Council to weigh in on hospital location

Brooks Memorial Hospital board’s decision to relocate to East Main Road in the town of Pomfret would leave behind the historical legacy, walkability and downtown location it currently occupies in the city of Dunkirk, according to Common Council Resolution 102. Today, council will decide whether to take a stand against the move.

“The current facility is ideally located in the center of Dunkirk’s central business district, within walking distance of much of the city and an easy ride from both Fredonia and the town of Dunkirk, while only a few miles from access to Routes 60 and 20, as well as the New York State Thruway,” the resolution states, also noting the historic nature of the site, the city’s decline in population and the state’s focus on smart growth, new urbanism and millennials’ affinity for city life.

The resolution further asks Brooks to reconsider repurposing the current facility and for elected state officials to stand in opposition to the facility getting funding to move to the Route 20 location.

First Ward Councilman Don Williams Jr., sponsor of the resolution, said the matter has been out of the city’s hands, but he would like to see something done about it.

“I definitely oppose the hospital’s board choosing a location outside the city,” he told the OBSERVER. “… I went with the mayor to get the $2.5 million smart growth grant from the governor. That was to rebuild our downtown. Brooks’ move tears apart our downtown.

“… One thing people don’t realize is the city has been as involved in this process as it can be,” Williams Jr. continued. “We gave them sites and waited to hear, but the decision is up to their board, not the Common Council. People would say to me, ‘You’re not doing anything to stop this.’ Well, now this is us doing something.”

Williams Jr. said he has heard similar opinions from his fellow councilmembers, but does not know how a vote will go.

“I hope people show up and voice their opinions,” he added. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.

There will also be public hearings on Resolution 96 to create a human resources director, Resolution 97 to restate the duties of the personnel administrator and Resolution 98 to clarify the zoning officer position in the City Charter. Public hearings will be held at 5:20, 5:25 and 5:30 p.m. respectively, although more time will be allotted for public comment if necessary.

After the hearings, as unfinished business, councilmembers will have an opportunity to take the resolutions off the table for a vote if they so wish.

New business includes Resolution 99 to appoint Marsha E. Beech of Dunkirk as the full-time fiscal affairs officer at a salary of $50,000 per year with benefits, Resolution 100 to establish Halloween trick or treat hours as 4 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 31 and Resolution 101 to change the first November Council meeting to Monday, Nov. 6 in observance of Election Day.

Communications from the public include a summons from Lance J. Bronnenkant for personal injuries allegedly sustained while riding a bike in Wright Park on June 19, 2016 and a notice of claim from the Hartford Central Recovery Office for reimbursement of the amount paid to Eugene M. and Molly J. Hamernik for alleged damage to their vehicle by a city garbage truck.

The Economic Development Committee meeting will begin at 4 p.m. in the mayor’s conference room of city hall, followed by the workshop at 5 p.m. Public hearings will precede the meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the court room.