Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW release) -- The following is the summary of the Dec. 13 meeting of the Common Council of the City of Buffalo.
KEEPING BROADWAY POST OFFICE OPEN
The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Fillmore District Council Member David A. Franczyk calling upon the United States Postal Service (“USPS”) to keep the Post Office retail branch at 1035 Broadway open. Previously, the City of Buffalo Common Council protested the cutting of hours of the U.S. Post Office branch at 1035 Broadway, however, it has recently come to light that the USPS has once again proposed the possible closing of this retail office. Such a closing would strike yet another blow to the wider Broadway-Fillmore community, which has suffered from the loss of stores, churches, banks, services, and the closing of the Matt Gajewski Health Center at 1500 Broadway by the Erie County Executive. The Council is standing alongside the many civic-minded community groups that are working very hard to revitalize the Broadway-Fillmore area and is vigorously protesting the proposed closing of a very important community asset.
SUPPORT FOR THE REDUCTION OF AIR POLLUTION ON BUFFALO’S WEST SIDE
The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Council Members David A. Rivera and Darius G. Pridgen calling on the Public Bridge Authority (“PBA”) to incorporate the principles of environmental justice into any future plans for the Peace Bridge plaza and bridge expansion. The Peace Bridge is the nation’s third largest land port and about 5,000 diesel trucks and 20,000 cars pass over the Peace Bridge and through the west side of Buffalo every day. Diesel emissions have been classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) as a probable human carcinogen, and emissions from diesel exhaust can lead to serious health conditions, especially in vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly. A 2005 peer-reviewed study found that over 45 percent of households on the west side of Buffalo have someone with asthma or other respiratory illness. The Council maintains that it is committed to insuring a safe and healthy environment for residents throughout the City. The resolution is also encouraging collaboration among authorities regarding the distribution of truck traffic across the region’s three international bridges and is requesting that the Department of Environmental Conservation and EPA conduct continuous air monitoring on Buffalo’s lower west side; that truck stop electrification stations be included in any future plans for the Peace Bridge plaza and bridge expansion; that the PBA fund the development of green buffer zones and the planting of mature tree species known for their ability to capture pollutants; and that all other public agencies involved in modifications to the current Peace Bridge project provide meaningful opportunities for public involvement by the communities most impacted by the port.
SUPPORT OF THE GATEWAY TO GRANT STREET PROJECT
The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Niagara District Council Member David A. Rivera endorsing the Gateway to Grant Street Project. The State of New York sponsors a New York Main Street grant program to help revitalize communities through building renovations, cultural anchors, and streetscape enhancements. People United for Sustainable Housing (“PUSH”) received a Main Street grant program earlier this year and developed the Gateway to Grant Street Project as part of the program’s streetscape enhancements. The Gateway to Grant Street Project focuses on the intersection of Grant Street and Lafayette Avenue and will feature a paved community area for socializing and improvements to the existing Hope Garden next to Our Lady of Hope Church. In addition, a mural is also being planned at the Grant Street Neighborhood Center, which is located in a city-owned building at 271 Grant Street which is home to two non-profit organizations and a bustling after school drop-in center.
STATUS OF NFTA OWNED WATERFRONT PROPERTY
The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by South District Council Member Michael P. Kearns stating its commitment to identifying and evaluating all possible legal options for regaining control of the Outer Harbor and Fuhrman Boulevard lands which the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (“NFTA”) is currently in control of and looking to sell. On June 20, 2011, the NFTA formally notified the City that they would be seeking buyers for certain waterfront lands under their control including the Small Boat Harbor, Gallagher Beach and the Terminal A and Terminal B buildings. It is has been more than 50 years since the City of Buffalo controlled the destiny of its outer harbor and waterfront lands situated on Fuhrman Boulevard, which were conveyed by the City to the Niagara Frontier Port Authority, a legal precursor to the NFTA, in 1957. In 1982, the City of Buffalo, the NFTA and New York State Department of Transportation began collaborating on the creation of a post-industrial development plan for these sites. In 2004, a Settlement Agreement, signed between the NFTA and the City, contained language in which it was agreed that the NFTA would return outer harbor lands to the City should they no longer used as a port, as well as to support future NFTA Requests for Proposals to develop these waterfront lands. Since the signing of this Agreement, numerous proposals for developing these waterfront sites have been submitted to, and rejected by the NFTA. The NFTA has also failed to comply with certain terms and conditions of the Settlement, including the creation of an Outer Harbor Evaluation Team that was to include representatives of the Mayor and Common Council. Since the NFTA gained control of these waterfront lands, weeds, rodent populations and blight have grown immensely. The Council maintains that the City of Buffalo can no longer afford to have prime waterfront real-estate continue to sit idle, underutilized and unimproved. The Council is also requesting that the Office of Strategic Planning provide a written summary of the current status of the City of Buffalo Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (“LWRP”), including any existing impediments to immediate adoption of this plan by the Common Council, along with an explanation of how this LWRP will interact with the City’s current Comprehensive Plan, Brownfield Opportunity Area Plans (“BOAs”) and other existing and future planning documents.
