Council Chambers

Tonawanda, New York

October 6, 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:  Johnson Street Improvements

                       September 22, 2009

                       10:00 A.M.

 

  E & R Construction Inc.

  38 St. David’s Dr.

  West Seneca, NY   14224                                                     Total Bid:  $149,000.00

 

  Robinson Paving

  P.O. Box 266

  East Aurora, NY    14052                                                    Total Bid:  $167,366.03

 

  C & C Contractors, Inc.

  1589 Bailey Rd.

  Cowlesville, NY   14037                                                     Total Bid:  $175,350.00

 

  New Frontier Excavating & Paving, Inc.

  8265 East Eden Road

  Eden, NY    14057                                                              Total Bid:  $177,057.28

 

  Tom Greenauer Development, Inc.

  P.O. Box 250

  Spring Brook, NY    14140                                                    Total Bid:  $183,590.00

 

  Visone Construction, Inc.

  79 Sheldon Avenue

  Depew, NY    14043                                                              Total Bid:  $190,150.00

            Bid Bonds and Non-Collusive Bidding Certificates accompanied all bids

                        Ordered filed

 

COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE MAYOR

 

A letter of resignation dated September 26, 2009 from Thomas W. Balk, 33 Loretta Street, from the Civil Service Commission, effective immediately.

 

A letter from the NYSDOT dated September 16, 2009, regarding the arterial (Route 425, Twin Cities Memorial Highway) maintenance agreement between the City of Tonawanda and NYSDOT.

 

A letter from the NYSDEC dated September 15, 2009, regarding SEQR lead agency designation remediation and asbestos abatement 111 Niagara Shore Dr. and 140 Niagara St.

 

A letter to the Department of Public Works dated September 9, 2009, from the Pastor of the United Methodist Church at 221 Morgan Street thanking them for the nice job they did on sidewalks in front of their church.

 

A newsletter from the United States Environmental Protection Agency outlining the Tonawanda New York Community Air Quality Study and evaluation of the Tonawanda Coke facility.

            Ordered filed

 

COMMUNICATION FROM CITY OFFICIALS AND CORRESPONDENCE

 

The following monthly reports were received by the City Clerk:

            September minutes of the Board of Appeals

September monthly report of the Building Inspector

            September minutes of the Civil Service Commission

September minutes of the Traffic and Safety Advisory Board

                Referred to the Committee of the Whole

                        Ordered filed

 

A Notice of a Public Hearing that was held on September 28, 2009, by the Board of Appeals asking permission to erect an addition to the rear of the existing garage at 298 Grove Street. 

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

 

A Notice of a Public Hearing that was held on September 28, 2009, by the Board of Appeals asking permission to erect a 48” high picket fence in an exterior side yard at 83 Hill Street.

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

 

A Notice of a Public Hearing being held by the Board of Appeals for the City of Tonawanda on October 19, 2009, asking to be allowed to erect a 4’ metal picket fence at 19 Gibson Street.

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

 

A Notice of a Public Hearing being held by the Board of Appeals for the City of Tonawanda on October 19, 2009, asking to be allowed to erect a new two-family dwelling on the rear of the lot located at 407 Young Street.

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

 

A Notice of a Public Hearing being held by the Board of Appeals for the City of Tonawanda on October 19, 2009, asking to be allowed to pave an 8’ X 21’ area of the existing front yard at 157 Clinton Street to provide additional parking.

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

 

A letter from Assessor Patricia N Bacon asking that William Brenon be reappointed to the Assessment Board of Review.

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

 

A letter from Dennis J. Smilinich, Vice Chair of the Children & Youth for the American Legion, dated September 25, 2009, regarding “Gathering of Iron” and the Labor Day Car Show.

