DEC Plan Gets Support
Citizens Turn Out to Support Wildlife Habitat
Story by John Thomas
A number of citizens attended the Town Board meeting last week regarding the DEC plan to establish a Wildlife Management Area on Poverty Hill Road. Each person there expressed support for the proposal. The plan is to set aside 379 acres of land on Poverty Hill, but the majority of the habitat would be in Mansfield. Kenneth Baginski and Emilio Rende from the DEC presented the proposal to the Town Board last month. Village Trustee Patra Lowes said she was “very excited” regarding the habitat, and wanted to see the project move forward. Grace Kell who lives on Poverty Hill said the area is zoned low density and said, “this is the complete definition of what low density means, and it’s something we should all really want.” Dan Minner lives at the end of Lindberg and added, “It’s a really beautiful area. I see all kinds of wildlife there.” Another woman said it would be a benefit for a healthy community; it would “look good on us.” Jodie Timkey said she “would love to see this project.”
There was some question as to why more information wasn’t released to the public before or after last month’s board meeting. Matt McAndrew explained saying prior to last month (April) he had received a request from the DEC to make a presentation to the board. But then he heard nothing until the gentleman showed up at the April board meeting. He went on to explain a few details about the habitat. It does not include cutting trails into the woods, and the existing trails and ski runs would not be maintained. Although the area would be designated a Wildlife Refuge, hunting and trapping would be allowed. The land would be open to the public for hiking, and no motorized vehicles would be allowed. Mark Alianello said the state would manage the forest and grassland areas. Mr. McAndrew said the DEC had told him without a letter of support from the Town Board; the deal would be dead. All present expressed their desire to have the Town issue the letter. The DEC is having two appraisals performed on the property and will pay the going market rate. The funds for the purchase and maintenance will come from federal funds provided by the Pittman Robertson Foundation. The board voted to issue the letter of support to applause from the group.
Supervisor McAndrew spoke about the Four Flushers meeting on May 16. He said there is a large to-do list in the Town. Mark Alianello mentioned staff had been able to solve the back-up data problem with the CUPPS computer. He said the master water meters continue to be a problem, and they will look at a program to start replacing them. The water leak by Fitzpatrick and Weller began underground and had flowed into the creek by their building. That was why it took years to discover. Once the leak was fixed, the demand on the Village well declined by 30%. The well in the trailer park needs maintenance; it used to draw about 400 gallons per day, and now is down to only 250. Mr. McAndrew had a meeting with the major players in creating the Director of Public Works position. Grant writer Diana Chihak attended and said there might be a consolidation grant for village services available. The job description for the position should be completed next week. The water agreement with the Village expires at the end of this month, but the joint Public Works Department has yet to be created. A motion was passed to extend the agreement until December 31. The state is urging municipalities to share as many services as possible. Mr. Hinman attended a meeting of the County Supervisors to discuss ideas. Any agreements between municipalities will require public hearings which will be held in Town Center.
Officer in Charge Don Auge reported the Relay for Life Fill the Boot Drive collected $2,800. He said it was not bad considering it was held the weekend of the canceled Regatta. The Officer said a lot of vehicles got stuck in the camping fields in Great Valley. Auge reported the patrol rifles and ammo had arrived. In June, there will be training on them for his officers. The police department received a letter of thanks from Tony and Tiffany Giannicchi. Mia Giannicchi called 911 to report a stranger outside their home when she was home alone. Mia called her mother as well who immediately rushed home to discover multiple officers were already there checking on the situation. The stranger turned out to be the father one of Mia’s friends. The parents wrote the letter to thank the department for taking the call from a young girl seriously and responding so quickly.
Tom Scharf said he had obtained bids for gravel from Machias and the county that were very close. A motion was passed to authorize him to purchase gravel from the lowest bid or the county. He said it is time to replace the ’08 Ford 550 truck. He obtained a price of $101,000 for a new 550 with a plow. Mr. Scharf said the new truck would work with the old sander. The board authorized him to make the purchase. Scharf said he had rented a broom (street sweeper) and had cleaned the Town’s streets. He said it worked much better than the tow-behind sweeper and suggested the town think about purchasing one in the future.
Mark Alianello said work on the HVAC system in Town/Village Hall is going well. They have installed the furnaces in the rafters above the ceiling of the storage room. The work should be completed in mid-June. Work on the booster station by Holiday Valley is going slowly. They had some flooding damage and some other issues, but the company is working through them.
Greg Fitzpatrick performed an audit on the Clerk’s Office for fiscal year 2015-16. He said Robyn had collected $1,300 in alarm fees for 52 alarms in town. Mr. Fitzpatrick suggested sending out alarm registration forms with the tax bills to make more residents aware of the Alarm Law.
The Ellicottville Great Valley Recreational Trail Committee is holding a Ham and Turkey Raffle on June 4 at the Legion. Tickets are available at Watson’s Chocolates. Mark Alianello reported the wetlands scientist had completed his report on the first leg of the trail and submitted it to the Army Corps of Engineers. The final design of the route between Town Center and Tim Horton’s is taking shape. They are ready to sign easement agreements with the five property owners along the path. The Board determined the Town will be the agency to sign the easement agreements. There was a discussion about who will be responsible for maintaining the trail in the future. After a discussion, the board said the committee should bear the responsibility.
Mr. McAndrew said the new EV charging stations at Town Center are working. They were installed as part of the NYSERDA grant application. (See EVL Charges into the Future story this issue). McAndrew said the paperwork for the grant had been submitted, and now it’s “wait and see.”