Forestville residents voice displeasure with board actions

FORESTVILLE – More than 35 residents attended the Forestville Village Board meeting to voice displeasure with several board decisions.

The meeting opened with a public hearing on moving the election day from March to November.

Resident and former trustee Kimberly Stott presented the board with a petition with more than 200 residents’ signatures opposed to moving the date.

Residents implied and outright said that the move was meant to extend the village board’s time in office to promote its “agenda.”

“If you move this election and you get it passed so they can ride for another year. That’s insane. … You’re just trying to get your agenda … and we would like that agenda to cease and desist,” resident Gary Balote said.

Attorney Michael Sullivan said the village does not have a charter, but has decided to put the matter to a referendum for the voters to decide. This is different from the way the village of Silver Creek passed the measure, which is subject to a permissive referendum, not an automatic one.

Resident and former clerk Marcia Peterson said, “Maybe we should look into making a charter when we have a better board to work with.”

The crowd was outraged when Mayor Linda Aures closed the public hearing due to a lack of “intelligent questions.”

The resolution to change the date subject to the referendum vote on Nov. 5 was passed with only Trustee Kevin Johnson opposed.

Residents also voiced their opposition to dissolution of the village.

Peterson said she read a study by the Association of Towns which said small governments for the most part run efficiently.

Other residents worried dissolving the village would lead to losing the post office and the school and would no longer be a “destination.”

Balote said if the board does not want to deal with the village’s problems it should step down.

“In my lifetime if you have monetary problems you don’t give up, you buckle down, you get your village together and you work together. You don’t say, ‘The easiest thing is to dissolve.’ … If you don’t want to do it then get out. There are a lot of us who will take over and this village will stand,” he said, adding after the water system is in place the village will experience a boom.

Johnson also spoke up in opposition, saying Aures was correct when she said at the last meeting that he had made up his mind. He said his opinion comes from feedback from residents, but also the opinion that in losing the village, residents are losing their voice.

“It’s been said we would still be Forestville … but one significant thing will be missing – this forum, this small room where we gather to discuss our issues. We residents will no longer have a one in 700 voice that we have now. Instead, our issues will go to the town of Hanover where our voice will be one in about 7,000. I do not feel that the possibility, and it is only a possibility, is worth the loss of power in our community,” he said, adding he will not be convinced of benefits in dissolving until he sees hard facts.

“… So I am being asked by New York state to give up some of my power in government to have a more efficient, streamline government. I get less say in what I pay for in government, but I get a more efficient government. If government was just about dollars and cents, this model would be fine. But I think government is more than money for services. It’s about people who want to know that their voices are heard,” Johnson concluded.

Other complaints were about the alleged termination of highway worker John Carpenter. Several residents spoke on behalf of Carpenter and accused the board of harassing him and Highway Supervisor Charles Brewster. When Brewster attempted to speak on behalf of Carpenter, he was told not to comment.

Residents also asked about disclosure of voucher number and amounts, if loans are being repaid, knowing when water bills are due, and what hours Clerk James White is being paid for if the office is only open one day a week. Stott also complained about unprofessionalism of board members and increased crime in the village.

Residents were told multiple times by Aures that the comment portion of the meeting is not a question and answer period.

Water bills will be mailed on Friday and will consist of the debt payment. Water bills for usage will be mailed in October.

The next Forestville Village Board meeting will be held Sept. 10 at 7 p.m.