Concerns aired in Westfield

WESTFIELD – Some concerns were recently brought to the attention of Westfield village officials involving scaffolding and a fire truck.

Westfield resident Robert Neratko wrote a letter in April to Mayor Michael VandeVelde in regard to concerns he has about Village Attorney Joel Seachrist and Code Enforcement Officer Jim Pacanowski.

Neratko presented the letter again to the village board at a recent work session held in Eason Hall.

Calls were made to Seachrist, who had no comment.

According to Neratko, several residents have complained about the scaffolding on Seachrist’s office building at 31 E. Main St. He feels the scaffolding is an eyesore and needs to be taken down.

VandeVelde addressed the concern, telling Neratko the scaffolding is there for a reason.

“The code enforcement officer (Pacanowski) did get ahold of him (Seachrist), who is afraid if he takes the scaffolding down there will be liability issues,” he said. “A steel beam is holding up part of the building and if the scaffolding is taken down something could happen.”

Neratko replied the mayor holds the checkbook on the attorney and code enforcement officer.

“You should hold him accountable to fix the building in a timely manner,” he said. “We pay over $25,000 to him in village taxes. Village officials need to be held to higher standards.”

Trustee Debra Puckhaber said a lot of people are afraid to complain about it because of the position Seachrist holds.

“He is our village attorney,” she said. “It (scaffolding) doesn’t look good.”

Pacanowski received a ticket in regard to a fire truck parked on his residence. He noted the truck is a collector’s item.

“It is in the hands of the court right now,” he said. “It is in full compliance with zoning.”

Neratko disagrees.

“The guy in charge of codes and violations is violating his own codes,” Neratko said. “It is up to the police to correct his error.”

The 1957 fire truck is an antique Pacanowski saved from the junk yard.

“It has been in my driveway for about 4 years. It was originally owned by the Westfield Fire Department,” he said. “I purchased it from the Exempt Association, who received the truck in 1998 when the fire department retired it.”

Neratko claims Seachrist and Pacanowski are an embarrassment to the village.

“He (Pacanowski) gets a ticket for violating his own laws. He (Seachrist) has an eyesore outside of his building,” he said. “What does this look like to our young people? They are in violation of the jobs they have.”

Pacanowski is working on modifying his garage so the truck can be stored inside.

“It takes time to do,” he said. “I would rather save these old engines than see them destroyed.”

The truck has been shown at various events in Fredonia. Pacanowski said a gentleman in the Fredonia Fire Department did the same thing to a truck that had been sitting in a field. He feels it is very important to save these historical pieces of the fire department.

Neratko’s letter said Seachrist gets paid by village of Westfield taxpayers for the work he does on village business. The scaffolding is contracted by Fiske & Sons, Inc. Building Restoration, Erie Pa., and has apparently been up for at least a year.

“For him to not hire a local Westfield contractor to do the work is a real slap in the face to the Westfield community,” the letter read. “Not only did he not hire a Westfield contractor, but he didn’t even hire a contractor from New York state.”