Argument erupts

Tempers fly as board discusses dumping issues

OBSERVER Photo by Jimmy McCarthy Barriers and signs at the Department of Public Works’ Eagle Street facility are staving off issues of illegal dumping, but it’s also created issues for residents who want to drop off yard waste. Mayor Athanasia Landis said at Monday evening’s meeting that the facility will be open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. for residents to drop off only grass clippings and leaves. A monitor will be on hand to assure no illegal dumping is occurring.

Tempers flew while arguments were had at Monday evening’s Fredonia Village Board meeting that went beyond two hours.

One spat in particular related to the mayor’s plan to re-open the Department of Public Works Eagle Street facility on a limited basis for residents to get rid of their grass clippings and leaves.

Last week, Mayor Athanasia Landis told the public via Facebook and trustees that she instructed the Department of Public Works to open the Eagle Street facility today to accept yard waste. The issue was brought to the board last month as the department closed the facility up due to illegal dumping. Landis said the illegal dumping cost the village around $10,000 the past three months.

While ideas were passed around, weeks passed without the board settling on a solution. And due to the immense number of calls, emails and messages from residents, Landis said she gave the matter thought to take care of the problem.

According to Landis, the facility will be open Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.; Thursdays from 5-7 p.m.; and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. A monitor will be on hand to assure only grass clippings and leaves are accepted — not brush, which is being picked up curbside by the village, furniture, appliances and cement blocks among other items. Any illegal dumping will be prosecuted with a fine of $250 or a possible 15 days in jail.

“I took it to the (village) attorney to make sure it’s something doable. The attorney assured me this is a good idea,” she said. “I fine tuned it a little bit to make sure that people who were illegally dumping were going to be prosecuted.”

Trustee Doug Essek took issue with Landis’ plan, calling it inappropriate and wrong. Essek stated that the mayor cannot appropriate funds. Essek said the village charter is clear on everybody’s duties and responsibilities, and trustees make bylaws, laws, rules and regulations and the mayor makes sure they’re carried out.

“For the mayor to arbitrarily do this, I asked what authority were you acting under,?” Essek said. “You cannot appropriate funds. This is causing chaos. Our yard is not secure.”

Gard said the section of the village charter Essek alluded to cannot be read in isolation to everything written within the charter.

“What you’re talking about there in that specific section does not relate to the day-to-day operations of the village,” Gard explained.

Essek said he couldn’t recall such an instance ever happening in the village’s history up until recently. Trustee James Lynden acknowledged he had no issues with the way Gard explained it as the mayor has full authority to direct department heads.

“She had the authority to do so, and it was a direction of the department to manage the streets department locality, which that’s what the department head did,” he said. “He took account for his department and is managing the problem at hand.”

Trustee Roger Britz Jr. took issue with the mayor’s move.

“I think you kind of went above the department head,” Britz Jr said. “You went above that and basically went out to the public and said I’m doing this.”

Landis responded by stating that it’s part of her duties.

Trustee Kara Christina said the board needs to fix the problem sooner than later.

“We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” Christina said. “We talked about it at the last meeting. We talked about it at the meeting before that. For some people this is a very serious problem. They need a place to put their stuff. This entire discussion is about how we need to fix a problem, and we need to fix it sooner rather than later.”