the parcels of land within the City to pay the principal of said bonds and the interest thereon as the same shall become due and payable.  Any funds received or to be received from the United States of America, the State of New York, or the County of Erie shall be applied towards the cost of said object or purpose or redemption of said bonds issued therefore.

 

SECTION 3.  It is hereby determined that said purpose is an object or purpose described in subdivision 12a of paragraph (a) of Section 11.00 of the Local Finance Law, and that the period of probable usefulness of said purpose is 25 years.

 

SECTION 4.  Current funds are not required to be provided prior to the issuance of the bonds authorized by this resolution or any notes issued in anticipation of the sale of said bonds.

 

SECTION 5.  It is hereby determined the proposed maturity of the obligations authorized by this resolution will be in excess of five years.

 

SECTION 6.  The faith and credit of said City are hereby irrevocably pledged for the payment of the principal of and interest on such bonds as the same respectively become due and payable.  An annual appropriation shall be made in each year sufficient to pay the principal of and interest on such bonds becoming due and payable in such year.  There shall annually be levied on all the taxable real property of said City a tax sufficient to pay the principal of and interest on such bonds as the same become due and payable.

 

SECTION 7.  Subject to the provisions of this resolution and of the Local Finance Law, pursuant to the provisions of Section 30.00 relative to the authorization of the issuance of bond anticipation notes or the renewals of said notes and of Section 21.00, Section 50.00, Sections 56.00 to 60.00, Section 62.00 and Section 63.00 of the Local Finance Law, the powers and duties of the Common Council pertaining or incidental to the sale and issuance of the obligations herein authorized, including but not limited to authorizing bond anticipation notes and prescribing the terms, form and contents and as to the sale and issuance of the bonds herein authorized and of any bond anticipation notes issued in anticipation of said bonds, and the renewals of said notes, are hereby delegated to the City Treasurer, the chief fiscal officer of the City.

 

SECTION 8.  The temporary use of available funds of the City, not immediately required for the purpose or purposes for which the same were borrowed, raised or otherwise created, is hereby authorized pursuant to Section 165.10 of the Local Finance Law, for the purpose or purposes described in Section 1 of this resolution.  The City then reasonably expects to reimburse any such expenditures (to the extent made after the date hereof or within 60 days prior to the date hereof) with the proceeds of the bonds authorized by Section 2 of this resolution (or with the proceeds of any bond anticipation notes issued in anticipation of the sale of such bonds).  This resolution shall constitute the declaration of the City’s “official intent” to reimburse the expenditures authorized by Section 2 hereof with such bond or note proceeds, as required by United States Treasury Regulations Section 1.150-2.

 

SECTION 9.  The City Treasurer is further authorized to take such actions and execute such documents as may be necessary to ensure the continued status of the interest on the bonds authorized by this resolution, and any notes issued in anticipation thereof, as excludable from gross income for federal income tax purposes pursuant to Section 103 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”) and to designate the bonds authorized by this resolution, and any notes issued in anticipation thereof as “qualified tax-exempt bonds” in accordance with Section 265(b)(3)(B)(i) of the Code.

 

SECTION 10.            The City Treasurer is further authorized to enter into a continuing disclosure agreement with the initial purchaser of the bonds or notes authorized by this resolution, containing provisions which are satisfactory to such purchaser in compliance with the provisions of Rule 15c12-12, promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission pursuant to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

 

SECTION 11.            The City has complied in every respect with all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations regarding environmental matters, including compliance with the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”), comprising Article 8 of the Environmental Conservation Law and, in connection therewith, duly issued a negative declaration and/or other applicable documentation, and therefore, no further action under the State Environmental Quality Review Act is necessary.

 

SECTION 12.            The validity of said serial bonds or of any bond anticipation notes issued in anticipation of the sale of said serial bonds may be contested only if:

 

1.            (a)            such obligations are authorized for an object or purpose for which said City is not authorized to expend money, or

 

(b)         if the provisions of law which should be complied with at the date of publication of this resolution are not substantially complied with,

 

and an action, suit or proceeding contesting such validity is commenced within twenty days after the date of such publication; or

 

2.            such obligations are authorized in violation of the provisions of the Constitution of New York.