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

                        Ordered filed

           

 

MOTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS

 

187.     By Councilmember Kossow                                               seconded by Council President Zeisz

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

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

 

 

188.     By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Whereas, managing escalating medical insurance costs for City of Tonawanda employees and retirees is of primary importance to the City of Tonawanda and the City’s annual operating budget, and

Whereas, a principal means to achieving this goal is working with City employees and unions to provide medical insurance benefits negotiated under collective bargaining agreements under alternate medical insurance plans, providing comparable or better benefits, at reduced City costs, with the eventual goal of consolidating all employee medical insurance benefits under one common plan, with comparable levels of benefits under one insurance carrier, and

Whereas, achieving this goal would provide the City and its employees the option of providing medical insurance benefits under experience rated, rather than existing community rated plans, thereby giving the City and its employees the ability to improve utilization of medical insurance benefits, an incentive to execute wellness programs, and realize savings in medical insurance costs, and

Whereas, the City has discussed these initiatives and goals with City employees not represented by a union or covered under a collective bargaining agreement, and with the City of Tonawanda Employees Association (CTEA), more specifically, changing medical insurance plans from the existing Independent Health Encompass A Plan to a Blue Cross Blue Shield (BC/BS) HMO 203 Plan, enhanced to a BC/BS HMO 201 Plan, with the inclusion of a “Dependent” rider covering dependents to age 25, regardless of whether those dependents are full-time students or not, effective January 1, 2010, and developed a Memorandum of Agreement to implement these and other changes in the current CTEA collective bargaining agreement, including an extension of  the existing contract due to expire on December 31, 2010 for an additional year until December 31, 2011, including a 2.5% salary increase,  and

Whereas, the BC/BS HMO 203 Plan is the coverage currently negotiated and provided the City of Tonawanda PBA, and is the Plan serving as the benchmark to transition all other City unions and employees not represented by a union, and

Whereas, the existing community rated PBA BC/BS 203 Plan covers dependents to the age of 19 years of age and 25 if those dependents are full-time students, and

Whereas, the City and Tonawanda and the Tonawanda Retirees Employees and Spouses (TRE&S) have discussed terms of an agreement whereby TRE&S would assist the City in encouraging and executing agreements with City retirees living in the Western New York area to voluntarily change from their existing Independent Health Encompass A, UNIVERA Community Blue or BC/BS Plans provided under the Stipulation of Settlement Agreement dated September 14, 1998, to the Independent Health Medicare Encompass A Plan, consistent with the Agreement which is on file in the Office of the City Clerk, and 

Whereas, in a membership vote of CTEA members held on September 9, 2009, CTEA union members approved changing from their existing medical insurance plan negotiated under its collective bargaining agreement, namely the Independent Health Encompass A Plan to the BC/BS HMO 203 Plan, enhanced to a level of benefits provided under the Independent Health HMO 201 plan effective November 1, 2009, along with a City provided “Dependent” rider covering dependents to age 25 effective January 1, 2010, and

Whereas, in the interest of fairness and consolidating all City unions and employees under one medical insurance plan and one insurance carrier, to facilitate moving from a community rated plan to an experience rated plan, the City should purchase the “Dependent” rider for PBA members effective January 1, 2010, now, therefore be it

Resolved, the City of Tonawanda Common Council approves and authorizes the City changing City paid medical insurance plans for City CTEA employees and non-union City employees that are covered under the Personnel Benefits and Policy Manual for the City of Tonawanda Employees, Group 1B, Group 2, Group 3 and Group 4,  to the Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO 203 Plan, enhanced to the Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO 201 Plan, effective November 1, 2009 and the “Dependent” rider effective January 1, 2010, including active members of the PBA; and for City retirees living in the Western New York area to the Independent Health Medicare Encompass A Plan consistent with the terms contained in the agreement on file in the Office of the City Clerk between the City and TRE&S, and be it further

 

Resolved, the Common Council authorizes the Mayor to sign and execute any and all documents and agreements necessary to implement the above referenced changes, including the proposed Memorandum of Agreement between the City and CTEA on file in the City Clerk’s Office, and for the City Treasurer to execute any documents and make any expenditures for the above referenced initiatives.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

           

189.     By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that William Brenon, 507 Niagara Street, be reappointed to the Board of Assessment Review, term to expire September 30, 2014.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

190.     By Council President Zeisz                                     seconded by Councilmember Davis

            Resolved, that the reading of resolution 191 and 193 be waived.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

