Fredonia mayor gets grievance powers

OBSERVER Photo by M.J. Stafford The future site of The Mustard Seed restaurant on East Main Street in Fredonia is pictured Monday night. The eatery took a step in its process of moving from South Dayton Monday, as the village government received a request to waive a 30-day waiting period for its liquor license application.

The Fredonia Board of Trustees narrowly agreed at its Monday meeting to let the mayor take over reviews and responses to employment grievances, following a review by the direct supervisor of the complainant.

Trustees Michael Barris, Kara Christina and James Lynden voted “yes” to the measure, intended to clarify responsibility for a duty the village administrator used to have before the position was abolished last year. Trustees Roger Britz and Douglas Essek voted “no.”

“I feel this may be a transfer of power from the administrator to the mayor position,” Essek said to explain his vote.

“There originally was not authorization for the administrator to do it in the first place,” Village Attorney Dan Gard said after the meeting. “It was more of a matter of custom.” He said the village is moving back to a standard that other municipal unions in the county have: letting the top elected official be the final arbiter of employee grievances.

The current mayor, Athanasia Landis, did not comment on the measure.

In other business at Village Hall on Monday:

¯ The Mustard Seed’s move to downtown Fredonia from South Dayton took another step, as the board received a request for a waiver of a 30-day waiting period for the popular eatery’s liquor license application.

“The 30-day waiver is often given based on the fact that it’s not in the best interests of the village,” Gard said. He said they are standard and advised the board it could grant the waiver in this case, although no action was taken to do so Monday.

The restaurant is taking over the old Fredonia Hardware store on East Main Street, which closed in December. Bob Scudder will continue to own the property, though Nettie Puleff is slated to continue running the restaurant’s operations.

The restaurant is slated to open in its new home in the spring. The effort to convert the space from selling tools to dishing up food is already evident: There’s a large trash bin full of garbage, apparently from the project, parked on the street.

¯ Landis reported that the waterline replacement project in the northern end of the village is on schedule, helped by good working weather. “We’re hoping to finish that in a few weeks,” she said.

The mayor added, “They removed some of the trees on Lambert Avenue.” This was because crews needed access to waterline right-of-ways, she said. “The trees will be replaced after the project is completed,” she promised.

¯ Village officials discussed the possibility of bonding for a new Fredonia Fire Department ambulance, but Treasurer Jim Sedota ultimately advised against it. He said the village should have enough in its fund balance to pay for the vehicle outright. Sedota also advised that the village enact a bonding benchmark, where anything that costs less than a certain amount of money cannot get paid for through a bond.

Fire Chief Ryan Walker said if the ambulance is ordered now, it should be delivered around mid-April. Landis asked Sedota to get a resolution for the purchase of the ambulance ready for the next Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 22.

¯ The board formally appointed village officials for 2019. Gard, Sedota and Walker were all reappointed to their respective posts. Other appointments included: Annemarie Johnston, village clerk; Chuck LaBarbera, chief inspection officer/zoning enforcement officer/building inspector; Thomas Battaglia, parks and recreation director; Lori Richardson, tax receiver; Bradley Meyers, police chief; and Anthony Gugino, streets supervisor/commissioner.

¯ Landis announced she is giving a State of Fredonia address at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at the Fredonia Opera House. She said she will highlight the projects the village has started in recent years.