A Work Session of the Clarence Town Board was held March 4, 2004 at Clarence Town Hall, One Town Place, Clarence, NY.
Supervisor Hallock called the meeting to order at 9:00 A.M. Members of the Town Board present were Council Members’ Ian McPherson, Scott Bylewski, Joseph Weiss and Bernard Kolber. Other Town Officials present were Director of Community Development James Callahan, Town Attorney Steven Bengart, Town Engineer Joseph Latona and the Recreation Advisory Committee.
Clarence Hollow Association – Doug Larkin
Valaine Perez stated that this is their fourth annual “All American Family Day.” The last three years they have hosted a completely free “thank you appreciation fun day event” for the families of Western New York. They service twenty different areas. There will be simple activities, games, face painting, bounce houses, entertainment (line dancing, Irish dancers etc.) petting zoo, a vintage car show etc. Representative from the Armed Forces will set up tables along with several other different informative tables, the farmers market of Clarence will have a table set up to sell plants. They would like to utilize the park from the band shell forward. The only charge will be for hot dogs and pop. The event will run from 10:00 AM until 2:00 P.M on May 22, 2004. All the employees of Metro Community News volunteer their time to run the event and clean up. There were approximately 1500 people at last year’s event; they can not guarantee how many would be at this event. The grounds will be cleaner after the event then they are before the event.
Metro Community News will provide an insurance rider and will be entering into an agreement with the Clarence Hollow Association. The Clarence Hollow Association will oversee the event; it will be open to Clarence residents as well as surrounding communities, Williamsville, Amherst, Cheektowaga etc. One month before the event, a promotion is put in the paper. In the past three years they have offered a trip for a family of four to Florida. This year, instead of doing one trip, they are planning four – three night get aways. They will not be putting up tents because they will use the pavilion.
Councilman McPherson felt the conception was fine and he recommended the Town Attorney review the agreement along with the insurance certificate. He also suggested Metro Community come back to the Town Board with a defined scope of their intentions for the day.
Parking may be a problem especially this time of year, there may also be baseball games scheduled. Ms. Perez stated that they will provide a shuttle service as an alternative.
Clarence Library – Roseanne Butler-Smith
The library is closed on Sundays because the County does not fund them; they are not part of the regional library system. Based on the population, the County regulates how many hours the facility must be open.
Councilman Weiss suggested incorporating programs for the young adult population. Deputy Supervisor Anne Case suggested a film festival.
Ms. Smith stated that she was looking into some programs such as booking a local rock band or having a CD swap to at least get the young adults into the library. Some programs may not be library related but it brings the young adults into the building to show them what is available. Roseanne has met with the school superintendent to get some ideas. During the upcoming school year, the library will be setting up a homework center providing text books from the school for grades 4th through 9th.
Roseanne Smith has concerns about the new library building and the water leaks they have been experiencing and problems with the front door during windy days.
Town Engineer Latona stated that there have been two different proposals for remedying the problem with the front door. There has to be some compromise between the aestitics and the functionality of the door.
Saturdays are high usage days at the library and parking is a problem. Town Engineer Latona stated that there is room to expand the parking lot, this should be incorporated into our Capital Projects Program.
Councilman Bylewski stated that the town has discussed establishing a lease as well as a maintenance agreement with entities that are housed in town facilities to share some of the burden.
Town Engineer Latona suggests creating a Facility Maintenance Division in the town. Between his office and Parks Superintendent John Burns, they are inundated with repair and maintenance requests. There would be a savings to the town if this work is done in house. Town Engineer Latona will pursue this and draw up a proposal.
Recreation Advisory Committee/Green Print Project – Michael Powers
The Green Space Referendum was put to the tax payers and passed overwhelmingly; we now have $12.5 million dollars bonding for this project. This was done under a section of General Municipal Law that absolutely requires that any land purchased with this money stays open forever, there can not be a change in use – you can not build a pavilion on it, you can not put a baseball diamond on it, you can not do anything with it except set it aside. There are other sections in General Municipal Law that allow for bonding authority to be used for recreation and athletic facilities etc. but we have never had to resort to that because the town has significant funds from recreation fees
Ken Kohler has been serving on Mike Powers Erie County Environmental Management Counsel and has agreed to spearhead the green print project after the bond resolution passed. Amy Holt representing the WNY Land Conservancy has been doing the leg work helping to rank the parcels and find out who is willing to sell them. She will be doing the negotiations to try and bring these parcels into the green print.
Councilman Bylewski asked if the Town would be allowed to purchase development rights where the land could still be used for what it was previously used for such as for agricultural use. Mike Powers stated that in the case of farmland, we could purchase the land and lease it back to the farmer or the town could purchase development rights or put a Conservation Easement on it and let the farmer keep farming it as long as we do not change the use. There is a lot of grant money available for farm land protection.