           

191.     By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Whereas, this Council by Resolution adopted February 5, 2008, determined that it was in the best interests of the City to sell a certain parcel of land designated as 54 East Niagara Street; and

            Whereas, it was further resolved that said notice of Public Auction was to be given at least once each week for three successive weeks in at least one newspaper of general circulation and that it be sold to the highest bidder at said Auction; the Council reserving the right to reject any and all bids; and

            Whereas, the City Treasurer determined that said Auction would be held on Thursday, September 24, 2009; the appropriate Public Notice was given as required by law; and the Auction was held as stated; and

            Whereas, Ronald C. Anderson and JoAnne M. Anderson having bid the sum of $28,000.00; and

            Whereas, the Resolution having further provided that said Auction would not be final until the adoption of a Resolution by this body approving the same; and

            Whereas, the Terms of Sale require that the City shall not provide a current search or current survey covering the property and that any and all costs associated with the sale and subsequent transfer to the successful bidder shall be borne exclusively by the purchaser; now, therefore be it

            Resolved, that the $28,000.00 bid by Ronald C. Anderson and JoAnne M. Anderson is accepted; the sale is confirmed; and City Attorney, Ronald C. Trabucco, is hereby authorized and directed to prepare the necessary Deed and accompanying documents; and Mayor, Ronald J. Pilozzi, is hereby authorized and directed to execute said documents to transfer said property to the successful bidder.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

           

192.     By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

Whereas, on December 4th, 2007, the Common Council authorized the Chief of Police to utilize the proceeds from the sale of a specific City of Tonawanda property that was used by the Underwater Squad to reorganize the unit with formal approval of the Common Council,

Resolved, that the Chief of Police be authorized to purchase Scuba Diving Equipment from Dip N Dive in the amount of $2,670.35, and water rescue rope and tank racks from Dive Rescue International in the amount of $756.45 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

 

193.     By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Whereas, the City of Tonawanda (City) and the State of New York (State) executed a Supplemental Agreement (Agreement) for the maintenance and repair of state arterial commonly known as the Twin Cities Memorial Highway (Highway), dated February 7, 1966 and executed on February 25, 1966, pursuant Section 349-C of the State Highway Law as amended by Chapter 771 of the Laws of 1955 and Chapter 170 of the Laws of 1967, and

Whereas, a copy of this Agreement is referenced as part of this Common Council resolution and on filed in the offices of the City Clerk of the City, and

Whereas, under this Agreement, the City is reimbursed for the above referenced maintenance and repair work at the rate of ten (10) cents per square yard for pavement areas, which rate was increased to eighty-five (85) cents per square yard pursuant to state law, resulting in the current annual reimbursement total of approximately $50,826.00 per year for TCMH work performed by the City, and

Whereas, under Article IX of the Agreement, the term expires when the City, by Common Council resolution, decides and approves discontinuing the Agreement effective at the expiration of not less than two (2) months from the date of delivery by registered mail a certified copy of the resolution to the Superintendent of the New York State Department of Public Works (Department of Transportation), and

Whereas, the City of Tonawanda Common Council wishes to terminate and discontinue the Agreement, now, therefore be it

Resolved, that the City of Tonawanda Common Council hereby approves discontinuing the Agreement and directs the City Clerk of the City to notify the State Department of Transportation pursuant to the terms and conditions contained in the Agreement.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

           

194.     By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Whereas, a $25.00 application fee and application was received by the City Clerk from the Swiftwater Business Association, 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 the Swiftwater Business Association to hold “Autumn on Main Street” on Saturday, October 10, 2009, from 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. and be it further

            Resolved, that Main Street be closed from Broad Street to Young Street and that Ingress and Egress be provided for emergency vehicles and be it further

            Resolved, that a certificate of insurance naming the City as additional insured be presented to the City Clerk by October 8, 2009.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

           

195.     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 Johnson Street Improvements be made to E & R General Construction, Inc., at a cost not to exceed $149,000.00

