Council Chambers

Tonawanda, New York

July 28, 2009

 

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

 

BID OPENING:            2009 Sidewalk Replacement

                                    July 7, 2009

                                    10:00 AM

 

C & C Contractors, Inc.

1589 Bailey Road

Cowlesville, NY 14037                                           Bid:             $45,752.50

            Bid Bond and non-collusive bidding certificate accompanied bid

 

Valeri Concrete Construction, Inc.

6655 Errick Road

N. Tonawanda, NY 14120                                           Bid:            $47,112.50

            Bid Bond and non-collusive bidding certificate accompanied bid

 

Campobello Construction

23 Stratford Road

Buffalo, NY 14216                                                  Bid:             $47,880.00

            Bid Bond and non-collusive bidding certificate accompanied bid

 

Birchgrove Landscaping

PO Box 117

East Aurora, NY 14052                                           Bid:             $53,153.00

            Bid Bond and non-collusive bidding certificate accompanied bid

 

Oddo Construction

6399 Transit Road

East Amherst, NY 14051                                           Bid:             $69,062.50

            Bid Bond and non-collusive bidding certificate accompanied bid

                        Referred to the Committee of the Whole

                                    Ordered filed

 

COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE MAYOR

 

A letter dated July 1, 2009 from NYSDOS regarding their soliciting of grant applications for various programs.

 

A letter dated July 9, 2009 to Erie County Department of Environment and Planning regarding the Project Agreement for the Water Works/Waste Water Buildings Remediation.

 

A letter dated July 9, 2009 to Time-Warner Cable and Mayor Pilozzi from NYS Department of Public Service regarding Temporary Operating Authority during negotiation of the franchise renewal. 

 

A letter dated July 10, 2009 from Thomas Stryker announcing his retirement from the Civil Service Commission as of August 1, 2009.

 

A letter dated July 13, 2009 from NYSDOS regarding grant funding for the Wastewater Treatment Consolidation Feasibility Study: City of Tonawanda Ė City of North Tonawanda.

 

A letter dated July 14, 2009 to Bush Trucking & Landscaping regarding their offer to purchase and transport street millings from the City of Tonawanda. 

 

A letter dated July 14, 2009 to Reimer Heating & Air Conditioning regarding their upcoming 90th Anniversary of operations.

 

A letter dated July 20, 2009 from Town of Tonawanda Environmental Quality Review Committee regarding the North Youngmann Commerce Center SEQR.

 

A letter dated July 21, 2009 to City Clerk Jan Bodie regarding City Hall work hours.

 

A letter dated July 22, 2009 to Erie County Commissioner Vito regarding probation service delivery in City of Tonawanda City Hall.

 

A letter dated July 22, 2009 from Time Warner Cable regarding Switched Digital Video (SDV).

 

A letter from NYS Board of Real Property Services regarding the Certificate of Final State Equalization Rate for 2009 Assessment Roll. 

 

A letter dated July 27, 2009 to Erie County Probation Department regarding probation service delivery in City of Tonawanda City Hall.

            Ordered filed

           

COMMUNICATION FROM CITY OFFICIALS AND CORRESPONDENCE

 

The following monthly reports were received by the City Clerk:

            June Minutes of the Board of Appeals

            June Monthly Report of the Building Inspector

            June Monthly Report of the City Clerk

            June Minutes of the Plumbing Board

                        Referred to the Committee of the Whole

                                    Ordered Filed

 

A letter to the Traffic & Safety Board from City resident Karen Calabrese regarding overnight parking in the street for a limited time period.

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

 

A Notice of Public Hearing being held on July 27, 2009 by the City of Tonawanda Board of Appeals for a variance request asking to be allowed to erect a four foot high metal picket fence in an exterior side yard at 460 Adam Street.

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

 

A Notice of Public Hearing being held on July 27, 2009 by the City of Tonawanda Board of Appeals for a variance request asking to be allowed to erect a new single family dwelling that will encroach upon the required side yard and rear yard setbacks at 69 Ellicott Creek Road.

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

 

A letter dated July 23, 2009 from the American Legion Post #264 regarding the American Legion/Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Show/Rally on Sunday August 23, 2000 from 11 AM to 4 PM.

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

                        Ordered filed

 

 

 

 

MOTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS

 

145.     By Councilmember Waterhouse                              seconded by Councilmember Perkins

            Resolved, that the bills be allowed as audited and the City Clerk be authorized to draw warrants on the Treasurer for the various amounts.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

146.     By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

Whereas, the required purchasing documentation for supplies relative to the reorganization of the City of Tonawanda Underwater Dive Squad has been submitted by the Police Department to the City Treasurer for the following items:

 

Electrical Supplies to Upgrade Storage Garage, 200 Niagara Street                $1,251.08

Compressed Air Apparatus                                                                                $145.00

Graphic Design Kit                                                                                                $945.00

Diving Unit Battery Pack                                                                                 $228.80

Dive Suit                                                                                                               $624.95

 

                                                                                 Total Expenditure $3,194.83

 

And whereas, on December 4th, 2007, the Common Council authorized the Chief of Police to utilize the proceeds from the sale of specific City of Tonawanda property that was used by the Underwater Squad to reorganize the unit, now therefore be it

Resolved, that the Chief of Police be authorized to purchase the above referenced items in the amount of $3,194.83 from the Underwater Squad Reorganization Funds that were realized from the sale of City of Tonawanda Underwater Squad Equipment in 2007.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

147.     By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that permission be granted to the residents of Ilion Street from Maldiner to Amsterdam Streets, to hold a block party on Saturday, September 12, 2009, from 1:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. and be it further

            Resolved, that ingress and egress be provided for local traffic and emergency vehicles.    

