(WKBW release) The following is the summary of the Feb. 21 meeting of the Buffalo Common Council.
OVERRIDE OF MAYORAL VETO – The Council overrode a veto message from the Mayor of the City of Buffalo in regards to the amendment to Chapter 175 of the City Code setting rink rates for use of City-owned ice rinks.
RECORDS RETENTION AND DISPOSITION – The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by South District Council Member Michael P. Kearns directing the City of Buffalo Division of Telecommunications to define their records retention schedule for the safekeeping of all taped public meetings, to keep on file video copies of all Common Council regular and committee meetings, and to send video copies of all Common Council regular and committee meetings to the Office of the City Clerk within 10 days of such meeting being held. The resolution also directs that the City of Buffalo Department of Law to give its opinion in regards to record retention requirements for all City of Buffalo taped proceedings. The Council maintains that it is imperative that all meetings conducted within the Common Council Chambers are taped, made available to all City residents, and preserved as permanent record. The Council further maintains that the public should have access to the records of the City as freely as possible in an effort to conserve transparency.
LICENSING OF PROPERTY MANAGERS – The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by South District Council Member Michael P. Kearns and Delaware District Council Member Michael J. LoCurto declaring the management of residential properties to be a business which impacts the public health, safety and general welfare of the people of the City of Buffalo and requiring the licensing of property managers who do business within the City. Many City of Buffalo neighborhoods are struggling with declining home values, rates of owner occupancy, and a lower quality of life for residents as a result of issues attributable to problem properties. When problem property complaints are investigated for code violations associated with garbage, junk, high grass, vermin, chipping paint, broken windows and other issues, it is frequently discovered that the properties in question are owned by out-of-town landlords, banks, or other for-profit legal entities. Although property managers play a critical role in ensuring that rental properties are repaired and maintained in compliance with City Code requirements, up until now there has been no regulation or licensing of property managers who do business in the City of Buffalo nor compulsion for out-of-town property owners to designate a property manager. The Council maintains that establishing standards for property management and licensing those whom perform this type of work will assist out-of-town property owners with identifying and retaining reputable managers, thus increasing the likelihood that their properties will be properly maintained and repaired. The Council has amended Chapter 175 of the City Code to establish a $75 fee for obtaining a Property Manager License.
SALE OF VACANT/ABANDONED PROPERTY BELOW MARKET VALUE – The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Majority Leader and Masten District Council Member Demone A. Smith and Ellicott District Council Member Darius G. Pridgen requesting that the State of New York allow the City of Buffalo to sell properties, that will be used for rehabilitation purposes within a specified period or which are involved in a neighborhood improvement project, at below the market rate. The City of Buffalo’s number of vacant and abandoned houses ranks only second to St. Louis on the list of American cities with the most vacant properties per capita. Un-kept or vacant properties often attract criminals, illegal activity, and rodents and become a general eyesore in the community that drives down property values. The New York State Senate has pending legislation before it which would permit the New York State Canal Corporation to make sales of real property for less than the Fair Market Value when such sale or lease is in the public interest. The Council maintains that by granting the City of Buffalo similar powers to sell properties at below fair market value, residents will be more inclined to purchase and maintain them.
FORECLOSURE NOTIFICATION – The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by South District Council Member Michael P. Kearns requesting that the City of Buffalo Department of Law draft legislation to amend section 341-13 of the City Code in order to require that all notices which currently must be provided to the Department of Permit and Inspection Services, must additionally be filed with the City Clerk. This requirement would extend to all financial institutions which have commenced a foreclosure process on a vacant property. In 2011, the City of Buffalo accounted for the majority of lis pendens foreclosure notifications that were issued in Erie County. The City of Buffalo has the third highest percentage of vacant housing in the nation and Common Council notification of pending foreclosures will allow Council Members to take a more active role in keeping people in their homes and ensuring that homes which become vacant are adequately maintained.
TRAILBLAZING SIGNS—The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by South District Council Member Michael P. Kearns approving the installation of trailblazing signs in honor of Father Nelson Baker, along South Park Avenue from Main Street to the Our Lady of Victory Basilica at the City Line. Father Nelson Baker was a City of Buffalo Roman Catholic priest in the late 19th to early 20th century whose tireless work ethic, faith, integrity and devotion to others continues to set an example for all.
BANNERS TO BE HUNG IN THE CITY OF BUFFALO
• The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Fillmore District Council Member David A. Franczyk and South District Council Member Michael P. Kearns giving permission to the Valley Community Center to hang flags along the route of the Old Neighborhood St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The banners will be installed on March 8, 2012 and will stay up until March 24, 2012.
