Coast Guard Holding Disaster Drill In Lakewood

LAKEWOOD – A disaster will strike Lakewood in February. A plane carrying 54 passengers will stall due to icing and crash into Chautauqua Lake by the Lakewood shoreline, killing 24 and injuring 30.

At least this will be the scenario held by the United States Coast Guard at the Lakewood Yacht Club, starting at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 22. It will run for four to six hours.

“The goal is to test the rescue capabilities mostly for the fire department and Coast Guard and so on,” said John Bentley, chief of police for the Lakewood-Busti Police Department. “We are going to be there, the police department is going to be there, to act as a security to try to hone homeland security skills.”

The drill will be a Level 3 rescue, which will require a lot of equipment, including 15-20 ambulances, heavy rescue units and fire trucks, as well as the fire suppression truck from the airport, Starflight and Coast Guard personnel and equipment.

There will also be actual “victims,” who will be part of the Coast Guard, on the ice in Hazmat suits who need to be rescued, and dive teams will go into the water to mark evidence.

The Lakewood-Busti Police Department currently has a few issues with the location of the drill due to the amount of problems this will cause businesses in Lakewood.

“Most of the area they want to use is private property,” Bentley said. “The village has only a 50-foot right-of-way to approach the lake down there if they have to draft water for a fire or something.”

Other problems will arise, Bentley said, because the eastbound lane of East Terrace Avenue will be kept open with ambulances leaving the area to take “victims” to the hospital.

While an actual accident would be one thing, Bentley feels since this is a drill, possible problems should be eliminated wherever possible. The main problem for people living in the neighborhood is they will either need to leave their homes early, or be effectively stuck at home for most of the day.

PUBLIC HEARINGS

In other news, public hearings for amendments in signs and automobile sales in Lakewood’s Zoning Law will be at 6:45 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively today.

A public hearing regarding the definitions of accessory storage structures of Lakewood’s Zoning Law took place on Dec. 9 in Lakewood’s village board meeting. No action was taken on the proposed amendments. Changes would include the revision of the definition of accessory building or use to accessory structure and a simplification of the accessory structure ordinance.

The board approved Chautauqua Striders to make use of village streets to conduct their 2014 Winter 5K series on Jan. 4, Jan. 11, Jan. 25, Feb. 1 and Feb. 15, as well as authorized Mayor Wordelmann as the budget officer to increased the current budget by $23,291 to offset Lakewood’s increase in its annual contributions to the New York state Retirement System.

The board also authorized the payment of Lakewood’s annual contributions to the retirement system due on Jan. 15.