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Town Board News - 2016

Previous Town Board News Pages

Town of Grand Island Website

Town Board Meeting Agenda - December 2016

    Tuesday, January 3, 2017 - Agenda Packet 1-3-17

Town Board Action - December 2016

Disposition 12-19-16
   A public hearing regarding Solar Facilities was left open and referred to the Planning, Zoning, & Conservation Boards and to the Economic Development Advisory Board. Four residents spoke in favor of the law. A public hearing for a special use permit at 2769 Grand Island Blvd. for a Retail Motor Vehicle Dealership, was referred back to the Town Board for further review.

   The Highway Department announced the hiring of Steve Dickinson as a full time laborer, replacing a transfered employee. The Town Board approved the hiring of Dave Cole as a full time Parks Maintenance worker.

   The Town installed a sidewalk at 905 Baseline Road. The Town Board approved the $3136 charge to be added to the owner's tax bill and paid over five years at $627.20 per year. Bryce Shipman spoke in favor of Tourist Homes.

Town Board Action - December 2016

Disposition 12-5-16
   Due to a substantial increase in the number of delinquent dog licenses, the Town Board voted to approve a late fee of $10 to be placed on each license, 30 days after the renewal date has passed. The Town Board set a public hearing for December 19th for the proposed Solar Law.

    Council member Mike Madigan brought up questions regarding the Broadband $10,000 Feasibility Study. That motion was passed on November 28, 2016 and a contract was signed. Madigan also had placed the West River Greenway Connector Trail update on the agenda. Supervisor Nathan McMurray read a letter from NYS Parks WNY Director Mark Thomas dated December 5th, stating no other option but the closing of West River Parkway is under consideration for the West River multi use trail. See letter here. Madigan said he was dissapointed Thomas did not notify him of his plans and also that a promised safety impact assessment hadn't been sent.

    Town Assessor Judy Tafelski requested permission to appoint William Gworek, Jr. and Pete Marston to the Board of Assessment Review. The request was tabled as the Board would like to interview the candidates.

    In other business the Town Board:
•A resolution was approved by all to establish a capital reserve fund to finance the cost of upgrades to the Town's information technology equipment.
•Parks Crew Chief Thomas Dworak received permission to hire Natalie Grunzweig as a full time recreation attendant for the Parks Department. Start date will be December 21, 2016.
• Approved the renewal of a home occupation-graphic design studio at 977 Ransom Road.
•A public hearing will be held on December 19th for a motor vehicle dealership at 2769 Grand Island Blvd.
•Approved a request by Golden Age Center Department Head Barbara Gannon to carry over vacation time to 2017.

Town Board Meeting Agenda - December 2016

    Monday, December 5, 2016 - Agenda Packet 12-5-16

Town Board Action - November 2016

Disposition 11-21-16
   In the Public Comments portion at the beginning of the Town Board meeting, over 30 residents spoke on their views of: trapping (four against on public lands), tourist homes (two against) and the remainder on the closing of the West River Parkway for a multi-use path. Of the 25 speaking on that subject, it was about 50-50 for and against closing the parkway.

   Councilman Mike Madigan rescinded the five motions he had placed on the night's agenda regarding the West River Trail/Bike Path, after having a "constructive meeting" with NYS Parks WNY Director Mark Thomas, Supervisor McMurray and other NYS representatives that morning. Madigan stated a comprehensive review of Option 4 will take place before any decisions are made.

    A recommendation by the Planning Board to retain Local Law #9 from 2015 regarding tourist homes was referred back to the Town Board for discussion. The Planning Board is not in favor of the establishment of a tourist Home Oversight Committee "because adequate enforcement is already in place within the Town through Code Enforcement." See Local Law #9.

    In other business the Town Board:
•Approved Change Order No. 1 Ė Bituminous Resurfacing of Various Town Roads in the amount of $25,420 for expansion and resurfacing of the upper Town Hall lot.
•Two resolutions regarding paying for sidewalk installation at 905 Baseline and 1993 Marjorie by taxes, have been tabled for further discussion.
•Review of a Trapping permit application has been tabled for further review of the public lands listed in the application.

Town Board Meeting Agenda - November 2016

    Monday, November 21, 2016

Town Board Action - November 2016

From left: Council members Chris Aronica, Ray Billica, Huth Road Principal Kerri Nowak and PTA President Jen Walowitz, Supervisor Nathan McMurray, Council members Bev Kinney & Mike Madigan.

   The Town Board announced a proclamation honoring Huth Road Elementary School and PTA for being recognized as a School of Excellence. As a National PTA School of Excellence, families at Huth Road feel welcomed and empowered to support student success, and PTA is a Key Partner for continuous school improvement. On hand to accept the proclamation were Principal Kerri Nowak and PTA President Jen Walowitz.
    A second proclamation was made to designate Saturday, November 26th at Small Business Saturday, and urges all residents to support local businesses.

   A public hearing regarding the 2017 Town of Grand Island Preliminary Budget had Barbara Gannon of the Golden Age Center speaking on behalf of Recreation Supervisor Joe Mentor and herself, asking to be moved to a higher grade level/pay level. They have absorbed many more duties after the retirement of the last Recreation Director in May of 2011.

   Councilman Mike Madigan updated the Board and public of the West River Greenway Town Board meeting to take place on Wednesday, November 9th at the Grand Island High School auditorium at 6:00 p.m.

   Special Use Permit renewals were approved for; WNY Towing by Marty's, National Fuel Gas Metering Station, 4 Agricultural Animals (Jennifer Tirone, 993 Whitehave), Vehicle Repair Service (Jeffrey Matthews, 1980 Baseline), Upstate Cellular Tower Permit (1639 West River), One Agricultural Animal (John Ventry, 3440 Stony Point Rd.)    Town Code Enforcement Officer Doug Learman spoke at the Public Comments session regarding personal attacks in social media and on radio regarding his performance.

    In other business the Town Board:
•Tabled the review of a trapping permit application until input from the Conservation Advisory Board and further discussion by the Town Board.
•Approved the request by Highway Superintendent James Tomkins to put five items of equipment up for auction.
•Approved the transfer of John Podlucky from Highway to Wastewater Department Laborer.
•Approved delinquent water and sewer accounts be added to the 2017 Taxroll.
•Approved the rejection of all bids for a Veterans Park Pavilion as all are over budget.
•Approved the signing of a professional service agreement for Water System Capital Improvement with Wendel.

Town Board Meeting - November 2016

    Agenda 11-7-16

Town Board Action - October 2016

    Disposition 10-17-16
   The Town Board approved a bond resolution to improve Facilities of the Consolidated Sewer District and the creation of a new lighting district (#64) for Country Club Cottages Phase II.
   The Board unanimously approved a resolution to apply for a Erie County Community Development Block Grant for the construction of a handicapped-accessible elevator at Town Hall and the purchase of a Senior Van for the Golden Age Center.
   Councilman Mike Madigan went over numbers from the October 6th meeting on West River Trail Bike Path Options. See public record summary here.
   The Planning Board tabled making a reconmmendation regarding Local Law Into #7 (Tourist Homes), after holding a special public hearing on October 11, 2016. The next Planning Board meeting is on November 14, 2016.

    In other business the Town Board:
•Approved the Public Improvement Permit for 19 lots of Phase I, in the Gun Creek subdivision, located on Whitehaven Road.
•Preliminary Plat was approved for a small subdivision to be located at Love Road and Alt Boulevard.
•Accepted the resignation of GAC recreation attendant Adam Gennuso and the hiring of Erin Monnett for a full-time recreation attendant position.
•Okayed Elderwood at Grand Island expansion plans after receiving Erie County Department of Health approval for the construction of a sewer connection to serve three senior apartment buildings.

Town Board Meeting- October 2016

   Agenda 10-17-16

Town Board Action
Town Board Meeting Discusses Options - October 2016

    A special Town Board meeting took place on Thursday, October 6th to discuss options 4 & 5 of the West River Bike Path project. In attendence were Town Board members Beverly Kinney, Ray Billica, Chris Aronica and Mike Madigan. Moderator was Deputy Supervisor Jim Sharpe as Supervisor Nate McMurray was absent. The meeting began with an overview of the options and then a public comment period. Over 250 residents were in the audience at the Grand Island High School Auditorium. The event was filmed for a video to be sent to the New York State Parks Department, as a matter of public record.

Town Board Action - October 2016

By Jodi Robinson
   Monday, October 3, 2016 . . .
   The most important and saddest news of the night was Bev Kinney announced she has an unspecified, stage 1, treatable cancer, and will be starting an aggressive treatment soon. She stated she will not be stepping down and will attend meetings when feeling up to it.

   The public comment period began with half a dozen opponents of closing the parkway, a couple of tourist home opponents and one tourist home owner. It got loud and angry at times, with two residents requesting Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray to step down.

    Councilman Mike Madigan brought up a charge of "Breach in New York State Open Meeting Law by Town Board Members". A Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting occurred on August 22, 2016, at which a letter in favor of the closing of the West River Parkway to be used as a bike path was introduced and endorsed. The breach occurred by the attendance of Supervisor McMurray and Councilwoman Bev Kinney at the meeting, along with Chris Aronica, Parks Town Board Liaison, and the deliberation and discussion of a subject. When a majority of the board is in attendence it can be considered a public Town Board meeting and should be given public notice. A motion was made to notify New York State that the letter sent should not be recognized as the purpose of an advisory board is to advise, not take it upon themselves to publish an opinion. A vote of 3-2 approved this motion, McMurray and Kinney against. During the discussion, McMurray stated the removal of Aronica from the Parks & Rec board at the request of an un-named Parks & Rec board member.

    The second motion brought up by Madigan was for another breach of meeting laws regarding McMurray misrepresenting the Town with New York State, giving the state the impression that they had strong support of the Town in the closing of West River Parkway. The motion is to appoint two members of board initiate an investigation into ethical or legal breaches in the past, during the month of October, for public review on November 7th. A vote of 3-2 approved this motion, McMurray and Kinney against.

The second motion brought up by Madigan was for another breach of meeting laws regarding McMurray misrepresenting the Town with New York State, giving the state the impression that they had strong support of the Town in the closing of West River Parkway. The motion is to appoint two members of board initiate an investigation into ethical or legal breaches in the past, during the month of October, for public review on November 7th. A vote of 3-2 approved this motion, McMurray and Kinney against.
    Another motion was made by Madigan to send to NYS Parks, a transcript of May 2nd workshop meeting regarding closure of West River Parkway and let them know the Town Board was not behind the closure. A vote of 3-2 approved this motion, McMurray and Kinney against. Another motion was made to draft a local law to remove the power of the supervisor to appoint Town Advisory Boards liaisons. Instead the entire Town Board equally would make the decision. A referendum is needed and would not take place until next fall. Approved 3-2, McMurray and Kinney against. Mike Madigan will abstain from voting on Tourist Homes in the future.

    In other business the Town Board:
•Approved a subdivision of property for a proposed solar park was approved for a lot that will be entered by Industrial Drive.
•Approved new draft document retention policy was approved.
•Approved setting a public hearing for October 17 for a bond resolution to increase and improve sewer facilities.
•Approved creating a new lighting district for Country Club Cottages Phase II
•Approved signing an agreement with NYS for Phases 1-1A for Scenic Woods/Bicentennial Park. See plan.
•Approved the moving of Parks Senior worker Joseph Killian from PT to Seasonal 40 hours effective Oct. 4, 2016.
•Approved renewal of a special use permit for a convenience store, 2024 Grand Island Blvd.
•Approved signing a grant application for equipment for the Town Court offices.