COUNCIL APPROVES CAPITAL BOND RESOLUTIONS – The Council approved numerous Capital Improvement Program Bond Resolutions in conjunction with the 2012 Capital Improvement Program Budget that was adopted during December 2011. The Council’s action will enable the City Comptroller to sell bonds for citywide Capital Improvement Projects approximating $22 million for City projects, and $5 million for Buffalo Board of Education projects, for a total of approximately $27 million.
The Council approved funding for the following projects:
City of Buffalo Projects
• Albemarle Street Streetscape Improvements - $185,760
• Allendale Theater Improvements - $15,000
• Allen Street Infrastructure Improvements - $100,000
• Bedford Median Reconstruction - $304,950
• Bridge Rehabilitation- Various - $500,000
• Buffalo River Access Improvements - $75,000
• City Court Prisoner Lock-up - $267,500
• City Owned Building Improvements- Various - $2,720,597
• Citywide Parks Infrastructure Improvements - $1,337,500
• Citywide Tree Removals & Plantings - $642,000
• Clinton Street Streetscape Improvements - $400,000
• Command Vehicles Purchase - $128,400
• Downtown Ball Park Improvements - $750,000
• Demolitions Citywide - $2,700,000
• Fillmore Streetscape Improvements - $74,900
• Fire Station Rehabilitation- Various - $300,000
• Hatch Restaurant Additions & Alterations - $406,065
• Hertel Avenue Streetscape Improvements - $50,000
• Improvements to City-owned Libraries - $214,000
• Infrastructure Improvements- Citywide - $5,000,000
• Infrastructure Improvements – North Council District - $50,000
• Masten District Infrastructure Improvements - $350,000
• JFK Community Center – Façade Improvements - $100,000
• Marcy Casino Reconstruction - $200,000
• Michigan & Jefferson Archway - $150,000
• Mulroy Park Facility Construction - $400,000
• Museum of Science Heat Pump Replacement - $45,428
• Museum of Science HVAC - $74,900
• Parkside Community Traffic Study - $100,000
• Pearl Street Conversion & Chippewa Avenue Streetscape - $1,500,000
• Buffalo Zoo – Polar Bear Exhibit - $535,000
• Police Headquarters & Precinct Renovation - $450,000
• Public Art Restoration/Conservation - $270,000
• Returning Cars to Main Street - $428,000
• Richmond Street Lighting - $100,000
• Street Vehicle – Purchase - $1,000,000
• Niagara Council District Infrastructure Improvements - $75,000
Buffalo Board of Education Projects
• Computers & Technology – Various Schools - $1,200,000
• General Reconstruction – Various Schools - $2,700,000
• Mechanical/Electrical Reconstruction – Various Schools - $1,100,000
• Upon the recommendation of the Mayor of the City of Buffalo, the Council accepted the appointment of the following individual to the City of Buffalo Zoning Board of Appeals:
o William Grillo
• The Council appointed the following individual as a marriage officer within the City of Buffalo:
o Timothy A. Ball
• The Council approved the appointment of the following individuals within various City of Buffalo Departments at a step above the base salary:
o Department of Public Works
Chief Pumping Plant Engineer
• David Fatig
• Gregory Leonard
o Department of Police
• Daniel Ahearn
• Caryn Anderson
• Michael Anderson
• Patrick Baker
• Joseph Bonner
• Marquest Castillo
• Christina Colosimo
• Nicholas Conrad
• Joshua Craig
• Scott Culver
• Robert Danner
• Anthony Fanara
• Lon Folts
• Karin Franco
• Michael Haas
• Joshua Heidinger
• Richard Hy
• Vincent Judge
• Hiba Khalil
• Eileen Kline
• Lindsay Laracuente-Zgoda
• Ismail Lewis
• Nathan Maryanski
• Benjamin McDonald
• Darren McDuffie
• James McMahon
• Nicholas Militello
• Charles Miller
• Johnmichael Mulderig
• Donald Myers
• Peter Nguyen
• Joseph Nigro
• Garrett O’Neill
• Patrick Overdorf
• Timothy Perrott
• Nicholas Poblocki
• Kevin Quinn
• Erin Reid
• Paul Rudnicki
• David Santana
• Michael Scheu
• Jaime Serrano-Cardona
• Anniel Vidal
• Andrew Whileford
• The Council accepted the appointment of the following individuals to positions within various City of Buffalo Departments at the base salary:
o Department of Public Works
• Andre Brown
• Dorothy Wells
• William Then
• Lynda Barnes
Animal Shelter Attendant
• Jennifer Falt
o Department of Police
Civilian School Crossing Guard (TSAR)
• David Evans
• The Council approved the appointment of the following individual to the position of Intern within the Office of the City Clerk:
o David Hensley
• The Council accepted the appointment of the following individual to the seasonal position of Laborer II within the City of Buffalo Department of Parking:
o Donald Kane, Jr.
SALE OF CITY OWNED PROPERTY—The Council approved transactions relating to the following City owned properties:
• Fillmore District
o 1346 Sycamore Street was sold to Madonna of the Streets, Inc. for $2,800
• Masten District
o The sale of 21 Wade Avenue to Mr. Aaron Young was rescinded and the deposit was forfeited.
• Niagara District
o 151 Massachusetts Avenue was sold to Mrs. Hien Thi Hoang for $2,600
• North District
o 100 Bradley Street was sold to Mr. Brandon-Jon Lauer for $3,000
LICENSE AND PERMIT APPROVALS—Upon the recommendation of the Department Permit & Inspection Services, the Council approved the following license and permit applications:
• Delaware District
o Second Hand Dealer License
Essential Home Décor located at 323 Tacoma Avenue
• Fillmore District
o Food Store License
1 Stop Grocery located at 754 Sycamore Street
• Niagara District
o Food Store License
Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile located at 423 Elmwood Avenue
Fast Link Inc. located at 478 Elmwood Avenue
• South District
o Food Store License
Dollar General located at 2137 Seneca Street
CLAIMS, CONTRACTS, CHANGE ORDERS & AGREEMENTS
• The Council approved the following contract change orders submitted by the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works (“DPW”):
o The contract with DiDonato Associates for the Cars on Main Street – 600 Block Project was increased by $263,237 to complete revisions to the final plan, specification, and estimate (“PS&E”) documents for the project and to begin preliminary design for the 500 Block of Main Street. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $1,475,560 and with this change the contract will increase to $1,738,797.
o The contract with Wilsandra Construction for the City Court Basement Detention Center Project was increased by $14,369 for additional work necessary to complete the project. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $1,364,000 and with this and prior changes the contract will increase to $1,399,010.
• Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Community Services, the Council:
o Authorized the Division for Youth to accept a grant in the amount of $23,356 from the New York State Department of Criminal Justices Services to fund the City of Buffalo Girls Circle Program.
• Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Human Resources (“HR”), the Council:
o Authorized HR to enter into a contract with First Niagara Risk Management, Inc. for the administration of City of Buffalo Worker’s Compensation benefits.
• Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Fire, the Council:
o Authorized the Department of Fire to increase the contract for the Motorola Radio Project by an additional $140,305 to add the Department of Public Works onto the project as part of a Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) mandate. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $2,996,948 and with this change will increase to $3,137,253.
• Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works (“DPW”), the Council:
o Authorized DPW to enter into an agreement with the New York State Industries for the Disabled, Inc. (“NYSID”) for the cleaning and janitorial services located at the Buffalo City Court. The first year of the agreement will run through June 30, 2012 and will cost $344,846 or approximately $28,737 per month.
o Authorized DPW to hire a consultant for the emergency engineering services required for the Kleinhans Musical Hall Exterior Wall and Brick Movement Project. Recently, brick movement and movement of the exterior wall were noticed that could pose a hazard to the safety of the building and its inhabitants.
o Authorized DPW to hire an engineering consultant for various city-wide engineering services. The consultant will be used to continue to provide support for traffic related issues, assist with the acquisition and implementation of federal funds for traffic improvements, provide design services to assist DPW with the implementation of traffic improvements, and provide construction management and inspection services to assist DPW with the implementation of the 2012 construction program.
o Authorized DPW to enter into agreements with Gardenville Landscape & Nursery, Inc. and Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps, Inc. for maintenance of City parkways, medians, circles, and triangles. Gardenville Landscape & Nursery, Inc. received the contract for the Outer Harbor Proposal Group for a total of $171,170 per year and Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps, Inc. received the contract for the Alternate Proposal Groups for a to5:39 PM 2/21/2012tal of $74,000 per year.
o Authorized DPW to dispose of an S 608 1999 Freightliner tractor damaged from rollover last year. The vehicle is in disrepair and is no longer of use to the City.
o Authorized DPW to transfer two vehicles, a 2000 Dodge Pickup Truck and 2003 Chevy Pickup Truck, to the Police Athletic League of Buffalo. DPW was also authorized to sell or scrap a 2002 Dodge Pickup Truck that is no longer of use to the City.
• Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works, the Council approved the following reports of bids:
o Of the bids that were received for the 2012 Block Pruning Citywide Project, Scott Lawn Yard, Inc. was the lowest with a bid of $337,750.
o Of the bids that were received for the Hopkins Street Bridge Super Structure Replacement Project, Paul J. Gallo Contractors, Inc. was the lowest with a bid of $503,088.