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Boston Town Board settles dispute over meeting minutes

The “history of the town,” in the words of Boston Town Councilman Jeff Genzel, was called into question at a previous meeting of the Boston Town Board, and board members set the matter straight when they convened on Sept. 5.

On Aug. 1, councilmen Larry Murtha and Gary Vara voted against the approval of the July 18 minutes because of what Murtha described as “a big misunderstanding.” Murtha and Vara said they believed Genzel failed to mention the Patchin Fire Company when thanking local fire companies for their support at the town’s July 4 festivities – an omission the councilmen wanted to see reflected in the minutes.

“There’s a misunderstanding,” said Murtha. “It’s the wording that [Genzel] used. [He] said, ‘Both of our fire companies,’ which is a slap in the face to Patchin.” Murtha said he believed Genzel deliberately used the word “both” to include the Boston Emergency Squad and the North Boston Fire Company, purposefully excluding Patchin.

To Murtha’s and Vara’s decision to disapprove the minutes – which passed by a majority vote – Genzel said, “Councilman Murtha and Councilman Vara voted no to the history of the town. The minutes, folks, are the history of the town, and when councilmen vote ‘no’ based on hearsay or something that comes up when they’re handed walking through the door, I feel that that’s just irresponsible.” He said that Murtha did not tell the rest of the board members that something was missing from the minutes, when all were in an agenda meeting.

“Everyone had copies of minutes in their mailboxes,” Town Clerk Jennifer Mulé said, although Murtha said that he had no such copy.

“I only say this because I take what I do seriously and minutes are very timely and they take a lot of my day when I do have to do them,” Mulé said, adding that Murtha objected to approving the July 18 minutes at the last board meeting because he said Genzel neglected to mention Patchin Fire Company in regard to fireworks donations. “I told Councilman Murtha – and it’s in the minutes – that I would listen to the recording and let him know, which I did both,” she added. “After listening to the recording, it was reiterated that Councilman Genzel did not make mention of Patchin Fire Company; thus it would not be mentioned in the minutes. Councilman Murtha was told this and was given a copy of the recording so that he could verify it.

“For some reason, Councilman Murtha feels that Patchin Fire Company was neglected to be mentioned. This has no bearing on how minutes are transcribed and whether he feels Councilman Genzel neglected to mention something or someone in particular. In this issue, he should take it up with Councilman Genzel,” said Mulé.

Mulé said that she had done her job correctly in transcribing the minutes exactly as they had transpired. “I take offense to the fact that Councilman Murtha made it appear as though I did not do my job accordingly and hope that, in the future, if you have a question about the minutes, that you come to me, so that I have the opportunity to explain to you the proper procedure or refer you to the correct person who can supply you with the rules and procedures on the subject,” she said.

Murtha said that the omission of Patchin’s fire department led him to believe that “it’s like Patchin doesn’t exist.”

“That’s not true, Mr. Murtha,” Genzel said. “The supervisor mentioned right after that we thank them for providing fire protection at the fireworks, councilman. So you vote on things and you don’t even read the minutes. I would call that absentee.”

Councilman Jay Boardway said, “I have the highest regard for our town clerk. The minutes of the job she does in that office are impeccable. The burdens placed on that office sometimes are not things that everybody sees.”

Boston Town Supervisor Martin Ballowe said, “Minutes are done by our town clerk; they’re her responsibility and I think she does a fantastic job. In the minutes, we thanked Patchin Fire Company on a short notice I gave them for coming and doing the Fourth of July, providing fire protection down there. I thanked them; they did a wonderful job. Mr. Genzel was thanking all the people who provided all the money for the town, which made that whole Fourth of July at zero cost to the town – zero cost. That’s who he was thanking. We didn’t leave out anybody. We thanked the people who sponsored the fireworks and we also thanked the fire company for providing fire service. That’s how the minutes went and I think [Mulé] reflected it perfect in the minutes.”

In other board matters:

• The board rejected two separate bids. The first was for the Mill Street Storm Drain Project, which opened on Aug. 21 at 10 a.m. The lowest bid came in at $119,991 from Hydrolawn of Buffalo Inc., but the board said it was seeking “a stronger commitment.” Murtha said, “It would require a commitment of at least $63,000 more from the town to finish the job. We need to know if we can get that job done, so we need two weeks more to try to secure that commitment from the grant writer.”

The second rejection came against the Eighteen Mile Creek selective clearing, which opened on Aug. 28 at 10 a.m. Of the two bids that made it through, Eastwood Industries gave the lower one at $23,000, but the board did not accept that offer. “This selective clearing walkthrough was done and four companies have walked through,” said Murtha. “One bid was not received from one of the four companies, one was improperly delivered and the other two were improperly formatted. So we need to start the bid process for that stretch of creek over again.”

• Jim Martinez, appointed as the Boston Valley Elementary School principal on July 11, was in attendance and introduced himself to the board and the townspeople. “I’ll be your liaison for whatever you need; what you require,” he said. “Email me [or] come and visit.” He said that BVES is “now a 21st century school. They cleaned out the entire inside of the school; rebuilt it from within,” he said. “They have interactive projector boards, stuff like that.

“I am your liaison for the district,” he added. “Make sure Boston gets its fair share from the Hamburg School District.”

• Code Enforcement Officer William Fergusson inspected Sprague Trailer Park on July 10 and said that the results were not favorable for the park. “As per our history with [the owner], unfortunately, this report contains multiple, multiple violations,” said Boardway. “I certainly cannot allow this to proceed. He’s also operated without a license for, I believe, at least three years and possibly longer.” Due to the report, the board denied the inspection.


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