 

SECTION 13. The City Clerk is hereby authorized and directed to publish this resolution, or a summary thereof, together with a notice in substantially the form provided by Section 81.00 of said Local Finance Law, in a newspaper having a general circulation in said City and hereby designated as the official newspaper of said City for such publication.

 

SECTION 14.            This Resolution is effective immediately.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

83.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Whereas, Police Chief Cindy J. Young determined that James Harmon violated the City of Tonawanda Police Department’s Rules and Regulations and a Personnel Agreement between the parties, and

            Whereas, Mayor Ronald J. Pilozzi reviewed and accepted the Police Chief’s determinations regarding Mr. Harmon, and

            Whereas, the Mayor terminated Mr. Harmon from the City of Tonawanda Police Department, and

            Whereas, the Mayor has requested that the Common Council review the documentation related to the matter, now, therefore be it

            Resolved, that the Common Council, upon review of the documentation, concurs with the determination by the Mayor to terminate James Harmon, and be it further

            Resolved, that the Council hereby authorizes Mayor Ronald J. Pilozzi to take any and all steps necessary to effectuate this Resolution.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

84.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Whereas, a $25.00 Special Events application fee and application were received by the City Clerk for a “Neighborhood Fair” to be held on Sunday, August 17, 2008, in Clinton Park by Salem United Church of Christ, and

            Whereas, the application was reviewed and commented on by all appropriate department heads to insure the safety and well being of our residents, now, therefore be it

            Resolved, that permission be granted to Salem United Church of Christ, to hold a “Neighborhood Fair” on August 17, 2008, from 11:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. throughout Clinton Park and in the gazebo.

           

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

 

 

 

 

 

85.       By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that a certificate of insurance and bond be filed and a license be issued to Jones Plumbing Company (Timothy J. Jones), to do plumbing in the City of Tonawanda.

           

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC AFTER RESOLUTIONS

 

Ed Gebera, 157 Brookside Terrace W. – Now I know why the Council hired an outside contractor to reval our homes and raise our assessments through the roof, how come at this time with a down turn, a big down turn in the economy, our assessments are going way up? 

 

Council President Zeisz - – All I can say is whatever is happening with the assessments, some people are going up, the majority of people are actually, about 50% are going down.

 

Ed Gebera - I’m not one of them.

 

Council President Zeisz – As far as the process itself, I can’t speak to what’s transpired with people and the informal hearings that they’ve had at this point. 

 

Ed Gebera – Well I just started fixing up my house and the next thing I know I’ve got a $20,000 jump in assessment. 

 

Council President Zeisz - The only question I can ask you is, did you have your hearing with them yet?

 

Ed Gebera – I’m gonna. 

 

Council President Zeisz - Because they’re handling the whole process, the process is meant to…

 

Ed Gebera - …I hope you don’t find another contractor like that.

 

Council President Zeisz – Well, the thing is, is that it’s meant to put equality back into the assessed value of people’s homes and a lot of people were over assessed, some people were under assessed, some people were right on.  And the whole purpose of this is to put equality across the whole program. 

 

Ed Gebera – That’s what you said and that’s what I hope happens, but I don’t think it does. 

 

Chuck Heylmun – As much as I hate to disagree with my good friend Ed, I have to support the reassessment.  That should have been done quite a while back. Joe Genco says it cost the City a lot of money by delaying.  I don’t know if that’s true or false, I haven’t had a chance to Joe yet, but the…

 

Council President Zeisz - …what would he base that on? I wonder what he based that on that it cost us money. 

 

Chuck Heylmun – I’ll find out and let you know.

 

Council President Zeisz – Yes because I’d be really curious to find out what he’s basing that on because reval is not about raising taxes.  Reval is about taking the value of the homes, putting them all at, theoretically, the appropriate assessment and then you take that total City value, put it into your budget, and come up with a number.  It’s not about raising taxes.  That’s not what reval is for.  Communities have used it for that, but that’s not what it’s for. 

Chuck Heylmun – The reason you need reval, it probably should have been done a while ago, when I was first on the school board, I think the equalization rate was about 85%.  It went down, down, down to 69% and I learned several months ago how they determine what the equalization rate was.  I was at a meeting specifically for the school board and I said, what do you have a crystal ball or what do you use?  What they do is they look over the market, the assessment of property as compared to actual sales and that’s where they get the equalization rate and that means it does not necessarily represent a good average price of the community.  You can only do what’s sold in that given period of time so the equalization rate is a poor way of establishing market value and….