Supervisor's Letter - September 2016

Island Business.

Town Board Action
Proclamations Honoring Crop Walk & Heros - September 2016

CROP Walk Proclamation, from left: Council members Chris Aronica, Ray Billica, Tom Witkowski, Supervisor Nathan McMurray, Cathy Rieley-Goddard, Council member Mike Madigan.

By Jodi Robinson
   Monday, September 19, 2016 . . .
   Councilperson Beverly Kinney was absent due to illness.
    A proclamation was presented to the CROP (Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty) Walk representatives at Monday nights meeting. This will be the 29th annual walk held at Beaver Island State Park on Sunday, October 2nd at 2:00 p.m. Everyone is encouraged to attend. 25% of the money raised is returned to the WNY community.
   Certificates of appreciation were awarded to Sheriff Officer Jason Clark and citizen Peter O'Brien, both involved in the attack on Officer Clark on August 24, 2016. Mr. O'Brien disrupted the attack, saving Officer Clark from certain harm. Neither Clark or O'Brien were in attendance due to privacy concerns.

   A public hearing on Tourist Homes was cancelled, due to correspondence regarding the new proposed law, by the Town Planning Board. Proposed Tourist Homes Law - Revised 9-21-16. In that memo, the Planning Board announced plans for a Public Hearing at their October 11th meeting. Because of this, any comments at Monday night's meeting would not have been entered into public record, therefore being a waste of residents time. Councilman Ray Billica was upset that notice wasn't given for the cancellation, as the Town Board knew on Friday, September 16th of the new development.

   For the first time, public comments were limited to a 2-3 minute time period. A refreshing change to recent meetings. A bit more than a half a dozen residents brought up the West River Parkway closure during this time. Four-no close, three close. Later in the meeting, Councilman Mike Madigan suggested a public information meeting be held sometime during the week of October 10th, with State representatives invited to attend. Supervisor Nate McMurray objected to the meeting as there has been no contact with NYS since a meeting in early August. After the August 15th Town Board meeting, a notice was sent to NYS noting the Town was not in favor of closing the West River Parkway and option #4 should be considered. (A multi-use path located off the service road.) That was the result of a 3-1 vote, Bev Kinney against, Nate McMurray absent from the meeting. At the end of Monday night's discussion, Madigan said the public is "the boss" of the Town Board, and a vote was taken to schedule the meeting. Madigan, Billica and Aronica voted yes, McMurray voted no (3-1).

    A public hearing will be held on October 3, 2016 at 8 p.m. in the Town Hall Courtroom, regarding the use of Federal Community Development funds in the Town of Grand Island. The purpose of the hearing is to provide an opportunity for citizens to express community development and housing needs and to discuss possible projects that would benefit low-and moderate-income persons in the Town of Grand Island. Possible projects include an elevator at Town Hall and a new van for the Golden Age Center.

    In other business the Town Board:
•Appointed Gina Tedesco to the title of Assistant to the Supervisor-Accounting. No changes in salary.
•Approved the lowest bid by Fairway Contracting for the Ferry Road Waterline Reconstruction project at the cost of $438,640.60
•Approved the lowest bid by Amherst Paving for Bituminous Resurfacing at the cost of $461,060.

Town Board Agenda- Monday, September 19th

Town Board Workshop Cancelled - September 2016

   A Town Board Workshop scheduled for Monday, September 12th has been cancelled and will be rescheduled. This workshop has Tourist Homes and West River Parkway Alternative #4 on the agenda. A Public hearing on Tourist Homes is scheduled for Monday, September 19th. See notice Tourist Homes 9-19-16 and Proposed Tourist Homes Law.

Town Board Action
Proclamation Honoring Patriot Poppy Day and Hydrocephalus Association Walk - September 2016

From left: Council members Chris Aronica, Ray Billica, Supervisor Nathan McMurray, American Legion member John Forrest, Council members Bev Kinney & Mike Madigan.

Hydrocephalus Association Walk representatives and Town Board.

Members of the Grand Island Fire Company.

By Jodi Robinson
   Tuesday, September 6, 2016 . . .
    Three proclamations were presented at the beginning of the Tuesday, September 6th Town Board meeting. The first honored the American Legion Post #1346 Patriot Day Poppy Drive. The Poppy Drive will be held on Friday, September 9th and Saturday, September 10th at local stores and banks. The Town Board urges Grand Island residents to recognize the merits of the American Legion, contribute generously and wear your poppy proudly.
   The second proclamation was for the Western New York Hydrocephalus Association Walk to take place on Saturday, September 10th at Beaver Island State Park at 11:00 a.m. The Hydrocephalus Association (HA) is the largest non-profit organization dedicated soley to hydrocephalus in the United States. The walk raises money to support research and program services. See website for more information.
   The Town Board presented cerificates of appreciation to members of the Grand Island Fire Company for their "swift, professional and life-saving work" at the accident at Mesmer's Airshow recently. They are: 2nd Asst. Chief Omar Sortino, Captain Jon Cinelli, Paramedic Joe Torregrossa, Lt. Nickolas Egloff, Lt. Jourdain Benoit, FF Edie Racz, Fire Inv. Mike Demartin, Sr. Fire Cadet Allison Demartin, Dr. Chris Krawczyk and Battalion Chief Mike Swanekamp of the Buffalo Fire Department.

   The public comment period consisted of some residents with questions regarding the Tourist Home law and frustrations that some may be allowed, but was focused on the West River Parkway Path issue. Because Mike Madigan had placed Option 4 (located in median, next to service road) on the agenda, many spoke in favor of that over any other options mentioned to this point. Over a dozen residents spoke long and loud about their displeasure with closing the Parkway, and with the Supervisor and "his agenda" and perhaps "conflict of interest". It really was ugly and painful to sit through, 3 1/2 hours worth. Option 5 was also brought up...do nothing, keep it as it is and improve rundown overlooks. Councilman Chris Aronica made a motion to add Councilman Mike Madigan as a representative of the Town for any meetings with New York State regarding Parkways and Parks. The Board voted unanimously in favor of this measure. Madigan also suggested a Town Hall format meeting with residents and hopefully with State representatives before any decisions are made.

   The approval of a Trapping Permit application was tabled until the addition of "number of traps" is added to the form. At this point the application asks to specify the area to be trapped, demonstrate required permits and training and "describe the reasons why the permit is being sought including the timeframe for the trapping and identifying the target species and number you intend to trap."

In other business the Town Board:
•Approved a Water Intake Cleaning Change Order for an additional $7,165.88 for 8 hours of overtime.
•Approved parking lot improvements at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. bonding of $250,000 over five years.
•Approved a bid of $25,112 from DV Brown & Assoc. for two years of service for Town Wide HVAC Preventative Maintenance.
•Approved the scheduling of a public hearing for a 6 lot subdivision on Love Road and Alt Blvd. for Monday, September 19th.

Workshop Meeting Notes

    At a Town Board workshop meeting on Tuesday, September 6th, the Board went line by line over a new version of a Tourist Home law. A law passed last October, made the homes illegal. The new version grandfathers in the supposed 14 that were in operation/pre existing, as of October 2015. Some of the highlights of the proposed amended law:
  • would have to show continual use, i.e. contracts
  • would have to be licensed and pay yearly fees
  • have to show proof of paying taxes on the business
  • owners must immediately respond to neighbor complaints
  • no campfires are allowed on the property
  • Town may terminate the operation for violations
    At the Town Board meeting, Colleen Martin, who recently built a home located by one of the tourist homes, spoke of trespassers, reeking septic systems, disallowed bonfires left smoldering and numerous trash cans left in the road for days. She has had the property for over 10 years, finally built her dream home and does not feel safe in it.

    Town Board Action
    Proclamation Honoring National Airborne Day - August 2016

    From left: Council members Chris Aronica, Ray Billica, Deputy Supervisor Jim Sharpe, American Legion member Joe Synakowski, Council members Bev Kinney & Mike Madigan.

    By Jodi Robinson
       Mon., August 15, 2016 . . .
       Supervisor Nathan McMurray was absent from the meeting.
       The Town Board meeting began with a proclamation designating August 16th as National Airborne Day. The Parachute Test Platoon was organized in 1940 and went on to become the 82nd Airborne Division. Many Islanders over the years have served in the 82nd Airborne and two, Pfc. Charles N. DeGlopper (1944) )and Lt. Col. Terrance K. Crowe (2005) were killed in service. Island residents are encouraged to support the expansion of Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial, located at Baseline Rd. and Grand Island Blvd.

       Public comments were made by many members of the community regarding the West River Connector Trail and the closure of West River Parkway for use as a mixed use path. Over a dozen residents spoke at length against the closure of the Parkway. Many comments derided Supervisor Nathan McMurray for his behavior in the media as being "divisive, unacceptable, harmful to the community, and unhealthy for all of us." Also mentioned was a recent letter sent by McMurray to NYS Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey, that was not well received by either the audience or Council members Ray Billica, Chris Aronica and Mike Madigan. Councilman Madigan mentioned a fourth option that may be viable. That is to place a path west of the right of way on the service road. He spent last weekend touring the parkway median and seems to think a multi use path would be viable situated 10 feet off the service road right of way. Madigan, Aronica and Billica voted to pursue the #4 option, Bev Kinney voted against it. Kinney mentioned she spoke with NYS officials on Monday and said that due to safety concerns, guardrails would be needed the length of Option 1 (path between parkway and river) and stoplights would be needed at crossings.

        West River residents Joe and Kathy Steffan were the only speakers in favor of the parkway closure, stating the extra traffic from the Parkway should use alternate routes. The service road should be available only to the residents and the services they need.

       A request by Bev Kinney to set a public hearing for Tourist Homes on Tuesday, September 6th was turned down by a vote of 2-2 (Aronica, Billica against). Billica would like to have more time viewing the latest draft of the law and thought the date would deter residents from participating, by being too close to the Labor Day holiday. Aronica and Billica mentioned they would like to let the current law stay as is, and have the sundown clause on current homes end on September 23rd.

       A request by the Parks Department to accept a bid for the extension of the parking lot at the new building on Bedell Road was tabled for further discussion. Madigan wants to make sure that it is a "must have" not a "want".

    In other business the Town Board:
    •Approved the authorization to advertise for bids for the Ferry Road Waterline Reconstruction Project.
    • Approved the signing of an agreement with the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York for the asbestos removal and new flooring in the Nike Base Community Center.
    •Authorized to advertise for bids for the bituminous resurfacing of various Town roads.
    •Approved a site plan amendment for Daigler Engineering, 2620 Grand Island Blvd., regarding landscaping. The Planning Board has accepted these changes.
    •Approved a request by JM Science, 2408 Bedell Rd., for the addition of a 5,500 sq.ft. cold storage warehouse.
    •The Calidoe Forest Subdivision (formerly Staley Road Subdivision) was given final plat approval for 7 lots, with the completion of drainage swells, prior to building permits.

    Town Board Action
    Outstanding Summer Employees Announced - August 2016

    From left: Council members Ray Billica, Chris Aronica, Brian Brennan, Ben Shaw, Supervisor Nate McMurray, Council members Bev Kinney & Mike Madigan.