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

148.     By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that permission be granted to the residents of Mullen Street, from Amsterdam to Maldiner Streets, to hold a block party on Saturday, August 22, 2009 beginning at 2:00 PM, and be it further

            Resolved, that ingress and egress be provided for local traffic and emergency vehicles.    

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

149.     By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Resolved, at the recommendation of the City Engineer, Jason J. LaMonaco, P.E., that award of the contract for Sidewalk Replacement for 2009 be made to C & C Contractors, Inc., at a cost not to exceed $45,752.50. 

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

150.     By the Council                                                  seconded by the Council

            Be It Resolved, that City of Tonawanda Mayor Ronald J. Pilozzi be authorized and directed to advertise and to hold a Public Hearing, pursuant to legal publication, regarding Local Law No. 3 for the year 2009, entitled:

 

ďExemption of Capital Improvements to Residential BuildingsĒ,

 

and be it further

            Resolved, that this Public Hearing shall be held on Tuesday, August 4, 2009, at 7:00 P.M. in the City Hall Common Council Chambers, 200 Niagara Street, Tonawanda, New York.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

151.     By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Whereas, a $25.00 Special Events application fee and application were received by the City Clerk from the THS Cheerleaders to hold a Chivettaís BBQ in the parking lot at the Police Station and

            Whereas, the application has been 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 the THS Cheerleaders to hold a BBQ on Saturday, August 8, 2009, from 8:00 A.M. until 5:00 P.M. and be it further

            Resolved, that a certificate of insurance naming the City as additional insured be filed with the City Clerk no later than August 3, 2009.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC AFTER RESOLUTIONS

 

Robert Derner, 286 Niagara Shore Drive Ė First of all, I drove down East Niagara Street and itís very nice and I just hope that whoever you have paint the lines in the street, you check their eyesight better than what they had the last time.  Now I want to get to what I came here for.  A number of people are taking a lawsuit against the City for their assessments at Riveredge and the Cityís hiring outside counsel and I would like to know who the outside counsel is, how you pick an outside counsel, what the cost is and how much an hour do they charge.

 

Council President Zeisz Ė The only thing I can tell you at this time is to file a request for the information because I donít have that right in front of me. 

 

Robert Derner Ė Well who authorizes hiring of outside counsel?  Somebody has to sign a contract with them. 

 

Council President Zeisz - Well we do have counsel that was set aside to help with the assessment process through the City Attorneyís office, but it wasnít something that, at this point in timeÖ

 

Robert Derner - Ödoes the City Attorney hire the outside counsel? 

Council President Zeisz - Well it was something that was worked out between the Assessorís office and Ron Trabucco, but, unfortunately, heís not here and I canít have him answer the question. 

 

Robert Derner Ė So then the Assessor signs the contract?

 

Council President Zeisz Ė No.

 

Robert Derner Ė Does the Mayor?

 

Council President Zeisz Ė The Mayor can only sign a contract when the Council authorizes the Mayor to sign a contract, so right at this time there is not a contract for an outside counsel. 

 

Robert Derner Ė Well, I donít understand.  Whenever you hire an attorney to litigate something, you have to sign an agreement. 

 

Council President Zeisz Ė We have counsel that works with us for all of the matters that would come before the City as far as claims.  Maybe somebody slipped on a sidewalk or what have you.  That counselís been in place through the insurance company for years, but itís not a contract that was signed with the City because of the way the relationship with the insurance companyís that weíve had. 

 

Robert Derner Ė This isnít insurance Carl, this is counsel thatís representing the City in a lawsuit. 

 

Council President Zeisz Ė Well what counsel are you referring to? 

 

Robert Derner Ė The one thatís handling the lawsuit against the Riveredge homeowners that are suing the City. 

 

Council President Zeisz Ė You gave me the impression there was new counsel that I wasnít aware of.  That gentlemanís been on this situation for almost a year now.

 

Robert Derner Ė Doesnít anybody know how much theyíre being paid?  They must have an hourly rate, they must have a different rate for when they go into court. 

 

Council President Zeisz Ė Thatís why I said, right off the top of my head, I donít have that information right now.  Do you know the answer Joe?

 

City Treasurer Joe Hogenkamp Ė I know that he works for Hodgson/Russ and we have copies of what we paid them.  It doesnít have the hourly rate.  It just shows the amount we paid.  If you fill out a FOIL, I donít know if we can give him a copy of the bill or not.

 

Robert Derner Ė Iíd like to know how much unpaid bills there are and what the hourly rate is because this could add up to quite a bit.

 

Council President Zeisz Ė But what does this really have to do with the situation with the assessments? 

 

Robert Derner Ė It isnít the assessments.  Iím a taxpayer.  I want to know how the moneyís being spent, thatís all. 

 

Council President Zeisz - But thatís also a byproduct of failure to negotiate too. 