 

Council President Zeisz - …it’s really the only way, at least to the best of my knowledge, it’s the only way they’ve been able to take and get it so that every area of the county, the state, is put on a level playing field.  That’s what the equalization rate was meant to do. 

 

Chuck Heylmun – Yes, and it’s an approximation, and bringing it up to 100% as you’ve done is the right thing to do. That should have been done a while back. 

 

Council President Zeisz - Right, and the Council’s already committed that going forward, we will commit monies on a yearly basis to update to 100%.  Now whether that will be an every other year process, but the Council’s committed to keeping it at 100% forever.  It will not, we’re not going to let it drop down again. 

 

Chuck Heylmun – I totally support that. 

 

Council President Zeisz – And that works both ways. God knows there are people that are going to pay more in taxes and I realize that, but there’re also people that for many years have paid more than they theoretically should have paid. 

 

Chuck Heylmun – Well, mine went up about 3%, which I didn’t think was that bad. 

 

Cory Schuler, 61-1/2 Main Street – Being the President of The Business Association, I just have a few questions that we’ve collectively come up with.  One of the ones, now that taxes have been going up, reassessments are a hot button issue, and school taxes possibly going up, one thing the businesses have been talking about is the use of the Long Homestead.  As Salem Church is renting Clinton Park, that’s bringing revenue into the City, it seems that Long Homestead is kind of an unused historic treasure in the heart of the City.  We were just coming to the Council meeting to look at possibly having you guys look into whose controlling Long Homestead right now and what can be done with it in the future.  There’s a lot of new things going on in the City, we’re lucky to say that Main Street has no empty storefronts from Niagara all the way past Broad, there is no available space, it’s all filled, so that’s a good sign for the City and as the City’s growing, we want to be able to use our diamonds-in-the rough and we’re thinking that maybe there could be events held at the grounds of Long Homestead. It could bring revenue in from the permits that would be paid to the City.  They used to do things like that a while back. That’s kind of gotten sort of under lock and key from people that are out there somewhere.  So we’re just kind of approaching the Council and asking that maybe somebody could look into it. I know the merchants that I’ve talked to that said they’d be interested in utilizing the Long Homestead more and bring it back and instead of being the diamond-in-the rough, maybe it could be of a little more important use to the City.  Speaking of the businesses, a couple other questions we had.  At one point there was discussion of possibly having the Department Heads come to one of the Council meetings.  Prior to the new Charter, the Department Heads used to come to the Council meetings to be able to answer questions from the public.  A couple of the questions that we had were about the trash cans being put back on Main Street.  Now that the snow is melting and the garbage blows up and down Main and the surrounding area and we just want to talk to possibly DPW.  Maybe other people in the public had similar questions. Maybe have the DPW here to answer when they put the trash cans back, how they do certain things.  Same with the lights.  Thank you guys very much for getting the lights in the trees.  If you’ve driven down there lately, unfortunately, they didn’t withstand the winter.  There’s very few lights still left.  We don’t know if there’s any kind of warranty on the lights or whose actually in charge of that, if it’s DPW or Parks & Recreation but not only would we like those things looked into, it might be a good idea to have Department Heads here to answer business owners and other property owner’s questions.  If you have any thoughts we’d love to hear from you.  Thank you for your time.

 

Councilmember Perkins – Cory, can I ask you a quick question?  Is it ideas like the merchants wanting to be able to use the Long Homestead, or are they thinking along the lines of if the Long Homestead offers out maybe more permits for use for I don’t know, maybe parties or something that you know, would bring other people in.

