Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- The following is a summary of the Buffalo Common Council's meeting on June 28.
RESTRUCTURING TO 8 COUNCIL DISTRICTS AND RETURNING TO A CITYWIDE ELECTED COUNCIL PRESIDENT
The Council adopted a Resolution sponsored by Council Member Michael J. LoCurto requesting that the City Law Department provide the Council with a written opinion concerning the process and timeline that would need to be followed to reduce the total number of Council Districts to eight (8) and to return the position of President of the Council to an elected at-large, citywide four (4) year term of office. Currently, the Council is comprised of nine (9) council districts, each represented by a District Council Member who is elected to a four (4) year term of office by the district’s voters.
During the Council’s Biennial Reorganization Meeting, the Members choose from within their ranks, a President, who serves for a two (2) year term of office. This process would continue pending any legislative change by the Council that would also require citywide voter approval through a referendum. If passed at referendum, the changes could take effect during the 2015 City of Buffalo election cycle for elected terms of office beginning on January 1, 2016.
BI-ANNUAL MEETINGS OF CITY OF BUFFALO DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES WITH THE COMMON COUNCIL
The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Ellicott District Council Member Darius G. Pridgen requesting that all City of Buffalo departments and agencies appear before the Council on a bi-annual basis to discuss any pertinent changes, issues, and updates to their respective departments or agencies. The City of Buffalo is comprised of numerous departments and agencies that are responsible for the daily operations of the City. The Council, as the legislative branch of the City of Buffalo, has a duty to oversee these departments and protect the interests of City residents and business owners.
The Council maintains that in order to create a more efficient and transparent government for the City, it would be beneficial for City departments and agencies to meet with the Council twice during the year specifically to discuss key changes in the department or agency’s structure, the department’s duties and responsibilities, key personnel whom Council Members should be familiar with, challenges and opportunities currently facing the department or agency, and any other important information that Council Members should be aware of.
FIGHTING GRAFFITI IN THE CITY OF BUFFALO
The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Delaware District Council Member Michael J. LoCurto and co-sponsored by South District Council Member Michael P. Kearns banning the sale to minors, any items that could be used to vandalize public or private property, including aerosol spray paint cans, broad-tipped markers and etching acids. The vandalism at Delaware Park on May 21, 2011 left the park in need of thousands of dollars worth of repairs.
Graffiti is the most common type of property vandalism and accounts for approximately 35 percent of all property vandalism according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Graffiti decreases the quality of life in a neighborhood and can make more obvious, the presence of gangs and crime. Graffiti decreases property values, frightens away businesses from neighborhoods, and often invites more crime into an area. Recently, anti-graffiti legislation has been passed in cities such as New York City, Toronto and Niagara Falls, NY.
The Council maintains that severe punishment must be dealt to those who vandalize or destroy property with graffiti. The resolution calls for parents of minor children caught making graffiti or in possession of graffiti instruments, to be required to pay a fine of up to $250 and the costs associated with restitution payments to either the City or to the private property owners involved.
CITY OF BUFFALO POLICY REGARDING LED SIGNAGE
The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by North District Council Member Joseph Golombek, Jr. requesting the City of Buffalo’s Executive Director of the Office of Strategic Planning, the Acting Corporation Counsel, and the Commissioners of the Departments of Public Works (“DPW”) and Permits and Inspection Services, to work together to conduct a thorough review of the advantages and disadvantages of allowing Light Emitting Diode (“LED”) signage in the City.
In 2007, the Council requested DPW to study the feasibility of changing the City’s current lighting technology to LED bulbs, which are typically brighter, have a longer useful life, consume less energy, and are more cost efficient than traditional bulbs. For these reasons, businesses and commercial enterprises have increasingly looked to replace their traditional bulbs and lit signage with LED bulbs and signage. Although LED bulbs offers a number of advantages, the use of LED lighting in signage also has potential drawbacks including; distracting or blinding drivers, negatively impacting the quality of life in surrounding neighborhoods, and light pollution.
The Council maintains that a comprehensive review of the City of Buffalo’s laws, policies and procedures regarding use of LED signage is warranted at this time. The Council resolution also requested that the cited City Departments provide to the Council, suggestions for updating and strengthening where needed, the City’s laws, policies and procedures relating to the use of LED bulbs and signage.
NAME MULROY PARK PLAYGROUND AREA – GEORGE HERRMANN PLAYGROUND
Following a public hearing held June 28, the Council approved a resolution sponsored by South District Council Member Michael P. Kearns naming the Mulroy Park Playground area the “George Herrmann Playground”. The City of Buffalo parks and playgrounds have played a vital role in providing wholesome recreational and athletic activities for the City’s youth. The City’s playgrounds were made even more vital, vibrant and responsive to community needs because of recreation instructors like George Herrmann.
