LAKEWOOD - The Lakewood Village Board has passed a resolution to support the Busti-Lakewood Bike and Fitness Trail at the urging of citizens both inside and outside the village.
The village hall was packed for the recent meeting as people spilled in to show support for the bike trail which has been up for discussion at the Busti Town Board meetings for the last couple of months. Kenneth Lawton, Busti councilman, who has been the biggest advocate of the proposed Busti-Lakewood Bike and Fitness Trail, spoke up at the meeting explaining to the village board the health and economic benefits the trail would provide. Mayor David Wordelmann, though, had concerns about the monetary expenditures and the safety liability the bike trail would entail.
"You've got a trail, there is nothing on it. So there is nobody spending any money on it. Even if an out-of-towner is going to come in, if he's going to have food or beverage, he's going to bring it with him. If he is going to stay in a hotel - we don't have a hotel in our jurisdiction. We don't even have a bike shop in our jurisdiction," Wordelmann said, pointing out that a lot of people at the meeting were from out of town and wouldn't have to deal with the monetary ramifications if funding wasn't able to be raised. "... So to mislead people and say there is going to be this huge economic impact - I'm not trying to be negative about the project. It is probably a good idea, but let's not mislead people here. I don't see the economic impact."
John Jablonski III, Lakewood trustee, spoke up saying he has gone on the Cape Cod trail a few times in the past three or four years, and the restaurants along the bike trail are packed with people around lunch.
"Our downtown is situated right in the middle of the (Busti-Lakewood Bike and Fitness Trail). Chautauqua Avenue is in the middle of the trail - it bisects Chautauqua Avenue," Jablonski said. "The brewery, coffee shops, major manufacturers ... I think it has a tremendous potential for attracting economy for Chautauqua Avenue or the village as a whole."
Wordelmann also asked how the trail would be policed, worrying about possible security risks and insurance. Lawton assured him the insurance would not be that expensive and they would be able to partner up with the county.
"It is probably a good idea, but let's not mislead people here. I don't see the economic impact."
"(The Busti Town Board) took a stand, and they stuck their necks out - passed a resolution they made," said Craig Seger, Lakewood resident. "(Wordelmann's) points are incredibly valid. Every single one. I think everyone agrees, but they took the initiative. I think this is the perfect time for the village of Lakewood and the town of Busti to get together on a major project. I mean this is what our goal is."
The village board approved the resolution to support the development of the Busti-Lakewood Bike and Fitness Trail, encouraging individuals, families and businesses to contribute to the effort.
In other news, Wordelmann went to the New York Conference of Mayors and informed village residents about the state's tax freeze program.
"NYCOM is attempting to decipher all the language in the tax freeze dealing with what steps we will need to take to comply, but even the state's Department of Budget doesn't understand it entirely and are still trying to understand it themselves," Wordelmann said. Wordelmann said the mayors of New York are very upset this isn't getting out to the public and felt the state was trying to push the program to divert attention away from their own inadequacies, slandering the mayors in the process.
In October 2015, the tax freeze program will begin for all municipalities. The rebate will be based on the village, county or school system and will be on the difference on the tax flat rate and the cap. The first payouts for refunds will go out in 2017. The board passed a resolution protesting the tax freeze.
The Lakewood Village Board set a public hearing on a special use permit application for a 6-foot fence submitted by Antonio C. Calimeri, of 19 Lowe Ave., on May 27. They also authorized elected and appointed officials from Lakewood to attend a Southern Tier West sponsored Stormwater Management Seminar/Demonstration Day on Thursday at the Cattaraugus County Department of Public Works in Little Valley.
Due to the upcoming Memorial Day Holiday, the board will postpone the next regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, May 26 until Tuesday, May 27.