 

Cory Schuler – Well, for example, we were fortunate enough to get included in “Walk the Villages” which is a tourism initiative put on by Mary Lou Rath and this is the first time that the City of Tonawanda will be include in “Walk the Villages”.  The State prints over 5,000 tourism books and encourages people to actually come walk through the City.  I’ve mapped out a trail that visitors will be walking, as well as all merchants that will be participating.  And to use the Long Homestead, it’s been a shot in the dark whether or not we’re actually going to have it here, if it’s going to be open.  Our kick-off event, which is May 29th, which is dictated by the state, is supposed to be at the grounds of the Long Homestead, that’s where we want it and Mary Lou is supposed to come and speak at the kick-off for this event.   I talked to Linda Foels, whose been a great help to us, but even she said she doesn’t know if she can get in there, she doesn’t even know if she has a key to it.  It kind of, sort of fell under the Historical Society of the Tonawandas…

 

Council President Zeisz – It does.

 

Cory Schuler - …but then it kind of became it’s own private, we call it the doll house.  It just sits there and people go in there now and then, look around and leave, but it’s not being utilized.  People could hold weddings on the grounds.  They used to hold antique shows and art shows on the grounds, people might want to hold a graduation party and reunions and you can get $25, $30, $40, $50 for a permit, that’s going to bring more revenue in.  Right now Parks and Recreation is paying for maintenance, there’s an electric bill, obviously insurance, but it’s really not generating anything for the City, it’s just kind of sitting there actually bleeding money, so maybe if the public was aware of that, have it open more, maybe actually use the summer help and have it staffed where’s it’s open and actually brings in revenue because right now it really isn’t.  So not just for the merchants, but for everybody in the City, it’s like Clinton Park, how Salem is paying for the permit for Clinton Park, this might be able to be a way groups can hold events and even if it doesn’t generate a lot of revenue, anything’s better than nothing and in this day and age when money, every penny counts for every municipality, I mean Erie County’s going to get hammered, City of Tonawanda’s coming under some scrutiny with money spending, so if we can bring any kind of revenue in, it’s going to help everybody, plus it’s also going to help out the merchants. If we can bring more merchants in, and like I said, we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to get Main Street filled, we have three other businesses that are looking to move in, small businesses, they’re looking to move into the area.  If we can use those things as selling points, the City of Tonawanda doesn’t have a whole lot of features like that.  Long Homestead is so unique but it’s so under utilized.  So we’re just kind of coming to the Council and say, maybe we can form some sort of committee or look into it, who actually does run it, what actually is going on there and how can we make that an improvement.  We can always build and make things better for everybody.

 

Councilmember Perkins – That’s terrific, thank you. 

 

Council President Zeisz – Now obviously, I’ve seen lights on but a lot of them have gone out?  The reason I ask is, not just for those lights, but we’re also planning on putting the lights in the Gateway Park. 

 

Cory Schuler – I don’t know if I’d use those same lights.  They kind of ran into the same problem in North Tonawanda where the first season they blew out.  We don’t know if it’s the quality of the lights, if they’re being unplugged, I know some of the wires were broke, so it’s new for everybody, it’s the first time it’s really been done.  I don’t know if there’s any kind of warranty for that large amount of lights, there may have been some. 

 

Council President Zeisz - And they’re actually, at least from what I was lead to believe, they’re a better quality than the ones in North Tonawanda. 

 

Cory Schuler - They’re energy efficient, they’re better that way.

 

Council President Zeisz - Well, yes, because if they’re not on, it doesn’t cost as much. 

 

Mayor Pilozzi – Just to pick up on what you’re talking about Cory, I had asked the city electrician to take a look at the lights because we did pay more for those lights than North Tonawanda did and if you also look at Clinton Park, those lights are still up and running and look beautiful.  So, he’s looking into what happened and also is there a warranty involved in that.  So hopefully before too long, we’ll get an answer on that.  Hopefully, it will be in our favor because we paid $4,600 for those lights.  Initially, they looked beautiful but again, if you go down to Clinton Park, everything’s still lit up and they’re cheaper lights. 

 

Council President Zeisz - And we don’t want to invest that same amount of money again for a whole new section if we’re going to have more problems.  I mean we’re better off just putting up the cheap Christmas lights, they seem to last longer, but I know when they go out, that it’s just a lot more work to pull them all off and put them back in.  As far as the Long Homestead, we’ll talk about that tonight.  That is City property, just in case there was any misunderstanding.  We do have access to the building, any work that’s gotten done there was done with City funds.  It’s just like Canal Fest, anytime that property gets used, it’s the Council that decides whether or not that property around the Homestead gets used.   