After the City acquired land along Tifft Street for a playground in 1928, Mulroy Park was dedicated in 1930 and named for South Buffalo resident John E. Mulroy. George Herrmann managed and maintained Mulroy Park playground in South Buffalo for more than a quarter century. Under George Herrmann’s steady hand, Mulroy Park captured an impressive string of seven consecutive citywide basketball championships. Beyond his coaching expertise, George Herrmann was a mentor, guiding hand, and a friend to thousands of young people in South Buffalo and he epitomizes the quality of individuals who toiled in Buffalo playgrounds in the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s.
BANNERS TO BE HUNG IN THE CITY OF BUFFALO
• The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Fillmore District Council Member David A. Franczyk giving permission to Buffalo Place to hang banners on Prime and Hanover Streets at the Erie Canal Harbor. The banners will celebrate the 25th year of Thursday in the Square and will be displayed from June 29, 2011 through August 29, 2011.
• The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by South District Council Member Michael P. Kearns giving permission to The Seneca Street Car Show Association to hang a banner across Seneca Street. The banner will promote the 3rd Annual South Buffalo Car Show and will be displayed from July 14, 2011 through August 14, 2011.
• The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Ellicott District Council Member Darius G. Pridgen giving permission to RPM Entertainment Productions to hang a banner in front of 64 West Chippewa Street. The banner will promote the 4th Annual Mercedes-Benz of Buffalo Fashion Week.
• The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by South District Council Member Michael P. Kearns giving permission to The National Garden Festival and the Western New York Nursery & Landscaping Association to hang an informational banner across Newman Place. The banner will promote the 1st Annual South Buffalo Front Yard Contest and will be displayed from July 11, 2011 through July 16, 2011.
SALE OF CITY OWNED PROPERTY
The Council approved the sale of the following City owned properties:
• Ellicott District
35 Tenth Street was sold to Ms. Tiffany Durilla for $2,400
• Fillmore District
56 and 58 Empire Street were sold to Mr. Ronald and Mrs. Amy Jones for $3,000
604, 610, and 616 North Division Street was sold to Harvest House for $4,500
• South District
1566 South Park Avenue was sold to Mr. Donald Smukall for $3,800
• The Council appointed the following individuals to positions within various District Common Council Offices:
Kelly Krug was appointed to the position of Legislative Aide in the South District Common Council Office.
Tashares Banks was appointed to the position of Assistant Legislative Aide in the Masten District Common Council Office.
• The Council appointed the following individual to a one year term commencing July 1, 2011 and ending on June 30, 2012 on the Rental Assistance Corporation (“RAC”) Board of Directors:
• The Council appointed the following individuals as Commissioner of Deeds for the term ending December 31, 2012:
Miguel Reyes Mariano
• The Council approved the appointment of the following individuals to a position within a City of Buffalo Department at a step above the base salary:
Department of Audit and Control
• Ronald Wachowski
• The Council accepted the appointment of the following individuals to positions within various City of Buffalo Departments at the base salary:
Office of the Mayor
• Abram Miller
Department of Administration, Finance, Policy & Urban Affairs
• Adrian Guadalupe
• Marilyn Fazio
Department of Public Works
Filtration Plant Maintenance Supervisor I
• Shaun McCleary
Laborer II – Seasonal
• Robert Palmer
• Timothy Connors
• James Wojcik
• James Francis
Water Service Worker – Seasonal
• Mark Romanini
LICENSE AND PERMIT APPROVALS
Upon the recommendation of the Department Permit & Inspection Services, the Council approved the following license and permit applications:
• Delaware District
Sidewalk Café License
Mel’s Tavern located at 1318 Hertel Avenue
Allegro Café located at 1607 Hertel Avenue
• Ellicott District
Permit to Erect a Free Standing Sign
B. Bernatovicz, agent of property located at 639 Michigan Avenue
Food Store License
Lin Asian Market located at 428 Niagara Street
• Masten District
Second Hand Dealer License
Dirt Cheap located at 301 East Utica Street
• Niagara District
Sidewalk Café License
EPIC located at 427 Elmwood Avenue
• North District
Permit for a Food Pantry
M. Guzowski, agent of property located at 357 Ontario Street
• University District
Permit for Placement of Three Storage Pods for Temporary Storage
T. Goodson, owner of the property located at 3223 Bailey Avenue
CLAIMS, CONTRACTS, CHANGE ORDERS & AGREEMENTS
• The Council approved the following contract change orders submitted by the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works (“DPW”):
The contract with Wendel Duchscherer, Architects & Engineers, P.C. for the Porter Avenue Resurfacing Project Phase I was increased by $80,200 for additional design, construction, and inspection services. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $1,142,294 and with this change the contract will increase to $1,222,494.
• Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Office of Strategic Planning (“OSP”), the Council:
Authorized OSP to change the City of Buffalo’s status, with respect to the New York State Assistance Contract, for the South Buffalo Brownfield Opportunity Area (“BOA”) Step 3 Implementation Strategy, from lead contractor to non-lead contractor, thereby allowing the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation (“BUDC”) to assume lead contractor status.
• Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Police (“BPD”), the Council:
Authorized BPD to accept $426,851 in funds from the Justice Assistance Grant (“JAG”) Program. The Police Department will distribute these funds to the City of Buffalo, County of Erie, and Town of Cheektowaga. The City of Buffalo’s JAG allocation of $391,295 will be used to help fund the Office of Citizen Services, enhancement of the City’s 311 Program, the Department of Community Services, Drug Court, and intervention and prevention programs.
• Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Community Services & Recreational Programming, the Council:
Authorized the Department of Community Services to enter into a contract with the Buffalo and Erie County Workforce Development Consortium, Inc. (“WDC”) to administer the payroll functions of the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program with assistance from the Workforce Corporation of Buffalo and Erie County (“WCBE”). The Department of Community Services will allocate up to $950,000 to WDC for the salaries of participating youth.
• Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Human Resources, the Council:
Authorized the Department of Human Resources to enter into a contract with First Niagara Risk Management for the administration of Medicare Mandatory Insurer Reporting services as required by the federal government. First Niagara Risk Management will report the City’s self-insured workers’ compensation medical, Police and Firefighters injured on duty, and general liability risks. This contract will consist of reporting all claims involving medical beneficiaries where ongoing responsibility for medical treatment exists. The contract will be effective immediately and will expire after a period of 36 months.
Authorized the Department of Human Resources to enter into a contract with Law Enforcement Psychological Associates to conduct and administer psychological assessments in conjunction with the entry-level Police Officer selection process. The contract will be awarded in the amount of $144,770 and will include the processing of 250 candidates for the psychological assessment.
• Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works (“DPW”), the Council:
Authorized DPW to purchase a new tire truck for use by the DPW tire room for the servicing and repair of tires on City vehicles. The tire truck currently in use is outdated and has outlived its usefulness. The cost of the new tire truck is expected not to exceed $60,000.
Authorized DPW to extend on a monthly basis beginning July 1, 2011 for a period of up to six months under the same terms and conditions, the contract between the City of Buffalo and Allied Waste Services for the curbside collection of recyclable goods and materials.
Authorized DPW to extend on a monthly basis beginning July 1, 2011 for a period of up to six months under the same terms and conditions, the contract between the City of Buffalo and Allied Waste Services for the sale and disposal of collected recyclables. Currently, the City receives $10 per ton from the sale of recyclable goods.
Authorized an agreement between the City of Buffalo and The Dominik Hasek Youth Hockey League, Inc., to provide professional ice rink management services for two City-owned ice rinks, the Timothy J. Burvid and Bud Bakewell Rinks.
Authorized an agreement between the City of Buffalo and the North Buffalo Bison Hockey Association, Inc., to provide professional ice rink management services for the City-owned Lafayette Ice Rink.
Authorized DPW to accept funds for grants awarded to and to be administered by the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy for various projects at City of Buffalo parks. The funds will be used for five City parks projects and total in the amount of $1,164,000.
• The Council approved the reports of bids from the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works for the following project:
The Cazenovia Park Casino HVAC Reconstruction Project. Of the bids that were received, D V Brown & Associates Inc. was the lowest with a bid of $103,000.
The City-Wide Sidewalk Replacement – 2011 Project. Of the bids that were received, Master’s Edge, Inc. was the lowest with a bid of $1,115,950.
The Crosswalk Marking – 2011 Project. Of the bids that were received, Accent Stripe was the lowest with a bid of $138,941.
The Resurfacing of City Pavements – 2011 Project. Of the bids that were received, Destro & Brothers Concrete Co., Inc. was the lowest with a bid of $3,186,177.
The Striping of City Pavements – 2011 Project. Of the bids that were received, Accent Stripe was the lowest with a bid of $142,065.