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Gowanda holds first in-person meeting in months

OBSERVER Photo by Natasha Matteliano Trustee Paul Zimmerman, Mayor David Smith, and Trustee Wanda Koch are seen at the first in-person board meeting in months.

GOWANDA — The first in-person meeting open to the public since the beginning of the pandemic was held earlier this month in the Hollywood Theater.

At the meeting, the public had to sign in with their names, emails, and phone numbers just in case they need to trace exposure. The public and board members were required to sit at least 6 feet away from each other to reduce the risk of exposure and they were required to wear masks. These masks could, in fact, be removed when seated, as long as people were properly socially distanced. The board sat right in front of the stage, socially distanced as well.

The Mayor, David Smith, had many small updates, including:

¯ Village elections will be Tuesday from noon to 9 p.m. at Village Hall.

¯ Gowanda Community Cleanup has worked on Chang-Hu Park to keep it a first-class facility. A donation of $500 was also made by an anonymous donor, which was used to help clean up and buy flowers and mulch for the park.

¯ The Gowanda Mural Project continues and many more murals can be seen around town.

¯ Thatcher Brook Project is also continuing, nearing the end of the feasibility study, which means the design phase is next.

¯The Hollywood Theater continues to be worked on, with some improvements still to be done.

¯ The hedges on Chapel and St. John Streets are now trimmed, motorists are now able to see when they are attempting to turn.

¯ Lawn maintenance continues to be a community effort, with neighbors helping neighbors clean up their lawns and the mayor and his wife helping to mow and clean up abandoned properties.

¯ School started on Tuesday as well, the board wished them a happy and safe start to the school year.

Trustees gave their mini-updates to the public, then the code enforcement, department of public works, sewer, and water, which all had their usual updates with nothing significant to report. One significant report came from Gary Denea that two fallen trees were removed on Tuesday morning, which had fallen into the creek, which could have caused flooding issues if not removed.

The Gowanda Police Chief Dennis Feldmann spoke of his usual reports along with the announcement of decommissioning the jail cells in the village. He reported that the cells hadn’t been used in over three years, so it only makes sense for them to save energy on the routine checks of the cells if they are not using them by decommissioning them. The cells will be able to come back into use at a later date, but for now, they will not be used.

Feldmann also addressed the issue of residents calling others besides the police department about fireworks complaints. “If you have a police call, you call the police,” he said. “Do not call the board, you have to call the police department. You have to have it documented, that way we can focus patrols in the areas that are reported.”

On the legal side of things, village attorney Deb Chadsey announced the Verizon Cell Town Agreement was finally, after about nine months of deliberation, ready to be passed by the board. The agreement was unanimously passed, which means that eventually, Village Hall will have a Verizon cell tower on top of it, which will allow the village to have optimal coverage by Verizon when active.

Another agreement was also made and approved by the board, to allow the Gowanda Central School District to store some extra furniture in one of their storage buildings, due to them having to reduce capacity in their classrooms.

When the meeting closed, Smith said the next meeting location and whether it will be open to the public is still to be determined, due to the numbers of COVID-19 cases rising in the county at a higher rate than before.

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