Council Continues To Hear Displeasure Over Annexation

The proposed annexation of the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities’ Dow Street substation continues to garner voices of displeasure.

There was no agenda item pertaining to the subject at Monday’s City Council meeting, but residents had the opportunity to relay their concerns during the privilege of the floor.

Neighboring residents from Ellicott and Falconer, along with a Jamestown resident, spoke out against the proposal, calling it a serious mistake and deeming it a hit to neighbor relations.

City officials said a process is underway and nothing has been finalized. Officials said they’re looking to annex 4 acres so the city could host its own property, place it under city services and take pressure off taxes and electric rates.

Among those speaking against the proposed annexation was Pat McLaughlin, Ellicott Town supervisor. While he empathized with the city’s fiscal problems, he said the town has been a fair neighbor. If it weren’t for the many people outside the city boundary purchasing utilities from the BPU, McLaughlin said the the department would not be in as good of shape as it is now.

“If you had water coming off your roof down a downspout that’s filling your yard, you wouldn’t extend that downspout to your neighbor, put the water in his yard and say, ‘There, my problem is solved,” McLaughlin said. “That’s really what you’re doing to the town of Ellicott and village of Falconer is saying we have a burden with our budget that we are going to put on somebody else’s shoulders.”

Doug Champ, Jamestown resident, said the city is in tough financial shape. He said he always felt the relationships with neighbors were strong.

“This process of funding the city through annexation can be done. But there’s also cost for that,” he said. “Not only is it a legal cost, but it’s also a cost to our friends and others that surround us. You’re going to have to weigh this. Is that money that important at this time to separate municipalities that are going to be impacted by these reduced revenue streams?”

Anthony Dolce, Ward 2 councilman, led Monday’s meeting with the absence of Greg Rabb, council president. Dolce will be chairing a public hearing June 12 at 7 p.m. at Falconer Central High School to gather comments over the proposed annexation. Officials from other impacted municipalities, including Ellicott and Falconer, will also be part of the public hearing.

“We’re expecting they’d be upset and come and voice displeasure with council,” Dolce said following Monday’s meeting. “When we talk about annexation, we’re not taking over the entire village. We’re looking at the process of annexing a very small piece of property that BPU equipment is on.”

Dolce said they don’t want to damage relationships, but council will continue to see the process through.

Contrary to statements made, Mayor Sam Teresi said no final decision has been made on the annexation. After the public hearing is complete, he said governing bodies will have 90 days to make a determination on the annexation. If there’s disagreement, the matter would be taken up before the state Supreme Court Appellate Division Fourth Department.

Teresi said he believes the city has been a good neighbor and a collaborative partner with municipal neighbors and Chautauqua County.

“The Greater Jamestown area has long been a leader in intermunicipal cooperation. It’s a two-way street,” he said. “At some point in time, one community is giving the benefit to the other and another point in time a community is benefiting from the help of others. We don’t’ keep a scorecard here. We think that this city has been a city of good neighbors to everybody around us.”