Falconer shop upgrade moved forward in committee

MAYVILLE – A sorely needed upgrade to the Falconer Department of Public Facilities Shop is moving forward.

George Spanos, Chau-tauqua County director of public facilities, was given the green light Monday to draft a resolution that would provide hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace the aging structure. The approval came during a meeting of the County Legislature’s Public Facilities Committee.

If approved by the full legislature, a new public facilities shop would be built in Falconer at a cost of $200,000 to $300,000. Spanos told legislators a new shop built elsewhere from the ground up would cost as much as $4 million.

Members of the committee recently visited the county’s three facilities shops. The Sheridan facility is believed to be in the best shape, while the Sherman shop is under review for a capital project.

“I think you have a clear understanding of the request (to upgrade),” Spanos said.

The current facility in Falconer, built in 1926, has seen little upgrades and has shown its age for decades. In fact, an analysis completed 20 years ago identified that a new shop was needed, Spanos said.

A potential layout of the new facility was presented to the committee in April. On Monday, Spanos got unanimous support for an upgrade. A resolution authorizing construction could be brought forward in June.

“I think it’s time that we move this forward,” said Tom Erlandson, D-Frewsburg. “I think we’ve waited long enough.”

Said Robert Stewart, R-Ellington, “I think it’s time we took the bull by the horns. The longer we wait the more it is going to cost.”

Also discussed Monday was the transportation of hydraulic fracturing wastewater over county roads. Members of the Chautauqua County League of Women Voters expressed frustration over the lack of county oversight to ban the transportation of the waste.

“A traffic accident or flipped tanker could easily send gallons of this material into our water table,” said Minda Rae Amiran.

Spanos said two companies have permits to transport the fracking material on County Route 23. The 5-mile road runs from North Harmony to Clymer. Trucks then proceed into Bear Lake, Pa., where two injection wells are located.

Spanos stressed as Public Facilities director, his priorities are with enforcing weight limits on county roads. He noted other trucks that haul milk and wood also are required to get permits to travel on the county road.

As for regulating material within the trucks, Spanos said that was an issue for the state Department of Environmental Conservation. He said he would contact the DEC with concerns raised by the League of Women Voters and report back to the committee. No further action was taken.