News from Tonawanda, NY
The council accepted a bid Tuesday for a new heavy rescue truck fire apparatus. The winning bid came from VT Hackney Inc. on North Carolina, which will be awarded $327,517 for the apparatus. Fire officials have long said the city’s current heavy rescue vehicle woefully outdated and in need of constant repair. But budget constraints and other economic factors saw the council take a pass on a new vehicle, instead choosing to upkeep the current vehicle.
Both Fire Chief Charles Stuart and city mechanic William Szortyka told city officials the current rescue truck had long ago served its usefulness and expected life span. Eventually, officials relented and allowed Stuart to put the job out to bid.
In other business, the council joined the chorus of local, state and federal officials in condemning Tonawanda Coke after the Military Road facility was recently found to be criminally responsible for contaminating neighboring homes with benzene and other pollutants. The council approved a measure joining U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins in asking that funds from fines against Tonawanda Coke, which could total $200 million, be used for “remediation and the enhancement of the environment in the neighborhood surrounding the plant.”
Higgins is asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to use any money gained in fines from the Town of Tonawanda plant, whose fumes have reached some City of Tonawanda homes nearby, for the same purpose. Tonawanda Coke was recently found to be in violation of the Federal Clean Air Act in U.S. District Court in Buffalo.
“It looks like we’re going to come up with a unified approach,” Tonawanda Mayor Ronald Pilozzi said Tuesday after meeting with representatives from Higgins’ office, as well as other state and local officials. “We don’t want them to get a slap on the wrist. We want to make sure people go to jail.”
Incumbent Mayor Ronald Pilozzi, running for a third term, will once again face Rick Davis for the city’s top job. Pilozzi is the endorsed Republican, while Davis has received the nod from the city’s Democratic committee to once again vie for the mayor’s office.
Both men are decorated military veterans. Pilozzi, an officer in the U.S. Army, served in Vietnam, receiving a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star among other commendations during his career before earning an honorable discharge as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve. Davis joined the Air Force in 1992 as a meteorologist and served for nine years. In that time, he was awarded the Conspicuous Service Medal, New York State’s highest military award.
Davis, who has worked as a meteorologist for the Federal Aviation Association since 2001, was a 4th Ward Councilman from 2006-2009 and is a former member of the Spaulding Fiber Steering Committee. He is a married father of seven who was born and raised in the city, graduating from Tonawanda High School in 1991.
Davis is critical of Pilozzi’s record, especially of a recent pay raise he and the council voted in for themselves. Like several other candidates have in past local races, Davis has said he will take part of his salary and donate it to five youth-focused organizations.
“I never voted yes on a pay raise for myself during my time on the council. However, the mayor allowed a 33 percent pay raise to go through for himself and a pay raise for the council as well. This sends the wrong message in this economy to all the hard working people of the city,” Davis said.
Davis is also critical of the mayor’s community development record, especially the city’s Community Development Agency, “that is staffed by the mayor, his wife, and the mayor’s brother-in-law; none of which has a degree nor a background in development,” Davis said, adding “The fact that you can look at North Tonawanda’s downtown versus our downtown and it’s night and day. That’s not our downtown merchants fault, but the fault of our mayor.”
For his part, Pilozzi cites his work on the former Spaulding Fiber demolition and redevelopment, as well as the proposed Little League Drive housing development as some of his proudest accomplishments as mayor. He also says that while health care and pensions costs have skyrocketed over the past few years, he has been able to rein in spending and keep residents from seeing large tax increases.
“This year the property tax increase was less than 1 percent. In order to save money, the administration has negotiated changes in the city’s health insurance program and contract for solid waste disposal,” he said.
Pilozzi is just as proud of the quality of life improvements the city has seen under his watch. From a new waterfront pavilion and improvements along the city’s shorelines, city residents will be able to enjoy a new range of summer activities with minimal costs, according to Pilozzi.
“Assuming proper future management, the grants we have won and a reasonable user fee will pay the entire cost of the construction of the pavilion and not cost City property taxpayers a dime,” he said. “My team has proven it is a winner in getting the job done and if I’m re-elected, this team will keep winning for the City of Tonawanda.”
