Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wellsville Village Council Meeting

Tuesday – April 5: The Wellsville Village Council held their regular bi-monthly meeting a week ago Monday at Village Hall. Present at the meeting was Mayor Joe Surace, Fiscal Officer Dale Davis, Council Members Susan Haugh, Joe Soldano, Randy Allmon, John McMahon and Tony Cataldo. Also attending was Village Administrator Jim Saracco, Legal Adviser Andy Beech, Zoning Administrator Rick Williams, WFD Chief Bill Smith and United Water Operations Manager Greg Stewart. United Water operates the Wellsville Sewage Treatment Plant (STP).

New Cumberland, WV, resident Richard Winland spoke on behalf of LSW Sanitation in the Public Speaking portion of the agenda. Mr. Winland was the LSW Project Supervisor for the intallation of the new “bear trap” on McQueens Run last summer. Winland stated he has worked construction all his life, on jobs of all sizes and presented before & after pictures of the bear trap to Council. Some of those pictures were of the trap farther up stream that was never touched last summer.

Winland stated that with trailers blocking access from Route 39 to the creek their only option was on the other side, down the hillside. A partially bricked old street was discovered on the hillside that went down the hill and across the creek. About a week into the project Henry Avenue resident Cathy Summers asked the LSW crew to stop using that ingress, stating she believed she owned that property, according to Winland. She would need a signed agreement stating that the property would be reclaimed before LSW opened the old road. That was agreed to by Village officials and LSW. About two or three weeks later Summers stopped concrete trucks from their deliveries stating she still did not yet have a signed agreement. After that was straightened out and the project completed, the land in question was put back “better than what it was” per Winland. LSW even hauled five loads of gravel for them and loaned the use of their bobcat to level out some ground behind their house. They only charged her the price of the gravel and less than what was spent on gas. Winland did admit some Rose of Sharon bushes that were planted have since died. However they were purchased from Home Depot and came with a one-year guarantee.

Now Summers has No Trespassing signs posted. We asked if it has ever been verified that the street in question has ever been officially vacated. The Mayor said it has never been brought up and directed Saracco to check on that the next day. The Mayor then advised Winland they have since learned of a new way to get to the traps.

Winland next moved on to the current condition of the bear trap stating there is now three feet of debris and a 13 foot sand bar in front of the new trap. The gabian wall was built the way it was to allow for access in the future. To have them go up and around would have required the trap being another 10 feet wider, blocking any way to get in there in the future. Mrs. Haugh stated out of seven sections of gabian wall three of them have washed away. She compared them to gabian wall along Route 45 that has been in place for years and is still holding up. Winland responded that it would be an easy fix repairing the gabian wall on the trap.

As to the question about the bolts, Winland said they are drilled four feet into the ground and sealed in with concrete. He said the ones in the wall were installed in the same way adding that those bolts have been tested for 15,000 pounds of pressure. Winland concluded that LSW will make it right once the access question is clarified and the water goes down a bit.

Councilman Soldano asked if LSW would be willing to clean out the traps as a courtesy gesture, free of charge, since they will be working down there. Winland said “that is above my pay grade”. He later asked if Village officials would consider giving LSW a maintenance contract to keep them clean. Soldano responded that it not his call. Winland then offered to clean them up if the Village will haul the debris away.

Councilwoman Haugh said her problem all along has been the money spent on this project. She wanted the old ones cleaned and parts repaired, saying the Village had other priorities for the money spent building the new trap. The Mayor remarked the bear traps are the least of worries with a flood wall falling down around us.

Next up was WVFD Fireman Tim Long, pictured above, asking if Council would make a decision making a commitment on Village owned property at 9th & Commerce. At a Property Committee meeting a few weeks ago Long had proposed going after grant funding to build a new fire station at that location. The old station is cramped for space and presents many unsafe conditions, especially on a call out. Other than a new location nothing would change and the two fire departments will continue working together as they do today. The land would remain property of the Village. It is also hoped to include a huge banquet hall as part of the new structure.

Long said there was some safety questions with it being so close to Daw Middle School. However, fire trucks could travel to 10th Street to all points south and west or up Broadway to all points north and east and avoid going past the school. Another question brought up was the contaminated soil found there a few years back. Long produced an EPA letter stating the clean-up was completed in March of 2009. Lastly was the fact that piece of property was in the A-E flood plane category. Long stated that most of the property was at 684 feet elevation with the lowest spot being 681. It would all have to be raised to an elevation of 685 feet to avoid any flood plane category drawbacks. Long said in checking with a couple of companies he's been assured accomplishing that would be no problem.

