Gowanda passes flood law, announces new secured funds

OBSERVER Photo by J.M. Lesinski Pictured, members of the Gowanda community and board having multiple discussions on matters in the village, following the regular board meeting earlier this week.

GOWANDA — Village residents can continue to breath easy, with their heads above the water. The village board approved the flood damage mitigation law unanimously, securing the village’s federally funded flood insurance as per the new stated requirement.

“I attended a meeting with Chief (Nick) Crassi and I feel confident in doing that,” Deputy Mayor Carol Sheibley stated of the new law.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, only one citizen spoke up in opposition of the proposed law. Gowanda citizen Jack Wartz again voiced his opinion on the matter, beginning with a note on the prior month’s meeting, “Last month, I recall a couple people asking, ‘who are we going to get to administer this?’ After that meeting, I got a copy of the law and read it.”

Wartz’s concerns centered on the enforcement of the law, and what he considers could be problematic requirements for the village to handle. “The law says the code enforcement official administers it,” Wartz noted. “That person would automatically have to be state-certified or working in conjunction with an engineering firm so they would require a certain degree of information and knowledge to administer that law.”

In addition, Wartz drew a parallel to another local village with flooding concerns (although he never outright named which village), and claimed FEMA made no contact with them regarding the new law. “The village (Gowanda) doesn’t have that information and that person (the enforcing official) is going to have to go out and find it themselves,” Wartz said, closing out his comments.

In between the vote and public comments, Mayor Dave Smith also shared some good news regarding village Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) funding. “Supervisor John Walgus of Persia authored a letter on behalf of several local municipalities,” Smith said. “All of us found out in between board meetings that AIM funding has been restored based on the persistence and effort of small towns like Persia and Gowanda.”

With the $20,263 in AIM funding back in the village, Deputy Mayor Carol Sheibley also shared good news regarding newly acquired recreation grants. “The village of Gowanda will be receiving two grants, one for $5,000, the other for $500 through the 2019 Youth Community Stipend Grant,” Sheibley stated. “I’d like to thank legislator Andrew Burr for his involvement in making this happen.”

In other news, Highway Superintendent Gary Denea gave an update on new solar signs going in near the school. “The poles are here and the school has the solar-powered speed limit signs,” Denea noted. “They will be installed by July 1.”

The Sand Hill Road water main replacement project proposal was approved, as well as a hydrant replacement at the West Hill Road and Jamestown Street intersection.

The board also approved the hiring of two next code enforcement officers: George Poff and Jason Pickering, to be trained by current Code Enforcement Officer Gary Brecker, with a start date of June 17.

There was no major update on the proposed Dollar General in the village, other than one minor note from Village Attorney Deb Chadsey. “Just today I got a phone call,” she noted. “They (Dollar General) just wanted copies of comments submitted by the public.”

The next meeting of the Gowanda Village Board will be Tuesday, June 11 at 6 p.m. in the Village Hall.