Ortt and Jesse Gooch, proprietor of Painters Plus, announced that the third annual Project HOPE (“Helping Others Paint Exteriors”), a citywide contest for extensive sprucing up of a home, will take place the weekend of Aug. 17 (rain date of August 24).
For the third year in a row, Gooch will team up with Ortt and other city officials to assist with the project. In addition, members of the Chamber of Commerce of the Tonawandas and local businesses will be supporting the event.
“It has always been my passion to help people and to make a difference in my community” said Gooch, noting that a desire to prevent the onset of blight in North Tonawanda is at the heart of Project HOPE. “During these tough economic times, it has been a struggle for people to maintain or improve their homes. I have seen many homes in the area that have loose and peeling paint, dingy colors, and rotted siding.”
Last year, the initial Project HOPE was a huge success with helping out a local property owner who lives on Robinson Street, and the year before on Wheatfield Street.
“My question is, ‘Are these people neglecting their homes or do they want to improve their homes but don’t have the physical or financial means?’” Gooch said. “I believe that in many cases it’s not neglect. And that’s what drove me to start and continue with the Painters Plus Project.”
The winner of Project HOPE will have their home pressure washed, primed, and painted by the “PP Crew” and their volunteers. Gooch plans to select a person or family that is either disabled, elderly, suffering financial hardships, or a disabled veteran.
“I am excited to be a part of this project for the third year of its existence. This is a great project, and it brings the community together and helps people in the process” Mayor Ortt said. “I applaud Jesse and Painters Plus for giving back to North Tonawanda. We are happy to have a business like this in our city and I know they are happy to be here.”
The paint for Project HOPE will be provided by Sherwin Williams, located on Meadow Drive in North Tonawanda.
Applications for Project HOPE may be submitted three ways:
1 Online at www.PaintersPlus.US, or
2. Mail a letter to Painters Plus at 800 Walck Road, North Tonawanda 14120, or
3. Pick up an application at the Chamber of Commerce on Webster Street
Applicants are asked to, in a short paragraph, introduce themselves, explain their particular hardship situation, and provide pictures of their house. They are also asked to provide their name, address, and a telephone number they can be reached at. Photos will not be returned.
Deadline for application submission will be Friday, July 20.
Additional information is available at 716-693-PLUS(7587) or by email at email@example.com.
Tonawanda residents are encouraged to attend the session featuring presentations from Erie County Senior Public Health Sanitarian, Peter Tripi, Tonawanda Superintendent of Highways, William Swanson and a representative from the town’s building department, all discussing how to prepare and protect homes and yards from rats this summer. Learn how to properly store and manage your garbage and other wastes, and to discourage unwanted pests from settling in your neighborhood. This is your opportunity to strategize with the lead governmental officials and your neighbors on how to work together to rid the community of rats.
Highway supervisor Swanson will provide an update and review of the town’s solid waste and recycling programs and guidelines. “Increasing citizen participation in the curbside recycling program is not only good for the environment but also helps reduce the cost of the town’s garbage disposal service,” said Swanson.
The speakers will also recap the 2012 rodent control efforts by reviewing the services each agency provided to citizens in their neighborhoods, and also answer questions and engage the audience through open panel discussions.
Additional events are being planned for this year’s Environmental Speakers Series and will be listed at www.tonawanda.ny.us .
Come enjoy swimming, field trips and guest speakers in a small group setting in our air-conditioned gym.
Early bird discounts are available. Apply before May 25.
For information and registration call 692-5580.
The camp is located at the YWCA Tonawandas, 49 Tremont St., North Tonawanda.
Come learn how to smoke and change the flavor of pork, chicken or any other meat you desire. We will even grill a delicious salad that will be sure to impress at your next cook out.
Class will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14. The class will fill up fast so call 692-5580 today to reserve your spot.
The cost for six one-hour sessions is $60 for members and $65 for non-members. The session will take place at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 15 through Wednesday, June 19 at the YWCA Tonawandas, 49 Tremont St., North Tonawanda.
For more information and course enrollment, call 692-5580.