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

196.     By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Whereas, on May 20, 2008, the Mayor was authorized by the Common Council of the City of Tonawanda to engage in any and all activities, execute any and all documents and to enter into any and all other agreements necessary and appropriate to carry out the terms and guidelines of the grant from the Restore NY Program to complete the project, therefore be it

Resolved, at the recommendation of the City Engineer, Jason J. LaMonaco, P.E. to authorize the Mayor to amend the Contract with DEMCO, Inc to $2,291,249.00.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

197.     By Councilmember Davis                                        seconded by Council President Zeisz

            Whereas, the City of Tonawanda Common Council has taken all necessary steps, required to allow for the development of the former “Little League Property” including a wetlands study, designation of replacement park land and boundary survey, and

            Whereas, the Tonawanda Common Council has directed that a non-binding Request for Proposals for development of said property be prepared and

            Whereas, said RFP has been completed and approved by the Tonawanda Common Council, now therefore be it

            Resolved, that this Common Council directs the City Clerk to publish and advertise the Request for Proposals on file in the Office of the City Clerk for the development of the former “Little League Property” with the Tonawanda News and the Buffalo News within 14 days of certification of this resolution and be it further

            Resolved, that said advertisement request responses to said RFP be submitted to the Tonawanda Common Council in care of the City Clerk, 200 Niagara Street, Tonawanda, New York 14150 within 90 days of publication.

 

Councilmember Davis – There has been a lot of debate over this piece of property up in the 4th Ward, both by the Council and by the school district, but the fact remains that we don’t know, we have no idea if anybody would even be interested in this piece of property unless we go through the RFP process to see, quite frankly, if there is any interest out there, but I gotta believe that even in this depressed housing market there are new developments going on in other municipalities that are thriving.  We offer services in this community that no other community offers and I, again, believe that if these homes were built up there they would sell and one of the studies that I did was, I mapped out about 50 homes up there and it would generate about a quarter of a million dollars of tax revenue for the City.  Now that doesn’t sound like much but if we have an extra quarter of a million dollars in our general fund, everybody would be looking at a 0% tax increase.  The fact of the matter is, with the tax increases, we’re asking the residents to help bridge the gap with the revenues that the City is short on. We need to expand our horizons and look at other ways, other than going to the taxpayers to expand our revenue.  One of those ways is by expanding our tax base so that’s why I am sponsoring this resolution. 

 

Council President Zeisz – I think the only comment I’d like to make is the fact that I’m sure there is, in the past and might be some here tonight, that have comments or questions as far as this development and there certainly will, as long as I sit in this chair, there will be public comment on this; however, we have nothing to comment on because we don’t know what kind of interest there’s going to be, what type of interest.  At this point, we don’t have the information to take to the public and I’m more than willing to do that when the time comes.  If anybody had questions on this resolution that wasn’t aware of it, please ask. 

 

Dave McCormick, 613 Niagara Street – Do you have to replace that park property with the same acreage and the value of the property that you’re gonna replace it with?

 

Council President Zeisz - Well, it can either be property, as in acreage, which then becomes parkland, or it’s monetary contribution to an existing parkland of equal value. 

 

Dave McCormick - Two years ago, Mr. Davis said the property was worth, in the Tonawanda News, $200,000.00, $180,000.00.  You did have appraises on the property recently?  I thought I caught a meeting, a couple weeks ago, three appraisals came in.

 

Council President Zeisz - There are appraisals on the property. 

 

Dave McCormick – Do you know how much, I thought I saw a half a million dollars, all three of them came in at half a million dollars? 

 

Council President Zeisz – Pretty much the same, yes.

 

Dave McCormick - Are we going to give that property away?   Because Mr. Davis is sponsoring this because you might have a developer already lined up and I just want it on public record if he has been discussing this with other developers.

 

Council President Zeisz – Well, if there’s a developer, I don’t know who it is. 

 

Councilmember Davis – Number one, I’m not going to sit up here and answer questions of a political nature thrown at me by a resident that has ulterior motives, and second, I have not spoken with a developer so, …

 

Dave McCormick - …what are you talking about, I was always against that development up there.  Why can’t you answer a question?

