Resignation Accepted

Lakewood Board To Determine How To Fill Vacant Mayoral Seat

Lakewood residents fill the meeting room as the board of trustees prepare to accept the resignation of Mayor Cara Birrittieri, among other village business. Residents shared their thoughts about the situation and expressed sympathy for Birrittieri, who resigned Friday due to personal and medical reasons. P-J photo by Eric Zavinski

LAKEWOOD — The village board of trustees officially accepted Mayor Cara Birrittieri’s resignation at Tuesday’s meeting, following the letter announcing Birrittieri’s intent to end her term that was received Friday.

Due to the absence of Village Attorney John LaMancuso, no action to install the next mayor took place. A special election could be held in the future. Birrittieri’s current term was originally set to end Jan. 1, 2020, and a newly-appointed or elected mayor would serve until that date. Deputy Mayor Ted McCague is now acting as mayor, but said he lacks the emergency authority the mayor possessed.

In addition to last week’s letter of resignation received from Birrittieri, she also mailed a letter, dated Sept. 24, that clarified payment for the recent water tests completed by the Chautauqua Lake Association in June when a concerned citizen voiced worries that a SOLitude boat that was treating Busti waters with herbicides may have treated Lakewood waters as well, a claim that was later determined to be false.

“I voted in favor of helping the CLA by reimbursing sample testing and mailing, not because the village was obligated to pay, but because it was the right thing to do for their willingness to help concerned Lakewood citizens in a timely manner, and in a potentially dangerous situation,” Birrittieri wrote. “In addition, since it was clear to me in (Doug) Conroe’s letter that he did not expect payment, but ‘hoped’ the village would help out the organization, my ‘yes’ vote was in the spirit of a donation, and not a payment for services rendered.

“In retrospect, the request from the CLA should have been for a donation, rather than sent as an invoice. While that is now hindsight, it is clear that this request was indeed a request for a contribution since it is my understanding the CLA was not demanding payment; they were asking for help, and had already paid the bill.”

From left, Lakewood trustees Ellen Barnes, Ted McCague, Randy Holcomb and Doug Schutte talk during a work session before Tuesday’s village board meeting. P-J photo by Eric Zavinski

Birrittieri finished the correspondence by noting the “controversy” surrounding the water tests had no part in her decision to resign as mayor. Personal and medical reasons were cited as the reasons for her resignation in the resignation letter the village received Friday. A resident noted that Birrittieri has had to deal with three deaths in her immediate family in the past year and felt that she committed herself to the village as much as she could.

Some residents called on their peers to stop complaining about business in the village and instead become involved. Interested residents can join various committees, and the parks and recreation committee is still looking for comments on existing Lakewood parks in order to shape a vision for the future of the parks. Paper copies of surveys are available in the village office, and residents can take the survey online at lakewoodny.com/surveys.

McCague also announced that the village received an award for comprehensive planning from the American Planning Association. A framed certificate, which reads that it is presented to Birrittieri, McCague, peter j. smith & company, and LaBella Associates, will hang in the village office. McCague thanked others who helped the village receive this recognition. Those individuals include the immediate past mayor, former trustees and steering committee members.

“In the planning world, this is huge news,” McCague said.

In other news, trick-or-treat hours in the village were set to 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for Halloween.

Former Mayor Cara Birrittieri’s chair sits empty following her resignation Friday. She resigned due to personal obligations, and the village board unanimously accepted her resignation. Village Attorney John LaMancuso will advise the board on how to proceed to find a new mayor. P-J photo by Eric Zavinski

Since the last board meeting, a new paramedic joined the Lakewood Volunteer Fire Department, bringing the total of paramedics in the village to two. Lakewood and Busti’s fire inspector also began his work Tuesday.

Lakewood residents are also encouraged to attend the open house celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Lakewood Fire Department. The celebration will take place from noon to 4 p.m. at the department Saturday.

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