Sitting in the house tonight after 3 full weeks of doing the same I am starting to crawl the walls, and am also feeling guilty for having those feelings when I think of all of the essential workers that are literally keeping our City, State and country running.
I'm 45 years old and have lived through 9/11, 2 economic collapses and now a pandemic sickness. Knowing that this latest event could ultimately cost more lives and economic disaster than all of those events combined, you can become depressed, worried, and anxious about what is to come in the next days, weeks, months and years. In an effort to look to the positive, I'm sitting here thinking of all the good things that have happened since being at home.
1. My family is healthy
2. We have enough food, toilet paper :), and board games to keep up going
3. There's more time to spend with my family. It is great to be home with them.
4. I've been talking to my Grandmother (98 yrs old) every night for the last 3 weeks. The conversations are usually quick but we've never talked this much!
5. I still have the same tank of gas I started with 2 weeks ago 3/4 left!
6. Have you noticed how quiet it is outside?
7. Have you noticed how NICE everyone is being to each other?
8. Air pollution HAS to be down.
I could go on and on. My sincere hope is that though all of this we will reestablish the value for human contact and conversation that used to be so prevalent before everyone was glued to a phone.
I also hope that this all ends with minimal damage to society and life, however, it will be an uphill climb when this is "over" to establish what normal will look like again. I'm just hoping that this common experience will bond people not only in our little city, but world wide.
This week, I began calling the senior citizens in the 4th ward to see if there was anything that they need or if we can help in any way. So far everyone has said that their kids or neighbors are taking great care of them and they are good where they are. I know this won't be the case as I continue through my list, so if anyone who reads this is willing and able to run an errand please reach out to me at 803-5328 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you are all well and healthy.
Hello residents. I am hoping that this post finds you healthy and well. Over the last few weeks we certainly have had our normal routines changed 180 degrees haven't we? At this time, I have been fortunate enough to stay working and have been working from home since this whole situation began.
As of right now, we are aware of 3 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the perimeter of our city boundaries. I can not imagine what the families and friends of those with the virus are going through. The fear and anxiety that accompanies this is beyond anything that we are used to experiencing. If you are the praying type, please send prayers. If you are the "good vibes" type please send those as well towards the families that are affected.
Last evening, the council met quickly via Zoom to test out how we would run the next meeting on April 7th. The platform seemed to work well and we will be sending out the link for our meeting via social media, newspaper, and meeting notice so that everyone can watch the meeting. Please stay tuned for that information. We are going to set up some protocols for using the virtual platform for the meeting and they will accompany the link when it is ready. Basically we are asking for patience and understanding as this is the first time ever we have tried to do a virtual meeting and there will undoubtedly be kinks in the procedure.
If anyone has any issues, problems or questions, please feel free to reach out to your council person - my number is 807-5328 - call or text anytime. My email is email@example.com - I am also back on Facebook so you can also look me up there.
It certainly has been a while since this page has been updated. Due to the need to send out information and keep people updated, I'll be doing updates here multiple times a week to keep people updated on city happenings and ideas on how to keep a positive attitude.
The city council is continuing on with contacting residents and working for anything that you need. We email, text, and call each other on a daily basis.
In times such as these, I find it most comforting to know that this will eventually end. Every second, minute, hour, day that passes gets us closer to the conclusion of this pandemic and the change we have all found suddenly thrust into our daily lives. My focus is on what life could look like when this is all over with. Here is my hope - we will value human interaction to a level we haven't seen since phones became so pervasive, we will value helping others more - I like to live by a great quote I heard once "Today you, Tomorrow Me."
Please check in on your neighbors, start a neighborhood text chat, pick up the phone etc. so that no one feels alone.
One of the biggest realizations I've had with this is that as we feel here in Tonawanda, so do people in New York, the USA, and the world over. We are truly all in this together and my hope is that we all appreciate one another a little more when this is over.
Please feel free to reach out, text, call, email for anything you may need. Each of us has different resources that we can lend to each other and keep each other going strong.
This week, the Council was presented with the task of going over the budget for the year 2020. The Mayor delivered us a budget that was quite lean in terms of tax increases (2.11%) which equates to approximately a .24 cent increase per thousand on your annual city taxes. Currently, the budget is in the hands of the council and we are going over it line by line to see if there can be any additional reductions with out cutting services. We have until November to come to a consensus on what the final budget will be.
I've been going around this weekend and placing election signs in lawns just to advertise the election more or less. I'm fortunate enough to not have an opponent this term and will gladly serve another 2 year term in the fourth ward.
The sale of Spaulding seems to be going ahead smoothly. As is the case with everything, there are many checks and balances that need to be done before the official contract is signed by both parties. This sale is a major component in keeping our taxes down this year. If this sale were to fall through, it will affect every single taxpayer in the city - potentially raising our taxes an additional 5-6 percent. The business that is going in there will have little to no effect on the residents who live adjacent to the land. It's a win-win for everyone.
Have you checked out the new candy shop on Main Street? I personally haven't been in yet, but my wife has and I've heard nothing but good reviews...I also heard a rumor they have some really "interesting" flavors of soda! I cant wait to head in and give it a whirl.
Please remember to get out and vote on the school district bond issue that is coming up this Tuesday...being in the schools daily, it is so needed and necessary for the upgrades and consolidation to happen in the district.