    By Jodi Robinson
       Mon., August 1, 2016 . . .
       The Town Board meeting began with a proclamation honoring six Town employees as "Outstanding Employees of the Summer". On hand to accept their certificates of appreciation were Recreation Department Instructors Ben Shaw and Brian Brennan, honored for their assistance in helping a dog in distress at Veterans Park and also for helping at an accident scene outside of work. The other employees honored were Parks Department employees; Dave Cole, Linda Tuffilaro, Bonnie Weiser and Bev Benton.

       Public comments were made by three members of the community against the closing of West River Parkway. A letter was read from the West River Homeowners Association stating the group is unanimously against closing the Parkway. See letter. West River Road resident Frank Greco brought up supposed facts that were printed in a letter from Supervisor Nate McMuray that were "not true" in his words. Mentioned among other things were the number of cars that use the Parkway and the amount of time stated as "not maintained". See Supervisor's letter West River Bike Path. GI Farms Cooperative representative Keith Trippi asked about creating a "agricultural use of water policy" in sewer districts for the 40 certified farms on Grand Island.

       A vote at the Monday evening workshop meeting to reject the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation plan to close the West River Parkway was approved by a vote of 3-2. Councilmen Ray Billica, Chris Aronica and Mike Madigan were in favor of the measure. Supervisor Nate McMurray and Councilwoman Bev Kinney were against the vote. McMuray is in favor of closing the Parkway and Kinney stated she is waiting for the public comment period to end. It was brought up again at the Town Board meeting, loud and ugly. The official deadline for public comments to the state was Wednesday, August 3rd.

        The proposed 2016 Highway Resurfacing Program was approved to be referred to bond counsel. Micro Paving will be done to; Stony Point, East Park, Elsie, Schutt Ct., Hennepin, Red Jacket, LaSalle, The Commons, Luther Lane and Pin Oak. Hot Mix Asphalt Overlay wil be applied to; Pin Oak, Birkshire, Luther Lane, Buckhorn Court, Hawthorne, Settlers Row, Havenwood Lane, North & South Lanes, Westwood, Sunset, Second Ave. and Second Street. First Street, Third Avenue and Pin Oak will be milled and resurfaced.

       Councilwoman Kinney is meeting with school officials regarding sharing the costs of a feasibility study for a Broadband Dark Fiber project. The project would greatly improve internet service at the schools and municiple buildings.

    In other business the Town Board:
    •Approved the hiring of Wayne Neumann as a part-time recreation attendent at the Golden Age Center.

    Supervisor's Letter - August 2016

    West River Bike Path
    Dear Islanders;
        Last Wednesday, we had approximately 200 people attend the public hearing on the bike path proposal. Although many support the proposed plan (both vocally and in written comments), some, mostly residents of West River, expressed concerns. The NY State Parks listened and are taking some of the concerns into consideration and revising the plan - just like they did with the concerns voiced last year at the Public Hearing. In fact, that hearing was the catalyst for the latest version of the plan, which involves re-purposing the West River Parkway. Now, I was only able to give a brief introduction at the meeting as per the request of NY State Parks, but I wanted to share a few thoughts and expand on a few of my comments.

    How did 'we' get here?
        I think we need to go over this history again. People have been talking about a bike path along West River for years. The previous Town Board set the wheels in motion by submitting a formal application. They, (which included two of our current Board members), facilitated hearings and ensured the NY State Parks took the concerns of the residents into consideration. It was determined that the people of Grand Island, and especially the people living along West River, were against four things: additional asphalt, guardrails, losing the duck blinds and anything that might impair their view of the river. To address these concerns, and to adjust for rising costs, the State Parks decided re-purposing of the Parkway was the best option.

    How did 'I' get here?
        Please let me explain where things stood when I came into office. I visited with the State Parks my first month. I talked about several things with them, including some upcoming, exciting changes to Beaver Island (hopefully more on that soon). But when I asked about the bike path, they looked grim and frustrated. They were not giving up on that space entirely, but the bike path had lingered incomplete. They said there was a risk that the money might be used for other purposes, (i.e., reallocated), if a decision was not made soon.
        When they raised the idea of repurposing the Parkway, the State Parks made a compelling case. Their presentation to me set out clear justifications, including DOT traffic studies that show the underuse of the roadway. The numbers donít lie: 28 cars per hour from 8 am to 8 pm, on average, travel the West River Parkway! We can debate it until the sun fades into a cold spot, but we all know that road is not full of heavy traffic and not maintained half the year. The State Parks also showed me that the new plan posed a low environmental impact, and that the project will open the area to other recreational activities, including walking, running, and wintertime pursuits. In other words, it would not really be just a bike path, but a multi-purpose corridor.
        So what's a new Supervisor to do? I knew that eventually the Parkway would fall into disrepair, as it's already starting to fray. And I saw the wheels spinning in the minds of the State Parks reps. We need to remember that West River Parkway sits on State-owned land. Some have alleged that the Town will take over the cost of the maintenance. That will never happen. The State has the power to make alterations as it sees fit. We can kid ourselves, but there is no way that that beautiful space will remain untouched, even if the bike path is not completed. We could delay change, but not forever. Would filling the Parkway with dirt come next? And then what? Cabins?
        I looked at the options before me and I pledged to advocate for the least intrusive plan: closing the Parkway, fixing it for multi-purpose use (not cars), turning it over to the State Parks (hopefully out of DOT controlled limbo), and locking it up forever as a green space for Grand Island.

    I asked the State to present the new plan
        State officials had no legal obligation to hold another public hearing. I asked for it. And I convinced them to extend the meeting time by an hour, to ensure that all who wanted to speak, had an opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings. I knew that we, the Town, could not control what happens to the Parkway ultimately, but we could sure help shape the outcome. And that's why I got out in front of this. I wanted to help build consensus. I knew I would take some lumps, but I knew it was the right thing to do.
        The meeting, for the most part, was an example of Grand Island at its best. With very few exceptions, speakers were respectful of one another, and opinions were expressed without rancor, scorn, or ridicule. We also had several important advocacy groups, like The Greenway Commission, conservationist organizations, and cycling clubs, come from off the Island to support the plan. Thank you to all who participated, regardless of which side you are on.
        I must state, however, that towards the end, a small handful of opponents chose to be accusatory and belligerent. Disagreement is essential to democracy: we share our viewpoints, we debate our differences, and we reach the best possible solutions. A democracy that doesn't have room for disagreement or debate is not a democracy at all. But open hostility is not disagreement. It's intimidation. Some, with clench-fists and rage, attempted to shout down proponents of the plan. A young mother who spoke of wanting a place to walk with her children was booed. A young man said he enjoyed visiting cities, like London, where bike paths are common. An angry voice shouted, "Then go live there!"
        We are better than that kind of ugliness. And I will continue to call it out. Moreover, I will never do what would be easiest, which is to side with the loudest or the most privileged over the concerns of the many and punt the ball for a future generation to handle. That's what a politician with a hidden agenda would do. But I'm not so interested in your vote, as I am doing what's best for Grand Island. If you disagree with my judgment, you can vote me out later. Until then, I'm going to represent the greater good, and not any special interests, no matter how intent their fury.

    Iíll continue to fight
        Converting West River Parkway to a recreational multi-use trail is an enormous change for the Island. Change is difficult. The trouble with change is that it comes, no matter what. I understand that some of you are worried about privacy, property values, and quality of life. I promise you that I am doing everything I can to make this change as fair and as beneficial as I can, including working with State Parks to eliminate as many of the proposed parking lots as possible. Hereís the thing folks; because I've been a big supporter of the State Parks and worked with them on this plan, we have developed a good relationship. They saw me stand up and lead, so they are willing to listen to me. I'll do what I can.
        I'll also continue to fight for the service road. That road should not become spill over space for whatever speeding traffic does exist on the Parkway. As long as I'm Supervisor (and Commissioner of Police) Iíll make sure that we step up patrols. I'll just come right out and say it; we can make that a speed trap. I will not be around forever, but I will be around long enough to hopefully condition people to not think of that road as anything but a local street for residents. And if we can get some of the pass-by traffic funneled towards Grand Island Blvd, who knows what benefits that will bring? Maybe some of those workers at the factory will start stopping by one of our local restaurant for a sandwich once in a while.

        Since 2013, years before I took office, dedicated public servants, (two of which still serve), have advocated for the Island's interests in negotiations over a bike path on the West River. After countless hours of meetings and planning sessions and telephone conversations, the State offered a plan that serves the best interests of our community as a whole. They offered one more Public Hearing and are now reviewing the most recent round of comments and fine tuning their plans, with concerns raised on Wednesday in mind. While they do their work, I will move on to other items. But make no mistake. I remain committed to this plan because I think it's the best option available. God forbid that it goes away completely, or some other new Supervisor a decade hence is asking why we wasted two million dollars on a strip alongside the service road when the Parkway has given way completely to entropy.
        Some may despise me for wanting to find a way to make it easier for families to go for a bike ride or jog along the river. There's nothing I can say or do to change their minds. But, from the overwhelming positive feedback we are receiving, most of you, like me, want to find a way to make this work. To the many residents, (including some good-natured and open-minded West River residents), who shared constructive feedback on ways to improve upon the State Park's plan, I say thank you! The repurposing of West River Parkway is not a death knell for Grand Island Ė itís a golden opportunity!
    Nate McMurray

    Town Board Action
    Trapping Public Hearing Packed - July 2016

    By Jodi Robinson
       Mon., July 18, 2016 . . .
       A well attended public hearing regarding trapping on Town land ended with a win for the trappers. There were two laws on the table, "A" would allow trapping on public lands for nuisance or scientific research only, and "B" would allow public space trapping with a permit. The permit would occur after a written recommendation made by the Conservation Advisory Board and then reviewed by the Town Board. Over the past year, public opinion has been largely in favor of no trapping on public lands. Thousands of signatures were gathered online, through petitions and sent in emails and cards to the Town Board against trapping. Again, Monday night's hearing was in favor of law "A", with more than 25 comments. Law "B" had approximately 15 speakers in favor of that law. Surprisingly after all was said and done, Councilmen Chris Aronica, Ray Billica and Mike Madigan voted against, in favor of Law "B", while Supervisor Nathan McMurray and Councilwoman Bev Kinney voted in favor of Law "A". Law "B" will now be adopted by the Town. See Law"B".

        The Term Limit law was passed by a vote of 3-2, Madigan, Kinney and McMurray in favor, Billica and Aronica against. This law will limit the Supervisor and Councilperson position to two four-year terms. The Town Clerk and Highway Superintendent positions were excluded from this law.

    In other business the Town Board:
    •Approved the renewal of a special use permit for Smith & Taylor LLC, 1693 Grand Island Blvd. for a used car sales business.
    •Approved the renewal of a special use permit for the Burg residence, 3030 Stony Point Road for two agricultural animals.
    • Approved the renewal of a special use permit for the Villani residence, 5302 East River Road for one agricultural animal.
    • Approved the renewal of a special use permit for the Leys residence, 2076 Stony Point Road for two agricultural animals.
    • Approved the renewal of a special use permit for the Sandy Beach Yacht Club for a parking lot at 1851 Winter Road.
    • Approved the renewal of a special use permit for a Communications Tower at 318 Baseline Road at the water plant.

