Category Archives: Other News

Plans finalized for War Memorial project

By Colin Hogan
City officials awarded the bid for the floor replacement at the Fulon War Memorial Tuesday — a project they now hope can begin by the end of the month.
The 19-year-old gymnasium floor has deteriorated so much in recent years that it has begun interfering with some of the facility’s events. As one of the city’s bigger venues, the War Memorial plays host to several major events each year, including the Fulton Home Show (which was on hiatus this year), train shows, circuses and concerts. The facility also accommodates several community sports programs, such as the men’s and youth basketball leagues and volleyball matches.
Over the last few years, expanding rebar in the concrete compound beneath the floor’s surface has caused the material to spall, and a study commissioned by the city last year revealed that the floor contains a presence of mercury, as well.
On Tuesday, the Common Council awarded a bid for the work to Genessee Environmental LLC of Rochester. Genessee was one of two companies vying for the project. Their bid came in at $363,471, with a possible credit of $7,530 — nearly $30,000 less than the other bidder.
City officials said Tuesday that the bids were first reviewed by Liverpool-based engineering firm Barton & Loguidice, which recommended the council go with Genessee. Last fall, the city secured a $400,000 bond to finance the project.
Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. said he still hopes the project can begin by the end of the month.
“They’ll have to come in and do some sampling, which should take about a week, and then they could start any time after that,” Woodward said. “We want to get them in there so we can get this done.”
City officials previously estimated that it would take three to four weeks to remove the rubber floor layer, another two to three weeks to remove the concrete, and about four weeks for the new concrete to cure.

Granby officials to make a decision on proposed ATV trail

By Matthew Reitz
The Town of Granby Planning Board will be determining the fate of a proposed ATV trail on South Granby Road that some residents in that area are opposing.
The proposed ATV trail would be created at 371 South Granby Road; a 43-acre parcel a few hundred feet west of county Route 14.
According to Town Supervisor Ed Williamson, a public hearing was held last week for members of the community with questions or comments regarding the project. Williamson said about 15 people attended the hearing and “there were some skeptics.”
“There are always people that are a little skeptical, but they seemed to answer everyone’s questions,” Williamson said.
A few concerned residents were circulating a flyer encouraging people to attend a planning board work session on Thursday, May 21. The same residents wrote a letter to the planning board urging it to deny a special use permit for the trail. The letter questions the intent of the property owner and suggests that the owner misled neighbors “by telling them they intended to reside” at the location.
Doug MacEwan, a resident of Granby who was unaware of the proposal until he was presented with the flyer, said he was a bit uneasy about the possibility of the trail generating noise and disturbing the community, but noted that noise in a farming community like Granby can be inescapable.
“It’s a rural farming community,” MacEwan said. “We put up with noise and tractors, the animals, the smells — that comes with the territory.”
MacEwan expressed concern about the potential for loud parties at the trail, and he also was uncomfortable with the owners not being a part of the community.
“What was a little troubling is that the owner is not local,” MacEwan said. “It seems a little odd.”
According to Oswego County’s Real Property Database, the owner of the property is Granby Properties LLC.  The address listed for Granby Properties is in Baldwinsville; about a 20-minute drive from the Granby site.
Jim Karasek, chairman of the Town of Granby Planning Board, said the property owner was “going through the process of approval” and had “gone above and beyond what is required” during the application process.  The application calls for the development of a sand track for personal use, according to Karasek.
“These people (the residents opposing the project) aren’t representing what this man has asked for,” Karasek said in reference to the flyer.
Karasek said he sympathized with people who have legitimate concerns, but added that the planning board has to look at the application and local zoning laws to determine whether or not to approve the project.
“We can only go by what’s on the application and what’s in the zoning book,” Karasek said.
He noted that the application is not for a business, and that Granby is a “rural community” with “no noise, dust, or land use ordinances” to restrict property owners.
“There’s not a lot we can do to stop them,” Karasek said.
Karasek noted that the property owner is willing to make some concessions, and said if the property is misused, the owner would be ticketed for code violations and have to appear in court.
The public hearing regarding the proposed trail was held last week, but the planning board would be listening to residents at its work session on May 21, according to Karasek.
“We will listen. We’ve always heard what people have to say,” Karasek said.
Williamson said it was possible the planning board could make a decision as early as May 21.

