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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 briefing. From this week’s meeting as
provided by the council:

The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by University District
Council Member Bonnie E. Russell showing support for a Great Lakes
Themed Inner Harbor aquarium
, featuring both fresh and saltwater tanks
and exhibits, which would be located at the site of the former Memorial
Auditorium. Due to the demise of the Erie Canal Harbor as a functional
hub of commerce, the inner harbor remains largely vacant. Other than
infrastructure improvements, the area has seen few new buildings or
businesses. Locating a state-of-the-art Inner Harbor aquarium at the
Memorial Auditorium site that features both fresh and salt water
exhibits would be a major attraction that would bring hundreds of
thousands of visitors per year to the canal side area and spur further
economic development on the waterfront. Vacationers and visitors would
help fill hotels and restaurants, create demand for new retail, and
finally give the City of Buffalo’s waterfront a major destination, while
complementing its existing sites and attractions. An Inner Harbor
aquarium focusing on the Great Lakes ecosystem could feature plant and
animal life found in and around the lakes. In 1981, the National
Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland opened and since has been a symbol of
urban renewal, an economic anchor for the City of Baltimore, and a
source of pride for the entire state of Maryland. The Council maintains
that a Great Lakes themed aquarium at the site of the former Memorial
Auditorium could be the anchor that the area needs to spur full
revitalization of the waterfront and the entire Western New York
region.  The Council is requesting that an Inner Harbor Aquarium
committee be established to look further into bringing a world-class
aquarium to Buffalo’s waterfront.

The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by University District Council Member Bonnie E. Russell expressing the need for greater law enforcement coordination in the University District. The resolution is in response to the number of high-profile crimes which have occurred in the University District in recent years many of which have involved University at Buffalo (“UB”) students. Although many of these crimes have been solved and/or resulted in successful prosecution, the underlying issues which gave rise to these incidents remains unresolved, and contribute to the frustration, alienation, and anger expressed by University District residents who care about their community. The University District is one of the City of Buffalo’s most diverse Council Districts in terms of income levels and ethnicity and is home to a large number of UB students, many of whom reside in off-campus housing located throughout the district. The University District is patrolled by a number of different law-enforcement agencies including; the Buffalo Police Department, the Erie County Sheriff’s Department, the UB Police Department, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (“NFTA”) and the New York State Police, each of which has different powers, duties and jurisdictions. The Council maintains that it is critical for these agencies to coordinate their efforts even though their geographic jurisdictions do not overlap. The Council supports an increase in coordination and collaboration between the law-enforcement agencies operating within the University District and encourage them to work together to halt and prevent crime in the area.

The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Council Members Michael J. LoCurto and Bonnie E. Russell expressing support for the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (“CEDAW”) and urges its ratification by the United States Government. In December 1979, the United Nations General Assembly adopted CEDAW to provide a comprehensive framework for addressing the various forces that have created and sustained discrimination based on sex. CEDAW, often called the International Bill of Rights for Women, obligates the countries which have ratified or acceded to it to take all appropriate measures to ensure the full development and advancement of women in all aspects as well as to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women to eliminate prejudice, customs and all other practices based on the idea of inferiority or superiority of either sex. More than 52 countries signed the CEDAW during the 1980 Mid-Decade Conference for Women in Copenhagen, Denmark. As of March 2007, 185 countries have ratified or acceded to CEDAW, however the United States has yet to do so. In the United States, more than 12 states, 11 counties, and 20 cities have already endorsed or adopted CEDAW for their own jurisdictions. The Council maintains that the City of Buffalo has an appropriate and legitimate role in affirming the importance of international law in its communities and encourages its federal representatives to utilize the strength of their offices to rally support for and the ultimate adoption of the CEDAW by the United States.

The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Council Members Michael Kearns, David Rivera, and Michael LoCurto requesting the City of Buffalo Deputy Commissioner of Public Works and the head of the City of Buffalo Forestry Department to report to the Council the status of the City’s tree removal plan. In October 2006, a snow storm drastically reduced the number of trees in the City. The storm destroyed 8,400 mature trees and damaged many more. Although the City of Buffalo has a Forestry Department, there is still a need to contract out services due to the department’s lack of equipment for removing trees over 90 feet tall and because the department lacks employees who are power line certified arborists. Currently, the City of Buffalo has $40,000 available for emergency tree removals and it has been estimated that 3,500 trees need to be removed. The trees in need of removal are not standard tree removals that can be accomplished in-house by the City’s Forestry Department. More importantly, fallen and deteriorating trees pose an immediate hazard to the residents of the City of Buffalo. The Council maintains that $40,000 is inadequate to address the many trees needing removal, especially as the City approaches the winter season. The Council is directing the Deputy Commissioner of Public Works to furnish a list of all trees that have been identified as being in need of removal within each Common Council District.

