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Boston town board thanks crisis responders

BOSTON — Members of the Boston Town Board provided updates and shared insight regarding an emergency situation that recently occurred just outside the town limits, during its March 19 regular meeting. On the evening of Sunday, March 16, Matthew Eck, a resident of Brown Hill Road, was involved in a stand-off with police, including gunfire, that began around 9 p.m. and lasted for nearly 12 hours. Eck is now in custody.

“We had an extremely serious situation,” said Councilman Jeff Genzel. “At first, we thought it was in town and then later on, we found out it was actually in the town of Concord.

“Our emergency services in this town, as Councilman [Jay] Boardway has always said, are second to none,” Genzel continued. “Thank you to the Boston Fire Company, who opened up their doors to have a command center, at their new hall down there on Mill Street. I’d like to thank the North Boston Fire Company fire police blocking off roads. Of course, our Patchin Fire Company was on call, to back up our other two companies. Also, our Boston Emergency Squad was on duty, throughout the night, with ambulances waiting, if they were in need. It just goes to show you, folks, that our emergency services pull together and work as a team, when you have the Erie County Sheriff, the state troopers [and] the FBI. We’re just all thankful that no one got hurt and the suspect is in the appropriate hands to face the charges. So again, just thank you to all our emergency services, for being there and protecting our citizens.”

“There was some good information that was going on, in contacting back and forth,” said Supervisor Martin Ballowe. “I had the opportunity to meet with Councilman Genzel and discuss having a meeting with our fire companies and emergency management in town, [regarding] what we can do better [and] how we can be better prepared for things like this.”

Last year, the town looked into a “red alert” telephone system that would notify those citizens in the town who signed up for such a service. However, the cost of the system has kept the board from utilizing it, to date.

“The red alert system that we investigated last year with Hamburg dispatch is something that would sort of fit into that kind of thing, for a very specific area of people that could have been affected would have been notified,” said Boardway. “The cost was prohibitive for us, at that time, to involve ourselves in that system.”

“You actually have to sign up for it, explained Ballowe, “and then you will receive it to your cell phone or to your home phone. It’s an ongoing thing.

“It’s an unfortunate thing that happened on the outskirts of our town,” Ballowe concluded, “but we’ve been in contact and we’ve been discussing this, and I’ve been discussing this with Councilman Genzel and our emergency management, too, to move forward.”

Genzel added that any inquiries regarding responses to emergency situations can be directed to members of the town board.

In other board matters:

– Two board members addressed statements made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently, regarding local government spending. “Governor Cuomo is on a little mission right now, to impose restrictions on municipalities, to impose restrictions on towns such as ours, where he’s putting the cap on us real tight,” said Boardway. “This town board in particular has done a tremendous job, for the last four or five years – in the last two, again, in particular. We stayed under the cap. We’ve done everything. They keep putting unfunded mandates on us.”

Boardway added, “I had the opportunity to meet with Assemblyman Dave DiPietro. He gave me this cute little situation that happened, which they unfortunately didn’t spend a lot of time publicizing: About three weeks ago, Gov. Cuomo and Shelly Silver, the leader of the assembly, basically lost $120 million in federal aid because they refused to restrict welfare cards at strip clubs and liquor stores. Our budget in the town of Boston is roughly [$4-4.5 million]. That $120 million would run town for 26 years, without it costing you or I or anybody in this room a penny, and he has the nerve to come down here and blame the municipalities for being over-governed and over-districted. It’s nonsense. The people up there are out of their mind.”

Boardway concluded, “We know what’s going on and we’re doing our part here. I want you to rest assured of that, every day of the week.”

“I know it’s a campaign year for governors and so forth,” Ballowe added, “but one thing that by far, we work really, really hard on, the main focus we started five years ago, was taxes. We keep taxes low. In four years, we had two years of reduction in our taxes and two years of staying the same, so we didn’t raise them 2 percent. We didn’t even need the cap. We didn’t even need a hundredth of that cap. Going forward, the town is in great financial shape, as you can see, from last month’s meeting. We came about 4 percent under budget again, by watching what we do in this town – everybody. Not just five guys. Everybody works in this town.

