From the Village of Owego Mayor’s Desk

Snow! The last time I wrote it this it led with snow, too! I sure hope it isn’t in here the next time! Village of Owego DPW crews have been working long hours keeping the streets, sidewalks and parking lots cleared. Residents can help by parking off the street or on a plowed section of the road. Sidewalks are to be shoveled daily and those who don’t shovel their sidewalks will be ticketed.

I have noticed that walkers have been forced to walk in the street due to snow-covered sidewalks. This creates a safety hazard to walkers and drivers avoiding them. The municipal lots have been cleared of snow twice so far, and keeping cars out of them when it was requested has been a big help. The piles of snow on sidewalks on Front Street, Lake Street, Paige Street and North Avenue have been removed.

The remaining nine FEMA buyouts have had appraisals sent to Albany’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to determine what they’ll offer.

OFD Chief Gavin is evaluating new gear that meets NFPA standards but is less costly that the current gear. Chief Gavin has completed his review and submission of the bid specifications for a new fire truck to replace Fire Truck # 803. That bid will be going out shortly. I’d like to remind residents to clear the snow 3-feet around all fire hydrants. The Alternatives to Incarceration crew did clear a lot of the fire hydrants, but with frequent snow they may need clearing again.

The Owego Police Department continues to operate with three full time officers including the Chief. The village board did approve a memorandum of agreement with the Owego PBA that will allow the village to employ three retired police officers for 40 or more hours per week rather than the 19.5 hours per week that a part time officer can usually work. The County and Village Public Safety Committees have not met since their initial meeting on Jan. 16.

The NY Rising Community Program has been progressing through Albany. The major project that the Village of Owego is pursuing is moving the village public works barn out of the flood plain to a location on Route 434 adjacent to the Town Hall. The town and village will have a large building with separate workspace and some shared space and equipment. This will enable the town and village public works departments to function during a flood and end the need for flood insurance on those buildings.

The village received a public notice from the Owego Apalachin Central School District regarding a new administration building and a new maintenance building. The notice is about an environmental assessment, which is available to read in the village office. It also notes that demolition of the former administration building is necessary to comply with flood plain regulations regarding a substantially damaged building.

The State’s Fiscal Restructuring Board voted on Tuesday, Feb. 25 to accept the village’s application for their review. They can request any information necessary to understand the municipality’s finances and operations and based on this information, the Board will make recommendations to that municipality on improving its fiscal stability, management, and the delivery of public services. The Board could offer grants and/or loans of up to $5 million through the Local Government Performance and Efficiency Program for undertaking certain recommendations.

I attended a Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) Readiness Workshop presented by Tioga County Economic Development & Planning on Wednesday Feb. 25. The CFA is a process to access most grants in New York State. I spoke with Laurie Moore, Regional Grant Coordinator, New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation about applying for grants to do rehabilitation work on two village owned buildings – Central Fire Station and 90 Temple St., and will be following up on that to see how the village can apply for these grants this spring.

I will be attending a panel on Wastewater Management for Local Officials on March 5, 2015 at the Syracuse University Environmental Finance Center. The main reason I am attending is to talk to other upstate municipalities about sewer billing and see if I can find a better method than the one we are using.

The east lights on the Court Street Bridge have been out due to a short in the wiring that needs to be repaired. The wiring and the lights will be repaired when weather conditions permit. The village is also switching to all LED lights on the bridge and all other outdoor lights. There is tremendous energy savings and less maintenance using LED’s.