Ferguson Bans Water Comments At Meetings

Fredonia Mayor Michael Ferguson said Wednesday he will strictly enforce a ban against the public speaking on the village water situation at Board of Trustees meetings.

Ferguson said at Wednesday’s trustees workshop that state Open Meetings Law does not require municipal boards to allow the public to speak at meetings.

“I hate to start the meeting this way, but there will be no discussion on water or budget on Monday,” Ferguson said, quickly correcting himself, “Budget yes, water no.” Trustees plan to pass a 2024-25 village budget Monday.

The mayor continued, “Our attorneys suggest that we have heard everybody. We respect everybody’s opinion. We have heard people multiple times … and frankly the opinions have been getting insulting to the men and women at this table serving you as a community, and who are also taxpayers.”

Ferguson pointed to a lawsuit filed by five village residents against a Dec. 26 resolution on water issues, as a reason for suspending comment. He said the public couldn’t comment on water issues at trustees meetings until the village has had its day in court.

Fredonia’s mayor made similar statements about water comments at the Feb. 7 trustees workshop, stating that such talk was banned for the next meeting. However, after that, citizens were usually allowed to speak about village water issues.

The resolution targeted by the lawsuit puts Fredonia on a path to decommissioning its treatment plant, drawing down its reservoir and acquiring water from the city of Dunkirk. The plaintiffs just filed this week a counterargument to the village’s motion to get the lawsuit thrown out.

State Supreme Court Judge Grace Hanlon has already adjourned the case twice. The hearing on it is now set for May.


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