Soldano advised that the Village grant writer said the grant program with the USDA is about the only known program for funding the building of fire stations. Soldano also noted the grant writer suggested using local lending institutions for the loan portion. Long responded that they would love to keep the business local if possible. The USDA grant is $50,000 with loans adapted to it to make up the balance needed. Long advised there are loan venues incorporated with the government grant programs offering loans with 4% interest rate and 20 to 30 years repayment schedules. Long also noted that there are other smaller grants out there and they were willing to fill out all the grant applications needed to help defray the cost.

Long emphasized that one of the first questions on any grant application is “where are you going to put it”. The first thing needed to proceed is a commitment from Council that they can plan on using the old Wellsville China lot. After acquiring that commitment an environmental impact study would be required and that cost would be covered as part of the grant. With no wetlands or wild life involved that should be a mere formality. The USDA wanted to come out last week to do the study.

The Mayor remarked that he encourages it and hope it happens. Councilwoman Haugh then made a motion, with a second from Soldano, to commit the property so the firemen go proceed with the grant applications. Councilman Cataldo stated he would vote against the motion feeling he doesn't have enough information on the grants. Cataldo further explained he has discussed with Long admitting that Council has to approve the loans and grants. Haugh farther explained the firemen need the commitment so they can bring the information back to Council. Allmon asked what would happen if the grants do not come through and he was told it's Village property and will remain Village property. Although at the March 3 meeting McMahon stated he was not ready for this and felt he was blind sided. Andy Beech advised that Council has to understand it will be a Village project and affirmed the land will remain Village property. Council will be the ones applying for the grants and loans. Cataldo then asked why this proposal didn't come from the Property Committee? Long responded that he was willing to put forth the effort needed to see if happen and volunteered to do the leg work to get it started. Beech added there is no problem for anyone to do the preliminary work needed which Long stated he was committed to doing. Adding to that Long stated it's a matter of respect asking for Council's permission before proceeding. Fiscal Officer Dale Davis asked if Long was asking for an indefinite period of time on the commitment? Long responded “give me 12 months”. With family, job and grad school responsibilities he wants assurance that the lot will still be available if awarded the grants needed to build the new station. Haugh then changed her motion to add committing the lot for a period of one year. The motion was then passed unanimously in favor of the commitment until April 30, 2012.

For Administration Reports Fire Chief Smith chastised the Council members that did not attend the April 4 meeting with the Army Corp of Engineers (ACE) and others on the condition of the flood control system. Smith said he has stressed that efforts to restore the flood control system needs the backing of everyone. Only Council members Haugh, McMahon and Allmon attended that meeting.

At that meeting the members of the ACE team spelled out the reasons why the Wellsville system was found unacceptable. Until the problem areas are fixed Wellsville is no longer eligible for FEMA assistance if a catastrophic flood should occur. As it is now home owners could be wiped out with no recourse unless they have a flood insurance carrier on their home owner's policy. Depending on location those carriers can be very expensive. Chief Smith and Councilwoman Haugh have been working for months trying to finding funding and looking for other ways to get that ruling reversed. The April 4 meeting was a presentation of the ACE findings so Village officials can be fully aware of what needs to be done. Other future meetings will be forthcoming. Smith noted he has done about all he can do as Flood System Administrator. The rest is up to Council and the Administration. They have until the end of the year or the insurance rates will go up concluded Smith.

For the Mayor's Report Surace officially appointed Ryot as the WPD K-9 officer for the Village. Ryot, also pictured above, and WPD Officer Tony Mancuso have completed all requirements required by the State to be certified a K-9 officer. They have completed 220 hours of special narcotics detection training, 24 hours of K-9 searching and 72 hours of tracking. Just under six months old Ryot and their training was donated to the Village through a program called BARK. Mancuso is her official handler and said they will now begin about five months of additional training for officer protection and bite work.

For the Finance Committee Tony Cataldo reported that as of the end of February the General Fund had $9,674, the Street Fund had $7,336, the Cemetery Fund had $4,913 and the Floodwall Fund had $19,786. The Sewage Update Fund is down to $209, 404 and total of all funds on hand was $486,640. Cataldo also announced there will be a Finance Committee meeting in the near future. The exact date has yet to be determined.

