Displeasure Over Annexation Vote Lingers, Fire Proposal Probed

Tempers were just as high inside Jamestown City Council chambers Monday as temperatures were outside during the unseasonably warm September day.

Several people criticized council members while speaking during the public speaking portion of the council’s voting session meeting. Raven Mason, city resident who also owns property in Falconer, addressed the council about the proposed annexation of the Dow Street Substation.

Mason said she was not happy about last month’s meeting when members did not address the dozen questions she proposed to the council about the annexation prior to them approving the proposal later in the meeting. She said without a discussion by the council about her questions there is a lack of transparency.

Mason also said that following the council’s August meeting, she received an “informal” letter from Greg Rabb, council president. She said that the letter implied that she should not make her comments about the annexation in public.

Rabb denied that was his intention in sending a letter with his contact information. Rabb said he sent the letter in case Mason had any more concerns that she wanted to express to him directly.

The council president also explained that during voting session meetings, the discussion on each resolution usually has ended and members vote on the proposals. He said the discussion on resolutions happens during the two council work session meetings, which also includes four committee meetings, that are held prior to the monthly voting session meeting.

“This (the voting session meeting) is not the beginning of the discussion, but the end of the discussion,” Rabb said.

Later during the public speaking portion of the meeting, Falconer Village Mayor James Rensel addressed the comments made by Steve Vanstrom, chairperson of the Falconer Fire Advisory Board, during the council’s May meeting. Rensel said back in 2003-04, there was a proposal, of which he didn’t go into detail about, on how Falconer and Jamestown fire departments could have worked together to save $2 million. Rensel then started to make comments about what Anthony Dolce, Ward 2 councilman, said at the time about the fire department proposal, which led to Dolce interrupting Rensel. Dolce asked Rensel to not “put words in his mouth” that he didn’t say about the proposal. Rensel then closed his comments stating that if the fire department proposal can save $2 million, both municipalities should look again into the possibility.

Dolce said, later in the meeting, he asked current fire department officials about the proposal Vanstrom was speaking about and found out that the deal wouldn’t have saved the city or Falconer $2 million. Dolce also said if it is possible for the fire departments to work together to save money, the matter should be reinvestigated.

According to the May 22 meeting minutes posted on the city’s website, Vanstrom said back in 2004-05, the city had a study done by Harrington Sandberg on renovating and updating the city fire department, including moving Station 1 to Baker Park and to provide significant improvements to Station 5 and Station 4. In cooperation, Falconer officials had several meetings with city officials for about a year on the city fire department stations, Vanstrom said.

“The concept at that time was that Falconer would offer our station for Engine 4 free. In terms of the housing, we had talked about, for whatever reason, they could not build the station in Baker Park. We had a plan for that and Engine 5. We had talked about brokering a deal with Celoron for the city to be able to use Celoron Station 2 on Hunt Road,” Vanstrom said. “We met several times. Everyone liked the deal. It would have presented a huge savings to the city of Jamestown. Falconer not so much. It would have actually cost us money, but we were looking for some of the benefits that would have come from that. The deal, we met probably seven or eight different times on this same thing. At the end, we came down to everyone’s in agreement; including the union. And you can go back and ask any of these people if that were the case. At the end, the deal fell flat. When I asked (former Falconer) mayor, Dave Krieg, what happened, he said the city of Jamestown said the deal’s not good enough, you have to pay us money to do this.”