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‘Just Never Know’

Concerns Expressed Over Blocking Right Of Ways

Lakewood Fire Chief Kurt Hallberg displays a photo chart depicting each right of way in the village during Monday’s board meting. P-J photo by Cameron Hurst

LAKEWOOD — Lakewood’s fire chief expressed his concerns over neighbors blocking village-owned right-of-ways using a photo chart depicting each piece of property during Monday’s meeting of the board of trustees.

Some are already blocked, Kurt Hallberg noted.

“As you can see in this, these photos were taken about 10 years ago and they don’t necessarily look like that now because there are things that have been cut down and changed,” he said. “Some of them are grass. Some of them are at the roadway.”

Hallberg equated the right of ways, many of which are access points to Chautauqua Lake, as “a fire extinguisher in the kitchen in the event you have a breeze fire or having sprinklers in a new house.” Blocking them presents a safety concern in the event first responders need to get out to the lake for an incident.

“You hope you don’t use them … but you’ve got them there if you need to,” he said. “We could get a truck down there to draft, take water from the lake and you might have a lake rescue and back an ambulance down there. You just never know what you might need them for.”

Hallberg’s presentation came in response to residents who had inquired about planting on these land parcels. Mayor Randy Holcomb told The Post-Journal that some residents have already begun placing their docks on this land. For safety reasons, he said, any impediment to that land goes against village policy.

“To block them or in some way make them not available would be a dangerous thing,” Hallberg said on Monday. “Because if you start, everybody’s going to want them like paper streets.”

Hallberg explained that the land has been particularly useful during lake rescues.

“We could get a truck down there to draft, take water from the lake and you might have a lake rescue and back an ambulance down there,” he said. “You just never know what you might need them for.”

“The last drowning we had a couple years ago, we worked out of the Yacht Club and it happened to be out in front of that so it worked out conveniently,” fire company President Jack Knowlton said.

“We were there for three days and had tents set up and everything else those three days. When we do one of those operations, we need that access.”

“As you say, the access is important from your point of view and for the pleasure of so many residents,” Trustee Ellen Barnes said. “I think you open Pandora’s box and I think this is a good time to have a discussion of it because if you allow everybody and you start planting on the right-of-way, who’s going to maintain it? Our DPW. And they have a lot on their plate and they don’t really need to be weeding gardens.”

She added, “It’s been suggested that they go through and gravel all the right of ways. The neighbors don’t want that and a lot of them do maintain it and it gives them a cushion and a little bit of space which is really nice and it is village property and it’s nice for the village. If they don’t maintain it, the village would have to.”

During the meeting, board members also approved the determination of Fleta Avenue as a “paper street” and approved its transfer to resident Scott Reeves and Holcomb read a correspondence from code enforcement officer Jeffrey Swanson that noted several overlarged political signs had been removed from residents’ property.

“I think the village has to take a look at the number of zoning laws when we look at signs throughout our area,” Swanson wrote. “There are a number of violations. One being a large number of residents have installed signs in public ways which are not permitted.”

Monday’s meeting also included an update from Holcomb on recycling after a recent discussion with a representative from Beichner Waste Services. According to the company, glass is no longer considered recyclable and is to be collected as garbage instead. Beichner Waste Services will also collect paper and cardboard on the first and third weeks of the month.

“We spoke at length and he has agreed to pick up paper and cardboard on the first and third weeks of every month,” Holcomb said. “This is a good change for the village and for Beichner Services as well. Glass will now be considered garbage with first and third weeks of cardboard collection.”

The board also authorized a mailing to go out to residents announcing the change and providing the collection schedule for the next 14 months.

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