 

Robert Derner Ė Now we come to what I want to talk about. A couple weeks ago, Niawanda Plaza had a disagreement with the City over some grass cutting and we came into Judge Cassataís court and Judge Cassata was going to excuse himself and send it to the Town of Tonawanda but before he did that he called the Mayor in and he asked both parties to talk to see if they could reach an agreement and he explained to us the expense it would be if it went into court, on both sides.  So the Mayor was very gracious, he came in, and him and Pam DíAngelo, the president of Niawanda reached an agreement, came back into court and we settled the whole thing and everybody walked away with something and it was settled and nobody held any animosity toward each other when it was settled.  Now weíve got the assessments, okay?  Iíve lived in the City all my life, probably longer than anybody in this room and two things that I have seen that have hurt the City, the first move was Urban Renewal and the second one was this revaluation at Riveredge.  It has destroyed the value of the property over there.  It seems to me that rather than have both sides paying lawyers who are the only winners in this whole thing, that why canít someone from the City sit down with both parties and try and talk things out.  Now Mr. Kossow you represent, the people at Riveredge are in your ward and I donít ever remember you coming over and after seeing the gigantic increase in assessments and taxes at Riveredge, sitting down and talking to people and finding out what the problem is and coming back to the Council and talking to people so that we donít have to end up going to court.  When you guys run for election time in October, youíll all be over, ringing doorbells, shaking hands, but when a problem comes up, you stay away from it and this is a big problem.  You destroyed the value of the houses over there.  Iíve got right here, I went on the website taken from the Buffalo Realtor Listing of all the townhouses and condos on their website.  Thereís 51 of them and almost all of them, their taxes are lower than Tonawanda.  We go from Amherst to Clarence to Orchard Park to Lewiston, all over.  I compared a list showing what the same house value of the house would be at their place and compared what the taxes are there, what they list their taxes are and compared with the taxes in Tonawanda and I can tell you one thing, I want to give this to you so you can take a look at it, but of the three highest ones that were on the list were in Amherst at 9 Hidden Creek, 182 Castlebrook and 141 Summerhill.  The prices of these buildings are $425,000, $429,900, and $439,900.  Thatís a total of $1,294,800.00. Their total taxes on that come to $15,993.00.  My one townhouse, I pay $16,000.  Iím paying more than if I owned a million (part inaudible) in some other area in Western New York   If I own the same amount of property in the City of Tonawanda, Iíd be paying $49,000 a year in taxes. Now something is wrong with the way these houses were assessed. 

 

Council President Zeisz Ė Mr. Derner, what do those communities all have in common, other thanÖ

 

Robert Derner - Öthere are people living there and their houses are selling.  I just talked to a fellow that was a real estate agent who said theyíre as busy as can be because selling townhouses and condos like theyíve never sold before because theyíre getting that $8,000 credit from the government.  Tonawanda sits.  We had the best townhouse development around and now itís dead and all because of revaluation, you didnít take into consideration that most of the City, thereís 6800 properties and most of the City has about $60,000 to $90,000 homes.  Riveredge has more so when you figure your tax rate, you never even considered that by taxing these townhouses that all are, you have a disproportionate amount of money coming from Riveredge and when you raised, what do I want to say, you put the value of the property at what it was when the taxes were down here.  When you raised the taxes you didnít take into consideration that you lowered the value of the houses and thatís what the problem is. 

 

Council President Zeisz Ė Okay, let me ask this question.  Prior to this, homes have sold over the years in Riveredge, prior to reval.  Theyíve sold at values that far exceeded their assessed value, am I correct in that? 

 

Robert Derner Ė True.

 

Council President Zeisz Ė For a period of 20 years. Now, letís assume the homes wonít sell because for one reason or another, taxes are too high, assessments are too high, what have you.  Will there be a correction in that? 

 

Robert Derner - Yes, youíre going to have a correction but what youíre doing is the people that invested their money in the beginning, they have to sell at a lower price.  Eventually it will come down but the people that invested in the beginning, theyíre screwed and until the new people coming in get the benefit of it, why not just put the value according to what the taxes are, not just put the value of houses when the taxes were down here.  Raise the taxes and leave the value of the houses right there because theyíre not worth that much. 

 

Council President Zeisz Ė Well Iím not going to get into how much theyíre worth or not worth, my only issue is the fact that if they were selling at ďxĒ amount, $250,000, $300,000, whatever they were selling at, thatís what they ultimately got assessed at, in that range, just like the homes in the rest of the City. 

 

Robert Derner Ė The ones that did sell, there was two of them that sold, even the ones that did sell, theyíve been assessed higher than what they sold for.  Thereís no point in keeping this argument going, all Iím saying is, it would help if Mr. Kossow went over and talked and found out what problems are at Riveredge and negotiated talks between the Assessor and the people over there instead of wasting money going to court.  Nobody care about paying fair taxes but you gotta be fair about it. When you put my house at $16,000 a year in taxes from $7,000, somethingís wrong. 

 

Council President Zeisz Ė And Iím certainly not disputing that your taxes are high. 

 

Robert Derner - Iím the highest and I donít even have the biggest house over there.  ]

 

Council President Zeisz - But the issue I have is you compared us to Amherst, Clarence, Lewiston and Orchard Park.

 

Robert Derner Ė Iím just referring you to Western New York.

 

Council President Zeisz Ė But theyíre four communities that have much higher assessments to spread their tax base across. 

 

Robert Derner - That could be Carl, but you gotta be fair with the people in your community too. 

 

Council President Zeisz - But thatís how the process played out this way and unfortunately, a certain group ended up paying much higher taxes because the system was fair to 6800 properties. 