    Town Board Action
    Workshop on Tourist Homes & Trapping - July 2016

    By Jodi Robinson
       Mon., July 11, 2016 . . .
       So the Town Board Workshop last night, Monday, July 11th, was again a rehashment of Tourist Homes and Trapping Laws. Councilwoman Bev Kinney and Supervisor Nate McMurray are on the side of tourist home operators, thinking regulations on the current homes would keep the negatives down. Kinney's idea is to have a committee that regulates the operations with responsibilities to include applications, complaints, regulations, warnings and recommend property shut towns. Councilman Mike Madigan said he was "not convinced we will win a lawsuit" against the operators and maybe a ban on open burning and outside parties could curtail negative reports. Councilmen Ray Billica and Chris Aronica are against Tourist Homes. Billica stated he had many residents tell him they were against them and "do you want one next to your house?"
        A recent headline in the local newspaper stated "Tourist home law amendment dropped", that is not the case. So, there will be more discussion and another public hearing. At the previous public hearings, the court room was packed with residents against any Tourist Homes. Looks like they will have to again tell their elected officials their opinion on the matter.
        The other major issue mentioned at the workshop was the Trapping on Town Lands Law. This is up for a public hearing on Monday, July 18th, again, with two versions of a law posted. At previous publlc hearings the public responded overwhelmingly against any trapping on Town Lands unless for nuisance purposes, by permit. Check out the two versions, Restricting Trapping on Town Owned Property - A and Restricting Trapping on Town Owned Property - B. If you have an opinion, the public hearing is Monday, July 18th at 8:00 p.m.

    Town Board Action
    Tourist Home Public Hearing Packed - July 2016

    Randy White speaking at public hearing.

    By Jodi Robinson
       Mon., July 5, 2016 . . .
       A planned small development on Staley Road near the paper street Alt Blvd., was referred to as a subdivision but is actually a 52 acre lot to be split into 7 parcels. Issues raised by resident and Conservation Board member Ron Rezabek during the public hearing include concern that it is a headwater of Big Six Creek and a key migratory site for the American Woodcock. Preliminary plat approval was tabled, and the project was referred to the Planning Board for review.

        The second public hearing regarding a law for the keeping of fowl in residential districts was ripped apart by Keith Tripi and referred back to the Town Board for further review. Issues brought up included definitions of "fowl", fees, where chickens would be permitted and how many.

       The main event, a local law amending the Town Zoning Code to allow current tourist homes to continue, brought out close to 100 interested residents. The bulk of attendees were against the new law. The law that was passed last fall has allowed tourist homes in operation, a one year "pass", until September 23, 2016, at which time they will have to cease operations.
       More than a dozen residents, most living close by the properties, spoke of loss of quality of life from loud parties, garbage issues, rude comments by guests, traffic, smoke from bonfires and issues of safety. These residents stated they can no longer enjoy their property, unable to sit outside when the tourist home is occupied. Because these properties are located next to homes and guests are not required any background checks, child safety was brought up, along with terrorism.
       Speaking in favor were half a dozen tourist home owners who spoke of improving properties, being good neighbors, bringing dollars to local business and promoting Grand Island. The general consensus was why are a handful of tourist home operators being given consideration over 20,000 residents. After over two hours of statements, the public hearing was closed and referred back to the Town Board.

    In other business:
    • A request by Town Justice Mark Frentzel to appoint a new Clerk of Town Justice was referred back to the Town Board for review.
    •A request by Golden Age Center Director Barbara Gannon to advertise for a part-time and full-time recreation attendant was approved.
    •An application by a resident of 2196 West Oakfield to subdivide that property was referred to the Planning Board for review.

    Supervisor's Letter - July 2016

    Adventures on the Niagara.

    Town Board Meeting

    Tuesday, July 5th-Public Hearings

    Town Board Action
    Disposition - June 2016

       Disposition 6-20-16

    Town Board Action
    Proclamation & Accolades - June 2016

    From left: Officers Sean Dunn, Lee Richard, Lisa Marrone and Supervisor Nathan McMurray

    From left: Supervisor McMurray, KidBiz vendor Nathanial Cohen, KidBiz Director Jim Sharpe, Councilwoman Bev Kinney and Councilman Mike Madigan.

    By Jodi Robinson
       Mon., June 6, 2016 . . .
       The Town Board meeting started with a proclamation in honor of the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce 20th Anniversary of their KidBiz program. A new Town Employee of the Month program honored Water Department employee Jim Dlugokinski, in recognition of his dedicated service..."specifically, how he creatively found a solution to equipment replacement that saved the Town $4000."

        Certificates of Appreciation were presented to four officers of the Grand Island Police Department for helping "defuse and control a situation with an inmate in Town Hall Court". The officers are Sean Dunn, Lee Richard, Lisa Marrone and unable to attend Albert Liberatore. .

       Time Warner Cable has joined two other companies and will now be known as Charter Communications. The services will be marketed as the brand name Spectrum, the second largest cable company in the country.

       The supervisor's office is accepting resumes for a summer internship position. It would be a 5-10 hours per week, volunteer position. The intern would work directly with the assistant to the supervisor and the supervisor. "The successful candidate will gain meaningful, real-world insight on research, presentation, planning and deal negotiations." Contact Assistant Cyndy Montana at cmontana@grand-island.ny.us.

       The Town Board approved the signing of a web services sales agreement with Revize, LLC in the amount of $4,550 for a new Town website.

       Councilman Mike Madigan requested that a second public hearing be held regarding Term Limits for the Town Board. Supervisor McMurray voted against the public hearing, with the rest of the board voting in favor of it. The public hearing is planned for July 18th.

       A contract with ECC Technologies for a municipal fiber optic network feasibility study was tabled until a discussion with the School Board regarding sharing expenses could be arranged.

       A contract was approved with Concordia Business Partners, not to exceed $2500, for providing Economic Development support for projects identified by the Town as ventures they wish to pursue. The company will report directly to the Economic Development Advisory Board.

       The Town Board approved amending the Town Code Electrical Standards to allow examination results from approved testing agencies for the licensing of electrical contractors. This would eliminate the need for exams to be taken at each municipality. A public hearing will be held.

    In other business, the Board:
    •Approved the hiring of Adrian Pilliod as Part-Time Dog Control Officer.
    •Approved the bid of Podlucky Construction for concrete repair work.
    •Approved the hiring of 11 Recreation Department Recreation Attendents for the summer, effective June 7, 2016.
    •Approved a tower permit renewal at 85 Carl Road by AT&T.
    •Referred a request by Dale and Jeremy Hoyt, 3073 Whitehaven Road to split property to the Planning Board.
    •Accepted with regret the resignation of Theresa Weaver from the Town Court office.

    Supervisor's Letter - June 2016

    Dear Islanders,
        I spoke at the Memorial Day Ceremony at DeGlopper Park on Monday. It was probably the most nerve-wracking experience I've had since I became Supervisor. I wanted it to go well, because I wanted to do my small part to properly honor all those who have suffered in conflicts defending our country, and especially those who died and those who lost loved ones. It was a very fitting ceremony. The music by the GIHS Wind Ensemble was beautiful. The Recreation Department, VFW, and American Legion helped coordinate all the various elements splendidly. And I was grateful to be part of it. The experience of the ceremony has left a lingering imprint on me.
    I grew up in a time of peace
        I was never a soldier. I was born and grew up in a blessed pocket of time between wars. Vietnam was already over when I was born. There was no draft. And I was too young for the Gulf War. But after 9-11, I felt it was my time to serve. So I considered how best to do that. Using my education seemed like the most effective way to go about it. So I applied for a JAG internship, which is the legal team for the military. And off I went to Germany and on towards what I thought would be a career in the military.
        But circumstances changed and I chose a different path. Still, because of my time overseas for many years I was unexpectedly close with the military, sort of stuck in a twilight zone between civilian and military life. For years, I kept in touch with the officers I came to know in Germany. I followed their stories with keen interest as they sent me reports and sometimes even little trinkets from Iraq and Afghanistan. And then later, as a representative of the overseas US Business community in in Seoul who helped represent US government interests, I formed a whole new group of military friends. I formed a whole new group of military friends.
        As I write this, I can see their images in my mind. And who they are is far more complex than the story we see in the movies. Soldiers are not invincible two-dimensional characters. They are mostly just kids. Well, kids and young adults with kids of their own. Like the kids I played video games with on the DMZ a few grey Christmases ago at a rather bleak holiday party. Or the kids who gave me study tips on the bar exam in a bar in Poland. And the kids who sat with me in the back of a tiny car in Ireland and told me with a heavy heart how badly they did not want to go back to Afghanistan in a week.
    They have been asked to do so much.
       One of the favorite people I met was this young guy from San Diego. He was second generation Mexican American. We lost touch, but I loved this guy. He was a paralegal, desperate to get out of the army, already exhausted by several tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan (and this was over a decade ago!). He asked me a lot of questions about going to law school. He was not very tall-maybe up to my shoulders-and he had this unimposing baby face and grin. His personality matched his look. He was soft spoken, bookish, and excessively helpful. There were no sharp edges to him, just kindness.
       And then I saw his medal ceremony. He was given an award for bravery in Iraq. I sat there confused as he sheepishly walked forward to receive it while his fellow soldiers showered him in a cascade of applause. Then I saw tears in the eyes of several of them. "What could this paper pushing clerk possibly have done?" I thought. I feel the guilt in me still as I write this. But I asked the large solider next to me that very question. His answer haunts me still. "Him?" he said solemnly. "He lit (expletives) up . . . "
        Was this just macho talk? I donít know. I never had the guts to ask anything more. But I felt pain that day-in all of them-and real gratitude in myself. Gratitude for a hero who wore baggy hip-hop pants and a hat on backwards on the weekends. God I hope he got to law school.
    Charles Deglopper should never be forgotten
       Charles DeGlopper is another hero. From what I gather, Charles did look the part-straight out of central casting. He was tall, muscular, and handsome. One of his relatives recently told me that what he remembered most about Charles is how he used to have to duck under the archway of the old DeGlopper farmhouse on Grand Island to come indoors. He fought what is often called "the good war" against maybe the world's most evil regime: Nazi Germany. Yes, his story reads like something from a Hollywood script. But I think it's unfair to limit his legacy (and the legacy of all those who died in war fighting for the freedom of our country) to Rambo-like exploits. Itís not like the movies. The heroes don't always get to say, "I'll be back."
        I have considered the life of Charles DeGlopper many times as I passed the park that bears his name near Town Hall. I am grateful for the efforts to expand and beautify that park, and I will do everything in my power to help those efforts. I hope that park forever helps the citizens of Grand Island remember the sacrifice of Charles and those like him. When the brave young Charles gave his life, he was still just a kid. A kid who never got married, never had any children, never swam in the river again and never came back home-to Grand Island.
    I am forever grateful
        I will always be grateful and never forget how lucky I am to have been born in a time of peace, and to have avoided the horrors of war. And I will never take for granted the sacrifices of the very young people who did go to war in a different time. Whenever I catch the 'chicken hawks' or listen to the war mongers on radio and the television nonchalantly talk about bombing this place or sending troops to that place, I am reminded that someone-someone's kid, someone's father or mother, someone's husband or wife, someone's brother or sister-actually has to go. And I imagine the wicked spirit, Eris, in the Greek myths of old casting down her Golden Apple of Discord and watching with twisted glee as Ares, the God of War, urges the nations of men to lust after it.
        May we never engage in such joy in strife. May we never take for granted the sacrifice of those who fight in our defense. And may we never in haste ask our youth to sacrifice their lives, body, and spirit for war. And today I am proud to use my position as Supervisor to express all this and thank again all those of you who serve, have served, or lost loved ones to the defense of our great nation. May God bless you all.
    With highest regards,

    Town Board Action
    Legal Firm & Website Design Firm Chosen - May 2016

    By Jodi Robinson
       Mon., May 16, 2016 . . .
        A request for RFP's (request for proposals) went out earlier this year for legal representation and new website design. The Town Board voted 4-0 to continue with HodgsonRuss, LLP. Supervisor Nate McMurray abstained from voting. In a 5-0 vote, Revise was chosen to design a new website for the Town.