“I take a little offense when they say they do it at a town level. Town level is the easiest thing to do, and it’s the best results firsthand we can do at town level. It’s when you get above the town level they can’t work within their budgets. I think that reverse has to go toward counties, has to go toward states [and] has to go toward those levels. But I appreciate his input and his noticing that we [have] the 12th highest county taxes in the United States.”

– Boardway updated the town on happenings in the county government, regarding the SAFE Act, which Boardway has opposed since the act’s inception. “I do want to thank the Erie County Legislature,” he said. “Last week, the legislature members passed a resolution at the Erie County Legislature level basically to prohibit Erie County from using any county letterhead, county seals, logos of the sheriff’s office on any official correspondence that the state of New York wants to send out. This is kind of a big deal, because what’s happening is, the state’s going to start passing on charges, or trying to, to the gun owners and everything else, and they’re going to go under the guise that Erie County’s going along with this. That is not the case. Erie County strongly [opposes] this legislation, since it was passed in the middle of the night, and they continue to maintain that.

“I promised you, back in November, before you guys all pulled the lever to put me back up here, that I would keep you appraised of that and that I would strongly continue to oppose it, and I still do.”

– Ballowe reported that he has been in contact with Senator Patrick Gallivan, who may “be able to help [the town] financially with some of the projects” it is currently working on. Ballowe specifically mentioned the bathrooms and shelter in North Boston. “[Gallivan] is working to, hopefully, get us some money toward that,” said Ballowe. “It would be gratefully appreciated.”

– Genzel provided an update on the water district on West Hill: “We’ve received 91 returned income surveys, so far. We need 131, so we need 40 more. We’re going to give it another week or so and then we will start the either door-to-door or start calling people, to see if we can get enough income surveys back. If not, then this project is going to be dead because obviously the majority up there doesn’t want to have it. So we’ll just push forward and, in the next few weeks, see if this is going to go or not.”

– The board received correspondence from the state of New York regarding the proposed speed limit reduction on Rice Road. The letter states, “A traffic engineering investigation has been initiated to review this request.”

Councilman Larry Murtha said, “This was complained about approximately four months ago. It looks like the state has it now, as of Feb. 26. Now we’re told it’s going to take three months for them to do this study, and it took approximately two months for them to even get it. So we’re looking at five months before this study will be done and we’ll get an answer about the dangerous situation at the intersection of Rice and Feddick [Road].”

– The board approved Ballowe to sign a contract with General Code, in order to begin working on code book revisions. “Our code book is fairly out of date – the paper version,” said Boardway. “The online version always remains somewhat in date. But we do need to update this.”

Regarding General Code, Boardway said, “They are very well known in this area. They do a very good job. We had experience with them. [Jennifer Mule’,] the town clerk works with their office on a regular basis [and] says good things. The proposal includes updated changes, revisions, editing for the book before it actually goes to print and then various copies of the book. It is $11,900.”

– The board approved by a four-to-one vote on the bid by Courts and More to “resurface the tennis courts, repair the cracks, line them and get both of them ready for the people of Boston to enjoy,” in the words of councilman Gary Vara, who was referring to the town’s tennis courts.

The winning bid was for $27,780 – the lowest of the three bids.

– A public hearing was scheduled for 7:40 p.m. on Wednesday, April 16 at the Boston Town Hall “to hear comments regarding granting of a franchise to Donna Rockwell to mow, trim and/or cultivate the vacant land owned by the town of Boston at 8555 Boston State Road.”

The next meeting of the Boston town board is scheduled for Wednesday, April 2 at 7:30 p.m.

The meeting will be held at the Boston Town Hall, located at 8500 Boston State Road in Boston.

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