 

Robert Derner Ė It was a little bit, nobody cares about a little bit of difference, itís when you raise the taxes two to three times what they were in one year.  Nobody could stand that; you can understand why people are upset. 

 

Council President Zeisz Ė I absolutely understand why people are upset with the higher tax bill.  The problem that I do have is that you have a lot of homes where people were paying probably half the taxes of the homes in Riveredge and yet the homes in Riveredge were selling for 3 to 3/12 times what their homes were worth.  Thatís how we got to this point. 

 

Robert Derner - Accept you did it in one year.  One year, you destroyed the value of the homes.  Now if you had done it in a gradual way, everybody could accept and work through it, if they couldnít afford it they could get rid of their place, but when you do it in one year, you trap people in their homes.  And some people over there are going to lose their homes because they canít afford the taxes, older people with their husbands or wives have died, theyíre older people, they canít afford it. 

 

Holly Batt, 783 Fletcher Street, City Hall employee Ė On behalf of myself and my fellow co-workers at City Hall, we are here tonight to ask for immediate action by our Mayor and City Council to correct a safety, security situation that exists in this building.  That situation being no police protection between the time of 4:30 PM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday as of May 26, 2009.  Why are we continuing to have a public building open to the public without adequately protecting that public, City monies, and the employees from 4:30 PM to 5:00 PM?  We do not understand why this continued risk still exists to the employees and to our public.  We do not understand what makes the Building/Clerk/Treasurer/Assessor office staff different from the rest of the State Court employees working in City Hall who are receiving police protection.  At the present time, our State Court Office is paying for an armed security/police officer protection during their hours of business.  Their normal business hours during the months of September through May are 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  The courtís summer hours run Memorial Day through Labor Day, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.  Our City reaps the benefits of this protection, as we DO NOT PAY for any security at City Hall.  But when the court security/police officer leaves at 4:30 PM, so does our security protection at City Hall.  We do acknowledge that the Mayor has made inquiries regarding different ways to improve security at City Hall.  We understand that ďpermanentĒ solutions take time and planning and we look forward to being partnered with the Mayor and City Officials in this project.  However, his letters to us dated June 26 & July 21 do not address any immediate action in protecting the public, city monies, or the employees during the time of business from 4:30 PM to 5:00 PM with the presence of an armed security/police officer, even after being contacted numerous times by our respective Department Heads and our union representative in regards to quickly correcting this loss prevention issue.  We have recommended to the Mayor a simple short-term, immediate action, to change City Hallís business operation hours to coincide with the City Court.  It seems to us to be the most logical solution and would cost the taxpayers of our City nothing.  When the City Court changes their hours back to 9:00 AM Ė 5:00 PM in the Fall, we would change our hours back to coincide with their hours.  However, this has fallen on deaf ears.  What makes us different from the City of North Tonawanda and itís State Court office that are able to work the same hours, with the same security arrangement, no matter what the season?  This is not an issue pertaining to summer hour scheduling for the public and office staff.  This is not an issue that needs to be negotiated in a union contract.  This is an issue dealing with protecting the public, City monies, and the employees, immediately.  Changing the hours of operation to 8:30 AM Ė 4:30 PM to coincide with the City Court security/police officer would still give the public the same amount of time to conduct their business and the same protection while doing it.  Statistically, it has been proven in the past that more residents used the Clerkís Office from 8;00 AM Ė 9:00 AM, than from 4:00 PM Ė 5:00 PM.  That includes phone calls and walk-ins.  Please note as well that the 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM schedule accommodates both.  Our office doors have never been closed to the public during working hours.  By keeping the current hours the same, (9:00 AM to 5:00 PM), you are continuing to keep the public in an unprotected situation.  Because of the Mayorís safety letters that we have been receiving over the past several years, we have been made fully aware of just how important SAFETY really is in the work environment for ALL City employees.  And because we serve the public, our desire is to provide the public with a safe environment in which to conduct daily business transactions, as well as ourselves.  We have all been made aware through the daily television news broadcasts, newspapers, and internet that regardless whether a city is large or small, we need to do everything we can to prepare for the unexpected.  At no time should we become complacent and not think that nothing could ever happen within a certain time frame or on a given day.  How vitally important the presence of an armed security/police officer truly is, not only as a deterrent to crime, but being only fifteen feet away in case an emergency should happen.  Letís not wait for something to happen that we will all regret.  Thank you for your consideration and timely action in dealing with this issue.  

 

Council President Zeisz Ė Thank you Ms. Batt.  The only thing that I wanted to let you know is that as a Common Council, we have no ability to change the operation hours of City Hall and we also have no ability to change the actual operation of how City Hall is manned, so I was going to bring the issue up tonight, in open session after we come off the floor, but itís merely to voice my opinion to the Mayor and allow the Council the opportunity to do so, but we donít have any authority to really change anything as far as how it operates.  One thing I can tell you is that I have no intention of spending any money to correct a situation that could be corrected by changing the time. That I can tell you. I fully support your position, I think that we should operate at the same being as the Court and the County Clerkís office when they restructure their hours during the summer, and prior to Charter change, the Council always did authorize a change in hours from Memorial Day to Labor Day and that was a long time ago, 12 years ago.   