       A request by Town Engineer John Whitney to renew a preventive maintenance contract with M.J Mechanical for HVAC services was tabled and referred back to Engineering for more proposals. A second request for the cleaning and inspection of the Water Treatment Plant Intake was approved. Three proposals were submitted and Finger Lakes Industrial Contracting, with a low bid of $11,450, was accepted.

       The Town Board approved a request to transfer funds in the Recreation Department budget in the amount of $4,000 from Recreation-Adult Rec. Games to Recreation-Equipment. They also approved the hiring of 13 Recreation Attendents for Summer 2016.

       The Town Board accepted with regret the resignation of Asst. Dog Control Officer Joie Celano.

    In other business, the Board:
    •Approved the appointment of Dan Drexelius as Zoning Board Alternate, expiring 12/31/16.
    •Approved the hiring of Tyler Cady as Parks Junior Worker and to move Ryan Ayers from PT to Seasonal 40 Hours in the Parks Department.
    •Referred back to Parks Crew Chief Tom Dworak, two Parks workers pay increase requests.
    •Approved the site plan approval for a self storage facility at 1730 Baseline Road.
    •Approved the site plan approval of the expansion of a contractor's yard at 1900 Baseline Road.
    •Tabled a request for site plan approval for Elderwood Senior Housing, 2800 Grand Island Blvd. until further review of sewer and landscaping design.

    Town Board Action
    Proclamations for Older Americans & Town Clerk Pattie Frentzel - May 2016

    By Jodi Robinson
       Mon., May 2, 2016 . . .

    Golden Age Center members with Town Board.

    From left: Council members Chris Aronica, Ray Billica, Town Clerk Pattie Frentzel, Supervisor Nate McMurray, Council members Bev Kinney & Mike Madigan

        The Town Board meeting opened with two proclamations. The first was designating May 2016 as Older Americans Month, an act of the United States Congress. This year's theme is "Blaze a Trail", and many members of the Golden Age Center were on hand to accept the proclamation. The second act was a certificate of appreciation for Grand Island Town Clerk Pattie Frentzel, in recognition of her 10+ years of service to the Town and for being named Erie County Clerk of the Year.

       There were two public hearings, the first to amend the Town Sign Code by adding "The maximum area of all signs on a building, excluding those that do not require a permit, may not exceed two (2) square feet for each linear foot of building frontage...not to exceed fifty (50) square feet". There were no public comments. The second public hearing was for final plat approval of the Gunn Creek development, located off of Whitehaven Road, east of Stony Point. Town residents Maura Rustowicz and Mike Yensan spoke against the project citing probable traffic problems both at the South Bridge and along Ransom Road. Also mentioned was the addition of many children to the school system could allow for the need for another school to be built. The public hearing was left open.

       The Town Board approved the hiring of Nathan Busch as a intern for the Engineering Department. The Water Department was okayed to hire two summer helpers; Sean Steckelberg and Nick Kellner. The Engineering Department received approval for the advertisement for bids for year 4 sewer repairs. Bids must be received by 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 25, 2016.

    In other business, the Board:
    •Approved the transfer of Dominque DeGregorio from part time status to seasonal status in the Recreation Department for five months.
    •Approved the hiring of Ryan Ayers, Edward Logel and Matthew Reger as Parks workers for the 2016 season.
    •Approved the renewal of a special use permit by Arlene Clark of Second Avenue for a Home Occupation/Barber Shop.

    Supervisor's Letter - May 2016

    Dear Islanders,
        Farming is not easy.
        Let me rephrase that. Farming is hard. Just ask a farmer. They put their heart and soul into the land or the animals that are their livelihood. And more often than not, many farmers can barely make ends meet, and most family farms are gone. The only people making big money farming today are the industrial farms, which sadly sometimes grow products for industrial food that makes us sicker, slower and more lugubrious. But does that mean local farming should end? And more importantly, why do people still pursue farming if it is not lucrative?
       Farming is part of who we are
       Despite the challenges, many farmers would never give it up. I was speaking to someone on the Island who dabbles in farming. He told me about a man he knows farms his land from his wheelchair! He even engineered his old tractor to fit the chair. Not that he makes any money from it. But even when he lost his ability to walk, he could not give up his love of farming. You see, many smaller farmers do it because they are passionate about it. America has always been a place that embraces farming. Iíve spoken about it before, but most of the founding fathers had farms. And it was the great joy of their life to return to farming once their service to the country had ended. Even the names of their farmsóMount Vernon, Monticelloóhave almost mythical status in our country. Grand Island has always been a farming community. I recently had the opportunity to fly over the Island at a low level, and I could see all of the many drainage ditches that were once used by early farmers to get their land dry enough to farm. I donít expect there to be large industrial farms on the Island. Nor, would we want that. And I was reading recently about some communities in California that have adopted ďfree rangeĒ laws so that there are chickens wandering freely between homes. We donít want that either. After all, we are still primarily a residential space. Still, even large cities, such as Boston and New York, are embracing the concept of the ďAgrihoodĒ by adopting broader codes to allow for farm related activities. Iím proud to say Grand Island is also moving in this direction by examining our agricultural laws and by supporting the expansion of a protected Agricultural District. Yes, with farming comes sacrifices, but remember farming will also help keep Grand Island a green space between Niagara Falls and Buffalo. To outside developers looking to cover the Island in apartment complexes, a whiff of a little manure and a couple of chickens are like garlic to a vampire.
        I continue to encourage and support the start of a farmerís market
       I support farming because itís a symbolic benefit to our Island. It also will help support our health. Embracing local farming will help encourage more clean and healthy eating. People want to know where their food is coming from and that is hasnít been coated in chemicals so it can be on a truck for 10 days before it gets to the supermarket. And even if itís hard to get rich off local farming, it would be great if our entrepreneurs could make at least a few more bucks doing it. There has been a huge explosion in the number of farmerís markets across America. Today, every little town and borough wants one. Some people think the movement has peaked, and there is just not that much demand. But I think there is still enough of a demand in Western New York to make a Farmerís Market viable. Who doesnít go to North Tonawanda once in awhile on Saturday morning, wishing we had something similar right on the Island? Yes, the costs of locally produced goods can be higher, but the old maxim about getting what you pay for also holds true. When you eat something that is fresh and made right, you just feel good. And remember, farmerís markets are not just about produce. Thereís honey, meats, baked goods, and other locally produced products. The market wonít only stimulate the economy on Grand Island, it will give residents an opportunity to support each other and grow our community spirit on Grand Island Ė all the while being healthier.
        Itís not just about the food, itís about the experience
       Going to a farmerís market is also often a great experience. You smell the food and interact with those that produce the food in a way that is entirely different from the overly sanitized experience you get at a supermarket. Life is not all about efficiency Ė despite how we race through our days. After all, we are not machines. Walking through the market, picking out some flowers, feeling some fruit, and shaking the hand of the man or woman who planted it stays with you. Hemming spoke of the ďmoveable feast,Ē meaning experiences that shape you and shape the way you interact with the world. Having a farmerís market, engaging with it, and then eating from it might be a literal Ďmoving feastí for our communityónourishing our body and soul.
        If you are interested in joining the farmerís market Ė contact my office    If you want to be a part of the Grand Island Farmerís Market, please reach out to my office. Contact Cyndy at 716-773-9600 x658 or cmontana@grand-island.ny.us or stop in. Some like-minded souls are already in the planning stages with us. And I know that there are already some folks selling their farm products independently. But there is power in joint forces, and we could use your input and support. Also, even if donít want to join the market selling goods, we hope you come out to buy some when it starts. Without the traffic and your support, the Farmerís Market will not be successful. Letís make sure that does not happen. I canít wait to see all the wonderful things being produced on Grand Island that many of our residents donít even know are being grown in our very own backyards. ďIf you ate today, thank a farmer!Ē
    Warmest regards,

    Supervisor Letter to Ceretto - May 2016

        April 28, 2016 ...Air Quality on Grand Island.
    A Buffalo News article dated May 5th by Michael Canfield stated that Supervisor McMurray and Assemblyman Ceretto will be meeting to discuss this issue. See story.

    Town Board Meeting - May 2016

    Agenda 5-2-16

    Official Statement from Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray - April 2016

        April 27, 2016...Regarding recent reports of document deletion.
       It is true that someone using the former supervisor's user name and password did, in fact, delete nearly 1,800 files from our Town Hall server sometime during the last days of the prior Supervisor's term. why this was done and the scope of the impact is unclear.
       Thankfully, the server at Town Hall is backed up regularly to avoid any potential negative impact of either accidental or malicious deletion. Because of this - and the diligent efforts of our IT team-we believe we were able to restore all of the deleted files and thus minimize the potential negative impact on Town Hall.    We remain concerned, however, that existing laws and policies regarding the proper handling of both hard and electronic copies of the documents may not have been adhered to. Thus, going forward-to set expectations and avoid any further possible loss of information-I will work with my Town Hall colleagues to re-set and reinforce policies and procedures regarding documentation retention and use.

    Town Board Meeting Disposition - April 2016

    Disposition 4-18-16

    Town Board Action
    Certificate of Appreciation for GAC Employee - April 2016

    By Jodi Robinson
       Mon., April 4, 2016 . . .

    From left: Council members Chris Aronica, Ray Billica, Tammy Violanti, Council members Bev Kinney & Mike Madigan, Supervisor Nate McMurray.

        A Certificate of Appreciation was awarded to Golden Age Center employee Tammy Violanti in recognition of her service to the members of the Golden Age Center since June of 2007. "Always willing to go above and beyond to secure the safety of our seniors, Tammy exemplifies the ideal, caring employee. She walks frail seniors to and from the van when necessary to ensure they arrive home safely. If there is no response when she arrives at a scheduled stop, she takes the time to call the Golden Age Center to have us call and check on the resident. Twice, this dedication has proven life-saving when residents were unable to come out to the van because they needed medical attention. Thank you, Tammy for being compassionate and going out of your way to take care of our senior residents."

    From left: Councilmembers Chris Aronica, Ray Billica, Cyndy Montana, Secretary of One Island, One Team, Supervisor Nate McMurray, Councilmembers Bev Kinney & Mike Madigan.

        A proclamation was made for Alcohol Awareness Month. "The Town of Grand Island now joins One Island One Team and hereby proclaims that April 2016, is Alcohol Awareness Month on Grand Island. As the Town Board of Grand Island, we also call upon citizens, parents, governmental agencies, public and private institutions and business on Grand Island to support efforts that will provide early education about alcoholism and addiction and increase support for individuals and families coping with alcoholism. Through these efforts, together, we can provide Hope, Help and Healing for those in our community who are facing challenges with alcohol use and abuse." It was announced that the weekend of April 8 -10 be named an alcohol free weekend.