Councilman Bylewski stated that several weeks ago Accountant Dan Tirone mentioned that it was his view that the Green Space Referendum was more of a “warm and fuzzy” referendum as opposed to an actual authority granting resolution. Mike Powers stated that he and Dan Tirone put the resolution together and there is nothing “fuzzy” about it. They did a very detailed economic analysis. In terms of the resolution, the referendum was done; we have a resolution in place for $12.5 million dollars. Under NY State law we can spend $1. or we can spend $12.5 million, “there is nothing fuzzy about it.” Director of Community Development James Callahan stated that possibly we have to identify the process. Mike Powers suggested that possibly he and Mr. Tirone should sit down to clarify what his concern is.
Mike Powers stated that the WNY Land Conservancy has some upfront fees. There is a monitoring fee if there is a conservation easement. This is to ensure the conservation easement is enforced. The town can save money by monitoring it themselves. If however, the town does not think it can monitor it, the land conservancy has a processes in place to do that for us. Mike Powers further commented that if the town is going to spend the same amount for a conservation easement or to buy the development rights, he suggests the town buy the land.
Councilman McPherson said that there was a question raised early on in the process that perhaps the $12.5 million dollar ceiling was actually a matching fund. Mike Powers stated that one of the benefits of this resolution was that many grants that you can get to preserve agricultural land etc. require matching funds. These funds have to be readily available. The town did not have the money readily available so we were missing out on opportunities to apply for these grants. One of the benefits of this resolution is the town has $12.5 million readily available, if a grant comes up we now have the ability to apply.
Mike Powers stated that the Recreation Advisory Committee has met frequently with the grant writer in the past. The grant writer is aware of this resolution which opens the door too many grant opportunities that we did not have before.
The Western NY Land Conservancy (WNYLC) acting as agent for the town has solicited property owners who may want to sell large tracts of land. The WNYLC with assistance from the EC Environmental Management Council then ranked all of the parcels submitted for review. The top ranked parcels identified, after thoroughly reviewing all submittals was forwarded to the Recreation Advisory Committee. The Recreation Committee in consultation with the Supervisor and Director of Community Development James Callahan reviewed the highest ranking parcels and authorized the WNYLC to proceed with appraisals on three selected properties.
The WNYLC will have the top ranking parcels appraised, identifying all conditions involved in the proposed acquisition. Upon completion, appraisals on the identified parcels will be shared with the Recreation Advisory Committee. The Recreation Advisory Committee will authorize the WNYLC to initiate offers, based upon the appraised values to the owners of any prioritized parcels and subject to Town Board approval and Phase I Environmental Audits. Conditional offers and conditional counteroffers will be handled by the WNYLC with authorization from the Recreation Advisory Committee. Once an offer has been finalized by the WNYLC, the Recreation Advisory Committee will meet and formally recommend acquisition of such property to the Town Board. Upon receipt of a formal recommendation from the Recreation Advisory Committee, the Town Board will establish the date and time of a public hearing on the proposed acquisition. After a public hearing on the specific acquisition proposal, the Town Board will render a decision on whether the Town is to pursue acquisition utilizing Town of Clarence Green Space Bond Act Monies.
If preliminary approval is given by the Board to pursue acquisition, a survey, title search and Phase I Environmental Audit will be completed prior to closing on the property. The final decision of the Town Board on utilizing Bond Act Monies from Green space acquisition will be subject to a 30 day permissive referendum.
Motion by Supervisor Hallock, seconded by Councilman Kolber to enter into Executive Session pursuant to § 105 (1) H the proposed acquisition of real property. Upon roll call Ayes: All; Noes: None. Motion carried.
Motion by Councilman Kolber, seconded by Councilman Bylewski to adjourn the Executive Session at 11:10 A.M. Upon roll call - Ayes: All; Noes: None. Motion carried.
Motion by Councilman Kolber, seconded by Councilman McPherson to authorize the Recreation Advisory Committee to proceed with the conditional contract formulation for the properties identified in Executive Session. Subject to approval by the Town Board, review and/or prepared by the Town Attorney and review by the Environmental Council. Upon roll call - Ayes: All; Noes: None. Motion carried.
Mike Powers asked about the procedures for the Land Conservancy. Supervisor Hallock stated that the Town can monitor the property if it is put into a conservancy. However, there is an up front cost. Director of Community Development James Callahan suggested separating that out. We need the WNY Land Conservancy as administrators upfront but the stewardship costs that identify this would be on a parcel by parcel basis.
