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Funding sought for engineering projects in the Town of Boston

Funding is still lacking for two projects in particular within the Town of Boston for which the town board continues to attempt to resolve in order to avoid “major catastrophe.” During the town board meeting last Wednesday (March 20), Councilman Jeff Genzel addressed both of these issues, which include the second phase of the work on Mill Street and the bridge on Hillcroft Drive. While funding has been secured for neither, the councilman assured the public that the problems have not been neglected by the board.

Specifically regarding the bridge on HIllcroft Drive, Genzel said, “The last thing that’s going to happen under our watch is that something happens to that bridge and something happens to somebody in this community because that of that bridge failing. We have multiple calls into our legislator, (John) Mills . . . . We’re again looking for funding to get that bridge replaced, so we’re on top of it, and we hope it doesn’t come down to having to close it until we can get it rebuilt.”

Jim Hannon, the town engineer, has reportedly made a request to the state to get the bridge’s bin file. “What a bin file is,” explained Genzel, “is all the inspections that have gone on on all the bridges in the state. There’s a number assigned to that bridge. (Hannon’s) going to pull that file to get it hopefully into the state’s hands or get copies made and review it. He is a structural engineer. He has done inspections on many bridges throughout different counties in New York. I’ve asked him once he gets that bin file to come and inspect that bridge on HIllcroft to make sure it is safe for this community.”

For the project on Mill Street, the board had sought a block grant for 2013 but did not receive it. “We now have a preference point for 2014, so I’m hoping that we’ll get that grant next year to finish that project.

“This project is essential in relieving the flooding that goes on Boston Cross Road,” Genzel said. “At this time, there is a pipe that goes through St. John’s Church. There are actually two pipes that parallel. There is no easement. We don’t know when those pipes were put in, and if there is a collapse in those pipes, it’s going to be costly to the town.” Genzel reported that since Boston Cross Road was rebuilt in 1994, there has been “some major erosion” due to the increase in water flow.

“If you went behind these houses, you would think it’s the Grand Canyon,” he said. “It’s just eroded away; it’s dumped soil into the 18-mile creek, which is bad for habitat.

“We’re hoping if we can get the grant for Mill Street that the water would be diverted straight to the 18-mile creek,” Genzel said. “The pipe is adequate size, and then we’ll be able to relieve the drainage from going through St. John’s and abandon those pipes, and that way we won’t be at risk for major catastrophe.”

In other board matters:

• Councilmen disagreed on the passing of the Boston Historical Society’s new contract, which calls for $4,500 from the town. The contract passed by a four-to-one vote, though one vote in favor came “with reservation,” according to Councilman Jay Boardway, who casted that vote.

“This contract is exactly the same as the last contract, which very specifically called in it for the present Boston Historical Society last year to have certain deadlines in which they should have presented their budget to the town for this year’s contract,” Boardway said. “That was not done. As such, our town budget for last year appropriately put a $4,000 line item for the historical society, which we have now had to alter. That is something that is unacceptable to me. They have to follow the terms of their contract, come to the town board during our contract time, which is in September to put forth this request.

“I voted yes for this because, obviously, they are of paramount importance to this town” he said. “They are stewards of historical articles that we have. However, I would like to see the leadership of the historical society step it up a little bit. They’ve been invited to participate in various town events during the year – concerts on Tuesday evenings, things like that. They have chosen not to do that in the past. (I would hope that they would), by this gesture by the board in increasing their contract amount, take advantage of those opportunities this summer.”

Genzel, a lifetime member of the historical society who voted against the contract, stated, “I felt that the budget needs were at $4,000 . . . . Coming back after budget’s been planned already is irresponsible and, in the private sector, if my department didn’t fill out a budget in time and came back after the budget was approved and wanted more money, it just simply wouldn’t be there. So I hope this sends a message to the historical society and other groups that you need to get your budget in on time. I have no problem with increases for some types of things, improvements they want to do, but I just felt that I had to vote no just based on principle.”

• A strip of land on Holiday Drive, deeded to the town in 1975, “was never dedicated as right of way,” according to Genzel. A resident who owns part of the land is attempting to sell the land. “The title company has come up with this situation where they have to cross the town’s strip of land before they can get their land to this new lot,” said Genzel. The board carried a motion to grant consent to Superintendent of Highways Robert Telaak “to make an order laying out the lands . . . by widening the right of way on the northern side of Holiday Drive by five feet for highway purposes.”

• The service award program points for the North Boston Fire Company were approved and will be sent to the fire company so that the company may post them in their fire hall for 30 days for any objections.

It will then be signed off on and returned to the board. “There are 50 active members listed,” said Boardway, “and of those, 35 of their members obtained the 50 points required to get a year’s credit for the service award program.”

• Rep. Chris Collins has requested to use the Boston Town Hall as a “floating office” in which to hold meetings when he is in the area. “I think that is a good plus for our town any time you can get representatives . . . in here,” said Supervisor Martin Ballowe. “That’s a good time for us to hit them up for our projects and our bridges and everything else that we need done in our town . . . . It’s a struggle to get the money out of them, and we really need the money in our small communities to fix these things . . . it’s an ongoing effort. So any time we can let these people use our facility, we gladly open the doors to them.”

• Telaak reported that the town’s Consolidated Highway Improvements Programs funding may increase this year. “Every year we get money from the state,” he said, a number that has been around $65,000 the last few years, according to the highway superintendent. “They’re saying they’re going to increase the CHIPS funding this year by like $100 million possibly for whole state. So if that happens, the town of Boston should get maybe a $5,000-to-$8,000 increase in our CHIPS funding, which will help fix another mile of road this summer.”

• Councilman Gary Vara, having been tasked by Ballowe to improve the town basketball courts, reported that he received a price of $3,546.98 from Dick’s Sporting Goods for Gorilla backboards. “(They) will last a lifetime,” said Vara. “(Dick’s) will deliver, assemble the units; they’ll do digging, cementing, install. All we got to do is approve it and they will do it.” The motion was approved by the board.

• Cheryl Dunmire was appointed as a part-time assistant nutrition director with a term that expires on December 31, 2013. “I think (she will) do an excellent job,” said Genzel.

• The board approved Town Clerk Jen Mule’s request to attend the New York State Town Clerks Association Conference, which will be held from April 28 to May 1. The conference will be in Buffalo, and the town will pick up the $125 cost.

• Telaak announced that the highway department will begin picking up brush on Monday, April 1. “Get your brush out a few days earlier, and we’ll be around probably the first couple weeks in April and then we’ll be around again in May,” said Telaak.

The next board meeting will be on Wednesday, April 3. It will begin at 7:30 p.m. and is located at the Boston Town Hall, 8500 Boston State Road.
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