Lakewood Residents Concerned Over Code Officer Pay

BUSTI – Residents of Lakewood concerned over the $45,000 salary for Jeff Swanson, temporary inspection officer, spoke up at Monday’s meeting.

Swanson will be working full-time as the temporary inspection officer for Busti and Lakewood until the county civil service exam can be given and a full-time employee can be hired. The hours – as well as the pay – will be split between the village and the town.

However, a $45,000 salary for Swanson took residents by surprise, as did the town’s criteria that the eventual code enforcement officer must be a town resident.

“I think the shock is that somebody comes in at a level of someone who has been there for a long time,” Nancy Bargar, Lakewood resident, said about the salary. She voiced her concern that by keeping applicants for the position within the town, they could possibly pass someone over who would be more qualified. “… There are a lot of people looking for work these days.”

“I think it is good that it is somebody in the town (and village) because they are being paid by town (and village) money. They, in turn, live in the town and pay town taxes,” said Diana Peterson, recreation director. “So, it is just kind of a circle that goes around.”

In response to concerns that there weren’t enough applicants for the job for there to be any real competition, Lakewood-Busti Police Chief John Bentley explained that when the posting for the civil service exam goes up, the salary range will be at the top followed by the qualifications needed to take the exam.

In other news Sue Chandler, a Lakewood resident, voiced her frustration at the shorter time for the American flags at the cemeteries around Memorial Day.

“In a previous May town meeting, the Lakewood American Legion questioned funds for the Memorial Day parade and activities involved, which had been cut nearly in half. At that meeting, the board suggested a shorter amount of time for the flags to be posted on the graves. I was infuriated,” Chandler said. “I love to go by my father’s grave all summer long and see the fireman’s flag and the American flag. … Imagine my horror when I drove by my father’s grave and there was no American flag.”

She said later that last Friday she ran into one of those who had questioned the budget. The man, she said, had told her they were following the board’s suggestion that they should only have the flags three days before Memorial Day and three days after to save on the wear and tear of the flags. According to Chandler, the American flags at the cemeteries have previously flown from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and were a sign of respect for the American veterans.

The board said they did not make any suggestion or impose any limitation, and it was part of the American Legion flag etiquette.

“The $450 covered the flags, and if they followed the American Legion flag etiquette, it would preserve the flags to be used another year,” Richard Thor, Busti councilman said. Jesse Robbins, Busti supervisor, added that before the budget cut, the flags for three cemeteries would be utterly destroyed as summer went on due to lawnmowers and other hazards before they all ended up in the flag burning ceremony in Lakewood at the end of the summer.

Joe Hoose, of the Southwestern Soccer Club, expressed interest in building a small concession stand at Loomis Park to service the kids who get hungry during games and practices. He said it would be a portable in the sense it could be moved around to different locations within the park wherever the town or parks department thought it would be best.

He expressed it would sell healthy foods and be used as an equipment locker, and he would work with the town and park in whatever way he could to make it possible. Robbins said he supported the idea, and that the attorney and appropriate inspectors should be talked to.

Busti Councilman Ken Lawton announced that the Southwestern schools were interested in working with the Busti and Lakewood Bike and Fitness Trail, and they received letters of support from various people including state Sen. Cathy Young and Congressman Tom Reed to name a couple. The Department of Transportation was impressed by the draft submittal of the trail.

“They did say it was a competitive round,” Lawton said. “… But I’m still hopeful based on the comments we received from it. And if that doesn’t work, the work is done, so we can resubmit it for a future grant.”

The fundraiser for the bike trail at the Southern Tier Brewing Company will be held on Aug. 3. From noon-3 p.m. all proceeds will go toward the bike trail.

Judy Schults invited people to the Farmers Market which will run Tuesdays from 1-5 p.m. on Chautauqua Avenue by the clock tower. The market will be there until the end of August rain or shine.

The June 16 meeting will be at the Busti Court located at the second floor of the village hall.