EXPAND CITYWIDE ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION SYSTEM
The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Council Members Michael P. Kearns and Richard A. Fontana requesting that the City of Buffalo Department of Management Information Systems (“MIS”) provide the Council with a report outlining the types of electronic notification initiatives that are currently being used, implemented and designed by the City of Buffalo, their current status, and the actual or estimated cost to design, implement, and maintain each initiative. The world we live in is constantly evolving and the use of electronic communication mediums has grown throughout the years. While keeping up with these ever-evolving technologies can be challenging, the City must devote the time, energy, and resources to keep pace. The resolution request of MIS that they create a database of electronic contact information for employees, city residents, taxpayers and businesses to enable information to be distributed quickly and effectively when necessary. This initiative envisions that participants will be able to voluntarily enter and update their contact information using the City’s website and to select the topics on which they would like to receive notifications of. The Council maintains that the success of this initiative will directly correlate to the City’s ability to ensure that the information provided will only be used for its intended purpose and will not be sold or used for any other purposes. The Council will also appoint an individual to serve as a liaison between the Council and MIS for this initiative. This individual will serve as a point of contact for ideas, suggestions and recommendations made to the Council and will ensure that constituent needs are identified and addressed.
USER FEE QUESTIONS
The Council adopted a resolution requesting that the City of Buffalo Departments of Public Works, Law, Assessment & Taxation, Management Information Systems (“MIS”) and Administration & Finance, as well as any other City Department that is involved with the User Fee, work collaboratively to prepare and present an overview of the User Fee for an upcoming meeting of the Council in order to educate the viewing public on this issue. Although it has been a number of years since the City of Buffalo implemented the User Fee, Council Members continue to be contacted by constituents who do not understand how the User Fee works. Inquiries regarding the User Fee often concern such matters as how the fee was calculated; why a person has been charged a User Fee when the City has not collected garbage, rubbish or recycling materials on the property for which the fee is assessed; and other questions that have been difficult to answer. The Council maintains that it would be beneficial for City residents, taxpayers and those City Departments that are involved with the User Fee if there was a greater understanding of why the User Fee is necessary, how it is calculated, and how the process works.
ORDINANCE AMENDMENT – PARKS AND OTHER OPEN SPACES
The Council approved an ordinance amendment to Chapter 309, Section 25 of the Code of the City of Buffalo requiring that all parks, playgrounds and public school grounds be closed each night between sunset and sunrise the following morning with the exception of Cazenovia, Delaware, Front, Martin Luther King, Jr., Riverside and South Parks which will be closed each night between 10:00 p.m. and sunrise the next morning and LaSalle Park, Broderick Park, the foot of Ontario Street and the foot of Hertel Avenue, which will remain open 24 hours a day for fishing purposes.
WAIVER OF FEES
• The Council approved a resolution sponsored by North District Council Member Joseph Golombek, Jr. waiving any City of Buffalo fees associated with the Flames Across Niagara event that was held on Saturday, December 10, 2011 at Squaw Island Park.
