Maintenance list subject of Watkins meeting
WATKINS GLEN--Watkins Glen Deputy Mayor Lou Perazzini apologized during the Tuesday, June 16 village meeting for publicizing a list of 92 homes he compiled for possible home maintenance concerns. Perazzini addressed the issue after he was criticized for the list during the public session by Steve Lee, son of the late Robert Lee who previously served as mayor of Watkins Glen.
"At this point, I am just going to apologize if I caused any shame or disrespect, stress or anxiety to anyone in the village," Perazzini said. "It was not by any means my intentions. My intentions were totally for the village of Watkins Glen and the residents. Could it have been handled a different way? Looking back on it, yes it could."
During the public session, Lee said he was very upset by the list and he believed it represented the antithesis of being a good neighbor.
"I'm kind of glad, and I hate to say this, that (my father Robert Lee) is no longer here because he would be 100 times more upset than I am," Lee said. "It is in bad taste for the village and is not the neighborly way to operate."
Perazzini said that was never his intention, but added he believes the list has served to bring the community of Watkins Glen closer.
"On my side of this, again, could it have been handled differently, yes it could have, did it bring the community together, I feel it is," Perazzini stated.
Perazzini mentioned residents have already been in contact with him to volunteer their services to help residents who are unable to maintain their property, while at the same time seeing many properties on the list working to correct the situation.
"In my travels in the last week and a half, people are finally getting to properties that were never getting maintained or being taken care of and now they are," Perazzini added. "Businesses are scrapping signs getting ready to paint."
Mayor Luke Leszyk also addressed the issue and said while he is hesitant to criticize Perazzini, he disagreed with releasing the list of homes publicly.
"I think Lou's heart was in the right place in terms of doing the right thing for the village as a whole, so I don't want to chastise him... but (the list) shouldn't have been published and should have just went to code enforcement and be addressed there," Leszyk said.
Leszyk added the list was only designed to be used by the new code enforcement officer as a list of suggestions, and he believes there was no malicious intent behind it and that no one was intentionally singled out.
Perazzini also addressed rumors regarding that he could potentially personally benefit from the release of the list due to the fact he has a business in Watkins Glen currently for sale.
"This was all done by traveling through the village and my documentations were done in September, 2019 and presented in October to the village board," Perazzini stated. "As to this being a conflict of interest because my business is for sale, it has only been for sale for two weeks. I don't think that has anything to do with it, it was seven months ago (the list) was done."
Perazzini, who originally addressed the situation surrounding the list in a letter on the Watkins Glen Village website that was subsequently removed, added that he has not and will not be apologizing for the intentions behind the list.
"What I won't apologize for is doing my job for Watkins Glen and the residents, could it have been handled differently? Yes it could, but I won't apologize for my intentions, which was to keep the village presentable for the thousands and thousands of tourists that come through here and it is something that needs to be addressed," Perazzini said.
Keeping the town presentable for tourists is tantamount to the village's future success, Perazzini added.
Perazzini further volunteered his services to help residents maintain their homes and said his personal phone number is available on the Watkins Glen Village website for anyone interested.
"I am more than willing to step up, my number is on the webpage and I am willing to help anyone who needs something done," Perazzini said. "But this needed to be addressed, it's been years and years and years and some of these properties are in that condition because it hasn't been addressed."
Board Member Laurie DeNardo said going forward it would make sense to clarify zoning rules to ensure residents aren't confused as to what they are potentially in violation of and what the consequences would be.
"I feel it is important to be neighborly and be in communication (with residents)," DeNardo said. "What we don't want is residents to feel they will be violated in some way... We need to figure out what is a clear violation or not and let code enforcement do their job."