 

Laurie Schultz, 325 Morgan Street, City Hall employee Ė We are here tonight because we are very concerned.  We do realize that the Mayor is checking into possibilities for security in this building, we realize thatís a big job.  He has partnered with Charlie Decker, he has partnered with Judge Cassata and I believe thereís another man, whose name has escaped me right now, but I know heís partnered with him too for the long term.  What bothers me, what bothers my associates is that when that security/police officer leaves at 4:30, weíre left with nothing.  I do realize there is Probation Court here and the Mayor has again, talked with Mr. Decker with regards to getting this situation corrected, but it is going to take some time.  What weíre here asking tonight is that something be done immediately.  From 4:30 to 5:00 thereís still ample time for anybody to walk through these doors.  I worked until 5:00 this week.  Today, as I was sitting here, I was seeing the people that are walking through these doors, walking through those same metal detectors where a security guard had been there until 4:30.  So here we are, letting our residents walking in to do whatever court business they have, or business in the Mayorís office but yet at 4:30, we donít know whoís walking through there and the Mayorís office is right there too.  What Iím asking Mr. Mayor is you would please reconsider on behalf of the public and the employees here.  I know you will be installing a panic button soon, even as soon as tomorrow.  Weíre grateful for that but we donít feel that that panic button is enough, not enough to get an officer to our office when we need them.  The officer is not only there as a deterrent but heís there to react to something thatís happening and many times in our office since Iíve been here, the officer has come over and settled a situation that had happened between a resident and whoever was in the hallway there.  So I guess Iím just asking that it not be considered a summer hour schedule as in the past.  A couple years ago, we were told by a former Administrative Assistance, Don Witkowski, to keep track of people coming through in the summer of 2007.  I do have that with me tonight and I did show it to Mayor Pilozzi, maybe you remember last year when I came to you.  As a result of this, itís not real scientific, but anyway, there was like 1 person between 4:00 and 5:00.  All Iím saying is maybe we do need to change the times here a little bit but the main thing is the security issue, thatís why Iím here tonight, thatís why weíre tonight is for the security issue.  If youíre going to keep us here until 5:00, please keep that officer here with us too, thatís all weíre asking but again, if the officer leaves at 4:30 and we leave at 4:30, thatís no cost to the City, no cost to the City and it protects that public and I just appreciate that. 

 

Coleen Overholt, 121 Sharon Drive, City Hall employee Ė I used to work over at the Police Department as a secretary over there and I know that there maybe times when there is not an officer in the building and it was just myself and the dispatcher and if somebody came over and wanted a police officer right then and there, there would be none available, they would have to call out and get them to come in, so itís not an instantaneous reaction that would come down the hallway when we push the panic button. 

 

Cheryl Ward, Mattís Automotive, 325 Young Street Ė What weíre here for today are all the semiís that keep hitting the bridge. Something has to be done; it is just unbearable.  I have kept notes since 2000 of all the accidents on the bridge being hit, incidents where police have to back them down the street.  Every time a truck gets in an accident, Iím blocked off, my business is shut right down.  Shut down, just like that.  Now Iím going to back here, in 2000 you had, now these are from the hours that Iím open, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM.  There are more accidents, this is just when Iím open.  In 2000 youíve got 3 accidents, youíve got 3 assisted backups, okay?  Now in 2001, youíve got 2 accidents, 3 assisted backups.  Iím not going to bore you with all this.  You can look at this later.  In 2008 while we were there, 5 accidents, 13 assisted backups.  Thereís a problem here.  Thereís a big problem here and itís my business from last year and this year in the last month, weíve lost $5,000.  In December of 2008 there was a major accident there.  It just happened to be where we park our vehicle everyday, my husband was sick, he went back to bed, thank God because we would have been dead.  December 15, roll over, hit one of our cars, customerís car, the mess is still there today from December of 2008, Iíve got pictures to show it.  We have wires hanging over our driveway, there are approximately 7 feet high, this is December 2008.  Weíve had to roll 50-gallon cans of alcohol, antifreeze to the curb because these lines were never raised up.  I donít know whose lines they are, I donít know who to call, itís not my problem, I had nothing to do with this accident.  Who do you think fixed it?  Me.  December to June, I just did it.  I donít mean to get mad, Iím just frustrated with the situation.  Okay, signage for truckers.  I donít know that the that signage is the problem.  Hereís what I think.  Itís GPS systems.  Theyíre following their GPS systems and theyíre not paying attention to the signs.  The GPS is taking them right down there and we got a problem.  But maybe if we had, and I looked up a few different kinds of signage, you guys can go over all of this because Iím going to give all this to you after I stop shaking here.  I put down better signage, complete clean-up after an accident, properly inform all people who need to be contacted Ė the wires and stuff like that.  I donít know who to call.  We have to call whose line that is.  Oh, gee, I donít know.  Time Warner told me it was Verizon, so I went on Verizon for 6 months and Verizon came out and they have to send another line crew out and waited another 6 weeks for that and then Time Warner came back out and said, ďoh, thatís FibertechĒ.  Has anyone ever heard Fibertech?  Me neither; I know them now.  They were out within 5 minutes, looked at it, said yes, thatís our line, weíll have it fixed tomorrow.  I went all that time when all I needed to know was whose line.  Thatís not my problem.  I didnít do this.  As a matter of fact, they wouldnít even let me on my property when I got there because there were lines down.  I understand the issue, thereíre lines down, and all I said was if I can get to my property without walking down Young Street, can I go, and she said yes, be careful of lines.  So, okay, thatís what I did, parked in the back and walked over.  But now that whole day is shut down, no customers, I canít do nothing because there is major drama there, I mean it took all day.  Now we just had one last week, seven hours to clean-up, closed me down, customers canít pick up their cars.  I could go on forever.  Now weíre into road construction.  They come down, shut the road down, just like that.  Iím sorry, Iíve got customers, can you imagine?  Iím running a business.  They just shut you down.  Now they were fairly cooperative, but I ran my business from the middle of Young Street.  Sir, we have another one coming over, sir we have another one coming over, I canít keep walking out there and telling them.  If I did not tell them, they tell them, no youíre not going down there.  So thatís what I went through with road construction.  Then, we have debris.  The same mess from the accident in December, the road construction threw blacktop over it and thereís a big sewer drain sitting on top of it.  I have pictures of that also.  So I donít know whoís going to clean that up because itís just been one right after the other.  They think itís a junkyard over there.  Iím not going to go on to the next one because itís the first thing on your agenda, sidewalks.  I saw that, I said, oops, I canít do nothing about that one. 