Voters pass budgets in Fulton, Hannibal schools

By Colin Hogan
Voters in the Fulton City School District approved a $68.6 million budget for the 2015-16 school year and re-elected two sitting board members Tuesday.
The budget, which reflects a 1.91 percent increase in spending and a 1.75 percent hike in the tax levy, passed 368-262.
With fewer than 800 votes counted Tuesday evening, Superintendent Bill Lynch said voter turnout was down compared to most years, but he was still pleased to see the public supporting all of the proposals in this year’s referendum.
“It was an okay turnout, but we usually have more votes — often around 1,000 or 1,200. We always hope for a big turnout, because then we know that we’re getting the will of the people,” Lynch said.
In addition to next year’s budget, voters also approved a proposal for two wheelchair-accessible buses and a small funding increase to the Fulton School District Public Library, which last year changed its charter to become a school district tax levy-funded entity. The bus proposal, which passed 347-179, is projected to cost no more than $160,000, and Lynch said most of that could be covered by state aid. The library will now see its tax levy funding increase from $350,000 to $357,344, with that proposal passing 366-155.
Two sitting board of education members, Tim Crandell and Daniel Pawlewicz, were re-elected after running unopposed. Crandell was re-elected with 396 votes. Pawlewicz, the board’s vice president, was re-elected with 391 votes.
“We’re very pleased with the support of the budget, the transportation proposal and that both our current board members are returning,” Lunch said. “We’re also very pleased for the library. It’s good to see they’re getting the support they need through all of the their changes.”
Voters in the Hannibal area also approved their school district’s $30.7 million budget with a count of 235-106.
The referendum also included three propositions: one for the purchase of three school buses, which passed 259-79; one to increase the maximum amount held in the district’s reserve fund, which passed 171-167; and one to establish a transportation reserve fund, which passed 189-147.
HCSD voters also elected three unopposed board members: Jessica McNeil with 227 votes, K. Michael LaFurney with 227 votes, and Marlow Cuyler with 221 votes.

Proposals for Nestlé site include senior housing, retail shops and Aldi

By Colin Hogan
Fulton officials approved some new plans for the former Nestlé site this week, which could include retail shops, a supermarket and a senior housing facility.
The city has divided the 24-acre primary site, which is comprised of several facilities along the corner of S. Fourth and Fay streets, into multiple parcels to be sold off for development.
Woodward said Wednesday that he has been working with a developer representing multiple potential buyers, some that can be disclosed at this time and others that can’t.
“Anyone who’s  been wanting to talk to me about it and is interested in developing it I’ve been making a point to talk with, because this (getting the site restored) is very important to the city,” Woodward said.
International supermarket chain Aldi Inc. is still interested in establishing a store on a 2.17 acre parcel in the northwest corner of the site (right along the corner of S. Fourth and Fay streets), Woodward said. Aldi first expressed interest in the site about a year ago, but struggles with the property’s former owner reportedly led the company to begin considering alternative sites in Fulton. With the Nestlé property now owned by the city, Woodward said Wednesday it appears Aldi still plans to establish the store on that site.
South of that lot, along S. Fourth Street, are a 1.05-acre parcel and a 0.87-acre parcel that Woodward said are also being considered by the developer. He said the parties interested in those plots could not yet be disclosed, but noted that the parcels would be developed for retail purposes.
East of the corner, along Fay Street, is another 2.5-acre parcel that includes the building that formerly housed the Nestlé Credit Union office. Woodward said plans are in the works to develop a senior housing facility in the upper floors of that building. The bottom floor would then be leased out by the new owner, Woodward said.
In all, those parcels account for about one-third of the site. Woodward said some of the interested parties are requesting to have an option contract on the remaining portion of the site, which he said he would have to take to the Common Council for approval. Woodward also noted that there are some lots surrounding the site that were owned by Nestlé, but haven’t been foreclosed on by the city.
Across the elevated pedestrian walkway that crosses Fay Street is another former Nestlé building that Woodward said two parties have expressed interest in through a separate developer. Details on those plans are still sparse, he said.
While details on the asking prices were unavailable Wednesday, Woodward said the city is looking to recoup what it has lost in the site’s back taxes. The buyers would also be responsible for any remaining site cleanup and asbestos removal, he noted.
“We took the total tax bill that was owed on the site and said we need to get that portion of the total tax bill, and (the buyer has) to tear down the buildings and remove the asbestos,” Woodward said.
Recouping those lost taxes, having the parcels back on the tax rolls and having the new buyers take care of the demolition and asbestos removal would be “a sweet deal” for Fulton, Woodward said.
The current site plans have already been approved by Fulton’s planning commission, Woodward said, and will now be sent to the county planning commission for review.
Woodward said he’s hoping work can begin on the properties this summer.

Flash flooding leaves damages throughout Fulton

This home on the corner of Seneca and W. Fifth streets in Fulton had its foundation cave in following a short, but intense, window of heavy rain Monday. City officials were still trying to make contact with the vacant property owner Tuesday.
This home on the corner of Seneca and W. Fifth streets in Fulton had its foundation cave in following a short, but intense, window of heavy rain Monday. City officials were still trying to make contact with the vacant property owner Tuesday.

