Watkins wants school to cover officer cost
WATKINS GLEN—The Watkins Glen village board tabled the decision on the agreement with the Watkins school to provide a school resource officer (SRO), Monday, July 15, for the upcoming 2013-14 school year.
Mayor Mark Swinnerton said the board wants to have a part-time worker as the SRO instead of the full-time officer, which has been the case for the last three years. The board also wants the entire cost covered by the school district.
Police Chief Tom Struble explained the agreement is not to exceed $25,000. He said the school agreed to backfill the officer’s role with part-time police members. Struble added after calculating the full-time officer’s other responsibilities, the district is currently short an estimated $2,000 of that total. However, he added he felt it was worth it to have the full-time officer at the school.
The board didn’t disagree with providing a SRO, but questioned whether it needed to be full-time or part-time. Trustee Anthony Fraboni added, “it should be a county effort, but it’s being taken care of by us.” He argued students outside of the village also attend Watkins Glen. Fraboni said he felt the community was better served by having the full-time officer on the streets.
Struble explained the village worked out an agreement with the district when the state police pulled funding four years ago. He said the sheriff’s department replied it was not able to provide the service. Struble added he will “fight this tooth and nail,” but ultimately it is the village’s decision.
“I’d rather have a veteran (officer) in watching the kids, but I don’t think the village should shoulder the (financial) burden,” said Swinnerton. The village board will contact the school before both are scheduled to meet next, Monday, Aug. 5.
In other business:
• Barbara Merrill, co-owner of Echoes of the Glen Bed & Breakfast at 300 South Franklin St., asked if the board has considered placing a moratorium on demolishing houses in the village until zoning laws can be created to ban demolition. The question comes from Dunkin Donuts’ plan to demolish the house to the north of the company’s property for more parking space. The permit is being reviewed by the planning board. The concern is the comprehensive plan says not to demolish homes on Franklin Street, but there is currently no zoning law in place yet to enforce that where Dunkin Donuts is located. Trustee Scott Gibson said he didn’t know enough about the planning process to address it. Swinnerton said he planned to attend the next zoning board meeting.
• The village approved spending $6,933 to purchase analyzer equipment for the wastewater treatment plant. Superintendent of Utilities Mark Specchio said the equipment is needed to monitor the chlorine levels of water being released into the lake.
• Struble said he is working on a noise ordinance for the village. The board reported getting a number of noise complaints on Franklin Street concerning businesses that have outdoor entertainment or service. Struble said he has asked for other municipalities’ ordinances and wants to create something that won’t punish the establishment, but encourages them to comply. He also said he doesn’t want to rush proposing an ordinance. Struble said his goal is to have one in place by early next year.
• Specchio said the village will be visiting homes on the western side of the village, on the hill, to do basement sewer inspections this Wednesday to Friday. He explained they want to make sure no sanitary sewer systems have been compromised. Specchio said the village will start by seeing who is home during the visits to do checks.