 

Ray Ward, Mattís Automotive, 325 Young Street - Weíre actually looking at signs, something not to bust the City of Tonawanda.  So we got on the internet, we looked at signage, there was one that the guy said, if your truck hits this sign, it is too low.  I did some more research. There was something on the internet in Worchester.  CSX actually pays for signage.  I donít know if you guys can get CSX do so something, put some pressure on them.  Their bridge out there was built in 1912 or something like that.  This one here, I donít know.

 

Council President Zeisz - Well, to give you an example of CXS, one time we went to them for signage for the bridge and they said, oh do whatever you want to.  Thatís basically their attitude with that bridge. 

 

Cheryl Ward Ė You know basically, they did the same with us. When we moved in there, I said, well, you know maybe if you get us railroad ties weíll built it big because their dirt is falling on to our property.  Oh, we didnít build that; we would have never done something like that.  No, they wouldnít do nothing. 

 

Ray Ward - So we asked them for railroad ties to make it a little bit nicer.       

 

Cheryl Ward Ė No nothing, and their property is falling onto my property.  Iím waiting for that bridge to come down and itís going to come right through my building,  Thereís a pre-warning because Iím right there, I am right there.  Hereís another signage thing, over-height vehicles, detection system, from Trig Industries.  I am being very highly inconvenienced with all of this.  Now in 2008, you look at the police reports from the time I was open, they increased highly.  And what happened?  GPS systems came out.  I donít mean to be hysterical but Iím a little shaky here.  I want to show you this trash that was left here too. 

 

Council President Zeisz Ė Well, your streets not done either.  I think itís only got binder on it.  

 

Mayor Pilozzi Ė No, they did the topcoat already.  They did do the topcoat.  

 

Councilmember Perkins - Just so you know, Cheryl and I have had a couple conversations about this situation in the past couple of days and I did talk to the City Engineer today and one of the City Engineerís recommendations was what your husband had said, something about the cheap way out is some sign that you can put up, if you hit this sign, youíre too low and thatís something that maybe we could look at as a quick fix to the situation.

 

Cheryl Ward Ė See, I wouldnít want that between the sign and the bridge.  I would want that before that.  I donít want him to hit that sign, I donít want to have to call and have him backed up.  They are ruining my business doing this. 

 

Councilmember Perkins - I donít know how far back, I donít know if there was a recommendation on what you found but that would be something we would have to go down, because, like what sheís saying, she wants something at the stop sign because after the stop sign, itís too late. 

 

Council President Zeisz - Weíve tried signage on the bridge, painting the bridge, weíve even changed the measurement from the pavement to allot for a little room. 

 

Cheryl Ward - Youíve actually lowered it since you did the road and we had an accident two days later, shut us down again.  We have been shut down all month over this road and accident. 

 

Councilmember Perkins Ė Honestly, when I spoke to the Engineer, he actually said that this had been brought up before on some other accident and he said we have more than ample signage.  The signage is not the problem, the problem is, honestly, itís truck drivers not paying attention and I donít know, theyíre professional drivers, they should know the height of their haul, Iíd like to think but obviously they donít and thatís got to be what it is, theyíre not paying attention because thereís a lot of signs.

 

Cheryl Ward Ė I did see one where they actually took the bridge and put yellow and black stripes all the way down, going this way and that way.  Up one side, over the top and down the other side.  Yellow and black all around it.

 

Council President Zeisz - But some of the trucks that are hitting it, I mean theyíre not scraping it, theyíre smashing right into it.  Itís not even close.  So theyíre just not paying attention, theyíre just going. 

 

Cheryl Ward - But somethingís got to be done to make them pay attention.  I know itís not anyoneís fault, the signage is there, but I need some help before I leave the City out of business.  Itís bad.

 

Councilmember Waterhouse - I think youíre right with the GPS part.  In the olden days with all the dispatchers, you could call a dispatcher, donít send your truck down that route.  Now, you wonder if thereís any central person you can call to change that. 

 

Cheryl Ward - The tom-tom does have low bridge but if youíre on a Garmin, it doesnít have that kind of stuff and I really think thatís what it is.  It could be that they donít understand metric and height, you know maybe we have to put that there too, I donít know. 

 

Council President Zeisz Ė But every driver has to know the height of their truck. 

 

Cheryl Ward - But in Canada, itís in metrics, then you come here and you have feet and inches. 

 

Council President Zeisz - Itís not that complicated. 

 

Cheryl Ward Ė Well, I agree with you but I know how to do it.  A lot of people donít.  Double it, add 10. 

