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Common Council Items of Interest

For those of you who can’t make it to the weekly Common Council
meeting, following is the edited briefing. We included the topics that
relate to larger segments of the community. From this week’s meeting as
provided by the council, here is the summary:

IMPOUND VEHICLES FOR DRUG, DWI, WEAPONS, AND NOISE VIOLATIONS–The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Fillmore District Council Member David Franczyk supporting the establishment of a City of Buffalo Vehicle Impound Program (“VIP”) for vehicles violating drug, weapons and stolen property laws, loud music violations and Driving While Intoxicated (“DWI”) arrests. This action was in response to the many motor vehicle operators who utilize their vehicles as a mobile office for criminal activity, use their vehicles to transport illegal narcotics, carry weapons, play disturbingly loud music, or drive their vehicles while intoxicated. The Council has increased fines for noise violations in the past, but offenders can refuse to pay the summons with little or no consequence and offenders often continue to play excessively loud music within their vehicles with little or no repercussions. The Buffalo initiative is based in part by laws enacted by the City of Peoria, Illinois which in 2004, began a Drug Vehicle Impound Program, empowering the city to tow and impound motor vehicles transporting illegal drugs and to impose towing and storage fees amounting to $525. Peoria then instituted a DWI VIP with similar fines and fees and gave law enforcement the right to impound vehicles pulled over for loud music violations. This led to an enormous decrease in the blasting of loud music from motor vehicles. The Council is directing the City of Buffalo Law Department to research the Peoria ordinance with the intent to drawing up and filing a drug, DWI, gun, stolen property, and loud music Vehicle Impound Program for the City of Buffalo with the appropriate fines and penalties.

OPENING A GIFT SHOP ON THE 25TH FLOOR OF CITY HALL
–The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by South District Council Member Michael Kearns supporting the idea of opening a gift shop and tourist information center on the 25th floor of City Hall. The observation deck, which is located above the 25th floor, is a major attraction for visitors to City Hall, and Buffalo because of its spectacular view of the City, Western New York and Southern Ontario. Visitors have frequently inquired about the location of a retail outlet where they can purchase snacks, souvenirs and other Buffalo themed items to commemorate their visit; although tourists are generally accustomed to having access to such amenities on site, these items cannot be purchased within City Hall. The 25th floor of City Hall has been vacant and unused for many years, and fortunately there is ample space to locate a gift shop and tourist information center. By its action, the Council requested the City of Buffalo Comptroller and Departments of Public Works, Law, and Administration and Finance to explore the feasibility of opening a gift shop and tourist information center on the 25th floor of City Hall and identify what steps would need to be taken to bring this to a reality.

WAIVE DISPOSAL FEES FOR HABITAT FOR HUMANITY–The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Lovejoy District Council Member Richard Fontana requesting the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works, Parks and Streets to waive disposal fees at the South Ogden Transfer Station for Habitat for Humanity for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. Habitat for Humanity has an excellent reputation as a not-for-profit organization that provides decent and affordable housing for people in the City of Buffalo but their resources are limited. The Habitat for Humanity volunteer work force continues to rehabilitate older homes and build new ones to strengthen the City by increasing home ownership and creating additional property tax revenue. The City owns the transfer station located on South Ogden Street and allows private citizens and organizations to dump bulk trash for a fee thereby alleviating heavy trash pile-ups on City streets. By waiving fees for Habitat for Humanity, the City of Buffalo will be directly reducing Habitat for Humanity’s building costs and freeing up construction dollars that can be used to complete additional projects.

AUDIT OF MARINE DRIVE APARTMENTS–The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Fillmore District Council Member David Franczyk requesting the City of Buffalo Comptroller to perform an audit of the management procedures and financial record of the Marine Drive Apartments. The purpose of this resolution is to fulfill a request reviewed by the Council on June 22, 2010 from the counsel of the Marine Drive Apartments Resident Council and Association to request the City Comptroller to perform a financial and management audit of the Marine Drive Apartments under the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (“BMHA”) and Erie Regional Housing Development Corp. from September 1, 2007 to the present.