The Council approved a resolution sponsored by Delaware District Council Member Michael J. LoCurto establishing the North Buffalo Ice Rink Oversight Committee. The committee will be comprised of a representative of the North Buffalo Community Development Corporation’s Board of Directors, the City of Buffalo Commissioner of Public Works or designee, the Delaware District Council Member or designee, and a representative of Buffalo Bisons Hockey.  The resolution is in response to the many upcoming improvements slated to occur at the North Buffalo Ice Rink due to allocations from the City of Buffalo’s Capital Budget and New York State grant funding. Improvements to the North Buffalo Ice Rink will benefit the North Buffalo community and those who live and play in the neighborhoods surrounding the rink. The Council maintains that the spirit of cooperation exhibited during the recent construction should be continued while further improvements of the rink are being made.

The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by North District Council Member Joseph Golombek, Jr. supporting a ban on commercial extraction of natural gas within the City of Buffalo. The commercial extraction of natural gas in the urban environment poses a significant threat to the health, safety, and welfare of residents of the City of Buffalo. Widespread environmental and human health impacts have resulted from commercial gas extraction in other areas. The Council maintains that the protection of residents, neighborhoods, and the natural environment constitutes the highest and best use of regulatory powers that the City of Buffalo possesses. The Council is requesting the City of Buffalo Department of Law to draft a Bill of Rights for the residents of the City of Buffalo and limit the legal powers of gas extraction corporations that operate or may operate in the City to only extract gas with the prior approval and consent of the City of Buffalo.

The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Council Members David Franczyk, Michael LoCurto, Michael Kearns, Richard Fontana and David Rivera condemning the Erie County budget cuts to the City of Buffalo and Erie County Library System. The resolution is in response to the $4 million in cuts imposed on the library system in the Erie County Executive’s recommended 2010-2011 Budget. In recent years many libraries have already been closed down due to lack of funding, thereby reducing the number of operating libraries from 51 to 37. The Council maintains that during these harsh economic times, Erie County residents are in even greater need of their community libraries for computer use, job hunting, general research, and intellectual improvement. Many young people do not have computer access at home and may not be able to afford the technologies and books that only the library can provide. Many Council Members, through great effort and cost, have reopened libraries that are located within their districts which were previously shut down during the last round of closings. The Council is requesting the County Legislature restore $4 million for the library system in the 2011 Erie County budget.

The Council adopted a Resolution sponsored by Council Members Michael Locust, David Rivera and Curtis Haynes Jr. calling for the Hate Crimes Task Force which was created by a separate Council Resolution, to be constitute
d as follow:
•    The Commissioner of the City of Buffalo Commission of Citizens Rights
•    Three appointees by the Common Council
•    One appointee or representative of the District Attorney
•    Two appointees of the Commissioner of Police
The Council resolution also calls for the Hate Crimes Task Force to convene their first meeting during the month of January 2011. 

The Council adopted the following resolutions dealing with the newly formed Joint Commission to Examine Police Reorganization
•    A resolution, sponsored by South District Council Member Michael P. Kearns, which amends the membership of the Joint Commission to Examine Police Reorganization so that four members may be appointed by the Mayor, the Police Commissioner will serve as an ex-officio member, two members of the Commission may be appointed by each of the nine District Common Council Members, and two members may be named by the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association (“PBA”).  Additionally, pursuant to Mr. Kearns’ resolution, the Commission will be required to comply with the City of Buffalo Charter and Code, Roberts Rules of Order, and the New York State Open Meetings Law, they will be required to prepare and file quarterly status reports of their progress, and they will be required to prepare and file a final report containing their recommendations regarding Police Reorganization no later than December 31, 2011.
•    A resolution, sponsored by Fillmore District Council Member David A. Frenzy, which named the following individuals to serve as Common Council appointments to the Joint Commission to Examine Police Reorganization:

-H. Wayne Gerhard
-James J. Cobol
-Joseph Marcia
-Darnell Jackson
-Thomas Higgins
-Richard Donovan
-Linwood Roberts
-Ricky M. Allen, Sr.

Sale of City Owned Property–the Council approved the sale of the following City owned properties:

•    Ellicott District
-1241 Michigan Avenue was sold to Mr. Bryon McIntyre for $1,300
-133 & 135 Spruce Street were sold to Tatanka Development Company, Inc. for $2,500
-108 Timon Street was sold to Mr. Kenneth Gayles for $250
•    Fillmore District
-1279 & 1283 Broadway were sold to Mr. Gregory Wachowiak for $5,900
-84 Mohr Street was sold to Mr. Donald Wainwright for $1,500
•    Master District
-738 Humboldt Parkway was sold to the Mr. Ronald House and Mrs. Etta House for $2,700
-255 Landon Street was sold to Mr. Huncle Means for $1,000
•    Niagara District
-383 Massachusetts Avenue was sold to Neighborhood Stabilization Corporation for $3,125
-401 Rhode Island Street was sold to Neighborhood Stabilization Corporation for $6,900
-40 & 42 Winter Street were sold to Neighborhood Stabilization Corporation for $6,660

