Heenan questions use of executive session

Dunkirk’s new ladder truck was put on hold for another two weeks on Tuesday. The resolution, authorizing the issuance of a sale of bonds to finance the Dunkirk Fire Department’s new truck, was pulled for further financial information-gathering at the city’s Common Council meeting.

“It is expected that this resolution will be reintroduced at the next council meeting,” Councilman-at-large Andy Woloszyn stated.

Though the agenda was light for the most part, an odd turn of events Tuesday evening prompted a brief discussion just prior to the meeting’s adjournment. Fourth Ward Councilman Mike Civiletto called for the council to enter into executive session to discuss a “real estate issue.” The motion to enter into the session however was voted in favor 4-1 with Third Ward Councilman Shaun Heenan voting “nay.”

In a statement to the OBSERVER made just before councilmembers left to meet privately, Heenan explained his ‘nay’ vote.

The executive session was in regards to a solar power project that might be taking place at the old landfill on Roberts Road in the town of Dunkirk.

The landfill, which was closed up in the late 1970s, is being looked at by Renesola Power Holdings LLC as a new location for solar panels which will sell power back to the grid. The project was briefly touched upon by Planning and Development Director Rebecca Yanus at the Economic Development meeting, a public meeting that took place just prior to Common Council.

There was to have been a full presentation at that meeting by Project Developer and Architect for Renesola Craig Livingston, but unfortunately his plane was delayed and so he was unable to make it.

Heenan’s issue with the call to executive session was the fact the the project had already been made public at the prior meeting, so therefore should be discussed publicly.

“This was a discussion we were going to have during our open meeting in our economic development meeting,” Heenan said. “I therefore don’t feel that this should be an executive session, since this was just opened in a public meeting an hour ago. Doing it behind closed doors now isn’t right. I don’t feel it fits in the parameters of what an executive session is. It doesn’t make sense to go in to executive session to discuss an agenda item that was planned for the Economic Development Committee that is open to the public. So the public now has no information, nor do you. The public had the right to hear and ask questions that’s why it was part of the agenda; executive session doesn’t allow this.”

The next Common Council meeting will be held June 4 at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall.