Council Chambers

Tonawanda, New York

November 18, 2008

 

A Regular Meeting of the Common Council

 

Present:  Council President Zeisz

Present Councilmembers:  Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis

 

Pledge of Allegiance led by Council President Zeisz

 

Prayer led by Council President Zeisz

 

COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE MAYOR

 

A letter from the NYSDEC inviting the public to a meeting to discuss results of the Tonawanda Community Air Quality Study being held on Tuesday, November 18, 2008, at 7:00 P.M. at the Sheridan Parkside Community Center located at 169 Sheridan Parkside Drive, Town of Tonawanda.

 

A memo from the Army Corps of Engineers, dated November 4, 2008, stating that the Record of Decision for the Mudflats in the Town of Tonawanda Landfill states that no action is warranted on the Mudflats Operable Unit because the human health risk, from the low levels of radium, uranium, and thorium present on site are within the risk limits established in the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan.

            Ordered filed

 

COMMUNICATION FROM CITY OFFICIALS AND CORRESPONDENCE

 

The following monthly reports were received by the City Clerk:

            September Activity Report of the Fire Department

            October minutes of the Board of Appeals

            Revenue and Budget Control Report for the City of Tonawanda as of 11/16/08

                        Referred to the Committee of the Whole

                            Ordered filed

 

A letter from the President of Niawanda Plaza, Inc., dated November 6, 2008, regarding various issues in RiverEdge area.

            Referred to the Committee of the Whole

 

A Notice of Public Hearing being held on November 24, 2008, by the Board of Appeals regarding a variance request at 371 Morgan Street to incorporate a 16’ X 66’ area of vacant land from 371 Morgan Street into the property located at 373 Morgan Street.

            Referred to the Board of Appeals

                Ordered filed 

           

COMMENTS BY THE PUBLIC ON RESOLUTIONS

 

MOTIONS AND RESOLUTIONS

 

230.     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

 

231.     By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Whereas, the City of Tonawanda Common Council has reviewed the Memorandum of Agreement tentatively agreed to between the City of Tonawanda and the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA), dated November 6, 2008, and authorizes that terms contained in said Memorandum be included in the collective bargaining agreement between the City of Tonawanda and the CSEA which expires on December 31, 2011, effective upon approval by the Common Council and ratification by the CSEA membership.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

232.     By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

             Resolved, that Section 62-193, Schedule XV entitled “No Standing” which reads “No Standing” on the west side of Gibson Street from Fletcher Street to a point 213’ south thereof be amended to read to a point 325’ south thereof.

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

233.     By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that Patricia Hall, 127 Gibson Street, be reappointed to the Board of Assessment Review, term to expire September 30, 2013.

           

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

234.     By the Council                                                              seconded by the Council

            Resolved, that Section 62-158, Schedule VIII entitled:  “Stop Intersections” be amended and the following intersection be added:

            Resolved, that a stop sign be installed at the southwest corner of Kibler Drive at Alliger Drive.

           

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC AFTER RESOLUTIONS

 

Nancy Paschen, 5 Main Street – I have a suggestion for the Mayor and the Council.  With the economy the way it is all over the country, I feel that the Mayor and the Council should put a freeze on hiring and on raises until next year until we find out what’s going to happen to our economy. 

 

Robert Derner, 286 Niagara Shore Drive – A couple of things I want to ask you about.  The Governor is proposing over $15 billion shortfall on the State budget.  There’s going to be some sort of shortfall, whatever they vote on, and that’s going to mean that at some point that’s going to come back to the City because the City gets what, $3 million a year from the State? 

 

Council President Zeisz – $2.6, $2.7

 

Robert Derner – Is there anything in the works to make sure that, if it’s a cut at the State, then it’s a cut at City level, that it isn’t passed on to the property owners? 