Appointments
•    The Council accepted the appointment of the following individual to the position of Confidential Secretary to the Executive Director within the City of Buffalo Office of Strategic Planning at the base salary:
-Lanette Boulware-Wright

•    The Council appointed the following individual to the position of Assistant Administrator within the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works at a step above the base salary:
-Judith Winnert

•    The Council appointed the following individual to the position of Building Inspector within the City of Buffalo Department of Permit and Inspection Services at a step above the base salary:
-John Sexton

•    The Council appointed the following individual as a permanent member of the City of Buffalo Board of Assessment Review (“BAR”):
-William Maggio
 
•    The Council appointed the following individuals as temporary members of the BAR:
-Warren Glover
-Arthur Robinson
 
•    The Council approved the appointment of the following individuals to the Shared Asset Forfeiture Fund Advisory Committee:
-Janet Penksa
-Donna Estrich (SL #20)

•    The Council accepted the appointment of the following individuals to the position of Civilian School Crossing Guard within the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works at the base salary:

-Gina Tomaselli-Hernandez
-Rita Krysztofowicz
-Kelly Parker
-Frances Washington

•    The Council accepted the appointment of the following individuals to positions within the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works at the base salary:

John Baker was appointed to the position of Heavy Equipment Operator
-Joseph Fanara, Jr. was appointed to the position of Architect
-Lawrence LoTempio was appointed to the position of Laborer II

•    The Council accepted the appointment of the following individuals to positions within various City of Buffalo Departments at the base salary:

-Edward Betz was appointed to the position of Assistant Corporation Counsel I within the City of Buffalo Department of Law
-Elizabeth Krause was appointed to the position of Junior Accountant within the City of Buffalo Department of Audit and Control
-Edward Beck was appointed to the position of Intern IX in the City of Buffalo Mayor’s Office.
-Nicholas Puglisi was appointed to the position of Traffic Signal Engineer within the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works.
-Alisha Colton was appointed to the position of Account Clerk Typists within the City of Buffalo Fire Department.

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:

•  Delaware District

-Restaurant Dance License
-Gabel’s located at 1281 Hertel Avenue
 
•  Ellicott District

-Restaurant Dance License
-Nietzsche’s located at 248 Allen Street
-Musicians Big 6 VIP Club & Restaurant located at 600 East North Street

-Restaurant Dance Class IV License
-Bottoms Up located at 67 West Chippewa Street

-Permit for a Take Out Restaurant
-D. Lloyd, owner of property located at 23 Allen Street

•  Fillmore
-Food Store License
-Broadway Mart located at 1358 Broadway (#24)
-The Island Food Mart located at 1635 Genesee Street (#25)

•  Niagara District
-Food Store License
-Shaker’s Nice Price Market located at 68 Grant Street
 
•  North District
-Food Store License
-Sun Food Market located at 1989 Niagara Street (#27)

-Restaurant Dance Class III License
-Visions Club & Bar Restaurant located at 289 Austin Street (#29)

•  University District
-Restaurant Dance Class IV License
-Mojo’s located at 3144 Main Street (#32)

-Food Store License
-Big Daddy Food & Supply located at 2887 Bailey Avenue (#23)

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 Valeri Concrete Construction, Inc. for the 2010 Curb and Sidewalk Replacement Project was increased by $77,885. The change order is necessary to increase unit quantities to complete additional sidewalk replacement. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $431,117 and wi
th this change the contract will increase to $509,002.

-The contract with P&J Construction Co., Inc. for the 2010 Curb and Sidewalk Replacement Project was increased by $110,000. The change order is necessary to increase unit quantities to facilitate work within the Hickory Woods area. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $695,042 and with this change will increase to $805,042.

-Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency (“BURA”), the Council:
Authorized BURA to enter into a land lease agreement with Graphic Controls, LLC for a period of five years for use of 450 Exchange Street and 479-481 Alabama Street. Graphic Controls, LLC intends to use the property as a parking lot for their headquarters located at 400 Exchange Street.
 
•    Upon the request of the Police Department, the Council authorized the Commissioner of Police and the Mayor to execute any and all contracts associated with the City’s receipt of the following grant awards:

-$116,700 from the NYS Motor Vehicle Theft / Insurance Fraud Prevention Grant;
-$649,426 from the Operation Impact VII grant;
-$45 for every completed compliance check of merchants who sell tobacco products in accordance with Operation Protect Kids Cigarette Grant;
-$61,896 from the 2010 Bullet Proof Vest Grant;
-$1,942,880 from the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) Grant;
-$600,000 from the COPS Technology Grant;
-$152,105 from the Buffer Zone Protection Initiative Grant; and
-Up to $219,022 from a number of smaller grants, with the exact amount of each to be contingent upon the level of involvement of the Police Department with the initiatives the grant.

Upon the request of the Fire Department, the Council approved the purchase of a Supply Chase Vehicle to be used in tandem with a Mass Casualty Bus that is already in the Department’s fleet.  The cost of the vehicle will be funded by an allocation from the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) Grant.

Photo: Masten District Council Member Demone Smith.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

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