A Work Session of the Clarence Town Board was held on April 6, 2005 at Clarence Town Hall, One Town Place, Clarence, NY.
Supervisor Kathleen Hallock called the meeting to order at 9:05 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, Deputy Town Attorney David Donohue and Deputy Supervisor Anne Case.
Joseph Floss/Floss Agency and Kathreen Sibol/VFIS
Mr. Floss said he met with the Town Board several months ago and it was suggested that he review some of the legislative changes taking place as it relates to the Length of Service Awards Program for the volunteer fire companies in NY State. Kathreen Sibol will discuss the options available.
Motion by Supervisor Hallock, seconded by Councilman McPherson to enter into Executive Session pursuant to § 105 (1) F of the Open meetings law to discuss the financial history of several individuals. The Town Board will also confer with the Town Attorney. Upon roll call - Ayes: All; Noes: None. Motion carried.
Motion by Supervisor Hallock, seconded by Councilman Kolber to adjourn the Executive Session at 10:30 A.M. Upon roll call - Ayes: All; Noes: None. Motion carried. No action taken.
Clarence Schools – Superintendent Thomas Coseo
In September 2004, the Clarence Board of Education appointed a Citizen’s Advisory Committee to study facility needs at Clarence Middle School and Clarence High School. The committee is made up of all Clarence residents. The commitment that they all have was to make sure that Clarence Schools maintain the kinds of facilities and opportunities for students in the future. This committee has chosen a more conservative viewpoint about growth and maintaining costs. This recommendation represents additions to the buildings as opposed to building a new school. The committee submitted their report to the Board of Education in January. Since then, the Board has been researching the issues and at the March meeting adopted a resolution to present a capital project referendum to District voters on May 17, 2005 in conjunction with the regular budget vote.
The committee analyzed enrollment trends and projects, growth in the Town of Clarence, state aid formulas for building projects and past citizen’s advisory committee reports. Dr. Peter Rogerson, a demographer from the University at Buffalo and James Callahan, Director of Community Development for the Town of Clarence provided valuable resource information as well. The committee also assessed conditions at the two schools through site visits and discussions with various school groups, including teachers, students and administrators and developed a set of recommendations for the Board of Education.
The committee identified two main issues at the High School those being a shortage of instructional space and overcrowding in the cafeteria. The committee noted that the Middle School facility posed the greater challenge, concluding that learning opportunities are compromised by the limit of available space, interior traffic flow is inefficient and a major portion of the building needs updating. Safety is a major concern outside the building during arrival and dismissal times.
A mailer will be sent out to all Clarence residents giving an overview of the proposed project.
There are approximately 2000 more students in the Clarence school system today than there were fourteen years ago. Over the fourteen years, there has been fairly consistent growth. Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s there was significant enrollment decline, several buildings were closed during that period (Sheridan Hill and Parker Elementary) the Administrative Building on Harris Hill Road was also sold. In the late 1980’s enrollment started increasing an addition was added to the Middle School and completed in 1994. The building is 40 years old. In 1993 classrooms were added connecting two wings of the building. In 1995 the high school was renovated and classrooms were added. The approach the district has taken over time has been a conservative approach to look at enrollment projections and not act on progressive enrollment growth or minimal enrollment growth but take an in-between position and build necessary classrooms and evaluate where we are going to go down the road.
In looking at enrollment projections, the committee feels that what will happen in the next decade is similar to what happened in 1992. We will continue to see between 2% - 4% enrollment growth over the next ten years.
Recommended improvements to the high school include: constructing a one-story, nine-classroom addition to the east wing that will connect the education center (former public library) to the main building. This proposal will also add parking in front of the old library and improve the exit from the education center. There will be two entrances and exits to the complex. Berms and plants will be installed to make it visibly attractive as you drive down Main Street. There are also some funds available to give the old library an exterior face-lift such as a pitched roof and a different façade.
On the west side of the high school (Gunnville Road) a two-story, eight-classroom addition will be added. The seating in the auditorium will also be replaced. They should have been replaced in 1995 but were eliminated when the project costs had to be cut.
The total cost for the high school renovations is $8,150,000.
When the Middle School was open in 1994, there were less than 900 students in the building and the building functioned very well. The design of the building is inadequate for the number of students presently enrolled; last year there were over 1,500 students. The building is more suited to between 900 – 1000 students.