       At the first public hearing, Sean Hopkins, lawyer for the Gunn Creek LLC, a planned development located north of Whitehaven Road near the Whitehaven Baptist Church, asked that a local law amending the development concept plan be adopted. The amended development concept plan includes reduction in the maximum number of residential units from 252 to 215 units, eliminating duplexes, and a reduction in the density of owner occupied townhomes from 74 units to 63 units. This area is almost 100 acres and 30 acres will be permanent open space. It will be built out starting at Whitehaven, with the final phase to be built at the northern end, butting up against Tracey Lane. There will be a connection to Park Lane at the north end. There will be a 30 foot permanent green space between the development and the Tracey Lane properties. This project started in 2006. Any action is tabled until the next workshop meeting on Thursday, April 7th. Conservation Advisory Board member Diane Evans spoke of the boards concerns to protect the wetlands, avoid sentimentation of Gunn Creek and protect the water flow during the construction process.

        Trapping Law, with "nuisance" added. The public hearing on trapping on Town property was seen as a positive step by those against trapping on Town land. The addition of "nuisance" in the wording of the law puts Town open space off limits, unless the trapper can prove a "nuisance" is occuring and acquires a permit. There was slightly more residents supporting the limitation of trapping than those against the issue. Supervisor McMurray spoke of compromise on the issue, balancing interests. Town resident Bryce Shipman, father of trapper Josh Shipman, questioned what the guidelines would be in order to prove a nuisance and get a permit. McMurray said procedures will be worked out over time and permits will be issued if trapping is needed on public land. Sport trapping is allowed on private land with owners permission. Resident Becky Stufkowsky made an emotional response in favor of trapping after her dog was killed by a coyote in her backyard on Pellamwood Court, off of Huth Road.

    In other business, the Board:
    •Accepted the resignation of Joseph Scully from the Cable and Communications Advisory Board and the appointment of Robin Kwiatek (at large member of 6 years) in his place.
    • Approved a professional services agreement with GHD Consulting to perform engineering services related to sanitary sewer related repairs.
    • Approved the hiring of seasonal employees by the Parks Department and the purchase of equipment for the Parks Department.
    • Approved the Grand Island Fire Company list of firefighters with Length of Service Awards for 2015. The 44 firefighters will receive $700 each for a total of $30,800.
    • Approved a budget amendment of $32,885 for various items sold at auction from the Highway and Water Departments. The proceeds will be used for the purchase of new equipment.
    • Accepted the resignatin of Paul Klock from the Board of Assessment Review.

    Supervisor's Letter - April 2016

    Dear Islanders,
        Compromise can be a bad word in politics. Itís considered selling out, caving in, and giving up. But if the word compromise makes you uncomfortable, would you accept the words deal, bargain, or negotiation? I would. Because I think compromise is often a good and a necessary part of life. And balanced negotiation is a lost art, especially in politics. In most circumstances taking 75% of what you asked for and fighting for the rest later is far superior than stomping your feet and walking away with nothing.
       The worst negotiators are the guys who slam the table.
        Iíve spent my professional life as a corporate attorney. On many occasions, Iíve been the guy sent into the room to save a deal or get a deal done. Getting a deal done doesnít mean being a pushover. It means understanding where there is room to give and where you canít budge. And it also means as long as those Ďcanít budgeí areas are kept safe, you find a way to get the paper signed.
        I remember negotiating a contract with a gigantic German fellow (almost seven feet tall). On our first day together he entered the room with his chest puffed out half a foot. With large arm movements and heavily accented English he told me, ďI donít take no for an answer, and, if necessary, I use my size to get my way.Ē In one of the rare moments in my life where my timing matched my wit I said, ďGee whiz, howís your love life?Ē The somewhat crude line worked. The room broke out in laughter and the giant was left flustered. In the end, he compromised and we got the deal done. You see, strong arm tactics may play well on TV shows and before partisan crowds, but they donít really work well in real life. At least they donít work if you really want to get anything accomplished. Being reasonable and working towards mutually acceptable solutions is almost always the best way forward.
       The Town Board is getting things done by compromising.
        The Town Board features the full spectrum of political viewsómoderates, Independents, Conservatives, Republicans, and Democrats. But thus far Iím proud that we have been able to compromise (bargain, negotiate, deal) on all manner of issues, from the Gus Macker to the Professional Services RFP. It can get a little argry bargy at times, but I am thankful that there has been frank, open, and transparent discussion and a spirit of compromise, in the best sense of the word.
        One issue that has required a great deal of compromise is trapping. Now, I had very little interest in trapping before I took office. But I met with as many experts and interested parties as I could. I also read a great deal about the subject and sat down for discussions with members of our Town Advisory Boards. Relying on all of this, I worked with my colleagues on the Town Board (who also conducted a great deal of independent research and had their own opinions) to draft a law that addressed the concerns expressed to us by people on both sides of the trapping issue.
        Truth be told, the original draft law in my opinion, was quite favorable to the anti-trapping folks. I was proud of that. I know Councilman Mike Madigan (who is an avid sportsman and someone I have come to respect as quite principled) would have probably liked the law to be far more favorable towards the trappers. But the Town Board as a whole worked something out that we believed to be a fair and well thought-out response to this issue.
        Despite our efforts to get a deal done on trapping, however, the negative fallout from the anti-trapping folks was considerable. Misinformation regarding the proposed law and the types of traps you can use (those dangerous, toothy bear traps are certainly illegal) was plentiful. And the internet has been covered in pictures of my face with dead animals (as well as my fellow council memberís faces). On the date of the public hearing, we had out-of-town activists chanting that Grand Island has ďblood on its hands.Ē All of this, despite the fact that we proposed limiting trapping more than Amherst, Buffalo, Tonawanda, or just about any other town in New York State.
        The personal attacks are fine. Thatís what I signed up for. Iím not complaining. I bring it up, however, because I think the experience highlights a principle that I think is important and that I will strive to make a hallmark of my term as Supervisor. Life is not a zero sum game or an all or nothing proposition. There is room for compromise in all things. And if leaving a sliver of leniency to balance the interests of trappers gets the deal done, Iíll take it. And this balanced approach is the same approach I will rely on going forward.
        Compromise moves things forward.
        There certainly are times you must take a stand and not bend. Those times are personal decisions, but some great leaders have expressed the hopelessness of mindlessly standing firm and not budging. In the words of Ronald Regan, ďIíve learned while negotiating union contracts that you seldom got everything you asked for.Ē And I agree with FDR, who said in 1933: ďI have no expectations of making a hit every time I come to bat. What I seek is the highest possible batting average.Ē
        Since I brought up trapping, I need to say how proud I was of the way our community acted at the Town Hall meeting on March 7. It was packed! Yet we had a thoughtful and sincere debate where even outsiders were able to come and express their opinions openly without fear of rebuke. In my judgement, many (including me), went away further edified. Heck, I think the news reporters were disappointed that it was all so darn pleasant. On March 7th I saw balance. I saw respect and consideration of opposing views. I saw America at its finest Ė reminiscent of what the Founding Fathers intended when the spoke of the ďmarketplace of ideas.Ē Thank you Grand Island!
    With highest regards,

    Town Board Action
    New Laws Still In Discussion at Workshop - March 2016

    Mordecai Manuel Noah Day Celebrants, from left: Councilmen Chris Aronica & Mike Madigan, guests Dr. Nasir M. Khan, MD, FACP, Michael Barsoum, Rev. Earle King, Rabbi Ellen Franke, Brother Bob Gogel, Councilwoman Bev Kinney & Supervisor Nate McMurray.
    Click photo for larger view.

    By Jodi Robinson
       Mon., March 21, 2016 . . .
       Councilman Ray Billica was absent from meeting.
       The Town Board meeting began with a proclamation for Safety Week, an effort to supply information, techniques and basic administrative assistance to employees, supervisors, and managers through an annual conference, in an effort to reduce workplace injuries. The annual conference began in 1936 and will be held the week of April 4th-7th at the Seneca Event Center.

    Ararat Cornerstone

       The second proclamation set September 2, 2016 and every year thereafter named "Mordecai Manuel Noah Day". Noah purchased 2,500 acres of Grand Island in 1825 as a refuge for the Jewish people, and a cornerstone was to be laid here on Septembver 2, 1825. Although the refuge was never built, the cornerstone has spent some time on the Island over the past 191 years and now is on display at the Buffalo History Museum. The Mordecai Mauel Noah Foundation of Grand Island is seeking the return of the cornerstone when a suitable place is made possible. To read more about Ararat, see history.

       A motion to approve the appointment of Jacqueline McGinty as Assistant to the Assessor by Supervisor McMurray, with a pay increase, was approved by a vote of 3-1 after a lengthy discussion. Councilman Mike Madigan was the dissenting vote, arguing that more discussion was necessary to review the impact on the Town budget and also concerns about setting a precedent. Supervisor McMurray said McGinty was working outside the scope of her current job and was deserving of the pay raise, to $21.06 per hour. It is on a full-time provisional basis until McGinty passes a future Erie County Civil Service exam.

       A 14 member Long Range Planning Committee was appointed to one year terms. The voting members are:
    Town Supervisor Office - Deputy Supervisor, Jim Sharpe
    Town Board Member - Planning Board Liaison, Bev Kinney or delegate
    Business/Development - GI Chamber of Commerce, Eric Fiebelkorn or delegate
    Conservation Advisory Board - Chairperson, Diane Evans or delegate
    Planning Board - Chairperson, Bob Starzynski or delegate
    Zoning Board of Appeal - Chairperson, Marion Fabiano or delegate
    Parks & Recreation - Chairperson, Jason Nascar or delegate
    Traffic Safety Advisory Board - Chairperson, Dorothy Bitner or delegate
    Economic Development Advisory Board - Chairperson, Mary West or delegate
    Citizen-at-Large: Deborah Billoni, Martha Ludwig, Dan Drexilius, Sharon Osgood, Peter Coppola

    In other business, the Board:
    •Approved a resolution improving facilities of the consolidated sewer district to include Whitehaven Road and Grand Island Boulevard.
    •Authorized the issuance of serial bonds not to exceed $841,000 to pay for the improvements of the sewer district project.
    •Approved a leave of absence of 60 days for Barbara Johnson, Golden Age Center cook.
    •Approved the installation of school zone signs at Kaegebein by the GI Highway Department.
    •Approved wastewater contracts with Beaver Island State Park, effective April, 2016 - March, 2017.
    •Approved advertising for bids for 2016 Sludge Hauling.
    •Requests for hiring by the Recreation Department and the Parks Department were approved. •Approved renewal of special use permits for Carol Merckel, 2324 East River Road for keeping 2 agricultural animals and for Glen Wallace, 917 North Colony Rd. for a bed & breakfast.

    March 21 Workshop Meeting Discusses New Town Laws

        A long discussion regarding the drafting of a chicken law went round and round regarding residential properties. This has nothing to do with the new Agricultural Districts. In the "Chicken Law", the Town Code would be amended to add a "Keeping of Fowl" section. A special use permit is required for the keeping of fowl in residential districts in R-1 A, R-1B, R-1C and R-1D districts where the principal use of the property is single family residential. A maximum of two fowl shall be allowed on lots 10,000 square feet or smaller. For example, Sandy Beach properties are generally that size. One additional fowl would be allowed for every additional 2800 square feet. A coop/roost would have to be provided that offered 3 square feet per fowl and shall not be located closer than 25 feet to any residential structure on an adjacent lot. References were made to Cornell Standards which would allow more fowl per acre. The Town Board will be looking into this further. There may be grant money available to help overhaul the Town Code.