 

Councilmember Davis - I believe I have. 

 

Dave McCormick - No, you haven’t.  Have you talked to any developers personally? 

 

Councilmember Davis – I just told you, I have not personally spoken to any developers. 

 

Councilmember Perkins - Actually, not to get in the middle of it, but we did have a developer come in from the Town of Tonawanda.

 

Council President Zeisz – In a meeting. 

 

Councilmember Perkins – We did.  I mean, all of us sat through it.  I just wanted to let everybody know that…

 

Dave McCormick - …it seems like we were low-balling the last time Mr. Davis was talking about the property saying it was worth nothing and now they’re coming in at half a million dollars for the property and I just want to make sure that everything is on the board, above board and I know Mr. Davis will make sure it will be. 

 

Robert Derner, 286 Niagara Shore Drive – Why don’t you just save your money because at the tax rate that you have in the City and the way you assess property here, nobody is going to buy houses up there even if you give the property away.  Housing in this City does not even compare to what you could buy in any surrounding community.  I’ll give you an example.  There’s a house at 149 Lycaster Road in the Town of Tonawanda for $345,000.  The taxes on it are $7,100.00.  If you had a house in the City of Tonawanda for $345,000, you would be paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $13,000 or $14,000 and that goes all houses, all the way through the City. When you went through this revaluation, you hurt the entire City. 

 

Don Holler, 259 Utica Street – I just have a worry about the overall big picture of Tonawanda.  The land you’re talking about is close to our High School.  Now, wouldn’t the High School have better use of that land than houses because I keep hearing talk about closing Mullen School and different schools, where if they close those schools, you could use that land and build houses on that land and then the schools could use the land the City owns and if the City and schools got together, could there be something a little better being done with the whole City, the whole big picture? 

 

Council President Zeisz – Just to comment on what you said.  Obviously, if it came to pass that the Mullen property was available, we’d certainly love to have the opportunity to build houses there.  But, I think as part of the big picture, the School Board has to make a determination on what they want to do in the first place. They have, at this point, and I know they have some task groups that they have assembled to look at, as far as their schools, their empty schools, empty properties, but at this point in time, they’re not even sure what they want to do and all we’re trying to do at this point is just get information and if it means that we move ahead without them or we move ahead with them in some fashion, then so be it.  But at this point, it’s just about getting more information together so we can make an informed decision and take that to the public and get public comment on what they think would be best. 

 

Bill Poole, 36 Murray Terrace – I’ve talked to several of the residents who are friends of mine on Fletcher Street, they are opposed to this but they don’t know the whole picture and the possibility of the schools ever taking over that land and building sports arenas back there and those bright, blaring lights in their backyard, as opposed to housing.  There are too many factors that are, of course, undetermined and I think as a City, we need to go forward with looking at this proposal and see what comes of it.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

198.     By Council President Zeisz                                     seconded by Councilmember Perkins

            Resolved, that in recognition and compliance with the “New York State Open Meetings Law”, this Common Council will meet in Executive Session in the Common Council Chambers for the purpose of pending exempt City business, and further be it

            Resolved, that upon conclusion of the above stated business matters, the meeting shall again be open to the general public.  The reason for the Executive Session is to discuss Article 7 and personnel of a particular person.   

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC AFTER RESOLUTIONS

 

Council President Zeisz – Before I get into comments by the public, one other thing I wanted to share, kind of in response to your question Mr. Holler is, myself, along with the Mayor and some other members of the City are working with the school district on a shared municipal services program to look at opportunities where we can share services between us and the school district and much of what you brought up has been a topic of discussion, whether it be the schools, whether it be the current football stadium, land use up at the High School.  So those things are being talked about, I mean it’s not like it’s not happening.  Something’s happening, I’m just not sure at this point what exactly is going to, what recommendations are going to come back.  I know they have residents involved, there’s members of the School Board involved in these task groups, so we just have to wait until we get some more information from them too. 