Council President Zeisz - Weíll see, with the Mayorís office weíll see what we can come up with. 

 

Councilmember Perkins - I think itís worth it to at least attempt to contact CSX and see. 

 

Council President Zeisz Ė We can try again, weíve never had much luck in the past.  

 

Councilmember Perkins Ė Because when I was talking to the City Engineer also, I think heís under the impression that CSX comes out every time it gets hit.  Now, we got the Fire Chief back there, the Police Chief over there.  I donít know if either one would know if thatís correct.  Do you get their business card? 

 

Fire Chief Stuart Ė Theyíre all special numbersÖ(part inaudible).

 

Councilmember Perkins - Maybe you can share those special numbers some time 

 

Cheryl Ward - I was there one day and the guy comes out and he said, yep, looks over to me, another dent, and he left.  Honest to God, that was how it went.  Excuse me, another dent, gone.  I have never gotten a cent for everything I have lost.  Not when my building got broken into, when anythingís gotten stolen, I have never put an insurance claim into anything, we have eaten every bit of it.  The trucks that hit our cars turning around, customers complained, we pay to have it fixed to make the customer happy.  We have lost a ton of money, I just canít tell you what weíve lost.  I can even bring in the police reports we have for our building.  We have a lot of problems with kids there because we have a railroad track this way and one this way and when they get back there, nobody can see them, itís not visible from the street, police cannot see it.  They canít, so we have a lot of problems back there.  Thanks for listening. 

 

COMMENTS FROM THE COUNCILMEMBERS AFTER RESOLUTIONS

 

Councilmember Perkins Ė I guess my only other comment would be if we could get an idea from the Fire Chief and Police Chief because I know if thereís a cost to the City, and maybe at some point in time you guys could go back in your numbers and see what is cost the City each time, one of these accidents happens with a truck hitting that bridge, because Iím sure itís significant time on your part.  I really enjoyed the fireworks from the bridge the other night.  I thought it was great.  I hope it worked out as well for the Police Chief and Fire Chief and I know they did a lot of pre-planning so that those fireworks could go off the bridge during Canal Fest.  I had a really good time.  I hope it worked out well.   

 

Councilmember Waterhouse Ė One of the things I find most frustrating when youíre sitting up here is when people come up to the microphone and they have concerns and problems. Believe me, it would be so much better if we could just wave a wand and cure everything.  Unfortunately, that bridge, thatís not ours, weíre stuck with things like that.  Itís certain things that weíre definitely going to have to look into but itís going to take some time on our part because CSX is going to be a problem.  Ladies come up from the City Hall, believe me, I agree with you 100% but as President Zeisz said, thatí not a thing we can do here.  Personally, since it was already brought up, Iím very pro-active, not retro-active, with a button.  Seeing a police officer at the door is very important, youíre going to deter people away.  We saw that at Canal Fest and I saw the police.  I was down there every day but one night and I think the Chief was down there every night.  I saw her, talked to her several times.  The police force that was out, with the auxiliaries and everything was amazing.  They were walking constantly, we had that command post in the center to work through the traffic.  She gave us a little report before we came out here and I think arrests were down like 40% from last year.  It works when youíre visible and I think that is key, that works so well.  The rest of Canal Fest, I wish the weather would have been as good as the police force but we still had a good turn out, there are a lot of good things in this City.  The Fire Chiefís back there, they do so much prep work for these events, rather than wait until after.  You guys did the drills, you were out on the bridge.  We took care of what we had to do to make sure everybody was safe and I think thatís very important.  Do what you can ahead of time and thatís what the police and fire have always done. When Canal Fest is done, I donít want anyone to think that this City is going to close up.  As you all know, we still have concerts coming up, weíre still going to have some fun around here.  Hopefully, weíll have a little better weather.  Everyone have safe night. 

 

Councilmember Davis Ė Iíd also like to say I support the ladies that work in the Clerkís Office with the change of hours.  Like you said, itís probably a ďno brainerĒ, just do it, get it done and over with, without a cost to any City taxpayer, so you have my support and hopefully something will happen here very shortly.   Canal Fest, have both of our Chiefís here, Iíd just like to thank them and their workers for the outstanding job that they did and like Gary said, I mean, I was down at Canal Fest all but two nights, walked on the City of Tonawanda side, I saw police officer with an auxiliary copÖ.(part inaudible)Ö you go over to North Tonawanda and other than the parade, Iíd be hard pressed to say that I saw one cop.  Maybe I wasnít over there at the right times, but the work that they do is just phenomenal, the work their staff does is just phenomenal during that time and I donítí want to forget about Neal Myers and our DPW.  I drove to City Hall at 10:00 in the morning and went to take the little Young Street extension and it was all open, minus the spots where the ponies decided to do their business.  It was clean, there was not debris, so my hats off to all our Department Heads and City employees for the good job that they did.  And lastly, I hope everyone was able to get out today and enjoy the only day of summer weíre going to have.  Have a nice night.

