Petitioners want to dissolve Sinclairville

OBSERVER Photo by J.M. Lesinski. Pictured, the Village of Sinclairville sign and gazebo along Lester and Park streets in the center of the village.

SINCLAIRVILLE — Following the likes of Forestville and Cherry Creek in Chautauqua County, a petition has officially been filed with the Sinclairville government to dissolve the village.

“The petition was filed by our tax-payer group,” said group member Brad Gains, in a phone interview with the OBSERVER. “There’s 95 signatures, we turned the petition into the village government three weeks back, certified and everything.”

With a population of 558 (according to the United States Census Bureau), a total of 95 signatures from the village shows roughly a sixth of the village is directly in favor of the action. When asked about the reasoning behind the petition, Gains was frank.

“It’s a huge savings on all of our taxes,” Gains stated of the matter. “There would be substantial tax savings, they could be very high and once the study is done we’ll see. When villages dissolve, townships take over and you lose the mayor and the village board. The village board is not in favor of the petition.”

Concerns of job loss in the village seem minimal to Gains and his group, citing previous dissolutions in Chautauqua County as successful precedents.

“When the consultant is done they’ll let us know everything for sure,” Gains noted. “Village employees will likely will go to Charlotte. When Cherry Creek dissolved, employees went with the town. The same thing happened in Randolph and East Randolph.”

As for those residing in Sinclairville, they would simply be absorbed into the towns of Charlotte and Gerry, according to Gains. “There will be no overlapping government,” Gains stated. “Sinclairville would dissolve into the towns of Charlotte and Gerry. Charlotte would get the majority, while Gerry gets the smaller portion closer there.”

Nonetheless, Gains has encountered some resistance to the notion put forward. “In Forestville you saw the same issue we’re seeing here,” Gains commented. “The board didn’t want to dissolve, they were adamant about it, so we’re running into that. Others don’t want the village to lose character or for whatever reasons they may have.”

Gains also went on to comment about the current state of the village. “The village of Sinclairville only has one business, the gas station,” he noted. “The village really has deteriorated, most of the tax is residential, we’ve only got one store, one funeral home.”

Village of Sinclairville officials were unable to be reached for comment, but the OBSERVER was informed by Gains that the village board held an emergency meeting on the matter May 8. “I believe tonight they will be setting a vote date,” Gains added, regarding the meeting.

In accordance with New York State law, once a petition has been filed for disbandment, the local government has to take action. “New York State rules say that the village has to hire a consultant, which they have,” Gains commented. “There also has to be a public hearing and vote within 90 days to see if residents want this.”

Closing out his comments, Gains summed up what’s next for Sinclairville. “We don’t really know a whole lot yet,” he stated. “We’ll know a whole lot more when the public hearing happens. I know the consultant they hired was an associate out of Rochester (New York), same one who did Cherry Creek and Forestville. The petition has been turned in, so we’re going to wait and see what the people of the village want.”