Among the items tackled at the recent meeting of the Fulton Common Council, Council members approved setting aside $20,000 for the legal fees involved in the city’s plan to annex a portion of the town of Granby into the city. The city wants to annex the land in Granby on which sits the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant so the city can stop paying taxes on the land. Granby officials have said they were surprised by the announcement and were not pleased.
Councilors also approved:
- Buying rock salt in advance of the 2012-13 winter season. They’ll pay the price set by the state and will buy their salt when the county does. Mayor Ron Woodward said salt will be bought only when it’s needed;
- The annual notation setting standard work days for elected and appointed officials;
- Agreements with Oswego County for its DARE and Recreation programs;
- A one-year lease with Time Warner for the cable company’s facility on the city’s Watertower Hill;
- The agreement with the county for a new countywide communications system for police, fire and other emergency responders;
- A resolution of respect for Jack Walsh, former City Clerk and County Legislator, who died recently. Walsh was also a singer who performed throughout the area. “Close your eyes,” said Councilor Dan Knopp. “You’ll hear him singing with the angels.”
During the public discussion portion of the meeting:
- Wallace Auser complained about the Council’s new rule limiting public comments to three minutes and banning complaints or negative comments about specific city employees. The policy was prompted by a lengthy public comment session at a recent meeting where two people lodged specific complaints about Joe Fiumara, who heads the city’s Community Development Agency. Auser’s wife, Sharon, was one of them. She said Fiumara had fired her unjustly, while the woman who runs the Weatherization Program that CDA had taken over alleged that Fiumara had harassed her. The city has since decided to drop the Weatherization program, which has been embraced by Oswego County Opportunities. Auser said the new policy on comments was “bad policy” and “a total overreaction”. “There was nothing said at that meeting that was illegal,” said Auser, a lawyer. “It may have been embarrassing,” he continued, but it wasn’t confidential. “We set the rules. I think they’re fair,” said Woodward, who said he consulted with the state’s expert on open meetings to come up with the policy. He said anyone with criticism of a public employee could come to his office.
- Dennis Merlino asked about the reconstruction of the Broadway bridge. The state will close two of the bridge’s four lanes over a period of two years to rebuild the decaying bridge. He said people were going to be angry when the lanes are shut off because they don’t know that it’s coming. He urged the city to communicate more about the project “so everybody has on their minds the goal at the end.” Woodward said it appeared the shutdown of the first two lanes has been delayed into August because Windstream needs more time to relocate phone lines.
- Mark Emrich asked about a tractor-trailer coming out of Great Bear Farm with an excavator on it. The city has many of its water wells at Great Bear. Woodward said he didn’t know what that was for, but speculated that contractors were in there to dig a well under a contract. Emrich also asked why, if fixing the caved-in well at the city Waterworks was such an emergency, nothing has happened yet. Woodward said plenty has happened, noting that the liner for the well has been ordered and the city is complying with a host of regulations involving the safety of the water supply. Emrich said he was disappointed that the city’s top water official lives at the Waterworks and didn’t spot the problem with the well before the collapse.
- Lisa Emrich praised the renovation of a home on Kellogg and Fifth Sts. “Absolutely gorgeous,” she said, comparing it to the troubled city housing project at the former Phillips St. school. Woodward said the city worked with contractors to draft standards for the city-seized homes that are renovated. The city has used a mix of city employees and contractors to fix up and resell homes seized for failing to pay taxes.
- Frank Castiglia noted that parking on State St. between 5th and 6th Sts. should be on one side of the narrow street only. He also asked who cleans up Bullhead Point park, saying that there seems to be a lot of weeds along the shoreline. Councilors answered that the weeds are considered a natural habitat for the fish and other shoreline animals, but that they’d look into the issue.
- A resident of Emery St. complained about the disrepair of sidewalks. Woodward said the city has more than 100 miles of sidewalks and workers rebuild about a mile each summer, though they’re doing less this year because of a lack of staff.