 

Council President Zeisz - Well, I guess all I can say at this point is that we’ve put our budget together for next year and it’s based on the figures from this year.  It wasn’t based on an increase.  We certainly didn’t do that.  We don’t have, necessarily, a plan in place if that were to happen, but if it were to happen, it’s certainly not going to be something that we’d have to turn around and put back on the residents, no.

 

Robert Derner - All I want to say is I want to urge you to make sure that you do everything possible to keep, to prevent that from passing from the State on to the property owner.  That’s just not right, that’s all they’re going to do.  The other thing is, I picked up the paper this morning and I read about Amherst and their Department Heads that they seem to be increasing their expenditures in the 4th quarter of every year so they took away their ability to, or took away their funding of it and went back to the general fund and the Council has to approve everything.  I just wondered, does Tonawanda work that way too? 

 

Council President Zeisz – That was actually something new that Amherst did though.  They haven’t done that in the past. 

 

Robert Derner - No, but what I’m saying is, do the Department Heads in Tonawanda have control over their budget and their expenditures so that when, or has anybody ever looked at the 4th quarter spending of Department Heads to see if it has increased and if they bring their expenditures up so that next year’s budget they have worked from that instead of what they actually should be spending money on. 

 

Council President Zeisz – What I can tell you is when we make a budget for the coming year, we don’t look at, necessarily, what was spent the year before.  We generally look at what was budgeted the year before.  Now there might be extraordinary circumstances where a department might have an expenditure that put them over on a line, but as a rule, we don’t work off what they actually spend, we work off what we budgeted, but having said that, most of the lines that the departments have that have any size to them, capital expense, equipment line, vehicle line, utilities, most of those lines, when we do a budget, we are specifically approving certain things, whether it be in the vehicle line a pick-up truck, or in the capital line a certain expenditure.  So those things are all kind of set, it’s not like there’s extra money floating out there that they can spend in those lines.  Most of the discretionary spending would be in lines that really, at least from our standpoint, don’t have a lot of excess funds.  The Treasurer could speak to that probably better, but we don’t have a situation where there’s a lot of excess money in these lines, I mean, the budget’s been pretty lean for a number of years now. 

 

City Treasurer Joe Hogenkamp – One thing I have to say Bob is, the Department Heads, on a day to day basis, they’re responsible for maintaining their department and obviously that involves spending money but probably a month or two ago, the Mayor issued a directive because the Mayor is really day to day responsible, the departments report to the Mayor, issued a directive saying that anything that they’re going to spend in excess of, I want to say, $2,000 or $3,000, $4,000, had to go through myself and the Mayor.  I’ll give you an example.  We have the Public Works Superintendent who had $17,000 budgeted for a rebuilt salter chassis and he had to come to us for approval.  One of things in Public Works that we’re really keeping an eye on right now for this year is fuel, that’s kind of a big item, much earlier in the year, the price of fuel now we budgeted with that, is staying, I think we’re going to be okay with that.  Also road salt, that’s another one that we’re pushing the limits on those two lines and those are big lines.  Road salt, we spend in excess of $100,000 a year in road salt.  As far as the State aid goes, as Carl said, what we had budgeted for next year is right where Patterson is at right now in what his recommendations are.  It still has to be approved by the State Legislature but over the years, we’ve received increases in State Aid that have helped with what you’re talking about, passing the burden on to the property taxes, and I’m working on some projections that I have to give into the State for the future but the concern really has to be the leveling off of sales tax revenue and the leveling off of that State Aid and you know, down the road, 3, 4 years, there’s going to have to be some hard decisions made for sure.   

 

Councilmember Davis – We also passed a resolution about a year ago saying that any Department Head that wanted to transfer $1,000 or more from one line item into his or her budget to another, need to come to us for approval. So it’s like Council President Zeisz said, number one, there isn’t a lot of room to play and number two, nobody can do that unless we essentially know about it and we give that approval.

