David Winter offers apology to the North Collins Town Board
BY: Larry Wroblewski | December 19, 2012
Before North Collins Town Board members had a chance to talk, Highway Superintendent David Winter began to apologize for not following procedures. The first item raised at the Dec. 12 meeting was Winter’s obtaining, planting and soliciting donations for trees now in the town’s parks. Winter apologized for not coming to the board for approval for the project but saw an opportunity to obtain trees and get them in the ground before the winter weather hits. Additionally, he had sent out solicitations for $200 per tree to a select group in hopes of completing the project at no cost to the town.
Supervisor Rosaline Seege, while stating she was not against the project, was upset that Winter had gone beyond town policy in not bringing a project over $700 to the board, as well as not seeking any input on the placement of the trees. “You just can’t install or remove things from a town park without board approval,” she said. Councilman George LoBianco, also upset, said he had received phone calls on the matter but was in the dark on the project. He motioned to table discussion on it until the January meeting in light of Councilmen Jeffrey Krauss and Michael Perry not in attendance.
A second issue revolved around work performed at the Lawtons Volunteer Fire Company parking lot by town personnel and with town equipment. The fire company had informed Winter of persistent flooding and deterioration of its parking area. He developed a strategy for placement of drain tile and when they fire company was able to obtain millings, Winter had his crew grade and roll the lot. He also dug and installed the drain tile which has alleviated the flooding. Winter noted that the town also benefitted as the topsoil removed from the project was used to fill in low spots in Fricano Park.
LoBianco was again upset by the lack of notice. “I’m all for helping the fire company if we can. I would have approved the project but the board should have been notified. You did it without board approval.” LoBianco continued, “what if one of the workers had been injured on site? Isn’t the fire company private property?”
Winter replied that he should have brought the matter to the board, but was trying to beat the winter weather. He claimed that at no time was the town exposed to liability since he was directly on site and supervising.
Town Attorney Richard Schaus confirmed that the fire company is private property and that State law prohibits municipalities from donating goods or services to private individuals.
To meet the requirements, LoBianco moved to accept the exchange of the top soil in return for the work performed.
Winter also reported that a recent inspection by the State Labor Department found numerous violations, including electrical issues in several town buildings. He is waiting for a list of the violations to begin addressing them. The inspection will also force the town to remove two lawn tractors from service as they lack sufficient roll-over protection. Winter would like to purchase a new lawn mower for slope cutting and also a road-edge mower. Seege had also received communication about the violations, some of which involved dead batteries in emergency lights and materials blocking exit doors.
The Board approved sale of a stainless steel salt/sand spreader box to the Town of Orchard Park for the approximately $11,000 North Collins paid for it last year. Winter explained that he had acquired a similar used box and with $500 in materials it can meet the town’s needs. He also asked the board to earmark the sale proceeds towards the planned purchase of a larger box next year.
The Board also approved an agreement to give approximately $1,000 in surplus highway department equipment to the Village of North Collins. The value would cover the contractual five-year agreement between the Town and Village for sidewalk plowing along Rt. 62 to Fricano Park at $200 per year. The Village has approved the exchange as well.
The Board set January 2 as its Reorganizational Meeting and January 9 as its regular meeting date.
Code Enforcement Officer Phil Tremblay presented his year end report of construction activity in town showing 47 permits issued for various projects. He also suggested the board review is fine structure concerning structures erected without permits. The board agreed to examine the fees as well as others at its January meeting.
Tremblay also noted that the Zoning Board of Appeals was about to hear a petition and was in need of one or two alternate members to ensure a quorum. A canvass of the audience found Karen Ricotta and Eric Witt volunteering and both were approved by the board. Paris Bottoni was also reappointed to the Board of Assessment Review.
A reciprocal plowing agreement with the Town of Eden was approved. In it, North Collins will plow Clarksburg Rd., while Eden crews will plow the lower section of Belcher and Rocky Mountain Rds.
Recreation Director Rozalin Warren reported that the just ended yoga program will resume in January for 10 weeks. Plans are underway to make the high school walking track available to the public in the early mornings and afternoons. Over 70 responses were received from parents at the elementary school who would welcome some type of after-school program organized. She will meet with the School Superintendent to examine options. Warren also said the recent theatrical program was enjoyed and the group will meet January 17 to plan another effort and recruit additional actors.
Russ Judson of the North Collins Fire Company, asked for and received permission to hold a fund-raising “golf ball drop” at a Fricano Park ball diamond on June 8. Judson will work with Winter to ensure that no damage is caused to the field.