Over the last 4 –5 years the largest growth has been in grades 4th, 5th 6th, and 7th as new families move to Clarence. The building is over crowded, it is 40 years old and in need of a major face lift. There are significant safety factors both inside and outside the building. The traffic on Greiner Road is a significant problem and parking is a problem with parents dropping their children off and bus traffic in and out of the parking lot. The interior stairwells are inadequate to handle the flow of students between the first and second floor of the building.
The cost of building a second Middle School is astronomical compared to adding additions. Also, a new building will add over $1 million dollars of operating costs on an annual basis for administration, heating, lights etc.
The recommendation is to build 2 two-story additions on the north side and create entrances at those two additions that would serve as the major entrance for bus traffic. As part of the proposal, all the residents on Strickler Road were contacted. The school is interested in purchasing a piece of property that would have an alternative bus entrance to the Middle School going out to Strickler Road. The front of the building will be reserved for parent drop off.
Several weeks ago, the school board met with all the residents on Strickler Road and advised them of the plans. Landscaping and berms will be implemented so that the residents on either side of the driveway will not be impacted and their property will not be disrupted.
There will be an addition to the internal courtyard, adding five classrooms to the outside. This will improve the traffic flow across the building. The existing library runs along the courtyard.
An addition will be added to the front entrance vestibule, the south cafeteria will be enlarged and an 800-seat auditorium will also be added. The existing auditorium will be reconfigured to accommodate large group instructional area, learning assistance center and special education classrooms. The HVAC and electrical systems will also be updated.
The cost of the Middle School will cost $27,650,000. Health/Safety $4,700,000, there are funds to connect to the sewer line that runs behind the school property eliminating the septic system and connect to the sewer line. Additions cost $14,700,000. Renovations to the building $8,250,000. for a total of $27,650,000. The Middle School project along with the High School renovations total project cost will run $35,800,000. Less $1,000,000 in Capital Reserve. The Bond amount would be $34,800,000. The Board is assuming the state will pay for 90% of approved expenses. They won’t pay for everything but they will pay for constructional space. Our state aid ratio is 67.2%. The taxpayers will have to fund $13,752,960.
The estimated tax rate is based on a twenty-year mortgage payment. The average over the twenty years is $.42 per thousand assessed valuation. What was not taken into consideration is some existing debt that will come off the books over time so the rate will actually be less than $.42. If this proposed project goes forward, it will affect the 2006-2007-school tax bill. The project will be completed in 2007.
There will be no impact on staffing, the enrollment drives the staff. Just because you have more classrooms does not mean more teachers will be hired to fill those classrooms. There will be some additional custodian cost and additional utility costs.
Two studies were done regarding enrollment figures, and will be forwarded to the Planning/Zoning Department.
Supervisor Hallock asked if any baseball or soccer fields were being eliminated at the Middle School. A softball diamond and a soccer field will be moved from the north of the building and relocated to the west of the building once the building is hooked up to sewers.
Projections show elementary school enrollment dropping off based on county demographics and birth rate decline. The largest kindergarten class is coming in next year. Councilman Kolber said that his concern is that all these renovations are taking place at the Middle School and High School and do not address any of the elementary schools especially Clarence Center and Ledgeview. From what he has heard from concerned parents is that the classrooms are filled with between 26 – 27 kids per classroom. Mr. Coseo said that was not true. There are two music teachers operating at Ledgeview, one full time and one part time and they both have individual rooms. If there was need for a classroom, the part time music teacher classroom will be utilized. The class sizes in the elementary grades average 22 students per room.
The Clarence tax rate in terms of school districts is one of the lowest in Western New York. The cost per pupil is 22% less than the state wide average. The tax rate for the 2005 – 2006 school year will be less than the current tax rate.
Supervisor Kathleen Hallock
Summit Federal Credit Union requested use of the auditorium for employment interviews for their new credit union. The Town Board decided it may be an inappropriate precedent however, Karen Jurek made some phone calls and Coventry Garden Apartments agreed to provide their community room for them.
The cut off date to submit Planning Board applications is today April 6, 2005. Interviews will be scheduled during Town Board meetings before the start of the Work Session.
Supervisor Hallock handed out information regarding Dave & Buster’s. Their senior vice President of Procurement & Development from Dallas came in to the Town Hall last week.