 

Robert Derner – Well I only bring it up because I read it in the paper this morning.  I’m not accusing or anything, it’s just that transparency is the best thing so that it doesn’t ever get out of hand and I never thought about it until I read it in the paper this morning, but anyway, that’s it. 

 

Cory Schuler, 59 Main Street – I’d first like to thank everybody for their thoughtful questions that they asked in the chambers regarding the Ball Drop in North Tonawanda.  I thought you guys asked some really great questions and Colleen especially, thank for speaking out on behalf of the Merchants Association.  We do put a lot of hard work in downtown and throughout the City and thank you for acknowledging that.  Just a clarification on a couple of matters, it’s not that we do not support the Ball Drop.  A lot of the issues that we have stems from the Pub Crawl.  I think that issue has kind of skirted a little bit tonight when it was described.  I don’t know how you can say, well it starts at 6:00 P.M., but we’re going to be eating dinner at 6:00 P.M., but they’re going to be drinking and dining but it goes until 1:00 A.M..  I think that was little confusing.  As far as our input, speaking as one of the merchants on Main Street that was canvassed, the input from the person that’s passed around the flyer, Lou Santiago, who’s the Chamber President’s husband, actually didn’t really give us input much, and said here’s the sheet and thank you very much.  Not really what I deem as input.  But one of biggest questions we had that actually stemmed from this evening is the bridge closing which is kind of a new twist to us.  This is supposed to be a campus atmosphere here, encouraging all merchants to participate.  How is closing the bridge, stopping traffic from Webster and Main Street actually helping out any of the merchants on Main Street, seeing as there are two businesses on Main that are participating in the Pub Crawl, how are people supposed to get from one side to the other?  Either they have to take an extended route or try to walk or swim across the Canal, I’m not really certain how that would work. 

 

Council President Zeisz – Well, my understanding is, they’re going to close the bridge, basically from the time the fireworks start until the fireworks end.

 

Cory Schuler - I think he said there’s a prep time involved for fireworks, several hours leading up to the fireworks.  

 

Council President Zeisz - Right but they wouldn’t have to close the bridge unless they’re being lit. 

 

Cory Schuler – Oh, that might have been my confusion. 

 

Council President Zeisz - Now the bridge will be closed to vehicular traffic, of course.

 

Cory Schuler – And foot traffic as well. 

 

Council President Zeisz - Just while they’re being lit, while they’re being fired off. 

 

Cory Schuler – Oh, then that might have been our confusion. I thought they said while they were being prepped as well. 

 

Council President Zeisz - Just while they’re shooting them off, they have to close the bridge.

 

Cory Schuler - Because we just want to make sure, I mean, this is not a big issue lately for us and like I said, we don’t want to “name say” all the events, but from our standpoint, and I think it’s more of North Tonawanda than as far as having campus thing, you know our feeling on that already and disagree with that.  It brings the City into a liability issue seeing as we’re the business owners, we’re the property owners, we pay taxes, we’re the faces you have to look at come election time, you know how we feel, we just want to put that out there and try to clear up some of the misconceptions that have popped up tonight.  As far as having people input that truly is not the case and not speaking for any other merchant, I still don’t see how you can separate a family event from a Pub Crawl, especially one, you know, it’s great they’re giving away wonderful prizes and I was glad to hear Mr. Burgio state that but I personally would probably forgo a free television if it saves someone’s life, I don’t think I need to drink from six to one.  Just my thought, thanks for the time. 