The council is doing a workshop on Tuesday for the budget, but be fore warned - I think we are going to spend some time in executive session which the public isn't allowed to attend. It shouldn't be for too long however, so feel free to come on down at 6.
The council will be meeting this Tuesday or our regularly scheduled monthly meeting beginning at 6 for the informal meeting and 7 for the formal.
We have a relatively light agenda this week and I have attached it below. I'd encourage everyone to come and hear what is going on and some of the great things that we have coming up for our city.
Last meeting the fire department came to us and described the need to replace the cardiac monitors that they carry to each call they go on. These monitors are used at each call and are an amazing piece of front line health care that get used and undoubtedly help to save lives for our residents. Like anything in the medical field these monitors come with a large price tag - about $20-$35,000 each and have a life span of anywhere between 5-10 years. To be clear, these monitors are used on every single call the fire department goes on and the monitors that they are currently using are at their end of life and need to be replaced. My only reservation in approving the purchase of these is the request for 4 of them. I feel the department can get by with 2 or 3 as each ambulance that also responds to the calls carries them. However, after actually talking with the fire department, and learning about how these are used, I'm fine with the spend. In hearing that we needed these monitors, Robin Schimminger's office alerted us that they were able to secure a Dormitory Grant to pay for these monitors for us! THIS IS AWESOME NEWS!
For transparency - a dormitory grant works in the following way - the city has to take a loan out for the total amount of the grant, and we will be reimbursed in total for the spend (aside from the interest on the bond). So we are essentially getting the $150,000 grant and the monitors for the cost of a couple hundred, maybe a thousand dollars in interest.
If you ask me any day of the week would I rather spend $1000 our tax money or $150,000 of it, that is a no brainer. Especially for an item that has the potential to save lives - I know for myself that if my family, friends or me ever needed this type of care, I'd be happy that we equipped our department with the best possible equipment out there.
Back to our agenda - we have a resolution that denouncing hate in our city as a response to the KKK flyers that were found on 3 lawns on main street a few weeks back.
We also have an agenda item for another block party - if you are interested in having one in your area please contact city hall and with the resolution, the resident is assured of getting the blockades to close off the street.
We are also going ahead with the rehabilitation of the pedestrian bridge in Tonawanda. This is an 80/20 split with the government for the funds.
We are also going ahead with improvements to Ives Pond and have awarded the job to the company listed in the agenda.
Thanks for checking back on this page. Over the last few days, I have distributed close to 400 fliers around the neighborhoods to give a quick update on the happenings in the 4th ward. My hope is to make it to each house in the ward between now and the fall.
To explain further what the flyer contains -
The council will be meeting on Tuesday this week - from 6-7 in the caucus room and at 7 in the court room for the formal meeting.
The agenda this week is lengthy and I'll do my best to give the highlights.
First: Our departments have done a fantastic job with overtime this year so far. Most are under their pace for last year which is always a great place to be in - it means the workers are healthy and departments staffed.
Councilmember Young and I will be going through the bills this week as well - we get monthly reports on how day to day spending is going in the departments and then authorize payment.
Resolution 3 is very long and involved so here's the quick and dirty of it - truck traffic will now be closed on Young Street to hopefully stop the semi's from hitting the CSX train bridge. In this resolution, the alternate routes have been listed. I'm hoping that this stops the problem, but you never know. Maybe we could do a Super Bowl like pool - 5 bucks a square, with months and dates - truck hits the bridge on your date you win the pool!
Resolution 4 is really important - May 29th is when residents can grieve their assessments to the board of assessment review. I'll follow up as to where and when residents can get appointments.
Special Event(s) - Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to hold their Tonawanda Great Strides Walk on Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 9:00 A.M.
National Hose Company and Union Hook & Ladder to hold their “Two Alarm” Music Festival event on Saturday, July 6, 2019, from 10:00 A.M. until 11:00 P.M.
Stephen C. Harrington Erie Canal Fishing Derby along the canal on Wednesday, July 3rd through Monday, July 15, 2019
Canal Fest. When the representative from CF came and met with us, I flippantly made the comment that with our budget problems, if the Canal Fest Corp, can't "make us budget neutral" the carnival isn't worth it to the city. Well, to our surprise, the CF Corporation upped the contribution they will make to the city and we stand to be reimbursed with an amount that is more realistic and will offset our overtime for that week. It is extremely generous of the CF Corporation to do this and the Fest will go on this year. My suspicions are that this will be the last year it is in Tonawanda due to the anticipated construction on closed section of Young St, so go enjoy it this year!
The council met last week and went over the Bonds that we are going to take out in the next year. Due to our budget situation, we did decide to make some cuts from the planned city maintenance for this year. We cut the street paving from $700,000 to about $400.000 dollars which is a reimbursement amount that we receive. We are purchasing a new DPW truck as the one that is on the road and is the daily workhorse for the dept is from 1985. The cost of that vehicle is $210,000. There is $130,000 for sidewalk repair, $31,000 for HVAC repair at the Fire Headquarters,
We also have this month to set the salaries for the positions of Treasurer and City Attorney. With the position of Treasurer changing we were able to save approximately $8000 per year.
Check back often to see what's going on as I walk the trail!