Appeal to Buffalo Teachers’ Federation – The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Majority Leader and Masten District Council Member Demone A. Smith asking the Buffalo Teachers’ Federation (“BTF”) President and Council of Delegates to remove the student excessive absence clause from their teacher evaluation agreement. On February 16, 2012, New York State (“NYS”) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, NYS Education Commissioner Dr. John King, and NYS United Teachers President Richard C. Ianuzzi reached an agreement on a new teacher evaluation system which will take effect in the 2012-2013 school year.

Under this agreement, 60 percent of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on rigorous and nationally recognized measures of teacher performance and 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation will be based upon student academic achievement. The State Teacher Evaluation Agreement gives the State Education Department (“SED”) Commissioner the authority to approve or disapprove local evaluation plans that are deemed not adequately rigorous. Buffalo Public Schools (“BPS”) submitted a teacher evaluation agreement, which was rejected by SED Commissioner King for that reason, resulting in the suspension of $9.3 million in federal grants that had been designated for the district. Recently, NYS officials have told the BPS administrators they will not approve a teacher evaluation plan that excludes students with excessive absences. The Council maintains that failure to submit an acceptable plan to secure funding will result in cuts that will significantly impact BPS persistently lowest achieving schools, an action that will harm student achievement and learning.

 

Request to Name New Street in Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park – The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by South District Council Member Michael P. Kearns adopting “Laborers’ Way” as the name of the newly created street in the Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park, in honor of the hard working men and women who helped build the City of Buffalo and Western New York. Buffalo Lakeside Commerce Park is a newly developed urban commerce park on reclaimed land along the Buffalo waterfront in South Buffalo. Approximately $30 million has been invested to reclaim this former brownfield to productive use. One of the former businesses located at the site, The Buffalo and Susquehanna Iron Company abandoned the area in the mid 1900’s after several high-profile clashes with organized labor. The Council maintains that naming the street in honor of the hard-working men and women who worked in this area would be fitting.

Call for USPS to Continue One-Day Delivery of First-Class Mail – The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Council President and Lovejoy District Council Member Richard A. Fontana, and endorsed by all nine Council Members, calling for the United States Postal Service (“USPS”) to continue to provide one-day delivery of first-class mail in the City of Buffalo, State of New York, and the continental United States. Facing bankruptcy, USPS is proceeding with its announced plan to reduce and consolidate mail processing centers, which will slow the delivery of first-class mail. Currently, first-class mail is supposed to be delivered to homes and businesses within the continental United States in one to three days, with approximately 42 percent of first-class mail being delivered within one day of being mailed. As part of their planned reductions, USPS will eliminate 223 of the nation’s 461 mail processing centers, including the facility located in the City of Buffalo. Services in the Buffalo area will be merged with the processing and distribution center in Rochester, New York. Because this consolidation will lengthen the distance mail travels from the post office to the processing center, USPS will be forced to lower its delivery standard. This would mean that mail could no longer be expected to be delivered within one day in the City of Buffalo, a change to first-class delivery standards that have been in place since 1971.

 

Dangers of Hydraulic Fracturing and Waste Disposal in New York State – The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by North District Council Member Joseph Golombek, Jr. urging New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature to prohibit hydraulic fracturing “fracking” operations in New York State due to possible dangers and negative environmental impacts from such operations. Fracking is a new technique for the extraction of natural gas from shale rock beds that has raised environmental and safety concerns across the country. Widely reported negative effects of fracking include the release of methane gas, dangerous chemicals and carcinogens into wells and public water supplies. Fracking requires vast amounts of water and the waste water which results from the fracking is challenging to dispose of. The Council maintains that prohibiting fracking in New York State is essential to the safety and well-being of the City of Buffalo and other communities served by the Great Lakes.

 

Animal Euthanization in New York State – The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by South District Council Member Michael P. Kearns opposing the vague language contained in New York State Assembly Bill A05449-A and New York State Senate Bill S05433-A, and supporting an amendment that removes language allowing for the euthanization of pets under the auspices of “psychological pain”. Pets are beloved companions for many City of Buffalo and New York State (“NYS”) residents. Current NYS law, however, as well as proposed amendments, permits the euthanization of animals that are “found abandoned, or not properly cared for, or any lost, strayed homeless or unwanted” animal that is “suffering from irremediable physical or psychological pain”. This law, which has been derided by animal rights activists and pet owners as the “Quick Kill Bill,” is vaguely worded and sets largely subjective guidelines for when euthanasia is allowable. While euthanasia is certainly appropriate in situations in which animals are suffering severe physical discomfort and there is little hope of physical recovery, the vague wording of the law, as well as currently proposed amendments, has and will allow beloved pets to be unnecessarily destroyed. Although the Common Council is sympathetic to the budgetary constraints and related challenges that animal care organizations are faced with, these beloved pets deserve better care and more humane treatment than many of them are receiving under the law.