 

Chuck Heylmun – I just want to support what this young man was talking about.  If you go down Main Street in Williamsville, what do you see?  About a dozen class restaurants.  I can see the Long Homestead being a class, historic type restaurant, and another thought came to my mind tonight, would be a bed and breakfast.  That could be built into a beautiful attraction for the City of Tonawanda instead of just sitting there.  I think we should do something with it. 

 

Joan Moore, 180 Hinds Street – I noticed the April 1st edition in the Tonawanda News this morning about Canal Fest and the bird sanctuary, but I want the people to know that some of that really wasn’t a joke, that it is a real problem and the fireworks for the City of Tonawanda and the City of North Tonawanda for our 4th of July are also in jeopardy and I’d like to know if the City is going to try and do something about it and what the people to both cities can do to try and get this so we can have our fireworks. 

 

Mayor Pilozzi – I sat down with the Fire Chief, well first of all, our own Fire Chief and also Linda Foels a week, ten days ago, maybe longer, relative to that whole issue.  For those of you who don’t know what the issue really is, when we decommissioned our water plant the intake that sits out there in the middle of the river is now occupied by a bird called the Common Tern.  That Common Tern is a protected species and according to New York State DEC, when the fireworks go off, that’s around the time, the chicks cannot fly and cannot swim.  They get all nervous and jerky, they fall in the water and die.  Last year there was an issue at that time also, so we tied off a barge with what they call spuds which are nothing more than legs with four corners that actually anchor themselves into the riverbed and we shot off our fireworks from that barge, 500 feet away.  Then the DEC came along and said 500 feet isn’t good enough, it has to be 2600 feet.  Well 2600 feet is a half a mile, so it is in jeopardy.  We’re still working on it, as far as I’m concerned, that’s the birth date of this country, some way shape or form, we’re going to have the fireworks.  I just don’t know where we’re going to shoot them off from.  Now, when I did sit down with Chief Joe Krantz from North Tonawanda, he had to be here at a meeting, he gave me an overlay with 2600 feet, a circle of 2600 feet and correct me if I’m wrong Chief, but it sounds likes he plans to shoot fireworks off somewhere close to the Fire Tower on Tonawanda Island.  I would guess that is the best we can do.  My thought is this though, now you’re getting westerly winds, it’s going to bring hot embers back towards North Tonawanda homes, what happens if somebody’s house or somebody’s business starts on fire?  Now we have legal problems, we have insurance problems, it just opens a whole can of worms.  It’s just a real mess.  So, we’re going to continue to work on it and hopefully we’ll come to some happy conclusion between now and the 4th of July. That’s where we stand right now. 

 

Councilmember Davis – I just wanted to comment that the Common Tern is just a fancy name for a seagull so it’s those stupid seagulls you see flying around.  That’s pretty much the reason why we can’t have fireworks because of these “rats with wings”. 

 

Council President Zeisz – And just so that everybody knows, we’ve invested in putting small pebbles out on the intake so that when the eggs fall, they don’t break on the big rocks.  So I mean we put nice pebbles out there on this intake and we’ve invested money into this because the DEC is saying they’re a protected species because the problem is, they had to go somewhere to survive, they were getting chased from any place else they would try to go, and that’s why they’ve gone out to the intake because it was the only place that wasn’t taken over by some other bigger bird.

 

Mayor Pilozzi – Just to pick up on what he’s mentioned, I forgot about the pebbles.  I was contacted by the DEC, I want to say somewhere around the October timeframe, over a year ago, and tried to work with these folks thinking they’re going to work with us.  They came here, they had a big pile of pebbles on the shore, they went out there with a boat and five gallon buckets, went back and forth, made a nice roosting area for the birds and all I know now is, it just took a situation and made it worse because now these birds are having chicks all over the place.  Again, we’ll continue to work on it.  We were just trying to work with these people and that’s what we got. 