 

Robert Derner – As you know, I built a lot of homes up in Riverview, a lot of homes on Brookside and Wadsworth Court, Rogers, and so on.  When I built them, it was a different climate in the way City assessed property and the taxes that were imposed on new houses.  The way you structured this revaluation, you’re going to die with trying to sell that property and sell new houses up there because nobody can afford the taxes when we can look at what you can buy in other areas.  That being said, what I came here to talk about was at the last meeting, there was a gentleman that brought up the idea of putting parking meters at Niawanda Park.  It’s one of the most hair-brain ideas I ever heard of.  First of all, it’s going to be very hard to regulate, you’re going to have to hire more people, include a bigger government to do this, regulate it, and on top of it, it’s going to give the City a black eye.  There are a lot of people in this county that use this park, not just Tonawanda residents but all the surrounding areas. Originally this was going to be the county project, so why not turn this thing over to the county and reduce our Parks Department so that people from all over the county would be paying for it and take the burden off the City of Tonawanda residents.  I’m just astounded that a Republican who always advocates low taxes and small government would make this proposal but he did.  The other thing is, it was when I brought up the idea of merging the City with the Town of Tonawanda, this gentleman said that the Town doesn’t receive State aid but the City does.  I wasn’t proposing that the City become a separate town, I was suggesting that we merge with the Town and Kenmore.  Geographically, it shows that this would be a city or a town of about 90,000 or 100,000 people.  It would be much more advantageous to everybody but that’s the thing, not just looking at the idea that if you become a town you don’t get any State aid.  You’d be getting a much larger area.   

 

Dave McCormick – The last big development in the City of Tonawanda was Riveredge, right, 24, 23 years ago?  Is the City still paying for clean-up every time they break ground over there and have to tear up the stuff and haul it away?  Is the City still liable for that?  Who cut that deal?  I mean, when a developer buys a piece of property, he buys it as is,  and he’s done with it.  Here we are 22 years later and we’re still paying for clean up over at that site. That’s why I’m a little nervous about this development up in the City of Tonawanda up in the parkland because I don’t want to see taxpayers on the hook for just doing a quick deal just because, hey, we’ve got somebody that’s going to built houses whenever they feel like building houses.  They’re not going to build 50 houses and have a quarter of a million dollars to pump into this City in two years.  It doesn’t work that way.  There’s still empty lots over there that the City’s on the hook for, $156,000 a couple of years ago, so that’s why I’m a little bit cautious about giving away City property. 

 

COMMENTS FROM THE COUNCILMEMBERS AFTER RESOLUTIONS

 

Councilmember Perkins – I have nothing else, thank you. 

 

Councilmember Waterhouse – At the last meeting we had, I made some comments about a certain State Senator that I was having a problem getting in contact with and I said through his campaigning and everything, I don’t even think he knew where the City of Tonawanda was?  Shortly after I made those statements, I received an email from the Clerk’s Office with Senator Michael Ranzenhofer’s address.  Last Friday night, Senator Raneznhofer called me at home.  He said he had a conversation with our Mayor and the Mayor told him some concerns and statements I had made through here and he just wanted to let me know that he’s willing to meet with us anytime, that he does care about the City and I was really happy to hear that.  I made those comments and I’m going to take him up on that.  I will be calling the Senator back and making appointments to go talk to him and maybe he can even come here and address some of the concerns that were brought up at our last meeting.  Other than that, I got a concern from, excuse me a call from a concerned citizen on Main Street.  He got a letter from the consultants that are helping out with the project up there and they had a preferred list for the signs and the awnings and not one local business was on there and that just kind of struck me odd when we have a good sign maker right here and on Delaware we have that big awning place, but our own Main Street is asked to, you know for beautification project there, to put up new signs and awnings and this gentleman didn’t even include our own businesses on his preferred list.  I think the gentleman had a very good point.  That’s a major concern I think we need to address as a Council and perhaps the Mayor could look into that for us because that’s got to change. We have good businesses right here in the City.  We should be giving them our business.  “Autumn on Main Street” is Saturday, I hope to see a lot of people out there. 