 

City of Buffalo Strategic Development Taskforce – The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by Delaware District Council Member Michael J. LoCurto requesting that the New York State Legislature investigate the feasibility of adopting state-wide green building and site standards.  In November 2010, the Council created a Green Building Code Taskforce that was responsible for making recommendations to the Council on standards for the construction of environmentally friendly buildings and sites within the City of Buffalo. In order to more clearly define its mission, the taskforce subsequently changed its name to the “Strategic Development Taskforce (“SDT”)”. One item of discussion that has routinely been brought up at SDT meetings is the recommendation to implement a green building standard in the City of Buffalo, such as the International Green Construction Code. However, after much discussion, the SDT determined that imposing a green building standard that only applied to Buffalo, would put our city at a competitive disadvantage with surrounding municipalities. The SDT continues to discuss this issue while pursuing a step-by-step approach to the process. SDT will soon be submitting recommendations to the Council on standards for the creation of environmentally-friendly, low-impact development such as parking lots that would mitigate the negative effects of untreated storm water runoff into the City’s combined sewer system.

 

Missing Garage Doors—The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by President Pro Tempore and University District Council Member Bonnie E. Russell, Majority Leader and Masten District Council Member Demone A. Smith, and Council President and Lovejoy District Council Member Richard A. Fontana calling for the vigorous enforcement of property violations relating to missing garage doors by the City of Buffalo Departments of Permits and Inspection Services and Law. Recently, Council Members have received numerous calls and complaints relating to properties that have garages which are missing garage doors. Allowing garages, or any other structures, to exist unsecured and in a state of disrepair in City neighborhoods negatively affects the quality of life of neighboring residents and property owners. Garages which are unsecured due to the absence of garage doors give a blighted appearance to the neighborhood and frequently attract pests and criminal activity. The Council maintains that it is necessary for homeowners to maintain their properties in an effort to increase the quality of life in City neighborhoods.

 

Waiver of Fees

  • The Council adopted a resolution sponsored by South District Council Member Michael P. Kearns waiving all fees associated with the usage of the meeting room at the Tosh Collins Senior Center for the South Buffalo Block Club Coalition for the following dates:
  • March 27, 2102
  • April 24, 2012
  • May 29, 2012
  • June 26, 2012
  • July 31, 2012
  • August 28, 2012
  • September 25, 2012
  • October 30, 2012
  • November 27, 2012

 

Appointments

  • The Council appointed the following individuals as Commissioner of Deeds:
  • Kristen Suchan
  • Thomasina Wilson
  • The Council appointed the following individuals to the position of Intern IX within a Common Council District Office and the Office of the City Clerk:
    • Masten District
    • Phyllis Harris
  • Office of the City Clerk
    • Jacqueline Rucinski
  • The Council accepted the appointment of the following individuals to positions within various City of Buffalo Departments at the base salary:
    • Department of Public Works
    • Truck Driver
    • Michael Edwards
  • Laborer II
    • Christopher Beard
  • Caulker
    • John Critharis
  • Department of Police
    • Motor Equipment Mechanic
    • Michael P. Wojtulski

    Sale of City Owned Property—The Council approved transactions relating to the following City owned properties:

    • Ellicott District
    • 1720 Main Street was sold to Mr. Gregory Gray, Jr. for $400
    • 218 Walnut Street was sold to Mr. Andre Gary for $2,100

     

    License and Permit Approvals—Upon the recommendation of the Department Permit & Inspection Services, the Council approved the following license and permit applications:

    • Delaware District
    • Food Store License
    • Newroz Market & Grill located at 1175 Hertel Avenue
  • Second Hand Dealer License
    • King of Diamonds located at 2303 Delaware Avenue
  • Used Car Dealer License
    • Basil Resale Delaware Inc. located at 2677 Delaware Avenue
  • Ellicott District
    • Permit for a Free Standing Sign
    • A.P. Rowell, agent of the property located at 238 Elmwood Avenue
    • M. Comwell, agent of the property located at 330 Delaware Avenue
  • Permit to Place Outdoor Café at City Owned Property
    • G. Kallas, owner of the property located at 212 Pearl Street
  • Restaurant Dance License
    • The Old Arthur’s Pub located at 596 Genesee Street
  • Fillmore District
    • Permit to Erect an Awning Perpendicular to Front of Sit-In Restaurant
    • S. Nugent, owner of the property located at 204 Allen Street
  • Restaurant Dance License
    • Snooty Fox Lounge located at 445 Delaware Avenue
  • Food Store License
    • El Pueblo Corner Mart located at 279 Virginia Street
    • Super Saver Foodmart Inc. located at 1482 Broadway
  • Masten District
    • Used Car Dealer License
    • R1 Automotive located at 2650 Bailey Avenue
  • Niagara District
    • Food Store License
    • FM Deli & Grocery located at 407 Plymouth Avenue
    • Sagarmatha Groceries located at 489 Grant Street
  • Permit for a Ground Sign
    • M. Connors, agent of the property located at 377 Elmwood Avenue
    • N. Sinatra, owner of the property located at 326 Elmwood Avenue
  • North District
    • Permit to Erect an Illuminated Pylon Sign at an Existing Plaza
    • S. Kupiec, agent of the property located at 1893 Elmwood Avenue
  • Permit to Place Free Standing Sign for Plaza
    • S. Kupiec, agent of the property located at 900 Hertel Avenue
  • Used Car Dealer License
    • Porky’s Automotive Repair located at 18 Tonawanda Street