Paralegal Cindi Rosel received a call from Michael Ranzenhofer office regarding an inquiry as to whether or not the Town allows back-yard burials on private property. State Law does allow this and there are no restrictions. Cindi Rosel is suggesting the Town look into a Local Law. The Department of State discourages this practice.
Animal Control Officer Jerry Schuler will be attending the NYS Animal Control Assn. Program in Cortland on April 11, 2005. Jerry will be using the Supervisor’s town vehicle, leaving on Sunday and returning Monday. Supervisor Hallock will be going to Albany with the Association of Erie County Governments to lobby the NYS Legislature and will be traveling with other members.
The Town Clerk’s office received notice from NYS Department of Transportation that the traffic light at Main Street and Shimerville Road will be activated April 11, 2005. There are flashing signs displaying advance notice.
Kathy Tiffany will be retiring in June. Her last day of work will be June 3. She will use two weeks of vacation so her retirement day would be June 17. We have asked for a list from Civil Service but if appropriate we would like to hire June 6.
Everyone was e-mailed regarding flooding in the north part of town. The Emergency Alert Notification System was put in place in five zones.
Councilman Ian McPherson
Councilman McPherson received a letter from the Senior Center Building and Grounds Committee. Town Security checks the building every evening and if there is a problem, they call the executive director of the Senior Center to get the key. They are requesting this procedure be changed. Councilman McPherson is suggesting a key be given to security personnel.
Councilman Scott Bylewski
Councilman Bylewski is requesting Executive Session regarding matters leading to the appointment of an individual.
Councilman Bylewski had two questions regarding the Town Clerk’s year-end report relative to increases in Minor Sales and increases in Park Land Special Revenue.
The Historic Preservation Committee will meet next week in the town council member’s office. The committee has been made aware of a grant to do historic preservation surveys. The applications have to be in by May 7 however, in order to submit the application a RFP must be sent out. Three bids must be attached to the grant application.
Motion by Councilman Bylewski, seconded by Councilman Weiss to authorize the mailing of the RFP regarding the Historic Preservation Survey. On the question, the response deadline is April 15, 2005. Upon roll call - Ayes: All; Noes: None. Motion carried.
Councilman Bylewski said that he was in favor of the resolution Supervisor Hallock passed out from the NYS Association of Towns regarding income vs. property.
Councilman Bylewski is still waiting to receive information on the resolution he passed out regarding Free Trade.
Councilman Bylewski received a copy of the letter that was addressed to James Callahan and Joseph Latona from Nussbaumer & Clark regarding the Traffic Management Study, it is an update of the study that was done several years ago. It is an item in the budget for the Planning Department under Master Plan expenses. Mr. Callahan and Mr. Latona are in favor of going ahead with the update, the fee is $8,800.
The Planning Board has a public hearing scheduled tonight regarding the Subdivision Law. The law as proposed and has been done in the past, the Planning Board reviews and approves minor subdivisions. Open Development areas, which are dealing with the same number of lots, are Town Board approvals. The question is does the Town Board want the minor subdivision approvals be added to the Town Board level. Councilman Kolber, Councilman Weiss, Supervisor Hallock and Councilman Bylewski were in favor of this.
Councilman Joseph Weiss
Councilman Weiss has been in contact with our insurance consultant.
Clarence Rotary, Clarence Hollow and area fire companies are working together on ideas for Day in the Park. Each one of the organizations will need an insurance binder for any activities in the park. Further, Councilman Weiss said they are looking for corporate sponsors for Day in the Park a letter will be mailed.
Councilman Weiss is checking to make sure the insurance coverage is adequate for the Rohlf Clock.
Councilman Bernard Kolber
Councilman Kolber had no report.
Motion by Supervisor Hallock, seconded by Councilman Bylewski to enter into Executive Session pursuant to § 105 (1) F of the Open Meetings Law to discuss matters leading to the appointment of an individual. Upon roll call - Ayes: All; Noes: None. Motion carried.
There being no further business, the Work Session adjourned at 12:00 P.M.
Darcy A. Snyder
Deputy Town Clerk
Motion by Supervisor Hallock, seconded by Councilman Kolber to adjourn the Executive Session at 12:05 P.M. Upon roll call - Ayes: All; Noes: None. Motion carried. No action taken.