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Tensions rise at Cassadaga meeting

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen Village Trustee Cindy Flaherty defended Sam Alaimo after consistent criticism from the public of Alaimo and the Board for over 40 minutes.

CASSADAGA — The holiday of Festivus came early this year in the village of Cassadaga, as the airing of grievances lasted over 40 minutes at a recent meeting of the Village Board.

The fictional holiday, coined by the television show Seinfeld, is known for its comical display of grudges being held and grievances aired for all to hear, and that’s exactly how the recent meeting went.

Adam Diate, owner of Valley Outdoors, griped for well over ten times the regularly allotted time for public comments per individual. Cassadaga resident Judith Garncarek later joined in with her own issues with the Village Board, intensified by Diate’s own dispute.

Diate has been in a long standing feud with the Village regarding cement blocks that are located on his property, the recently opened Valley Outdoors store located on Route 60 in the heart of the village. Diate wants the Village to remove the blocks, while the Village initially placed them at the site to protect a fire hydrant.

That wasn’t good enough of an explanation for Diate, who demanded a solution to the blocks being on his property around the time of his business opening in October of 2022.

Diate stated that six weeks prior to attending the recent meeting, he asked the Village for a letter of proof that authorized the blocks to be placed on his property to begin with. He also demanded to know the cost for the blocks that the village purchased, and continued to press for an official amount that Department of Public Works Superintendent Sam Alaimo is authorized to spend without requiring the Board’s approval.

Diate referred to himself as one of the highest paying taxpayers in the village as he demanded more transparency regarding purchasing decisions from the Department of Public Works. “I want to see the notes where that was approved,” Diate said.

Throughout his lengthy address, Diate frequently took aim at Alaimo. Garncarek also said, “I would suggest that Sam (Alaimo) is not supposed to be talking.”

Trustee Cindy Flaherty later defended Alaimo, stating that she trusts his judgment and noted that he does come before the board when he makes major equipment purchases.

Diate also pressed the Village Board on why the fire hydrant on his property needed to be protected, while others in the village do not require the same protection. The need was explained by the Village Board and Alaimo, as well as Matt Zarbo, an engineer who waited patiently for over an hour of public comments and other business before presenting plans for the Village’s proposed water system capital project. Diate was repeatedly told that the hydrant located at his business was at the most risk because it is hooked directly to the village’s main source of water to and from the water tank.

Village Trustee Cathy Cruver attempted to throw water on the fire as tensions continued to rise. “Let’s look for a solution,” Cruver said. She suggested the Village find an alternative solution to protect the fire hydrant.

Diate instead returned to the previous issue and went back and forth on the hydrant with Alaimo, in a figurative display of the Festivus tradition of showing feats of strength. The tug-of-war over the hydrant protection continued.

“I want the nasty looking disgusting bricks moved out in front of my business, and I want you to put up a decent looking (solution),” Diate said. He later refused to pay for any solution and demanded the Village cover the cost to remedy the matter.

Later in public comments, Garncarek highlighted the issue as a whole as an example for transparency issues within the village.

“This is the one issue that we have going, but what it reveals is there is another issue here,” Garncarek said. She highlighted the purchase of the blocks and the placement of them as a concern because of the Village’s inability to explain it.

“However that happened, that’s your problem. That’s a systemic problem that you guys are having,” Garncarek said. “… There is a bigger problem here that you’re suffering from, and that’s sad.”

Holding to the tradition of a Festivus Miracle, a display of a small act of no major significance, the Village Board appeared willing to evaluate the option of installing bollards to surround the hydrant. However, no solution was officially reached at the recent meeting.

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