JOINT COMMISSION TO EXAMINE POLICE REORGANIZATION–The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Council Members Kearns, LoCurto, Rivera, Fontana, Haynes, and Franczyk empowering a Joint Police Reorganization Commission (“JPRC”) to review the organizational structure of the Buffalo Police Department, evaluate its strength and weaknesses, and develop a plan to reorganize the Buffalo Police Department in a way which balances the need to efficiently use personnel and equipment with the responsibility for keeping neighborhood residents safe and maximizing community policing. In February of 1991, the Common Council empowered a JPRC to develop a plan to reorganize the Buffalo Police Department. In December of that year, the JPRC released a Police Reorganization Commission Report which contained several recommendations for improving police precinct and patrol services, labor relations, community involvement and controlling costs. It was claimed that by following these recommendations, that the City would have more officers on its streets. One major recommendation for improving precinct and patrol services was to consolidate the City’s 14 police precincts into five police districts. These police district boundaries were restructured based upon the number of calls for service, rather than upon population or Council District boundaries. While most of the recommendations of the 1991 JPRC report were ultimately followed by the City of Buffalo, over time the population and demographics of the City have changed and the field of law-enforcement has undergone major advances, particularly in terms of technology. For these reasons, the Council maintains that a new JPRC must be established in order to address these major changes.

REQUEST TO AMEND PUBLIC HOUSING LAW SECTION 404–The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Fillmore District Council Member David Franczyk requesting the New York State Legislature to change the Public Housing Law Section 404 to grant the Buffalo Common Council the power to appoint two commissioners to the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (“BMHA”) governing board, and that the law be further amended to reduce the Mayor’s appointments to the BMHA governing board by two, the net result of these changes being that the seven member BMHA governing board would have two members elected by tenants, two members appointed by the Common Council, and three members appointed by the Mayor with the five appointed board members subject to confirmation by the Common Council. The BMHA Tenant Council influences and impacts not only the lives of housing authority residents, but also the lives of residents in the adjoining neighborhoods where BMHA housing developments are located. The Common Council maintains that as elected representatives of Buffalo taxpayers, it is the responsibility of the Common Council to make sure the BMHA Tenant Council has a board of commissioners that represent the diverse needs of the greater Buffalo area as well as those of the housing agency. Granting the Common Council the authority to appoint two housing commissioners would make the BMHA governing board more transparent, accountable and representative of the needs of the City of Buffalo. The Common Council anticipates adopting a
home rule message in support of a legislative amendment to Public Housing Law Section 404.

BUFFALO ECONOMIC RENAISSANCE CORPORATION PROVIDING BONUSES–The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Council Members Michael LoCurto and Michael Kearns requesting the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corporation (“BERC”), the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency (“BURA”), and the city administration to report the names and positions of BERC’s and any other appointees or employees that received bonuses for the fiscal or calendar year 2009 (except for bonuses paid to individuals pursuant to the terms and conditions of a duly authorized collective bargaining agreement), the amounts paid to each employee and the rationale for providing these bonuses. BURA is a public benefit corporation that was designed to manage the various urban renewal programs. In 2009, BURA, BERC, and the City’s handling of Community Development Block Grant (“CDBG”) funds came under scrutiny and the focus of special monitoring performed by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) who reported 19 findings and two concerns relating to operational shortcomings and ineligible expenses of over $5.8 million in the administration of federal funds. In that same year BERC paid bonuses to 19 employees as reported by the Authorities budget Office in its 2009 Supplemental Budget. The Council maintains that these bonus payments do not appear warranted given the agency’s recent performance.

HOLD CITIZENS PLANNING COUNCIL MEETINGS IN COMMON COUNCIL CHAMBERS–The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by South District Council Member Michael Kearns requesting that the Citizens Planning Council (“CPC”) conduct all of its upcoming meetings during the capital budget process in Common Council Chambers and have such meetings open to the public and recorded for public broadcasting on Cable Access Television (“CATV”) government channels. The CPC is a public body that recommends to the Mayor a capital budget for the upcoming fiscal year and a capital improvement program for the next four calendar years thereafter. The recommended capital budget and capital improvement program respectively identify proposed capital improvements, their estimated costs, as well as the annual costs of debt services, operation and maintenance. The CPC’s recommendations concern every citizen in the City of Buffalo; therefore residents should be given the opportunity to comprehend the rationale and process behind the CPC’s Recommended Capital Budget and Program that directly affect their communities. The Council maintains that the CPC’s meetings should be held in Common Council Chambers, recorded, and broadcast on CATV, in order to increase transparency.