 

Councilmember Kossow Ė First of all, with regards to Canal Fest, it was good to see that we won the tug-of-war this year, it was the first in a while, so that was good.  And also as Mr. Davis indicated, Iíd just want to thank all, Canal Fest puts a huge strain on all our City workers, so my hats off to all the Department Heads and all the City workers for all their time and efforts that they put into Canal Fest.  We appreciate your efforts and it really makes the whole festival enjoyable and safe.  Also, Iíd like to thank, I saw Mr. Stryker over at Canal Fest and he indicated that he is retiring from the Civil Service Commission and he served on the commission, I think it was almost 25 years, so Iíd like to thank him for all his efforts on the Civil Service Commission.  And lastly, with regards to the reassessments, again as I said before, I supported the reassessment process, I think we realize what the impact is on the Riveredge, it is not favorable, but it was almost 20 years since the last reassessment and it was something that I think had to be done, and this whole Council and the Mayor supported it, it was necessary that it was done.  Iíd be more than willing to meet with the Riveredge Association on the matter and to say that I hadnít supported Riveredge in the past, I know that back a ways when it came down to the gas station situation, I fought that battle for a number of years and eventually it ended up going forward and I supported the Riveredge residents in their cause in trying to prevent them from going in.   Reassessment, as I said, is something that I believe we had to do for the whole City but I would be glad to meet with the Riveredge Association.  One other thing, Iíd like to thank my wife who is sitting home waiting for me to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary tonight.  I know a lot of the people up here do what they do because they want to try to make improvements to the City and make this a great place to live, but there are times where we do sacrifice our families to do our job.  My wifeís always supported in this position and I just want to tell her Happy Anniversary and thank you very much.

 

Council President Zeisz Ė Thank you Mr. Kossow and get out of here. 

 

Mayor Pilozzi Ė Iíd like to congratulate Jim and Melissa on their 25th wedding anniversary.  It seems like yesterday, my wife and I were celebrating ours.  It will be 40 in January for us.  Time goes by so fast and you do need a lot of support and just bless you and your wife.  Hopefully you have a few hours left to take her out to dinner or something.  Tom Stryker has given 25 years of service to this community in various capacities, not only in Civil Service but he approached me about retiring from the Civil Service Commission and weíre in the process now of trying to find (part inaudible) but obviously congratulations again.  Canal Fest.  I donít think anybody could thank our Police, Fire, DPW, Parks & Rec folks enough for the effort they expended during Canal Fest. You really donít realize by any stretch what it takes to put an event like that on, especially with the number of people that come.  Canal Fest parade night, I walked next to Mayor from Niagara Falls and he looked at me, and weíre all soaking wet, and said, I canít believe this many people are out here tonight.  And I said Mayor Dyster, thatís the way it is.  Thereíd be another 10,000 people here if it were sunny.  A lot of effort and again, my thanks to the Police Department, Fire Department, DPW, and the Parks & Rec and anybody employed by the City of Tonawanda for their effort.  CSX, I donít know if you know this or not, but there was a gigantic tree that on Friday I was advised about 10:00 on Friday morning that the tree had fallen across the creek and I believe itís on CSXís property.  At any rate, it spanned the whole creek and there was nowhere to go.  Shut navigation down, got on the phone with numerous state, federal, and county agencies and got no help.  We did get some help from our friends in the Town of Tonawanda and eventually we secured it to the opposite shore and today we took care of the rest of it but again, they donít maintain their property, Iíve never heard a good thing said by anybody about railways.  They just donít do a good job maintaining their property and hope that they maintain the tracks but weíre going to have to get into it and this is a nice summary and Iím going to give a copy of this to our Police Chief and have them compare to what you have on record and then weíll send a letter to CSX and hopefully we can come up with something, weíll do our best.  Obviously itís private property but it doesnít mean that we cannot do something with that particular situation.  Itís been hit too many times.  In terms of what was brought to the meeting tonight from the ladies in the Clerk/Treasurer/Assessor office, first of all, Iíd like to say I have the utmost respect for their work ethic and their ability to deal with the public thatís done on a daily basis in a cordial way and that has to be said.  But just for the record, Iíd like to mention some things that I have done to date in talking to various individuals.  Obviously, itís been mentioned, Judge Cassata, we requested his help to get a security person in here.  We were more concerned about whatís in your office in terms of maybe a plastic shield to protect you from anybody trying to take issue with you.  Some people come in, as you are well aware of, with an attitude, they had a bad day, whatever have you, you never know.  The DPW electricians, and Laurie you probably know this better than anybody, hopefully weíll be putting panic buttons in the Clerkís office.  We already wrote a letter and I believe I sent a copy to Holly Batt relative to County Commissioner Peter Vito Central Police Services, that we no longer want probation here.  In addition to those steps, I did take the liberty of contacting both Mayor Gallagher and Roth to see what their position was on this particular issue and they both said the same thing that I had said to Laurie last year, my concern and their concern was, being able to deal with the public at a time thatís convenient for them as pubic servants.  Maybe we can find some common ground here, I donít know but I also would not hesitate to talk to Mr. Finger, thereís a reason why the language is in the contract for the times, in my book.  I can tell you when I first took this job, I tried to change hours in the DPW Department.  Couldnít do it because it was in the contract, so itís gotta be both ways in terms of contract, but I do think, sooner or later weíll get this rectified and hopefully to everybodyís appreciation.    

 

Council President Zeisz Ė I just have one closing thought.  I wouldnít expect anything less from our City employees, whether itís Canal Fest, whether itís the concerts, whether itís day to day work, everybodyís been great over the years doing things that are required, things we ask for and other than that, I have nothing else.  Have a great night, drive home safely and God Bless you.   

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

152.     By Councilmember Perkins                         seconded by Councilmember Kossow

            Resolved, that this Common Council adjourn until, August 4, 2009.  

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

 

 

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