WESTFIELD - The Village of Westfield's Electric Department is getting a new home.
The village recently purchased the old Add Lumber location at 52 English Street following unanimously approval by the Village Board of Trustees after an executive session back on Tuesday, Feb. 21. The electric department's current location is next door at 42 English Street.
According to Village Mayor David Carr, the electric department has run out of room at its current location and the trucks can barely get inside as they get bigger and heavier. Carr said constructing a new building has been talked about it for several years, so when the village learned Add Lumber was moving to a new location on Route 20, it decided to purchase the property.
Photo by Jenna Loughlin
Village of Westfield Mayor David Carr, middle, reads a plaque in honor of Recreation Coordinator Venn Blakely, left. Blakely retired as a full time employee on Wednesday, May 30 and the plaque was in honor of his years of service to the village. Blakely was rehired at the beginning of June as a part time recreation coordinator. Village Board of Trustee member Rob Cochran, right, looks on.
The building is three to four years old and, even thought the complex was appraised at around $259,000, the village purchased the property for $170,000. Carr said a new building was estimated to have cost $150,000 or more. The village will not need to borrow any money for the purchase.
"I think it's a fair deal," he said. "We (the mayor and the board) think this whole project is much cheaper than what we could have done on our own."
In addition, the Department of Public Works also needs more storage space and a place to store seasonal equipment, which this new property will be able to accommodate.
During the board's meeting on Monday, July 16, the board unanimously approved the purchase of a new 2013 Ford Taurus patrol vehicle for the Westfield Police Department for $22,423. Once all the equipment is in the vehicle, the total cost will be around $29,700. This purchase was in the police department's budget for this year, and was technically already approved by the board when it approved the budget. The vehicle it is replacing will be sold, but not for much, according to Police Chief Robert Genthner.
Genthner also asked the board to approve the purchase new bulletproof vests to replace some which are six years old. The price per vest is $639, but the department can get a grant which will pay for 50 percent of the cost of three vests. Genthner added the department has applied for another grant which, if approved in September, will help defray the costs even more allowing the department to purchase more vests. The chief is hopeful he can get the entire cost of all the vests covered by grants.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's cheep insurance to protect our guys," board member Dave Brooker said.
The board approved the request for the first three vests unanimously.
Finally, Genthner reported the resignation of two Westfield Police Department officers. Nathan Narraway is going to the Silver Creek Police Department and Nathan Baideme is going to the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Department. The board unanimously approved their resignations.
Because of a fire which damaged one of the Electric Department's trucks on Friday, June 30, Electric Superintendent William Boneberg requested the board's approval to purchase a new vehicle. Money has been set aside annually, and the department was planning on purchasing a new vehicle with next year's budget, but the fire has sped up the timeline.
Once the purchase is awarded, it will still take nine months for the truck to be built. In the meantime, the department is using a 1997 vehicle, which it was hoping to replace as a backup with the destroyed 2003 truck.
The cost of the new truck is expected to be at least $170,000, according to Boneberg, though he said it will probably push $200,000. The damaged truck will be sold off once the bucket is taken off. In addition, the village will also be collecting insurance money on the damaged vehicle.
After a public hearing held during the July meeting, the board voted to discontinue portions of South Water Street and Temple Street. According to DPW Supervisor Ed LeBarron, a section of Temple Street was "paper streets," never used by the village. There are no residence along the sections of the discontinued roads, LeBarron said. If the village were to keep the sections of road open, it would need to put up a guardrail, as a section ends in the gorge, and maintain them in the winter.
"There's no sense in maintaining a section of street that serves no purpose," LeBarron said.
Also, the village was not able to obtain a necessary easement as part of the Westside Sewer Project for Oak Street sewer for the Water Street sewer pump station, so an alternate route has been created, which includes a new manhole cover on South Portage Street, LeBarron told the board on Monday, June 18. As part of the new route, the pump station will be located on the corner of Old Main and Water Streets. There will also be new engineering costs for the new route. However, the village will save around $100,000 since an access road will not need to be built, so the overall cost will be the same or less with this shorter route.
Code Enforcement Officer and Building Inspector Jim Pacanowski informed the board his office is taking the owners of a property on Clinton Street to court. Additionally, he received permission from the board to agree with a request to waive the $50 fee for the Light House Church so they can renovate and create a handicap bathroom. There will be no structural changes or external construction. However, the construction will change the occupancy load of the building.
At the July meeting, the board unanimously approved the implementation of a $100 refundable deposit for those wishing to rent Ottaway Park. If the park is left clean and in good condition, the fee will be returned. However, the village will keep the deposit if the park is left in bad shape when the attendant checks on it once the users have left. Village Clerk Vince Luce brought up the point that the park should be closed to the public when an event is going on so those who have asked for use of the park do not get in trouble for the mess of others.
In his report in July, Recreation Coordinator Venn Blakely told the board the village was able to reinstate four concerts in Moore Park this summer, due to sponsors who will willing to cover the costs.
In the June meeting, the board unanimously passed Local Law no. 3-2012 which changes the village's zone code regarding the bed and breakfast sections as well as allowing for poultry and birds with a special use permit.
In the July meeting, the board unanimously passed a new policy covering computer, Internet and electronic media and use of communications systems by village employees, including the fire department. Among other things, the policy says village employees cannot use computers for illegal uses, superfluous use, Facebook or derogatory use, according to Luce.
"It's beginning to be a problem," Carr said.
Each employee will have to read the new policy and then sign and date saying they have done so.
Also at the July meeting, the board approved the resignation of Electric Department Lineman Tye Flurie, effective July 15. Additionally, Carr reported the village has once again applied for New York State's Main Street Grant Application to help revitalize the downtown business district. This is the fourth year in a row the village has applied, but so far has not received any funds.
"We're hoping we get more than squat (this year)," Carr said.
During June's public comment, Bill Christ spoke to the board about recent articles in The Westfield Republican regarding the Westfield Volunteer Fire Department and the Westfield Firemen's Exempt Association. Christ said he was not happy with the articles, specifically with quotes by Pacanowski, which Christ asked the village to retract since Pacanowski is a village employee.
"The Westfield Republican is doing a disservice to the village in reporting on this matter," Christ said. "In my opinion, it is biased, full of untruths, or half-truths, and maybe, possibly serving as a pawn of certain Exempt members."
During July's public comment, Marybelle Beigh brought up issues with branches from a dead tree at the end of the Moose Club's parking lot falling on the parking area of some apartments on Clinton Street.
Also, Ann Kneer asked Blakely how the new $20 fee for kids to use the field house was going. He said it was going very well and did not feel it was keeping people out, adding scholarships were available. Kneer said she could understand the fee if the recreation department was offering extra programs. She questioned if the money should be turned over to the budget, as Blakely said it was.
Kneer also asked about the new computer use policy, wondering who is going to monitor and enforce it as well as what the punishments will be. Carr responded it all depends on the seriousness of what the person is doing. Luce added the board ultimately deals with discipline.
"I thought we were all adults in the village," Kneer said.