 

Council President Zeisz – I think from the City’s standpoint, at least where we stand right now, it’s just a matter of us trying to come to grips with what we have to deal with because like you said, for all intent and purposes, it’s in North Tonawanda, the event.  I mean, we only have a couple merchants involved and they happen to be taverns, so it’s really more, at this point, us dealing with the impact of the bridge and any cross over we might get from the people that are here for that event.  From a personal standpoint, I don’t have as much of an issue with having the band and having a tent and having that kind of off on it’s own little place.  I don’t really have an issue with that.  I do have an issue with the Pub Crawl.  I guess I’m just not understanding the point of having a card that’s going to send me to ten different bars, why would I go to the ten different bars, number one, why would I go there other than if I wanted to have a drink at all ten of the bars?  I guess that’s what I’m just not following.  And I understand they’re going to have food and all that, but you know, I wasn’t born yesterday, so I think that’s the only thing that I did have an issue with, and it’s great if they’re going to have some nice things for the kids but you don’t want to have kids events up until midnight but, Ms. Perkins brought up a good point, who wants to see the ball drop?  The kids.  That’s where you’re going to get problems.  The kids want to see the fireworks, they’re the ones that want to be a part of that, I mean, I’m just speaking from personal experience, there’s no way I could have ever taken my daughter home at 9:00 P.M. and said, okay, see you, I mean, it’s just not going to happen.  But I think the important thing for us as a group is to just deal with what we have to deal with at our side to protect the City, whether it be from the traffic, from the fireworks.  Now we did, we put the Fire Chief in correspondence with the fireworks contractor so that we would have our bases covered there with what we need to be aware of.  Obviously, they have to be very small charges if they’re going to shoot them off from the bridge.  I can’t imaging that they’re very big charges, so God knows, anybody go to the football game last night?  Or was I the only one who sat there and got aggravated?  They had a lot of fireworks before the game started, so it’s probably charges similar to that that they’re going to use. 

 

Nancy Paschen – Seeing as how Mr. Cory Schuler brought it up, will you be hiring, having more cops work overtime that night, I mean, DPW people picking up the garbage you know and all this jazz.

 

Council President Zeisz – Well at this point, I have to have more discussion with the Mayor.  I’m not exactly sure what the Police Chief plans on doing.  I’m not sure exactly what we’re going to do. 

 

Nancy Paschen – Because you know yourself, you’ve been in this area quite a while Mr. Zeisz, and you know yourself, all the drugs come out, and all the kids get in trouble, we have a police force overworked now as it is. 

 

Council President Zeisz - I’m not exactly sure.  Obviously, we know we’re going on our side of the bridge, we’re going to have to make sure that the bridge is closed off to traffic, we know that.  I don’t know what we’re going to do as far as patrols at this point.  We’re going to have to have more conversation with the Police Chief to gauge where she’d like to see this go.  But if there is any cost, we’re going to incur it.  

 

Debbie Darling, 263 Brookside Terrace – I don’t know if I want to say this or not, but I am part of the committee for New Years on the Canal Gateway Harbor Ball Drop. 

 

Council President Zeisz – I kind of guessed that.

 

Debbie Darling - I’m also part of Canal Fest too, so it’s just an extension of bringing something to our community during a time that we really don’t have a whole of lot of tourism happening.  As far as the Pub Crawl goes, I’d like to address a couple of things that were brought up at the workshop meeting and Colleen you had mentioned first, it was kind of implied that because of the Pub Crawl, that you’re going to be going from bar to bar possible buying an alcohol beverage.  I just want to make you aware that those alcoholic beverages when they are purchased at those facilities and venues they will not be leaving that establishment.  They will not be able to walk freely in the streets from one bar to the next and it sounded a little confusing on that and I just wanted to clarify that, that it’s not an environment where we’re going to have alcohol going from one establishment to another.  They buy something in that place, they have to consume it in that place as well.  As far as the fireworks on the bridge, they have to be a 1-1/2” canister because of the location, you have to have a 70’ clearance all the way around, so they will be small and it will be more like sparkly kind of things rather than big exploding bursts that we’ve had for the 4th of July.  If anybody has any questions, I want to apologize that you weren’t informed when you should have been informed.  I’m not sure what happened with that as far as the committee breakdown goes, but I do, being a member of the committee, I feel terrible that it didn’t happen in a timely fashion that it should have and you can’t go backward, you can only go forward, so if anybody has any questions or would like to discuss anything, I’m more than available and I would love to clarify anything that comes up.  On a last note, I’d like to thank you for considering overnight parking in the City of Tonawanda. I’ve been a resident for over 25 years.  I heard at the workshop meeting, there’s some concern about plowing during wintertime and such.  An idea that I happened to think of is, is there a possibility that you could maybe enforce, you could have overnight parking during the summer months on certain streets that have a certain width that there wouldn’t a problem for vehicles to get down.  I know in the old part of the City the streets are more narrow, there’s more houses that are closer together so your population on those streets are a little bit greater.  Up on Brookside Terrace and that area, the streets seem to be a little bit wider, there’s not so many houses so there wouldn’t be as many cars parked on the street.  So maybe if you looked at it that way you could have overnight parking on the larger streets or the wider streets, and the smaller areas maybe could be alternate parking or maybe not have it as long during the season or such, just a suggestion.

