Flooding mitigation plans announced in North Collins
Addressing the village board meeting of Aug. 7, Public Works Director Michael Perry announced that the committee studying the situation would soon meet and invite the public to participate as well following an engineering study of the problem.
Village Attorney Richard Schaus outlined the details of the study, which project that 75 percent of the water that currently flows downhill into the affected areas, could be diverted into Franklin Gulf. The project would require a culvert excavated along and under the railroad bed near High Street and then following Eagle Drive north toward the creek. Schaus reported that there are still easements and permissions needed from property owners to utilize the route.
Perry also reported that he is receiving reports that some village residents continue to boil their tap water even though the boil advisory had been lifted over a week earlier. He expressed his frustration that the media was quick to report on the main break and boil water advisory, but has not reported the water as being back to normal condition despite the information given out.
He reported that in conjunction with Town Highway Superintendent David Winter, an agreement has been reached with the owner of the railroad track to mill and repave the three at-grade crossings in the village. The work could be completed this fall.
Perry also noted that the massive water project is ahead of schedule at this point with two crews working on various aspects. He also said that efforts are being made to move up the placement of a new line along School Street before the beginning of the school year and the resultant bus traffic. A check of existing shutoffs along Main Street found some not working and could prove problematic if another major break occurred. Perry has discussed the matter with the contractor, who has the ability to install new shutoffs without deactivating the lines. Perry recommended at least two new shutoffs be installed.
Mayor Vincent George thanked both the DPW and the contractor for dealing with the unexpected water main break that severely dropped the village water pressure and resulted in a boil-water advisory. The culprit was an old, unmarked water line that was ruptured during excavation. George credited the parties for swift action and repairs that minimized the inconvenience to water users.
In a related matter, the board agreed to waive tap-in fees during the current construction for out-of-village residents who will now have access to a water main.
One resident voiced concern over the $50 quarterly surcharge being levied on water users. Specifically he reported that his two-unit rental property, which has only one water meter, is being charged twice. The resultant $150 extra for his home and his rental property is making it difficult for him to pay his bill. He wondered if a surcharge on the amount of water used would be a fairer system.
Attorney Schaus explained that the formula was designed by the consultant on the project and seemed the most fair of all proposals. Noting no system was perfect, he cited as an example where a household of six pays the same charge as does a single person.
Mayor George replied that adding a bill to the usage would become a permanent increase, something the village wanted to avoid. This charge is designated solely to pay off the 30-year loan for the water project. He also reported that to date at least six out-of-village properties have opted to access village water, and the more users in the system, the lower the cost per unit.
Fire Chief Mike Mooney reported nine calls during July as well as several standby services rendered. A second fire engine now has water-drafting capabilities, and a $1,500 donation from the fire company auxiliary will be used to obtain high-band radios for the fire police.
Police Administrator Richard Cooper reported that the DWI grant his department obtained has been effective, noting several stops resulting in arrests for both drug and alcohol charges. The grant has also allowed for additional patrol hours. Cooper then reported that the county Emergency Services Van proved very valuable to all agencies working with the Langford Jamboree and Tractor Pull, and said that it proved one of the quietest in recent memory.
County Legislator John Mills made himself available to residents prior to and following the meeting and told the board that, “Having served as an Orchard Park Councilman for 22 years, I know that the best government happens at the village and town level.” He reported on plans to attempt to increase the highway fund in the coming county budget and is looking to expand the Southtowns Scenic Byway to wind its way into Collins and North Collins. He said that many Ontarians drive through the area headed to Ellicottville and the byway gives them other places to visit while in the area. He also noted a forgotten segment, the thousands of people who have left the area but return on a regular basis. “They are looking for things to do when they return,” Mills said, “We can show them what the area has to offer.”
In other business, the board:
• Accepted, with regret, the letter of resignation from Village Clerk Kathleen Meyers.
• Heard Trustee Brenda Bauer-Petrus thank the community for its turnout as the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall, and its hundreds of motorcycle escorts that passed through North Collins. She called the event “Very emotional.”
• Heard Trustee Karen Denne report on an Erie County Development Program that can assist homeowners of various income levels with necessary repairs. She will post eligibility requirements and have copies on hand at the village office for residents.