        The "Trapping Law" would make it unlawful to hunt or trap on Town Park land. After a long discussion regarding other local towns and council opinions, trapping in Town Open Space areas may be permitted or licensed, at no charge or a small charge. The new Town law will be advertised before a Public Hearing scheduled to be held on April 4th. Proposed Trapping Law. Proposed Trapping Law - Updated 4-4-16.

       Tourist Home Law adopted in the Fall of 2015 was discussed. Tourist Homes were removed as lawful use in all districts. One year amoritization of existing tourist homes is in place, un-officially there are less than a dozen properties in operation. Supervisor McMurray would like to cap and permit current proprieters. The properties would have to be inspected and fee's paid. Unhappy residents living nearby would have recourse by calling local law enforcement or complaints to the Zoning Department. In order to operate, proof of a year of operation that is provable by tax records may be required. Also mentioned were performance standards, including maximum occupancy, parking, operational requirements such as soap, towels etc. The Town Board will have a public hearing April 18th and is looking for public feedback on the issue.

        A term limit law was also discussed with the new members of the Town Board, Kinney, Madigan & McMurray in favor of a 8 year limit. It would not affect the Town Clerk, Judge or Highway Superintendent office. More discussion will take place before a public hearing, tentatively planned for April 18th.

    Town Board Action
    Proclamation Honors Firefighters Long Service - March 2016

    By Jodi Robinson
       Mon., March 7, 2016 . . .

    From left: Ray Pauley and Butch Myers

        The Town Board meeting had the largest turnout in recent history. Two proclamations were presented at the beginning of the meeting, Certificates of appreciation were handed out to R2 Zoning Committee members Dave Bruno, Diane Evans, Betty Harris, Beverly Kinney, Joe LaLonde, Dave Lyons, Ron Rezabek, Dan Robillard and Bob Starzynski for their service over the past year. The board was dissolved during the nights meeting. The second proclamation was given to Grand Island Fire Company members, Ray Pauley and Robert "Butch" Myers for Long Time Outstanding Service. Ray has served 53 years in the Fire Company and Butch has served 51 years.

    Protest sign.

       Two public hearings were held, regarding trapping on Town land and keeping chickens in residential areas. The impetus for the large crowd at the meeting was an amendment to the Hunting and Trapping section of the Town Code. The law states "No person shall hunt or trap within the boundaries of a park or on any Town-owned property located within the Open Space (OS) zoning district." Close to 20 individuals spoke against trapping of any kind on Town property. Most of the concerns were for the welfare of pets, children and wildlife. A handful of audience members were in favor of trapping as a way to keep the coyote population in check and the rights of individuals to trap in New York State. The back and forth between sides went on at length. There was one young trapper in attendence, Josh Shipman. Many speakers mentioned marking traps so residents would not happen upon traps whether on public or private lands. The zoning map has the Open Space districts marked, see here.

        In the "Chicken Law", the Town Code would be amended to add a "Keeping of Fowl" section. A special use permit is required for the keeping of fowl in residential districts in R-1 A, R-1B, R-1C and R-1D districts where the principal use of the property is single family residential. A maximum of two fowl shall be allowed on lots 10,000 square feet or smaller. For example, Sandy Beach properties are generally that size. One additional fowl would be allowed for every additional 2800 square feet. A coop/roast would have to be provided that offered 3 square feet per fowl and shall not be located closer than 25 feet to any residential structure on an adjacent lot.

       Appointments were made to Town advisory boards. Economic Development: Mary West, Jennifer Peresie, Roger Cook & Ken Rogoza; Traffic Safety: Charles Grunzweig; Conservation Board: Jeff Green. Appointees were also named to a newly created Advisory Committee to the Supervisor with terms ending 12/31/16. They are: Cyndy Montana, Chair, John Gast, Jeannie Clabeaux, Eric Cook, Jonathan Bondi, Alyssa Quarentello, Nancy Samrany, Greg Chase, Judy Schmidt, Hank Cushing, Paul Koppman, Jen Benz and Ryhs Mendel, student rep.

    In other business, the Board:
    •Approved a SEQR for 2475 Grand Island Blvd. for conversion to a daycare facility.
    •Scheduled a public hearing on March 21st regarding improvements to the Sewer District.
    •Approved the purchase of the Parks Maintenance Building at 1875 Bedell Road for the purchase price of $1,440,624.
    •Approved the appointment of Christopher Dann as Principal Engineer Assistant and Joseph Leggett as Junior Sanitary Chemist.
    •Approved the Professional Services Agreement with Wendel WD Architecture for the clearwell piping project.
    •Approved a bid from Yarussi Construction, Inc. for the Water Treatment Clearwell Line project in the amount of $239,113.
    •Approved the easement and water infrastructure at Heron Point LLC on Grand Island Blvd.


    Supervisor's Letter - March 2016

    Dear Islanders,
        Property Assessment     It's property assessment time! But before you attack town hall with pitch forks and torches, please allow me to try and explain why we do this, why it's important, and why it may even be beneficial to you. I'll try to keep my comments short and simple, because it can get really complex.
       We do this because we are required to do so by law.
       New York State requires towns like ours to do an assessment once every 3 to 5 years. They actually would prefer it if we did it every year. But we're not going to do that. In fact, after this year, we will take a couple years off. And getting a full assessment done again this year will help guarantee that we stay at 100% valuation.
       100% valuation is a good thing.
       100% valuation means we have a pretty good idea about what your home (and everyone else's home) is actually worth. In other words, we are not just relying on what is known as an "equalization rate," which is not much more than a blind guess. You might argue an assessment is not much more than an educated guess. But a professional has at least looked at your property, compared it with other homes, and followed an objective set of standards to try and accurately value it.
        Knowing what our homes are actually worth (again, 100% valuation) is important for a number of reasons. Let's say, for example, you are looking to sell your home. If your home and every other home in your neighborhood are assessed accurately, you're more likely to get the right price for it. Or let's say the value of your property is actually less than you might think (which was revealed to be the case for some homes after the last assessment). Would you really want to continue to pay taxes based on an inaccurate value?
        The answer to that question is "no." Because while the assessment is about value and not taxes, the two things are obviously not unrelated. Everyone knows that a higher assessment value may lead to more taxes. But please remember, if your house was overvalued in the past, there is no way to claw the extra taxes you paid back. That money is gone forever. Just remember that our taxes are ultimately set by the School District, County and Town. Your assessment has nothing to do with the tax levy. Nonetheless, there is a way however, to dispute your valuation if you think we got it wrong.
        You will have multiple chances to question your valuation.
       When you get the notice in the mail stating the assessed value of your home, it will have a phone number on the top, which you can call to set up an appointment to come in and speak directly to the appraisers who are working on the assessment. Regarding this, please remember that the assessors are just trying to do their job and the people working at Town Hall are your neighbors. If I may kindly ask, even if the number you see seems outrageous to you, when you come in please be kind. No one wants to be yelled at, and I can say confidently that our Town Assessors will do everything in their power to hear your opinion and check the accuracy of your assessment. If you feel they haven't, please call my office.
        So, if you have questions or disagree with your assessment, Step 1 is an informal talk with our appraisers. Step 2 is to file a Complaint on Real Property Assessment. Complaint hearings will take place the 4th Tuesday of May at Town Hall. If you are still not satisfied, Step 3 is to ask for a more formal "SCAR" hearing (Small Claims Assessment Review), which will take place in various attorneys' offices appointed by the courts. I know, it's a terribly troubling acronym, but itís another opportunity for you to make sure your voice is heard and we get your assessment right.
        If I could, I would cut taxes to zero and give everyone free chocolate bars and lemonade.
        Assessment time is not fun. It's not fun for the people at Town Hall and it's no fun for you. And taxes (which may fluctuate depending on your valuation) are even worse. Sometimes I wish we lived in a world where everything was free, every day was Saturday, and all we did all day was go to block parties and amusement parks. But we all know, to enjoy any of those things, we need to deal with reality. And property assessments are a part of reality.
        Like I said, we are required to do it. It will give you the security that the value of your home is based on objective standards, it will ensure you never overpay taxes, and it will give anyone coming to Grand Island to purchase your home the same surety that things are what they seem. And once more, if we get it wrong, or you think we get it wrong, come in and discuss it with us. Together, we can hopefully work it out.
    With best regards,

    Workshop Meeting Notes - February 2016

       A workshop meeting was held on Monday, February 22nd with many topics of discussion. The first order of business was an update from Town Assessor Judy Tafelski. There is a information meeting Thursday, February 25th at Town Hall at 6:30 p.m. with a representative of Emminger, Newton Pigeon & Magyar, Inc., on the topic of the Island wide re-assessment. 2016 will see an equalization rate at 100%, up from 96% at the last re-assessment. Mailings will be going out on February 29th, and there will be informal challenge appointments available starting March 15th at the Nike Base. There are 8900 parcels on Grand Island and 7100 are residential, 75% will see a change of plus or minus 10% or less. 10% of parcels will see a increase of +10%, mostly waterfront and commercial.
       The Gus Macker Basketball Tournament date has been changed to June 4 & 5th due to the already set dates of the Relay for Life and a high school prom. The Town Board has still not given the green light to the event, as they are waiting to hear the plans for security and medical transportation coverage. Many town center businesses are asking that an alternate location be looked into so Grand Island Blvd. does not have to be shut down from Friday evening to Sunday evening. Supervisor Nate McMurray has plans to sponsor a 3 point contest with his own funds to add an activity for the weekend.
       Other topics included:
  • Approving a defensive driving course for Town employees.
  • Appointing Councilman Ray Billica in charge of looking into costs and needs for a new Town website.
  • The discussion of the new Parks Department building on Bedell Road. At this point in time, the plan was to have purchased the building outright from the developer. Instead, because of issues with a grinder pump and drainage, the Town is still paying $9000 per month in a lease agreement.