Supervisor Kathleen Hallock
The Arboretum Committee would like to proceed; they would like to have a Resolution by next week so they can move forward. There is an infrastructure cost of $225,000. This includes a pond in front of the library, handicap accessible pathways and a bridge. The committee has applied to Wilson Greatbatch; they are interested in financing the bridge. The Arboretum Committee would like to proceed with the infrastructure which would be paid for with recreation fees and grants.
Last December, Supervisor Hallock received a visit from Concern & Company, Inc.; they are very much against casino gambling in residential neighborhoods. Councilman Bylewski recommended the group speak to the Town Board at the regular Town Board meeting so we can get the public’s input.
Supervisor Hallock announced that she is meeting with Niagara Insurance Group.
Councilman Ian McPherson
Councilman Scott Bylewski
When the Capital Improvement Committee meets, Councilman Bylewski would like them to consider additional parking for the library/town hall and reconfiguration of handicap parking. Councilman Bylewski is also requesting consideration for a sidewalk in front of the Legion Hall as opposed to having an open parking lot.
Councilman Bylewski received information from Adelphia Cable regarding their Chapter 11 filing.
Councilman Bylewski received the Central Fire Alarm Report for February 2004.
Town Attorney Steven Bengart will pursue an Internship Program for students from a law firm to intern with the Town Attorney as well as the Town Council and Supervisor.
Councilman McPherson stated that the capability for one company to service the entire town was not available. The fall back was to try and get all three disposal companies to pick up the garbage just two days per week so we don’t have trash companies on the roads five days per week.
Councilman Bernie Kolber
At the February 25, 2004 meeting, Councilman Kolber made a motion authorizing Parks Crew Chief John Burns to purchase two 2004 4-wheel drive pickup trucks from State Contract at a cost of $16,435 each. In looking at the State Bid prices verses the retail prices on these trucks, there is a huge discrepancy. Councilman Kolber asked if the trucks could be purchased on a two year basis and either trade in or take them to auction. Councilman McPherson stated that we have a program in place however; these trucks were not part of the original fleet program. One of the issues is the reluctance of the Parks Department to enter into a Capital Program.
Councilman Kolber has received inquires regarding the Nature Center. Parks Crew Chief John Burns and Senior Building Inspector David Metzger will check the building to see what it needs to be brought up to code. There were also issues as to who could use the building and what the building could be used for.
Penny Favale has called Councilman Kolber regarding the crossing guard issue at Transit Middle School. Councilman Kolber stated that we are entering the season where students will be walking to school and cross Transit Road. Councilman Kolber felt that it is an unsafe situation whether there is a crossing guard there or not. By putting a crossing guard there, we are almost giving our endorsement saying that it is a safe intersection.
Councilman McPherson stated that we have already approved one crossing guard subject to a request from the Williamsville School District. If they do not request it, that means they do not want it. They would rather have the students ride the bus then request a crossing guard. Bus service is available to the students.
Councilman McPherson further stated that he has sat at the intersection and watched as the students cross from the school to Highland Farms. The students literally walk down the middle of the street in Highland Farms because there are no sidewalks. Anyone who makes a right turn onto Highland Farms could cause an accident. By the town taking such an action, we are putting the students in harms way.
Councilman Kolber felt that the town would be endorsing a dangerous situation.
Councilman Weiss also stated that in conversations with Mrs. Favale she noted that on rainy days or during the cold weather no one would be crossing, but a crossing guard would have to be there just in case someone decided to walk to school.
Councilman McPherson stated that we have in writing that the NYS Department of Transportation and the Traffic Safety Committee are against placing a crossing guard at this intersection.
Town Attorney Steven Bengart
Town Attorney Bengart stated that we are not even getting to the issues yet; we are still dealing with the standings and the right to bring the action. The standing issues are on appeal.
Councilman Bylewski stated that the Hollows at Loch Lea are challenging our law and NYS law as being unconstitutional in that you can not convert an existing development to condo status.
Town Attorney Bengart stated that this lawsuit could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars and we are floating the bill for something that will affect the entire state.
Councilman McPherson stated that the residents in The Hollows at Loch Lea do not get charged a highway tax. They pay the same highway tax per thousand that every other person who lives in town pays. When the development was constructed, they had the opportunity to build the roads according to town specs and make arrangements for the town to plow them but they did not want to do that.
Supervisor Hallock announced that she has been talking to several Certified Public Accountants and Accounting Firms and will be putting out a RFQ (Request for Quote) for accounting consulting services. After talking to several different professionals, it was suggested that sewers be included and not done separately.
Motion by Supervisor Hallock, seconded by Councilman Bylewski to adjourn the meeting at 12:00 P.M.
Darcy A. Snyder