John McMahon reported for the Street Committee that Riverside resident Grant Barlow's request to reopen an alley behind his property has been looked into and checked on with the Village Legal Advisor. It has been decided it was never dedicated property. It is private property and there is nothing the Village can do. Mr. Barlow stated the County Engineer's maps show it is a right of way similar to the right away on his property but he is not permitted to restrict access to his neighbors. He asked if he were to put up a fence would the Village take the same stance? Andy Beech explained it's a private right of way, meaning it's private to all the land owners in that neighborhood. It is not a public street or alley and the Village can not get involved. Barlow responded that is making the meaning of a right of way worthless and doesn't believe the explanation is correct. It was suggested that he confer with his own attorney.

For the Water, Sewer & Refuse Committee Randy Allmon made a motion to pay $14,362 for three change orders for the STP Digester project. The change orders were for the relocation of a blower, a sludge line extra and electrical upgrade to the mixer. The motion was seconded by Cataldo. Fiscal Officer Davis advised payment would out of the Sewer and probably mostly from a STAG over payment that the Village can't get. Soldano remarked that he does not feel comfortable with all this saying that every meeting there is something for the digester project. These change orders are adding up. Cataldo remarked that at the last meeting with “them” they asked what are these, stating they looked at them like they could do anything they want. Village officials did not have any advance notice of the change orders. They are over and above the $113,000 Council didn't know about. Cataldo added the change orders are for work that needs to be done but “they” got the message any changes have to have prior Council's approval. Allmon clarified that it was the engineers coming up with the prices. Cataldo reported that in addition to the changes it's going to cost an extra $16,000 or $22,000 for sludge removal.

United Water's Greg Stewart agreed the changes were necessary and reported that the work has already been done. Stewart confirmed the sludge removal would be over and above the change orders. The Mayor stated they had no knowledge of the changes until they called GG&J in to explain about the $113,000. Sue Haugh stated Council needs to look into this and Allmon rescinded his motion. Stewart noted that the mistakes making the change orders necessary were from the original drawings done by former GG&J engineer Bill Boyle.

At a subsequent Sewage Committee meeting last Friday new GG&J engineer John Sabo apologized, explaining he came in at mid-stream on the digester contract when the mistakes were discovered. Sabo said he was not familiar with the protocol and in the future will present any changes to Council before proceeding. The first change order on the contract was approved by Council the same day the contract was awarded. That was for relocation of the fuel tank for the back up generator. These changes are the second, third and fourth. Allmon concluded the Committee meeting stating these changes orders will be resubmitted at the next Council meeting.

For Personnel Soldano reported the insurance has been renewed for all full time employees. Dental coverage has been changed after finding lower cost coverage. Cards for Coventry Health insurance are no longer good. The Fiscal Office has a temporary card that can be used until the new cards are received.

Ordinance 11-2 for Tag Day Event Rules & Regulations was passed. Organizations must be within the Village corporate limits and must have proof of their tax exempt status. Only persons 13 years of age or older can participate and anyone between the ages of 13 through 17 must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Signs no less than 24” square must be displayed identifying the organization and a “tag” or another type of receipt must be given to each contributor. Tag Days can only be held on Saturdays between the hours of 9 AM through 12 Noon. Collection can only be held at 5th & Main and/or Route 45 & Wells Avenue. For safety considerations collections at Route 39 & Clark Avenue has been eliminated.

Under New Business Soldano reported he attended a round table meeting at the Port Authority facilities that was a meet & greet session with Congressman Johnston. Soldano said he advised the new congressman about the flood control system, the availability of Village property and the need for infrastructure funds, especially for streets.

The meeting adjourned at 7:14 PM. The next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, April 19 at 6 PM at Village Hall.

ole nib


Fix My Country First said...

We send money and help to Japan but ,the hell with a little old village in Ohio ,United States Of America!

Fix My Village First said...

Hey McMahon if Tony jumps off the Newell bridge will you follow?

Fix My Bear Trap said...

$38000.00!!! Glad they did this before the price of fuel went up!!!Oh ,maybe they'll send us a change order!

************* said...

We also put our nation into a huge national debt to support two wars that will not change a thing in two countries when the GIs come home. It happened in Viet Nam and it will be repeated in the Mid-East once the natonal politicians swallow their silly pride and admit they can't change the mind set of nations that are not founded in a democratic society. Once the Americans come home those Mid-East countries will resume their feudal ruling systems. We'll let thousands of our Armed Forces be killed for naught but by God, we'll have a source of imported oil until then. God bless the USA...


************* said...

We're not sure about a change order for the bear trap but you can rest assure there are people checking the warranty on the new one.


Anonymous said...

Another fire station? Are you kidding me?

************* said...

No kidding about it. It all hinges on the availability of grant money. Those firemen working on this are planning to finance the whole project without touching the Village's available funds.

It's a feasible plan and we hope they can work it out. It would be a huge plus for Wellsville.