 

COMMENTS FROM THE COUNCILMEMBERS AFTER RESOLUTIONS

 

Councilmember Davis – I’d just like to send my heart-felt sympathy to the Bentley family.  They’ve been friends with our family for quite a while and Beth passed away a few days ago, she was a wonderful woman and she will be sorely missed.  The DEC completed some testing of resident’s homes.  I’d just like to thank the volunteers that came forward to allow their sump pumps to be tested, we should hear back somewhere late Spring on the results from the sump pump testing.  I’d like to congratulate Gina Maduri and Shawn Bender on being named Tonawanda News 2008 Player of the Year for Bowling.  I know the girls team, with Gina in there, she really carried them and Shaw this year, he broke one of the records that I set, back when I was a junior and senior in High School so my hat is off to both of those two. I’d like to congratulate Ms. Perkins on her Public Service Award for Women’s History Month from Senator Thompson.  It was a very nice event this past Sunday. And lastly, we haven’t met in about two weeks, but a lot has happened in the City, especially in the 4th Ward in the last two weeks. We as a City, we commissioned with Cambria Contracting to recover all of the bits and pieces of Spaulding Fibre and piece it back together again to raise that plant.  So we don’t get sued by a certain individual whose name is still on the list of potential employees there, and we’ve also come to an agreement with the Seneca Niagara Casino on building a casino up by Little League development, so those are some good things happening in the City.  I’d just like to wish everybody a Happy Fool’s Day.

 

Councilmember Kossow – First, I thank Cory and with regards to Long Homestead, I think we do have to increase the usage there.  I think it would be a win-win for everyone so thank you for those comments.  With regards to retired Officer Dave Bentley, a great officer and on behalf of Melissa, my wife and I, our thoughts and prayers go out to Dave and his family through this difficult time.  Following Rick’s comments, I’d like to take this time to give a surprise announcement.  I’m also throwing my hat in the ring with Baby Joe Mesi, and Michelle Iannello, I’m running for the Senate seat that’s being vacated. 

 

Mayor Pilozzi – I’d like to congratulate Councilperson Perkins on her award from Senator Thompson, the Public Service Award.  It’s well deserved and it’s nice to see something like that happening to you Colleen.  Again, congratulations.  My prayers and thoughts go out to the Bentley family and the Swiston family.  George Swiston, another police officer in this community for I believe 28 years.  And the Bentley family, I knew Captain Bentley for a long, long time.  Both of these families are going through some tough times right now and our thoughts and prayers are with them and to help them through.  Thanks to the downtown merchants for coming tonight.  You’re pretty steady customers here and that’s good to see.  It should be noted that these people don’t even live in Tonawanda but they have a big chunk of their life and money invested in their stores, our downtown business district, and you can see by the comments tonight that they’re concerned about the direction we’re going in and what we can do to improve, not only their area, but a lot of the City of Tonawanda.  So again, I appreciate your comments and we’ll be taking a look at a lot of these things. 

 

Council President Zeisz – I offer my condolences to Dave Bentley on the loss of his wife.  Beth was a very nice lady and I wish him and his family the best as they try to get through this.  For Ms. Perkins, it’s been a pleasure to be on the Council with you for six plus years Colleen and it’s well deserved.  Colleen is a very hard worker.  She might not say a lot at the Council meetings, but if you need somebody to find something, she’s like the “internet psycho”, if you need something found, she’ll find it and a lot of times she’s thrown out ideas and is always questioning things, so it’s great to have her here.  Other than that, I don’t have any April Fools jokes.  As my wife says, I’m a really bad joke teller so no point in even going there.  I thank everyone for coming.  Maybe what we can do, like I said, we’ll talk tonight about some of the stuff with Main Street. We want to do whatever we can to try to help.  And as far as those questions you have about DPW, just either call the office, call here, we’ll have them in, you know I mean, there’s a lot of, the same thing the residents would do, just call DPW and say, when are the garbage cans coming.

 

Councilmember Perkins – You can even e-mail.  I mean I’m sorry to do this to you Jan, but Jan is our eyes and ears here.

 

Council President Zeisz - You can e-mail Jan and she will get on whatever it is.  But thank you to everyone for coming, it’s always great to see the students that are here and of course, their friends are probably saying, oh, I went to the Council meeting, it lasted ten minutes and then I went home. Not so tonight. Have a great night and drive home safely and hopefully Spring isn’t far away even though we see massive icebergs floating down the river today. 

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

86.       By Councilmember                                                            seconded by Councilmember

            Resolved, that this Common Council adjourn until April 15, 2008.  

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

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