 

Councilmember Perkins – And just to let you know though, a lot of the homes that don’t have any driveways at all are concentrated in the center part of the City, so we’re more concerned, well I’m a little more concerned about the homes that have no driveway, no where to park than some of us who have overflow out of our driveway. 

 

Council President Zeisz – Just to address your thoughts about parking, one of the things that’s been brought up is what if we had overnight parking in certain areas.  The problem with that is that as a public entity, we have a responsibility to serve the public in such a fashion that everyone is treated equally.  We’d probably run into problems because, you know, if I’m a resident and I say, well I can’t park on my street but you can park on your street, then we’ll probably run into a lot of problems that way.  That’s one of the reasons why that idea has never worked before.  And as I said in the Caucus Room, I’m not in favor of overnight parking.  I think that it brings with it issues that a lot of residents don’t necessarily think about because many of the people that live in the City have lived their entire life here and they’ve never been exposed to a lot of the things that will impact us and you know, as Mr. Kossow said to me, you can forget about your street ever getting plowed because they’ll just drive right by the Court, they’re not going to even bother going down there and that’s what happens.  If we get a couple cars on the Court, they can’t even come down the street and there’re a lot of streets that are in that same situation but that’s me speaking from a personal standpoint.  From an elected official’s standpoint, I have to be cognizant of the fact that there’s a lot of residents that this is a big issue for and I’m trying to work to a point where there’s some kind of resolution that helps people deal with the issues they have to deal with everyday.  So that’s kind of where I’m at. 

 

Chelcy Mast, 20 Hinds Street – I just want to thank you all for voting for the CSEA to get our memorandum through and that’s it.  Thank you.

 

COMMENTS FROM THE COUNCILMEMBERS AFTER RESOLUTIONS

 

Councilmember Davis – Tonight, between 7:00 P.M. and 9:00 P.M., the DEC is releasing an 18 month Air Quality Study that they’ve conducted through four substations here in the area, one of them I was able to get them to locate in the 4th Ward.  I would just like to thank them for their diligence as far as getting this up and off the ground, interested to hear the results from the air quality sampling and I’d also like to thank Senator Schumer for also getting the EPA to foot the bill for years moving forward and keeping these air quality monitors up and going because issues like the Landfill and Tonawanda Coke and Dupont, all those locations are upwind from 3rd, 4th Ward residents here in the City of Tonawanda and I think it’s important that the environmental watchdog here in the State keeps an eye on these companies because if they don’t they’re just going to do whatever they want as far as releasing whatever it is they want to release into our atmosphere.  Officer Ljiljanich received an award from the Exchange Club for being Officer of the Year.  I’ve known Officer Ljiljanich probably about 25 years, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.  To tell you the truth, all the police officers we have in our force are great but Officer Ljiljanich and his work with the kids, especially as the Dare Officer, was instrumental and I’d just like to thank him for his hard work.  And lastly, I wish everybody a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

 

Councilmember Kossow – We’re always looking for new events and new ideas and I hope this event goes extremely well.  Similar to Council President Zeisz, my concern is the Pub Crawl part, everything else I think is wonderful and hopefully we’ll get decent weather and we’ll have a good turnout, so we’ll see how it goes.  And with that, we also have the WinterWalk coming up the first weekend in December so it’s nice that we have all these other little events that’s sort of grow into it’s own little entity as well, so hopefully we’ll have good weather and a good turnout for that as well.  Other than that, I just want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.     

