Meeting provides information

Sometimes government meetings are a font of information; sometimes not so much. The recent Dunkirk Common Council meeting may have fallen somewhere in between.

Mayor Anthony J. Dolce used his report time to update council on various projects, including the city’s Ong-Gwe-Ohn-Weh. Dolce said the statue is the subject of city concern and Department of Public Works Director Tony Gugino is working on a solution.

“DPW Director Gugino has spoken to a local business and a local contractor to do an initial inspection. There’s going to be further reviews over the next couple of weeks before we determine a final course of action,” dolce stated. “It is our goal to have the repairs and staining done this year and then we’ll have to enclose the structure with a possible relocation. … We would need more discussion. Next spring or summer, that’s the timeline on that.”

Dolce also reported the city is facing two assessment challenges so far – and there will be a price to defend the assessments.

“The time has passed for filing litigation against the city for assessments, but the time for serving is not yet complete,” he explained. “We have received two challenges to date and the resolution for legal/appraisal services will be forthcoming at the next council meeting.”

Another concern is the work at the water treatment plant and Dolce told council filter bed 6 will be the first tested before other filter repairs are implemented.

The mayor also told council the West End Water Project is a success; the Willowbrook Water tower should be done by end of September and the county’s Millennium Parkway project to remake Talcott Street is on schedule. When it was time for member reports, Councilman William J. Rivera commended Dolce for a change in the city’s hiring process that attempts to involve council.

“I just want to point out for the record that I have always been uncomfortable with the city’s hiring process to this point with the way things have been done in the past. … I would like to see those changes continue on in the future,” Rivera stated.

A concern for councilwomen Stacy Szukala and Stephanie Kiyak was the absence of Gugino for a second straight meeting.

Szukala asked if Gugino was attempting to do other projects instead of attending the meetings.

“We had some questions for him that would have been nice to have answered during council meetings for public awareness as well,” Szukala added.

Dolce replied that Gugino was doing work he was assigned.

Kiyak asked if Gugino will be present for future meetings.

“Sure, unless there’s something else going on,” Dolce replied.

“It’s helpful to be able to ask him questions ourselves,” she countered.

Kiyak asked if council’s procurement policy had been followed with regard to the resolution on engineering services for the hot-in-place paving project.

“I made an executive decision to get someone before we lost the money for the year, the CHIPS money,” Dolce replied.

“So you just decided to go with this firm?’ she asked before calling for a vote on the resolution, which passed unanimously.

Another concern was the appointment of a new city clerk. City resident Nicole Joiner was unanimously approved for the post. Szukala wanted to know numbers about the process.

Dolce replied that there were some 30 applications or resumes, 10 interviews and four second interviews given with reference checks also done before Joiner was chosen.

Kiyak read a statement before calling for a vote.

“According to the City Charter mayoral appointments require council approval. However, the Charter does not mandate council participation in the vetting process,” she began. “As the council member-at-large, I requested from the mayor that I sit in on the interviews of the various candidates that he was considering, which I was denied. However, the compromise was that I was allowed to meet and interview his selected candidate prior to this vote.

“I only met the final candidate. I have no basis of comparison whether she is the best choice. However, I also do not have a sound reason to cast a no vote on the selection. Therefore, I would like to state for the record that I will be voting yes, but with reservation.”

Council will hold its next regular meeting Tuesday, Sept. 17.

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