 

Councilmember Kossow – First off, last week we had the Senior Bazaar over at the Senior Center, it was a nice event.  We were able to pick up a few nick-knacks over there, so again, they always do a great job over there.  Secondly, a couple weeks ago on the 26th of September we had our annual Fall Fest.  The rain held off until we were almost done. It was a resounding success.  Hats off to all the volunteers, it’s an entirely volunteer work force for the day, everybody volunteers their time.  I haven’t heard exactly how much they raised for that day, but all those funds that we did raised go directly to the Recreation Department.  I know they sold over 200 gallons of chowder.  It was really a nice family event.  Earlier Mr. Waterhouse mentioned “Autumn on Main Street”, hopefully the weather holds off, it’s a great event, again, just keep lining up these different events to showcase our downtown.  Come visit our shops, pick up a pumpkin. They’re going to have a lot of activities for that day.  I believe it goes from 10-4, if you have a few minutes on Saturday, take a stop over.  Lastly, as everyone knows, a couple weeks ago were the Primaries and first off, I’d like to congratulate those that won.  I had the fortune of winning a couple minor party lines.  I did not secure one of the major party lines.  I have gotten a number of calls since that time asking, what am I gonna do?   Are you still in it, are you going to still campaign, are you still going to go for re-election.  It’s a difficult decision, I don’t take lightly.   When I thought about running for re-election, every time you get asked, are you going to run for re-election, and this time I decided to run for re-election.  Will it be difficult to move forward without the major part line?  Absolutely.  But I thought seriously and hard about this and I am still going to continue to run for re-election.  I’m not going to run away from a challenge.  I’m going to hold my head up high and let the voters decide on the first Tuesday in November.  So I am on the ballot with two lines and I’m moving forward.

 

Councilmember Davis – I don’t know how to follow Jim after that.  I will make a few comments on this proposed development.  Like Carl said, it’s just to get interest and we have been working with the school district but at this point, I don’t know if the school district knows which direction they’re headed.   We can’t wait around forever waiting for them to decide what they’re going to do.  Mr. McCormick made a comment about contracts.  Well, we don’t have a say in what the contract states with the developer, it’s totally in the Mayor’s hands.  So, whatever contract is negotiated, whatever is in that contract, that would be under the Charter in the hands of the Mayor, not this Council.  Third, the whole reason why, and Mr. Derner kind of touched on it about the prices and the taxes, the whole reason why this RFP and this proposed development is going out there is to try and lesson the tax burden on everybody.  You bring up a home in the Town of Tonawanda and try to compare it to one in the City of Tonawanda, look at how many more businesses and homes they have in the Town to draw a tax base from compared to us.  They have a lot more that they can draw from and the more properties that we can get  onto the City tax rolls, the less of a tax burden it is on people in Riveredge, anybody. The more people you have paying taxes, the less your tax burden is.  It’s a simple case of economics.  But for people to get all hot and bothered over a simple RFP going out to express any interest in a property is, I think, putting the cart before the horse.  I received two phone calls in the past two weeks from residents who had trees cut down in front of their properties because they’ve been up-heaving the sidewalk.  I think this is unheard of.  Amherst did not become Tree City USA for 13 years because they made a habit of cutting trees down because they were up-heaving sidewalks.  I spoke with a certified arborist and he told me  that if you take out the damaged sidewalk, rip out the roots and put concrete back down, number one, those roots are more than likely not going to grow back. The second thing is that tree has a high likelihood of surviving.  So you know, we’re cutting down trees in this community that are 25, 50, 75 years old and for what?  For a couple hundred dollars worth of concrete and it’s going to take another 25, 50, 75 years, none of us are going to be sitting here once those trees mature to where they are now.  Trees add value to properties.  They add value to the community.  People buy homes on tree-lined streets because they’re tree-lined.  If trees are placed in the right area on the property, they cut down your heating and cooling costs by 15% a year.  So I’m asking that the City halt all cutting down of trees in order to replace sidewalks.  Rip the roots out that are affecting the sidewalk, replace the sidewalk, and leave the tree alone. 