    Jam Packed Workshop - February 2016

        A well-attended Town Board workshop meeting was held on Monday, February 8th at Town Hall. The highlights of the agenda were, Gus Macker Basketball Tournament, Trapping on Town Land, the Chicken Law and Tourist Homes. It looks like before anything is decided on these topics, public hearings will be held so Town residents can speak their mind.
       The Gus Macker is scheduled for June 11th & 12th, closing down Grand Island Blvd. between Whitehaven Road and Baseline Road. On hand to voice her displeasure was Linda Feldman, owner of Eddie's Art Shoppe. She noted that every time GI Blvd. is closed she has to close her store, therefore, loss of income. She suggested the Gus Macker be moved to Industrial Drive, out of the way of Boulevard businesses. Whitehaven Road business owner Bonnie Sciuk noted that during last year's tournament, her property became a parking lot, urinal and garbage dump. Supervisor Nate McMurray and Councilmen Ray Billica and Mike Madigan are strongly in favor of having the event. The Town Council wants to see a public safety and public health plan before the go ahead is given to promoter Corey McGowan.
       The Chicken Law refers to the keeping of chickens in residential areas. Councilman Chris Aronica noted that after looking at Chicken Laws in surrounding towns, regulations are "all over the place". As of right now, trapping is prohibited in town parks. New regulations may prohibit trapping on all Town property. There will be public hearings for both of these issues in the near future.
       The Tourist Home issue is messy. You can go to Workshop 9-22-15, and see the motion and findings outlining in part that, "With the exception of bed-and-breakfasts as specifically authorized in this Chapter, transient rentals or short-term rentals are not permitted in the following zoning districts: R-1A, R-1B, R-1C, R-1D, R-1E, R-2, R-2A, and R-3." It also goes on to say that "In a decision that has been appealed by the Town, Supreme Court, Erie County (J. Devlin) held that there is ambiguity in the Zoning Code with respect to whether short-term, transient rental of non-owner occupied dwellings in residential zoning districts was prohibited and that the issue must be decided in favor of the property owner. " Supervisor McMurray would like to drop the appeal, while Councilmen Aronica and Billica would like to continue with it. Councilwoman Bev Kinney and Councilman Madigan questioned whether there was a need to continue with the appeal.
       The bottom line is, do you or don't you want to see the Gus Macker back on GI, do you or don't you want trapping on public lands, do you or don't you want to see chickens in your or your neighbor's yard and do you or don't you want to see your neighbor's home turned into a short term rental (less than 30 days). You can go to the public hearings, email the Town Board (townboard@grand-island.ny.us), call the Supervisor (773-9600 ext. 616) or drop by Town Hall and let him know your thoughts.

    Town Board Action
    Gus Macker Tabled for Further Review - February 2016

    By Jodi Robinson
       Mon., February 1, 2016 . . .    Supervisor Nathan McMurray was absent from the February meeting and Deputy Supervisor Jim Sharpe sat in his place. The Deputy position is a non-voting appointment.

       The Gus Macker Basketball Tournament is scheduled for June 11 & 12, 2016. Tournament Director Corey McGowan was looking for Town Board approval at the Monday night meeting, but questions regarding security and emergencey medical issues are still unanswered. Approval was tabled until after a meeting on February 8th. That meeting will bring together security, police and GI Fire Company representatives and the Town Board, and is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at the Town Hall lower conference room.

       After approval by the Town Board, guidance of the Dog Control Department will now be under the direction of Town Clerk Pattie Frentzel's office.

       A wellness proposal by MOG for Town employees was approved by the Town Board. This proposal promotes health and is at no cost to the Town or Town employees.

        The Association of Towns of the State of New York has a meeting each February. This year Councilman Raymond Billica has been appointed delegate and Councilwoman Beverly Kinney has been appointed alternate.

        Communication from GI residents Joe and Lynn Morganti of Hidden Oaks Ct. reflected a "positive experience" dealing with Town Engineer John Whitney and his team for their "concern and quick response". The Morganti's had an issue with a drainage pond behind their home. Communication from the Grand Island Parks and Recreation Advisory Board unanimously, "strongly urges that all trapping on public land in the town of Grand Island be banned"

    In other business, the Board:
    •Authorized the supervisor to sign a letter of commitment to the Western NY Stormwater Coalition to assist in a gap analysis & mapping project.
    •Approved the application to construct a waterline, and sanitary sewer for the Heron Pointe apartment complex on Grand Island Blvd.
    •Approved a request to advertise for bids for a Water Plant Clearwell Piping upgrade.
    •Approved the purchase of a mini-excavator for the Water Department from Admar Supply Co. Inc., at a cost of $45,720.00.

    Disposition 2-1-16 / Agenda 2-1-16 / Agenda Packet 2-1-16

    Supervisor's Letter - February 2016

    Dear Islanders,
        Iím going to tell you a scary story.
        I warned you, so prepare yourself. When I was a child, my aunt used to watch me sometimes. And to keep me and my siblings in line she used to tell us that for every "bad" thing we did, an angel would come down when we slept to pull back our scalp and leave a black mark on our skulls. God would count those black marks someday to determine if we could get into heaven. See? I told you it was scary.
        Why did I share such a terrible tale? Well, I want to talk about the stories we tell our kids, and especially our teenagers. Kids do dumb things. As your new Supervisor, I have already been exposed to some of the issues, and I'm troubled. I'm especially troubled about the levels of drug and alcohol abuse on Grand Island. The survey data produced by One Island One Team (a local organization to stop substance abuse) is frightening. We need to understand and deal with these facts. But we also need to tell ourselves that there are other stories to tell - stories of hope and restoration.
        I understand that many are struggling.
        Much has been made of Western New York's economic revival, and there are surely signs of positive change all around us. There are new buildings going up in downtown Buffalo, and new life in many old buildings that have long been shuttered. I'm hoping we can bring some of that here to Grand Island. But the benefits of this renaissance have not filtered down to every family. Many Western New Yorkers are struggling. Many Islanders are struggling.
        When I was a child, my family struggled too.
        I was raised by a single mother after my Dad died when I was 3. I know the fear that comes when you run out of food before the next payday. And I know that when you are stuck in dire economic straits, the first thing you lose is your sense of hope. Discouraged parents pull away emotionally. Scared kids look for solace or acceptance in drinking, drugs, irresponsible sexual behavior, or other forms of self-destruction. And believe me, I donít think drug abuse is limited to financially struggling families - I know it happens in every socio-economic class. But good communities offer support so our kids can find solace and acceptance elsewhere.
        Iím not here to raise your kids
        Iím not here to raise your kids, or to tell you how to raise your kids. Government is here to build a public works infrastructure that attracts new businesses and economic growth. Government can help build quality schools, well-stocked with adequate resources and outstanding teachers, to ensure your kids get the best possible education. And Government can help provide you with well-tended parks and quality recreational programs, to help you ensure your children get the exercise and social interaction they need.
        Culture and sports builds strong communities.
        I am thinking hard now about this last point. I think it is time for Grand Island to think about a new Community Center near the center of our town to enhance the offerings of our Recreation Department. Sure, itís an audacious goal. And I know it's been tried before. But given the problems facing many of our young people and the demand for a Recreation Center that I have heard from residents, the time may be right. I strongly believe that sports, done right, can help improve self-confidence and self-esteem, build lasting friendships, and draw attention away from self-destructive activities that ensnare many young people. But we cannot forget that not every kid loves sports. Other programs, like a community theater for example, have proven tremendously popular and a tremendously effective means of drawing in children who have interests other than sports.
        But above all this, forgiveness first.
        The best community programs in the world wonít ensure the safety of every child. Drugs are a problem on Grand Island, as they are in every community in America. There isnít a family alive that hasnít been bruised by dysfunction or abuse or alcohol or drugs. The difference between the happy families and the unhappy families is that the happy families face the problem, forgive one another, and keep loving each other. The unhappy families donít.
        You, or a loved one, might have a child who's acting out; whoís breaking your heart. Be strong. Be patient. Donít stop loving your child. There are, in fact, NO black marks being doled out by angels! Mistakes can be fixed and pain can heal. My heart goes out to the people who have lost kids to drugs, alcohol and bad decisions. Unfortunately, there will always be some we canít save, but we must never give up hope.
    With sincere regards,
        p.s. There is a meeting for One Island, One Team - Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition on Thursday, February 11th at 6 pm in the Grand Island High School Professional Development Room 137. Please join them - for information, for sharing ideas and for getting involved and making a difference.

    Town Board Action
    R-2 Zoning Law Passed - January 2016

    By Jodi Robinson
       Tue., January 19, 2016 . . .    A local law amending the R-2 Zoning District Regulations was passed 5-0 on Tuesday evening after a year of discussion. A notice of public hearing for a four-month moratorium on development approvals in the R-2 Zone, and the creation of a R-2 Review Committee was posted on January 23, 2015. The amendment includes the deletion of duplexes as an allowable use (in the future), the creation of buffers between higher and lower density parcels and a maximum of 4 units per building.
       Supervisor Nathan McMurray introduced a motion to re-institute the creation of a Long Range Planning Committee. The committee will be made up of members from Town advisory boards and the community. A discussion on who would be involved in the appointment to the committee went back and forth as Supervisor McMurray was under the impression it was at his discretion.

       A request by the Spicer Creek Homeowners Association for the addition of four LED lights to light existing road signage was approved.

       A letter from NYS Assemblymember John Ceretto to the NYS Department of Transportation was introduced regarding the roundabout at Staley Rd. and Grand Island Blvd. A request was made to replace the landscaping with hardscaping to improve the appearance and make it easier to maintain.

    In other business, the Board:
    •Discussed the inclusion of Grand Island properties in the Amherst Agricultural District during the workshop held prior to the Town Board meeting. Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick was at the meeting and said it would be voted on January 21st.
    •Discussed the issue of trapping animals on Town land. The Board will be meeting with those in favor and against trapping in the near future.

    Town Board Action
    First Meeting for New Officials - January 2016

    By Jodi Robinson
       Mon., January 4, 2016 . . .    The first Town Board meeting for newly elected officials; Supervisor Nathan McMurray, Councilwoman Beverly Kinney and Councilman Michael Madigan, along with Town Board veterans Councilmen Chris Aronica and Ray Billica, was a reorganization of items for 2016. Designated items included:
  • Reappoint the law firm of Hodgson Russ, LLP, Peter C. Godfrey, Esq. of Counsel as Town Attorney for the first quarter.
  • Designate the Bonadio Group as Audit Counselors.
  • Designate Supervisor Nathan McMurray as Budget Officer, Liaison and Police Commissioner of the GI Police Department.
  • Reappoint Nicole Gerber as Deputy Emergency Services Coordinator.
  • Set mileage reimbursement rate at 0.54 per mile.
  • Designate M & T, JP Morgan Chase Bank, MBIA Class and First Niagara as depositories for the Town.
  • Adopt the 2016 Fee Schedule.
  • Set the Holiday Schedule.
  • Authorize petty cash funds for departments.
  • Schedule Town Board meetings.
  • Set Town Hall office hours as Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Closed on all designated holidays.

        Appointments and reappontments to assorted Town of Grand Island Advisory Boards followed, ending with the announcement of Cyndy Montana as the Supervisors Assistant and Jim Sharpe as Deputy Supervisor.

       It was announced that Eric Ackerman of Ackerman Plumbing, Dan Drexelius of Double D Construction and Mark Gfroerer of Huron Plumbing & Heating were elected by their peers to a two year term on the Board of Plumbing Examiners.

    In other business, the Board:
    •Approved the renewal of a Tower Permit for wireless telecommunications at 423 Ransom Road.
    •Approved the permit renewal for a private airport/landing strip by Robert Mesmer at 2548 Love Road.

    Inauguration of Newly Elected Officials - January 2016

    From left seated; Town Clerk Pattie Frentzel, Town Justice Sybil Kennedy, Councilwoman Beverly Kinney.
    Standing; Supervisor Nathan McMurray and Councilman Michael Madigan.

       The 2016 Inauguration of Elected Officials took place on Friday, January 1st at the Buffalo Launch Club. The Charles N. DeGlopper VFW Post #9249 Honor Guard presented flags and the Grand Island High School Quartet sang the National Anthem. Bible Fellowship Center Pastor Calvin VanderMey gave the Invocation and Benediction. The Master of Ceremonies was Philip Buchanan. Installation of Elected Officials included Nathan D. McMurray Ė Supervisor, Patricia A. Frentzel Ė Town Clerk, Michael H. Madigan Ė Councilman, Beverly A. Kinney Ė Councilwoman and Sybil E. Kennedy Ė Town Justice.