Fire chief explains emergency response services
WATKINS GLEN—The Watkins Glen village board heard from the Fire Chief of the Watkins Glen Fire Department, Dominick Smith, at the regular meeting held on Monday, March 5. Smith came to the board to address various questions that had been raised by the public in past meetings involving the fire department. During his presentation, Smith touched on the Squad 76 Subaru take home response vehicle, providing emergency medical technician service, and the idea that Montour Falls Fire Department had been removed from second alarm duties.
Smith provided the board with some details about how the Squad 76 Subaru take home response vehicle is utilized. He explained that the Squad 76 vehicle is a red Subaru that is kept mostly at the residence or work place of an on call EMT volunteer until a call comes in. Smith said that the availability of a take home vehicle allows responders to reach a call an average of three minutes faster. “In the EMS world we talk seconds, here we are looking at three minutes,” said Smith. He explained that the department will receive calls requesting assistance for situations that do not require the larger vehicles, like elderly citizens needing help standing back up after a fall. In those instances, said Smith, the Squad 76 vehicle will respond to the call on its own. The vehicle answered 40 calls on its own last year, said Smith. He added that the vehicle was purchased with department funds and then turned over to the village. Now the village pays for maintenance which amounts to a very small cost considering the service provided, said Smith. The cost of providing EMS service also garnered some attention from Smith. He explained that the department is under contract to provide emergency medical services to the village. Currently, said Smith, “it costs us less than $7,000 per year to run EMS, but you can't put a cost on someone's life.”
In response to public inquiry, Trustee Kevin Smith stated during the meeting held on Feb. 6 that the EMT contract had recently been renewed. Lastly, Smith explained that any thought that the Montour Falls Fire Department had been removed from second alarm duty in favor of Burdett was “totally false.” The Watkins Glen Fire Department is an entirely volunteer organization. More information on the department can be found at www.watkinsglenfiredepartment.com.
In other business:
• At the request of Trustee Paul Clifford, Mayor Mark Swinnerton further explained the village's decision to override the property tax cap. On the passing Local Law No. 1 of 2012, Swinnerton said “by no means does it mean that we are going to go over [the property tax cap], but we want to be prepared if necessary.” “It is more of a safety net, if you will, for lack of a better term,” said Swinnerton. He added that the board would do everything they can to keep property taxes below the tax cap. The law was passed early in the budget process at the suggestion of the New York Conference of Mayors, said Swinnerton, which recommends that if such a law is to be passed, it be done 30 days prior to the release of the first draft budget.
• The board voted to allow the Watkins Glen Farmer's Market to occupy Lafayette Park on Friday's from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. this summer and fall. The market has been operating in Watkins Glen for many years and last year they saw a great turnout said organizer Jylie Benson-Gauss, adding, “it is so wonderful, people just love to come and hang out and get locally grown goods.” The market will operate from May 25 until Oct. 26 in the park. More information can be found at their Facebook page.
• The board discussed the idea of limiting traffic on First Street in the village to one-way and opening up diagonal parking for patrons of the Harbor Hotel and the various waterfront festivals held in the village. Mayor Swinnerton said that the proprietor of the hotel had initially suggested the change. Trustee Wayne Weber responded that “in the past we decided we weren't going to allow diagonal parking.” Weber explained that there are danger associated with diagonal parking and that many hotels of that size operate their own parking garage. Police Chief Struble echoed Weber's sentiments and reminded the board that First Street is a high traffic area. “I wouldn't like it, but I am willing to sit down and discuss it and see what we come up with,” said Struble.
• The board voted to hire a consultant to evaluate the village's insurance situation for the coming fiscal year for a cost not to exceed $7,500. Swinnerton explained that a third party would be hired to come in, evaluate the village's insurance needs, and then evaluate the bids from various agents that the village received. Last year, said Swinnerton, the bids ranged from a few thousand dollars to over $100,000. Trustee Clifford added, “Once we go through this once we will have some tracks to follow in the future.” Trustee Weber agreed that this needs to be done maybe every three years. Trustee Gibson wondered if it would be the “purview of the consultant to work closely with department heads.” “Our insurance needs are very complicated,” said Clerk Donna Beardsley. She anticipated that the consultant would visit the village's sites and meet with department heads prior to making any recommendations.
The next village board meeting will be on Monday, March 19, with an organizational meeting to be held on April 2. Village dumpster day will be held on May 12, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Clute Park.