ORDINANCE AMENDMENT–The Council approved an ordinance amendment to Chapter 511, Section 48 of the Code of the City of Buffalo prohibiting concrete crushing in the M2 Zoning Classification. Concrete crushing includes the cutting, grinding, pulverization or other destruction or breakdown of finished concrete or concrete slabs and has been found to be hazardous to nearby residents.

ACTION PLAN FOR 2010-2011–The Council adopted its Action Plan for 2010-2011. The Action Plan consists of programs and initiatives that Council Members intend to implement within the upcoming City fiscal year. These initiatives and programs relate to strengthening City of Buffalo operations, improving quality of life for City residents, and promoting sustainable economic growth.

BANNERS TO BE HUNG IN THE CITY OF BUFFALO

• The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Ellicott District Council Member Curtis Haynes, Jr. giving permission to the Puerto Rican Day Parade of Western New York Association, Inc. to hang banners on light poles along Niagara Street between South Elmwood Avenue, from Porter Avenue to Fourth Street. The banners will celebrate the 8th Annual Puerto Rican Day Parade and will be displayed from August 28, 2010 through September 25, 2010.
• The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Masten District Council Member Demone Smith giving permission to Tri-Main Development to hang 14 permanent banners on light poles on Main Street, between Rodney and Jewett Avenues. The banners will be hung to promote the company’s Tri-Main Center.

SALE OF CITY OWNED PROPERTY–The Council approved the sale of the following City owned properties:

The northerly portion of 127 Clare Street was sold to Mr. Michael Wanderlich for $700

The southerly portion of 127 Clare Street was sold to Mr. Ramon Rodriguez and Mrs. Iris Rodriguez for $700

25 Whitfield Avenue was sold to Mr. Matthew Knox for $4,500

APPOINTMENTS

• The Council confirmed the following individual to the position of Commissioner within the City of Buffalo Department of Parking:

-Kevin Helfer

Photo: South District Council Member Michael Kearns (Left) congratulates Kevin Helfer (Right) upon his confirmation as Commissioner of Parking for the City of Buffalo.

• The Council denied the confirmation of the following individual to the position of Corporation Counsel within the City of Buffalo Department of Law:

-David Rodriguez

The Council appointed the following individuals to the City of Buffalo Citizens Planning Council:

-Justin Azzarella
-Arthur Robinson, Jr.
-Tillman Ward
-Maureen Krause
-Teresa Glanowski

• The Council appointed the following individual to the position of Legislative Assistant within the Lovejoy District Council Office:

-Bryan Bollman

• The Council appointed the following individuals to the position of Assistant Legislative Aide within the Office of the City Clerk:

-Lydell Fortune
-Kathleen Harrington

• The Council appointed the following individual to the position of Assistant Legislative Aide II within the Delaware District Common Council Office:

-Alyssa Weiss

• The Council appointed the following individual to the position of Assistant Legislative Aide II within the Office of the City Clerk:

-Roxanne Chase

• The Council accepted the appointment of the following individuals to positions within the City of Buffalo Department of Permit and Inspection Services:

-James Comerford, Jr. was appointed to the position of Commissioner

-Michael Marcy was appointed to the position of Senior Special Assistant to the Commissioner of Permit and Inspection Services

• The Council approved the appointment of the following individual to the position of Compensation and Benefits Specialist within the City of Buffalo Department of Human Resources at a step above the base salary:

-Heather Machin

• The Council appointed the following individuals to the position of Intern within the Office of the City Clerk and District Council Offices:

-Ismahan Farah
-Vanessa Samuel
-Daneshea Dantzler

• The Council accepted the appointment of the following individuals to positions within the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works, Parks & Streets at the flat salary:
Senior First Class Stationary Engineer

-Timothy Keenan

Supervising Lifeguard

-Katherine Ryan
-Masha Polk
-Evan Middlebrooks

Lifeguard

-Catherine Wright
-Adrienna DiCioccio

LICENSE AND PERMIT APPROVALS–Upon the recommendation of its Legislation Committee and the Department of Economic Development, Permit & Inspection Services, the Council approved the following license and permit applications:

Sidewalk Café License
Blue Monk located at 727 Elmwood Avenue
Victor’s Bar & Grille located at 1503 Hertel Avenue
4 Play Night
club located at 45 West Chippewa Avenue

Food Store License
Family Dollar Store located at 1384 Main Street
Sam’s Express Mart located at 880 Fillmore Avenue
Amherst Food Express Mart Inc. located at 72 East Amherst Street
Ajwani Market located at 1426 Fillmore Avenue
African Market Center located at 355 Grant Street
South Buffalo Trading Company located at 1005 Abbott Road
Downtown Enterprises, A.H. Inc. located at 2756 Bailey Avenue

Permit to Erect a Cooler Addition to the Rear of a Restaurant
W. Hovey, agent of property located at 1198 Hertel Avenue (Ristorante Lombardo)
 
Second Hand Dealer License
Fred’s Small Engine located at 819 East Ferry Street
 
Permit for an Outdoor Patio
R. Eason, agent of property located at 502 Elmwood Avenue (former Avenue Pizza and Subs)

CLAIMS, CONTRACTS, CHANGE ORDERS & AGREEMENTS

• The Council approved the following contract change orders submitted by the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works (“DPW”):

The contract with Christa Construction for the Bailey Kensington Fire Station Construction Project was increased by $30,015 to furnish and install stainless steel end panels for the dishwasher, building identification numbers, a wood patio fence, and additional upgrades and modifications. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $2,567,000 and with this and prior changes the contract will increase to $2,612,006.

The contract with John W. Danforth Co. for the Broadway Market Boiler Replacement Project was increased by $26,367 for asbestos abatement required in the basement main boiler room. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $167,900 and with this and prior changes the contract will increase to $194,267.

The contract with R.W. Construction Co. for the Centennial Pool Alterations Project was increased by $23,037 for additional renovations and modifications. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $2,263,660 and with this and prior changes the contract will increase to $2,335,054.

The contract with Kandey Company Inc. for the Water Systems Improvements at Various Locations #1 Project was increased by $88,915 due to the unexpected and unknown subsurface conditions encountered at the Marine Drive Apartments Complex. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $1,391,733 and with this change the contract will increase to $1,480,648.

The contract with Tribal Construction for the Marcy Casino North Façade and Plaza Reconstruction Project was increased by $67,648 additional renovations and modifications. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $415,000 and with this and prior changes the contract will increase to $482,786.

The contract with Visone Construction Inc. for the Water Systems Improvements at Various Locations #2 Project was increased by $210,808 due to the additional paving required and the installation of a new pipe in an existing water main trench. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $1,399,092 and with this and prior changes the contract will increase to $1,749,810.

The contract with TVGA Architectural & Engineering Inc. for the Water Distributions at Various Locations #1 Project was increased by $108,750 for additional services related to the design and construction inspection of the presently ongoing contract work. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $159,900 and with this and prior changes the contract will increase to $293,910.

The contract with Watts Architectural & Engineering Inc. for the Water Distributions at Various Locations #2 Project was increased by $169,395 for additional services related to the design and construction inspection of the presently ongoing contract work. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $105,653 and with this and prior changes the contract will increase to $369,248.

Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Strategic Planning the Council:

Authorized a renewed lease agreement between the City of Buffalo and the North Buffalo Community Development Corporation for operation of the Lafayette Ice Rink located at 124 Tacoma Avenue. The lease covers the period May 21, 2010 through May 20, 2011 and includes various terms and conditions.

Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Administration, Finance, Policy and Urban Affairs, the Council:

Authorized the sale of junk vehicles to three licensed vehicle dismantlers. For the categories of, all vehicles picked up by the vendor, the contract was awarded to M&M U Pull It for $210 for each vehicle; for all vehicles delivered by the City to the vendor, the contract was awarded to South Buffalo Auto for $225 for each vehicle; for all heavy equipment picked up by the vendor and for all heavy equipment delivered by the City to the vendor, the contract was awarded to All Metal Inc. for $150 for each vehicle.

Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works (“DPW”), the Council:

Authorized a license agreement between the City of buffalo and Niagara Group LP for use of the city right-of-way on Staats Street to permit construction of secure parking, guard stations, and fencing to accommodate the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) building at 48-50 South Elmwood Avenue.

Authorized the extension of the agreement with New York State Industries for the Disabled, Inc. for janitorial services provided at the City Court Building. The agreement covers the period July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011.

Authorized DPW to purchase two New Holland T4020 2wd Tractors, four 9’6″ fisher V-plows, and two Alamo 88 inch superdury rear flail, center mount Cutter Decks for the total amount of $75,580.

Authorized the hiring of Siemens Industry, Inc. to perform design, implementation, construction inspection and administration services for Buffalo Water Treatment Plant water pumping system upgrades and modernization.

Authorized the hiring of an engineering consultant to assist with the review of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) flood plain maps for the South Buffalo and Old First Ward areas. The engineering consultant will review the flood plain maps and check the maps for accuracy.

Authorized David Homes to manage the energy efficiency grant of $2,736,900 from the Federal Stimulus Grant awarded to the City of Buffalo for the Renewable Energy Upgrades to City Facilities Project.

Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Police, the Council:

Authorized the purchase of up to 15 new marked Ford Crown Victorias to replace vehicles that have already been removed from the fleet because they were beyond their useful life.

Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Law, the Council:

Authorized the contract with the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (“BMHA”) permitting the Buffalo Police Department to provide supplemental police services at various BMHA housing developments. The contract will reimburse the City for expenses associated with a Buffalo Police Housing Unit consisting of 18 police officers and two lieutenants who will report to and work under the direction of a Buffalo Police Captain. The City will be paid at a rate of $63.96 per officer per hour with total compensation not to exceed $650,000, court time costs will be separately billed.

Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Office of Strategic Planning, the Council:

Authorized a renewed lease agreement between the City of Buffalo and the United States of America acting through the United States Coast Guard for the use of Strawberry Island. The Coast Guard maintains a light on Strawberry Island as a navigational aid for boaters. The lease covers the period October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2011 with the Coast Guard being responsible for the maintenance, operation replacement and repairs of Strawberry Island.

Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Planning Board, the Council:< br />
Authorized the City Planning Board to be the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQR”) lead agency for the purpose of analyzing the environmental impact of the following Projects:

Renovation of Building Project at 437 Broadway

Conference Space/ Building Renovation Project at 656 Genesee Street

Head Start Day Care Project at 1461 Main Street

The Council approved the reports of bids from the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works for the following projects:

Broadway Market HVAC Unit Replacement Project. This project is for the HVAC unit replacement at the Broadway Market in the Fillmore District. Of the bids that were received, Greater Niagara Mechanical was the lowest with a bid of $94,700.

Broadway Market Roof Reconstruction Project. This project is for the reconstruction of the roof at the Broadway Market in the Fillmore District. Of the bids that were received, Grove Roofing Services was the lowest with a bid of $52,800.

South Basin Improvements Project. This project is for the south basin improvements at the Colonel Ward Pumping Station located in the Niagara and Ellicott Districts. Of the bids that were received, STC Construction Inc. was the lowest with a bid of $1,433,916.

Fargo Avenue Reconstruction Project. This project is for reconstruction and modifications to Fargo Avenue located in the Niagara District. Of the bids that were received, Mark Cerrone Construction Inc. was the lowest with a bid of $1,006,551.

Colvin Estates – Subdivision Development Phase I Project. This project is for the development of a roadway, a storm sewer, water lines, and a sanitary sewer in the Colvin Estates. Of the bids that were received, Milherst Construction was the lowest with a bid of $1,057,735.

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