Municipal Building Sharing Continues To Be Talk Of Lakewood, Busti

LAKEWOOD – Former county legislator, Dr. Rudy Mueller, again is calling on Busti to look into sharing a municipal building with Lakewood.

At Lakewood’s board meeting Monday night, Mueller reiterated his wish to have Busti move into Lakewood’s village hall instead of the town selling its current hall to Jamestown Credit Union with the intention of purchasing the former Tordella’s Surfaces building at 125 Chautauqua Ave.

“I think a lot of people in this community would like to give an input to see where their government offices are going to be for the next 20 to 50 years,” Mueller said in regard to a joint public hearing – which Lakewood Mayor David Wordelmann said wouldn’t be possible for Busti to set up in time. Mueller also pointed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for consolidation of services.

“If you get rid of the village of Lakewood, you are still going to have to pay for your services unless you don’t want those services,” said Wordelmann in retaliation to Cuomo’s plea. “So, merging the village with anything does not get rid of the fact you still need a police department, a highway department, your garbage picked up, lighting up the streets – everything. Someone is going to have to pay for that, and the town of Busti is not going to pay for that for you. They are going to put you in a special district, because we all discovered three-and-a-half years ago, when we went through that process – which, by the way, was really enlightening because it forced us to study the whole situation to determine we don’t want the village of Lakewood to merge.”

Wordelmann also said he spoke to Busti residents who said if the town hall moved into the village office, they would feel like they lost a sense of identity – the same contention Lakewood residents had when there was talk about Lakewood moving into Busti’s town hall.

“This is a very diverse and wide ranging town,” he said. “We have to find a way to work together, and quite frankly, that is the hardest part.”

Charles Smith, Lakewood’s building inspector, said he did his own calculations with the available space the village hall has compared to Tordella’s, and said from a cost-effective standpoint, Tordella’s is the best choice. Nancy Bargar, also a former county legislator, said maintenance of Lakewood’s building should be looked at regardless of whether Busti decides to move.

Lakewood’s village board presented a potential path for the zoning law for rentals.

“What we decided to do is go forward with some sort of licensing plan in the village,” Wordelmann said. “Where we are now as far as whether it will encompass the entire village or whether we will – actually what we are leaning toward – is carving out a historic district that would be from Park Lane to Oakland Avenue.”

Wordelmann said Lakewood really likes Bemus Point’s rules and regulations when it comes to rentals, and will model Lakewood’s own rules and regulations after those.

Jill Conley, a Lakewood resident, voiced her concerns in how it would be enforced. The board told her it would be a two-strike system – after one warning, renting rights would be taken away.

In other news, Lisa Schmidtfrerick-Miller, healthy communities consultant for the Chautauqua County Department of Health, talked to the board about improving safety for users of the roadway – not only cars, but pedestrians and bicyclists too. In particular, she talked about East Summit Avenue, which has been brought up several times as not being very pedestrian friendly.

“This is the type of a project which the village may develop a vision for what you want your streets to look like,” Schmidtreferick-Miller said. “But they are not all your streets, and this would be because it is a county road, this would be a project maybe the county would work on.”

Wordelmann would like to remind everyone that the village has no say over Fairmount Avenue’s potholes.

Fire Chief Kurt Hallberg said everything was on schedule for the Coast Guard mass casualty drill, but made a note that more people would be injured if this was a real emergency.

Lakewood regretfully accepted the resignation of Lakewood Historian Anthony “Tony” Barone, effective Jan. 1. The board also reviewed and accepted appointment of Susan Lane as his replacement.

The board also authorized Wordelmann to execute the Shared Highway Services Agreement between Chautauqua County and Lakewood. The board also accepted the amendment sections of the personal policies and procedure handbook, detailing the benefits received by the police chief and authorized Police Chief John Bentley to request bids for two marked police patrol cars and one marked sport utility vehicle for use by the K-9 unit.