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Lack of contract may leave roads unplowed

EDEN — Although the day’s high recorded temperature was 87 degrees, the Eden Town Board discussed town-wide snowplowing, during its Sept. 11 meeting, specifically its contract with Erie County.

Western New York municipality leaders recently rejected Erie County’s snowplowing contract offer, asking for additional monies to cover the increased cost of fuel and salt to keep roadways clear.

On Sept. 9, Town Highway Superintendents Association of Erie County President Frederick Piasecki Jr. addressed the snowplowing contract issue with Erie County Commissioner of Public Works John Loffredo P.E.

According to Piasecki, the association offered Erie County a contract with a 5 percent per lane mile, per year, increase for snowplowing for each town; this rate would apply from 2014 – 2016.

The existing contract expired on Aug. 31.

“The issue of public safety is at the forefront with all the highway superintendents and supervisors of the towns,” Piasecki said. “We know that Erie County does not have the resources to plow these roads. Since the current contract has expired and there is no contract, we, the towns, cannot legally put a plow down on roads that we do not even own. These roads belong to Erie County and it is the county executive’s responsibility to plow them.”

Piasecki said that Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Loffredo “are playing a dangerous and risky game with the lives and safety of all the people across Erie County.”

Erie County traditionally pays municipalities to plow roadways that belong to the county, but Eden Superintendent of Highways Ronald Maggs said that “sometimes negotiating can be tough. We are trying to negotiate a contract that would involve all 25 municipalities in Erie County.”

Maggs reiterated that the town’s plowing county roads without a contract would be a liability for Eden and a “misuse of municipal funds.”

The highway superintendent added that the municipalities have offered Erie County a one-year extension, a proposition that was turned down. “I’m not sure what their plans are now,” he said.

Supervisor Glenn Nellis said that Erie County Legislator John Mills “is fully aware of the situation and is also concerned.”

A resident asked that the town clerk post county roads that “would not be plowed if this contract is not done.”

“We have let them know the legal obligation we now do not have and they do have,” Maggs said.

In a related matter, the board discussed the condition of Eden-Evans Center Road, the main entrance to the town.

Mills had recently asked Poloncarz to address this roadway, as Eden was told, three years ago, that the local roads would be repaired, this year.

In a letter, Poloncarz said that the county prioritizes road work based on condition. “The needs are great and funding is limited,” he said. “Should unanticipated funds become available ... we will certainly consider Eden-Evans Center Road for rehabilitation, as we will for other roads throughout the county.”

“We understood clearly, three years ago, that in the third year, Eden would be taken care of,” Nellis said. “And it’s not.

“This is not being done,” he added. “Think that road is bad now? It’s really bad in the winter.”

An audience member recommended that local citizens contact their elected officials about this issue.

In other board news:

– The meeting was opened with a moment of silence in memory of those who died on Sept. 11, 2001.

– Nellis welcomed the many area students who were in attendance.

– Eden Recreation Department Executive Director Susan Brass announced that house league soccer games have begun and will continue through the beginning of October. Little Loop football and cheerleading will continue until the beginning of November. Spots are still open on the Dolphins swim team; register at www.edendolphins.org. Adult fitness will be held from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Methodist church.

– The dog control department handled 19 loose dogs, four barking dogs, two animal bites, 35 calls received by the police department and 14 calls received at home; issued 70 written warnings and initiated two court cases in August. It also addressed nine complaints regarding other types of animals.

– According to Brass, the summer concerts concluded Aug. 27. “Town residents enjoyed 10 Tuesday evening concerts and beautiful weather,” she said.

– Board Member Mary Lou Pew said that Eden has written and posted a workplace violence prevention policy statement and will hold training for employees. “We are committed to the safety and security of our employees,” she said.

– The town approved a resolution of thanks to Vara’s Dry Cleaning and Bill and Rita Bartoszek. The couple brought to the business’s attention the need to clean the flags in the Eden Town Hall. Vara’s Dry Cleaning has a policy of cleaning public flags, free of charge, and washed the town hall’s flags.

Clerk Mary Jo Hultquist said, “They took about 10 flags to the cleaners. It was the first time they’d been cleaned in probably more than 20 years. It was amazing.”

The board expressed thanks to both parties for “bringing this service to our attention and taking the initiative to have the flags cleaned.”

– Donald Stuhr, the owner of Four Corners Cafe on North Main St., requested approval for the renewal of his liquor license for the upcoming year.

– The board approved the application of a Justice Court Assistance Program Grant through the court system; the funds would be used to purchase a walkthrough medal detector, at a cost of approximately $4,513.

– Eden Fire Chief Jack Rigley announced that his department answered six fire calls, one work detail and six miscellaneous calls, for a total of 747 firefighter hours in August.

– The building department issued 11 building permits, completed 33 inspections, issued two certificates of compliance, issued one certificate of occupancy and gave one notice of violation, during the month of August.

– Police Chief Michael Felschow reported that the police department handled 646 complaints for August. It issued 178 traffic summonses, reported eight accidents to New York state, arrested 15 individuals and completed 19 criminal investigations. A total of 218 reserve hours were clocked and all units recorded a total of 6,616 miles driven.

– Rigley asked that the board add David Basinski to the fire department’s active roster. Basinski was approved, pending results of a background check and physical.

– Assessors’ office Chairman Robert Pietrocarlo announced that all exemption renewal forms have been printed and are ready to be mailed.

– A public hearing for the Community development Block Grant program was scheduled for 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 9. A public hearing for the fire budget will be held a 6 p.m. on Oct. 15.

– The board declared itself the lead agency on the conservation easement and set a public hearing for 8 p.m. on Oct. 9. According to Attorney William Trask, this addresses land that is dedicated to remain green, open space.

– The town-wide garage sale will be held on Saturday, Sept. 21.

– A Visiting Nursing Association of Western New York immunization program will be held from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Oct. 15 at the Eden Town Hall.

– The town’s brush pickup will take place Oct. 2. Residents were asked to set out their brush by 7 a.m. on that date.

The next Eden Town Board meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 25.
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