FULTON, NY – On the first day of 2018, an inaugural meeting of the Fulton Common Council swore in four returning and two new city councilors, a new Common Council President, and rang messages of optimism and excitement for the city’s future.
Fulton Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. started the meeting with a few of the goals he intends to continue prioritizing throughout the year including the continued development of the remaining 22 acres of the Nestle site, noting no less than five parties interested in purchasing parcels of the site right now.
City officials will also continue the dredging process of Lake Neatahwanta which has been closed to swimming since 1988. The purchase of a dredge last year will allow for more yardage of dredged material, estimating roughly three years away from having entire lake done.
“I think it would be sad for us to not put it back for future generations to use, I think we have an obligation to do that,” Mayor Woodward said.
One of the final goals that will be worked on early in the new year is the push for LED street lighting with consultants coming in to start the process to “pull the trigger on that,” Woodward said.
The switch to LED lighting will provide a very significant savings for taxpayers in the city of Fulton, he added.
The Honorable City Court Judge Hawthorne administered the oath to city councilors swearing to uphold the Constitution of the United States, Constitution of the State of New York, and the Charter and Code of the city of Fulton in their duties as common councilors.
Newcomers to the council, Sam Vono representing the fourth ward and Dennis Merlino representing the fifth ward, took a moment to thank their families, Fulton voters, and all the people who helped them secure a seat among the Common Council.
Vono, declaring himself a Fultonian through and through, said the experience to reaching the Common Council was eye-opening.
“I feel like I’ve been inducted to the circle of trust. This is a great way to start the new year. I’m optimistic about our city and where it’s headed,” he said.
He is hopeful that he may be able to help provide input to city departments given his experience with computer tech support in his full-time job as a Computer Support Specialist and is excited to be a part of continued development of the Nestle site, the dredging of Lake Neatahwanta, and volunteer groups such as Friends of Fulton Parks.
“This is an exciting time and I’m just getting started. I campaigned for a fresh start for the fourth ward but I think this is a fresh start all around. What I like most is that from what I’ve seen by being invited in to the council so far, all of their hearts are in the right place. I don’t see politics involved, they all want the same thing which is exactly what I want – to do what is right for Fulton,” Vono said.
Merlino, having regularly attended council meetings as a city resident for the past 15 years, said he is excited to now be a part of the team.
“I have respected and admired the Mayor and council for so long, it’s certainly different sitting on the other side of the table,” he said.
Merlino is particularly interested in the continued agenda to develop the Nestle site, the abundance of training to come, learning more about city codes, his continued involvement in bringing LED street lighting to Fulton having volunteered as a private citizen to make connections in that effort, and continuing to see the successes of groups like Fulton Block Builders where he learned the importance of appearance to neighborhoods in his role as a block ambassador.
“Quality of life is so important, and I’m responsible for upholding quality of life for many people. I had a good predecessor and now I’m hoping I can be a great councilor,” Merlino said.
A unanimous roll call vote nominated and elected third ward councilor Donald Patrick Jr. as the Common Council President for the duration of 2018.
“Thank you to me fellow councilors for the vote of confidence in electing me president. I’ve got two tough ones to follow here, Mr. Kenyon and Mr. Ritchie both have taught me a lot. I’ve had a pleasure working with them,” he said to the crowd, also taking time thank Mayor Woodward and to deliver an emotional thank-you to his wife and kids.
Having worked for the city for more than 40 years and learning from his uncle who was a former Mayor of the city for 14 years, serving the city has always been a dream for Patrick.
“This is an honor for me. It’s always been a dream for me. I love helping people and I love this city. I also want to thank all city employees as well for the great job that they do. I know what it entails and how hard they work with how many people we have,” he finished.
Patrick is enthusiastic to continue work on the 481 corridor, dredging, infrastructure improvements, the erection of a city splash park, and the ongoing success of volunteer groups like Fulton Block Builders and the Friends of Fulton Parks.
One statement rang true for all common councilors as first ward councilor Tom Kenyon said, “This year is going to be a big one.”