 

Councilmember Perkins – I guess I’ve been a little remiss.  I didn’t let everyone know who comes regularly that we finally had a conclusion in our litigation with the DEC and National Fuel.  National Fuel has finally taken responsibility for the cleanup of the MGP Site in Gastown and I guess the official ending was in July and we have started getting progress updates from the DEC on a regular basis and I’m going to ask the Mayor’s Office if we can post those progress reports out on the City website.  And everyone, have a Happy Thanksgiving. 

 

Councilmember Waterhouse – First thing I’d like to address would be the Pub Crawl.  As I go through, I don’t want to put Mrs. Darling on the spot here but you mentioned about asking questions and everything.  The possible participants, you have ten establishments and I noticed the ones from North Tonawanda have responded already but yet you have at least five from the City of Tonawanda and only two of them have put in that they’re going to be in that.  When will we know if, and I don’t know if it’s okay to read the names out loud, that’s why I’m just asking.  I don’t want to put you on the spot but we’re wondering, in order for us to find out how many police we need, we need to know how many people are going to be in it.  If at least five or seven of these bars are going to be in it, when are these establishments going to get back to you?   

 

Debbie Darling – The establishments that are participating right now are the ones that will be participating for the event.  The others have declined. The ones from the City of Tonawanda are the Knights of Columbus, The Griffin, and possibly the American Legion Post.  The American Legion was originally going to host part of the kid’s activities and we felt that there was a conflict that we couldn’t ask them to be part of the Pub Crawl.  They’re not hosting the kid’s activities.  They may want to participate in the Pub Crawl.  The other establishments that were approached were Stamps, Squires, Swistons, The Dome Stadium, they’ve all declined, they did not want to participate, many of which already had something happening for their own patrons that normally come there on New Year’s Eve and they didn’t feel as though they could hold anymore so they said thanks for the opportunity and then they declined.  And the ones on the North Tonawanda side are The Broadway, Ava’s Place, Dwyer’s Irish Pub, Crazy Jakes, The Ball Drop Tent, which is a cocktail beer tent, and I believe that’s it.  So the ones that are on board right now, that will be it.  The only one that would possibly be added is the American Legion.   

 

Councilmember Waterhouse – Second of all, for the merchants that are here, just a quick question, are the lights up?   

 

Cory Schuler – Yes.

 

Councilmember Waterhouse - They’re working fine?

 

Unknown – They’re not lit.

 

Councilmember Waterhouse – Okay, that’s what I was wondering.  I went by and I saw them in the tree and I go, well maybe they’re, but they’re up, okay, because we saw from the expenses that they bought the lights and when I went down Main Street I saw them hanging but they weren’t on.  And a plug for your WinterWalk would be?

 

Merchants Association - December 6th.

 

Councilmember Waterhouse - The time?

 

Merchants Association – 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.  And the tree lighting is in Clinton Park on Friday night, the 5th.   

 

Councilmember Waterhouse – Lastly, I’d just like to wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving. 

 

Council President Zeisz – I’ve already done enough talking so thank you to everyone for coming tonight, have a great, happy and healthy Thanksgiving and we’ll see you in two weeks. 

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

235.     By Councilmember Perkins                         seconded by Councilmember Waterhouse

            Resolved, that this Common Council adjourn until December 2, 2008.  

 

Ayes: Perkins, Waterhouse, Kossow, Davis, Zeisz

Nays: None

Resolution declared adopted

 

 

 

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