 

Dave McCormick - What if it’s plugging up your sewer line, the roots are?  It’s a problem a lot of people have up on Niagara Street…

 

Council President Zeisz - …Mr. McCormick, this isn’t a debate.

 

Dave McCormick – It wasn’t a debate.  I was just asking a question,  non-political. 

 

Council President Zeisz - This is the Council’s chance to comment. 

 

Dave McCormick - I apologize. 

 

Councilmember Davis – Autumn Walk has already been said, I’d just like to thank the Swiftwater Business Association.  I think all of you guys don’t own homes here in the City but own businesses here in the City and I think it’s absolutely outstanding that you want to promote the City, bring people downtown to an event and hopefully, I can talk to the weather gods to give us a good day that day, as we did with Fall Festival.  And lastly, on a more personal note, I would just like to say to Mayor Pilozzi that I’m very happy to hear that his father is doing well after surgery and that we will continue to keep his family in my family’s thoughts and prayers and hope for a speedy recovery.

 

Mayor Pilozzi – When you go last, you kind of risk that a lot of good things have been said and I don’t think anybody can say enough good things about the downtown merchants.  If you noticed, just this week we filled up a couple more storefronts. Cat’s Like Us, I was there for the grand opening and also we had the Ti-Kwon-Do or Body Building, or something, I can’t remember the name. That grand opening is coming up this week, but at any rate, if you look at the overall picture and the things the Councilmen are talking about tonight, really at it’s base and foundation is the efforts of the Swiftwater Merchants Association, not just the City, so we thank you for that.  We all look forward to “Autumn on Main Street”.  It’s always a great event, as long as the weather holds up.  I don’t know if Councilman Davis can make any impact there.  Tomorrow night at 5:30 P.M. the Clean Air Coalition is going to have a rally and if you go out to the foyer, you’ll see some of these out there and if anybody is really concerned about benzene levels in this area, if you go down River Road, right across the street from the Tonawanda Coke Facility, there’s going to be a rally there tomorrow night at 5:30 P.M.  I had the occasion to attend the meeting where they basically came up with the rally and it seems to me if we all are concerned about the air we breathe and we look at the numbers coming out of Tonawanda Coke, it’s something we need to do, we have to keep pressure on the Tonawanda Coke facility and without pressure, they’re just going to keep putting more and more benzene into the air and other contaminates, but that seems to be the one that affects people the most.  The TNT Celebration, our Council President made a comment at the start of this meeting about the football game, but Monday night, 6:00 P.M. at the Armory here in Tonawanda on Delaware Street, there’s going to be a TNT Celebration.  It’s going to be a nice event, black tie, if you want but at any rate, if you can see your way clear, it would be a nice event for you to attend and it’s in support of the arts of our school system.  Part of the money, I believe, is going to the foundation at the school system.  Another great thing happened today, I found out about it, Explorer Post #15, it comes out of our Fire Department and Chief Stuart’s right here, it’s basically headed up by firefighters Amy and Tim Newman, they’re professional firefighters, and also with Bob Williams as a volunteer, and Chief, if there’s anybody else involved besides yourself and those individuals, at the risk of not giving people credit, but the fact of the matter is, they got $5,000 grant and that grant is for these kids to use for furthering their education in fire service and related fields, so it’s just an absolutely fantastic job of…..(tape ended)…The Mayor continued on to discuss what a success Fall Fest was.  He commented on the unveiling of the woodcarving.  He stated that as far as he knew trees were not being cut down just because of raised concrete and if he finds out that is happening he will put a stop to it right away.  He stated that it is the policy of the City that if a tree is alive we do not cut it down.  He stated that we are involved with the Board of Education in the Shared Municipal Task Force and that we/they must come up with ideas by February of 2010.  Somewhere in early Spring is “decision time” and this will be the legacy that we leave the City and the Tonawanda Schools and we cannot make a mistake.  He is looking forward to seeing what they come up with. 

 

Council President Zeisz – He thanked everyone for coming and asked them to drive home safely.

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

199.     By Councilmember                                                            seconded by Councilmember

            Resolved, that this Common Council adjourn until, October 20, 2009.  

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

 

 

 

 

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