     

    Claims, Contracts, Change orders & Agreements

    • The Council approved the following contract change orders submitted by the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works (“DPW”):
    • The contract for the Erie Basin Marina Restroom Improvement Project was increased by $44,743 to remediate recently discovered asbestos insulation panels, clean and seal cracking in the exterior walls of the shower/restroom, and effectuate necessary roof, façade, and sidewalk repairs to reduce water infiltration during heavy rain. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $131,670 and with this change the contract will increase to $176,413.
    • The contract with WATTS Architecture & Engineering for the Fillmore Avenue Streetscape Project was increased by $45,044 to cover all costs to design the project from East Utica to East Ferry Streets. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $195,692 and with this change the contract will increase to $240,736.
    • The contract with NOVA Site Co., LLC for the Seneca Street Streetscape Project was increased by $52,830 to complete revisions to Pedestrian Ramps required to comply with the most recent Federal Americans with Disabilities Act requirements and to repair damage to the traffic signal at Seneca and Cazenovia Streets. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $524,442 and with this change the contract will increase to $577,272.
    • The contract for the Ferry Street Lift Bridge Emergency Repair Project was increased by $22,313 to address unanticipated structural issues. The contract was initially awarded in the amount of $229,596 and with this and prior changes the contract will increase to $371,258.
  • Upon the recommendation of the Common Council Committee on Finance, the Council:
    • Approved Refunding Bond Resolutions form the years 1998, 2001, and 2002 for the sum of $21.4 million.
  • Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Office of Strategic Planning (“OSP”), the Council:
    • Authorized the City of Buffalo to contract with the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation to accept $50,000 in grant funding to assist the City of Buffalo Outer Harbor (“BOA”) Project; enter into a funding agreement with the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency (“BURA”) for $95,000 in matching funding for the Buffalo River Corridor and Tonawanda Street Corridor BOA Projects; and contract with the New York State Department of State to accept three BOA Grants in the amounts listed below:
    • Buffalo Outer Harbor – $540,000
    • Tonawanda Street Corridor – $382,500
    • Buffalo River Corridor – $472,500
  • Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works (“DPW”), the Council:
    • Authorized DPW to enter into a franchise agreement with TW Telecom of New York, L.P. to operate a telephone communication system in the City of Buffalo. The grant of franchise will be awarded for an initial term of five years and will be subject to various terms and conditions.
    • Authorized an agreement between the City of Buffalo and the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation (“ECHDC”) to facilitate the acceptance, construction and installation of additional seasonal floating dock amenities at the Canal Side and Central Wharf area. The addition of more seasonal floating docks will enhance the experience of visiting boaters during the Summer of 2012 boating and recreational season.
    • Authorized DPW to hire a consulting engineer for the design, construction administration and inspection of the Citywide Bridge Rehabilitation Program.
    • Authorized DPW to hire a consulting engineer to provide design, bid, and construction phase services for the Citywide Street Cut Reconstruction Project.
    • Authorized DPW to hire a consulting engineer to provide construction phase services for the Citywide Utility Restoration Inspection Project.
    • Authorized Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital to hang three banners across Delaware Avenue between North Street and West Ferry Street. The banners will read: “Millard Fillmore Gates Hospital is Moving March 28”.
    • Authorized a reduction in retention from the standard five percent to one percent for the Resurfacing of City Pavements Project. Destro & Brothers Concrete Co., Inc. is the contractor for this project.
    • Authorized DPW to negotiate a contract with The Buffalo Legacy Project, Inc. for the management, maintenance, operation and improvement of Mulroy Park, Pierce Field.
  • Upon the request of the City of Buffalo Department of Public Works, the Council approved the following reports of bids:
    • Of the bids that were received for the Coca Cola Field Freight Elevator Upgrade Project, Schindler Elevator Co. was the lowest with a bid of $46,184.
    • Of the bids that were received for the Pools 2012 Reconstruction Project, the following were the lowest bids for the specific work to be performed:
    • General Construction
    • Miller Enterprises was the lowest with a bid of $49,270
  • Electrical Work
    • Weydman Electric was the lowest with a bid of $39,000
  • Mechanical Work
    • Patterson Stevens was the lowest with a bid of $22,189
  • Pool Specialty Work
    • Patterson Stevens was the lowest with a bid of $91,780