By Colin Hogan

A short period of abnormally heavy rain Monday left several Fulton homes with flooded basements and caused at least two houses’ foundations to give way.
Officials say about two-and-a-half inches of rain fell during a 20- to 30-minute window late Monday afternoon, inundating the city’s storm drains and causing surface flooding in several areas.
“Two-and-a-half inches of rainfall in that short period of time is unheard of,” said Mayor Ron Woodward Sr. “Our system’s storm lines filled up quickly, and once they’re full, all you can do is wait until it all drains to the river.”
Heavy rain started shortly after 4 p.m., lasting only about 25 minutes, but quickly causing the storm system to back up. Several city streets, most of which were on the east side, carried pools of water spanning multiple blocks.
The brief deluge left emergency responders scrambling to keep conditions safe. Fulton police said Monday that officers were out trying to close down as many submerged roadways as they could. The fire department was also called out to several homes with flooded basements to help get water pumps set up.
“They had a hard time for about an hour-and-a-half, and then it was over. Once the system had time to catch up and drain, everything started to clear out,” Woodward said.
At least two homes’ foundations caved due to the flooding, both along Seneca Street between N. Fifth and N. Sixth streets. Fulton officials say those were the only two homes with that level of damage that were reported to the city, but there could still be others out there.
“Those were the only two, that we know of anyway, with that kind of damage, but throughout town there were still a lot of very wet cellars,” said Brace Tallents of the city’s code enforcement office.
Tallents said both houses were vacant at the time of the flooding. In one of the houses, the water “blew out the front wall” of the basement and began to cause the rear wall to do the same.
“Outside of that, there wasn’t any major structural damage (to that house),” Tallents said, “which is surprising, because things like that normally take more of the house with it.”
On Tuesday, the owner of that property was on the scene digging out the affected area. Tallents said, as of Tuesday afternoon, the city was unable to reach the owner of the second home.
“We’ve tried all of their contacts we had on file but they were either disconnected or transferred to someone else,” Tallents said.
The code enforcement office closed off both properties with emergency tape Monday.
The Fulton Municipal Building and east side fire station took in water, as well, officials said, but did not sustain any major damages.
The Fulton Medical Center also experienced flooding on its lower level, which officials say caused Northern Oswego County Health Services Inc.,(NOCHSI), a provider of primary care services in suite 600, to temporarily relocate its healthcare providers to other sites throughout the NOCHSI network, which includes Oswego, Phoenix and Mexico.
NOCHSI leases its suite space in the FMC from Oswego Health, which began clean-up operations immediately following the storm. Oswego Health officials say they and NOCHSI are working together to ensure that the suite is reopened as quickly as possible.
In the meantime, patients who have scheduled appointments at NOCHSI’s Fulton site will be contacted by phone to learn the new location of their appointments.
“We are keeping all scheduled appointments, offering patients the opportunity to travel to an alternate location to see their provider. All calls to our Fulton Health Center are being answered as usual and we are continuing to make appointments for our established patients as they call,” said Tricia Clark, NOCHSI Director of Operations.
Oswego Health officials say there was no damage to the upper level of the FMC, where Oswego Health keeps urgent care, laboratory, medical imaging and occupational health services facilities. The health system’s physical therapy department,  which is located on the lower level, didn’t sustain any damage, officials said.

Woodward seeking re-election this year

By Colin Hogan
Ron Woodward Sr. announced this week that he will be seeking another term as Fulton’s mayor this fall.
The Republican incumbent is currently on the tail end of his second consecutive term as the city’s mayor. If re-elected, he would enter his fourth overall mayoral term. In all, his history as a Fulton public servant includes 14 years as a city councilor, 10 years as mayor and four years as the mayor’s executive assistant.
Woodward first served on the Common Council from 1982 until 1986, at which point he began his first term as mayor. After serving what at that time was a two-year term, Woodward then took a hiatus from the city government in the late ’80s while he battled cancer. In 1994, he was again elected to the council, on which he served consecutive terms from 1995 to 2004. From 2004 to 2008, Woodward served as then-Fulton Mayor Daryl Hayden’s executive assistant. He then assumed the mayoral office again in 2008, serving what are now four-year terms. After winning re-election in 2011, he is now serving what will have been his second consecutive, and third overall, term as mayor.
Woodward said Wednesday that he’s proud of his record as a public servant in Fulton and he’s willing to take on any opponents who emerge.
“The city has certainly had some hard times, and we’ve always done the best we could,” Woodward said. “If there’s someone else out there who the public thinks can do a better job and they beat me, so be it.”
Members of the Fulton Republican Committee — which has been advertising for potential candidates for mayor, the Common Council and Fulton’s county legislature seats — met with Woodward Saturday morning. According to Woodward, the subcommittee offered him financial support and help with circulating petitions, but did not specify whether they will continue to search for other possible mayoral candidates.
FRC Chairman Marc Holliday said Wednesday the committee would still like to hear from any Republicans interested in running for mayor, but that he, personally, wouldn’t be opposed to endorsing Woodward. He said the committee is just trying to get more people participating in the process.
“It’s nothing against Ron. I like Ron. I think he’s done a lot of good things, given the state the city is currently in,” said Holliday. “We just want to get more people involved. The more choice, the better. Getting some new blood in there is always a good thing.”
As of Wednesday, Woodward was the only mayoral candidate the subcommittee had interviewed. Holliday said after meeting with the subcommittee, all candidates then have to meet with the full Republican committee before any endorsements are made. He estimated that endorsements would be announced by early June.
Woodward noted that the FRC’s four-person subcommittee consists of Holliday and Mark Sherman — each of whom ran against Woodward in the 2007 election — along with Holliday’s wife and his son. He said he plans to run regardless of whether he ends up receiving the Republican committee’s support.
“I’m not asking their permission to run,” Woodward said. “I’ll be running with or without their support.”