SALE OF CITY OWNED PROPERTY
The Council approved the sale of the following City owned properties:
• Ellicott District
o 204 Landon Street was sold to Mrs. Glenda Brackett for $2,300
• Fillmore District
o 982 Fillmore Avenue was sold to Mrs. Roterun Miah for $2,000
o 328 Woltz Avenue was sold to Mr. S. M. Moslem Uddin for $1,400
• Masten District
o 830 Woodlawn Avenue was sold to Ms. Tia Harrison for $2,500
• The Council approved the appointment of the following individual to a position within a City of Buffalo Department at a step above the base salary:
o Department of Public Works
Chief Pumping Plant Engineer
• Andrew Moffett
• Jennifer Jacobs
• Jacqueline Barnett
Motor Equipment Mechanic
• Michael Alessi
• 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
Street Repair Supervisor I
• Brian Norman
Senior First Class Stationary Engineer
• Kevin McCarthy
• James Conrad
• Louis Carbone
• Lawrence Doctor, Jr.
• Dennis Schollard
• Timothy Devany
• Mark Blake
• Patrick Lonergan
• Jeffrey Vitali
• Diane Boyce
• Brian Kucharski
o Department of Police
Motor Equipment Mechanic
• Robert LaRusch
o Department of Community Services
• Jill White
• The Council accepted the appointment of the following individual to the position of Intern IX within the Office of the Mayor of the City of Buffalo at the base salary:
o Ebony Douglass
• The Council accepted the appointment of the following individual to the position of Laborer II - Seasonal within the Department of Public Works at the base salary:
o William Truitt
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 Restaurant Dance Class III License
Statler City, LLC located at 107 Delaware Avenue
o Permit to Install Retractable Awning and Sign Canopy
J. Kohler, agent of the property located at 708 Elmwood Avenue
• Fillmore District
o Used Car Dealer License
Erin’s Tires & Automotive located at 59 Stanislaus Street
• North District
o Food Store License
Family Dollar Stores of New York Inc. located at 1700 Kenmore 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”):
o The contract with South Buffalo Electric Inc. for the Repair of Streetlight Foundations and Knockdowns Project was increased by $64,465 for additional costs associated with the repair and re-erection of City streetlight poles. The City has experienced an inordinate number of streetlight pole knockdowns this calendar year and has exhausted all of the contracted for services. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $248,703 and with this change the contract will increase to $313,168.
o The contract with R.W. Painting, Inc. for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park Shelter Restoration Project was increased by $84,851 for additional works to be performed by the contractor. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $630,850 and with this change the contract will increase to $715,701.
o The contract with Yarussi Construction Inc. for the Porter Avenue Reconstruction Project – Phase II was increased by $144,439 for additional works to be performed by the contractor. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $1,885,329 and with this change the contract will increase to $2,029,768.
• Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Division of Citizen Services, the Council:
o Authorized the Commissioner of General Services to dispose of six vehicles currently assigned to Citizen Services which are damaged, obsolete, and irreparable. The vehicles have been determined to be unsafe and not road worthy and will be disposed of by means of salvage.
• Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Police (“BPD”), the Council:
o Authorized the BPD to dispose of one HP Design Jet 5000 printer. This printer was purchased almost 10 years ago for use in the City of Buffalo Police Crime Scene Unit and is no longer in working order. It has recently been replaced by a newer system.
o Authorized the Mayor to accept various grants awarded to the BPD by the United States, State of New York, and the County of Erie to assist with the personnel and equipment needs of the department as well as various City initiatives. The awarded grants are:
The New York State Motor Vehicle Theft/Insurance Fraud Prevention Grant
The Operation Impact VIII Grant
The Operation Protect Kids Grant
The 2011 Bullet Proof Vest Reimbursement Grant
The Governor’s Traffic Safety (Year 16) Grant
The Stop Driving While Intoxicated (“DWI”) Grant Program
The Operation Stonegarden 2009, 2010 Grant
The State Homeland Security Program Funding Grant; and
The Police Reimbursements Grant
• Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works (“DPW”), the Council:
o Authorized DPW to accept funds from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”) which will be administered by the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy. The funds will be used to update the Olmsted parks tree inventory, merge the Olmsted Parks tree inventory with the City of Buffalo tree inventory, and to apply preventative measures to ash trees to protect against emerald ash borers.
o Authorized DPW to purchase one telescopic articulating aerial lift truck and service body for the City of Buffalo Signal Repair Division for the sum of $120,000.