Village of Lancaster polling places decrease from seven to three, trustee disagrees
BY: Jennifer Lysiak, Lancaster Editor | January 24, 2013
LANCASTER- At the last Village of Lancaster Board meeting held Monday, Jan. 14, Village Trustee Edward Marki objected to two resolutions and disagreed with the board’s decision to cancel the meeting before the election.
Through a majority vote, the board passed a resolution identifying the polling places in each district, but changed the number of polling places for the general village election, which will be held Tuesday, March 19, from seven to three.
“Two months between the elections they changed the polling places,” remarked Marki, who voted no to the resolution. “They did that specifically so that people wouldn’t go and vote, because they don’t know where to vote.”
During a discussion with Village of Lancaster Mayor Paul Maute he commented the decrease in polling places is due to the fact they are very expensive to run and it will save village taxpayers money.
“It was the census of the board,” stated Maute. “How many polling places do you need in the Village of Lancaster? Why have seven polling places when we really only need three. After talking about it in work sessions that’s what we agreed to do.”
Maute added that since the meeting he has not received any complaints in regard to this change.
The polling places will be opened from noon. to 9 p.m. and depending upon a resident’s district they will be required to vote at either the Lancaster Youth Bureau, the Lancaster Municipal Building, or the Central Avenue School Building.
The polling places are as follows:
• Districts 1, 2, 3, and 7 – Municipal Building Assembly Hall, 5423 Broadway
• Districts 4, 5, and 6 – Lancaster Youth Bureau, 200 Oxford Ave.
• Districts 8, 9, and 10 – Central Avenue School, 149 Central Ave.
Marki explained that he is against using the Central Avenue School building as a polling place and believes the North End Fire Hall is the better choice.
“Here is the problem with Central Avenue School there are three-and four-year-old children who now have a building that is going to be completely wide opened, unlocked doors, unsupervised, and we decided that is okay,” said Marki. “The reason why I am bringing this up is the country wide environment that we are living in post Connecticut, as well as our New York State Gov. has passed legislation that is the strongest legislation in the entire country over gun control.”
There maybe people out there so upset about the current gun control issue that a public voting area would be a prime candidate to create an event, said Marki.
The Central Avenue School building has always been used as a polling place, even when it was a regular school, but Marki said his point is it is different now, because we live in a different environment right now.
“My point is that we have a fire hall which has no children,” commented Marki. “In the past the Central Avenue School district only held a small district of people, now it is holding three times the amount of people because they reduced the polling locations. So, not only is it a bad choice, but now it is triple times the bad choice.”
Maute said we can’t bring what happened in Connecticut to the Village of Lancaster and the Central Avenue site has been used before, specifically this past presidential election in November for six hours.
Also, he was informed by Det. Lt. James Robinson and Chief of Police Gerald J. Gill Jr. that they feel there are no safety concerns at all.
"With deference to the school district relative to activities in their buildings, the perspective of this office is that there are no compelling concerns with the continued use of Central Avenue School as a voting site," responded Chief Gill.
In regards to hosting a polling place at either the North End Fire Hall or the Lancaster Town Hall, Maute said there have been some issues with accessibly.
Another concern Marki has with the Central Avenue site is the handicap ramp is a 100 feet to the back of the building. So, now those who are handicap have to go 100 feet further, go in the building, and come back a 100 feet again just to vote, he said.
Marki also objected to hiring the band Breakaway to play on July 4, during the village’s Independence Days, instead of Hit N’ Run, which has been performing for the last few years on that specific day.
Marki said the board’s reasoning to change bands is because they want Hit N’ Run to play on the July 5 to pull in a bigger crowd on a non Fourth of July night, but they knew the band was booked at another venue.
“Hit N’ Run has offered to play in Clarence and East Aurora all for $1,500 or higher,” said Marki. “They were willingly to play for $849 in the Village of Lancaster. They’re suggesting they did because it is saving the taxpayers money, but unfortunately they don’t mention the fact that the band that they put in place on the Fourth called Breakaway is now being paid $850. They have never been paid over $600 and I have invoices to prove it.”
Village of Lancaster Special Events Director Jennie Smith said they asked Hit N’ Run to play on July 5 and during the Taste of Lancaster, but they are unable to do so, and they were only available was for July 4, however she already had a contract agreement with Breakaway.
“I applaud the mayor for wanting to change it up and that’s one of the reasons why we are doing a country night, something we have never done before,” remarked Smith.
The country night will be held July 3 and feature the band West of the Mark.
Smith who is running for a position on the village board this election could be leaving her position as director and waiting for the next director to come in and book all these bands would just be” mismanagement,” she said.
“If you wait too long you’re not going to have any of the bands,” said Smith. “They book up earlier. This is the time. The workings of the events department have to continue on all year round.”
Also, during the meeting the board motioned to cancel the board meeting before the village election on Monday, March 11 due to lack of a forum.
Marki said all these changes were discussed at a pre-board meeting held the Saturday before the Monday evening meeting, which he was not invited too.
“You cannot hold a meeting and not notify the elected official,” said Marki. “These residents elected these people so they could be a part of the decision making process, especially on huge decisions like this. These people are campaigning together, meeting together, and they’re not involving me on purpose.”
Marki who is running for re-election this year did not receive support from the Citizen’s Party and is running independently during the village elections. His party is called Integrity of Choice.
Maute said the last thing he wants is any controversy and work sessions have always been held at 9 a.m. every Saturday and nothing has changed.
“He has been invited to every meeting,” said Maute. “He missed the work session. I think a lot of these issues he is creating because he wasn’t endorsed. We didn’t keep him out of the loop. There’s no way we did anything behind the scenes. I would never do that to any trustee, ever. We didn’t do anything behind his back.”
However, Maute said in the future he plans on having meeting notices sent out to every trustee to make sure each member understands when meetings are being held.
“I’m new at this position and I don’t want to be accused of doing anything behind the scenes. I keep everything out in the open,” remarked Maute.
The next Village of Lancaster Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 28, in the Municipal Building Council Chambers, 5423 Broadway, in Lancaster.