Westfield board given earful from residents

WESTFIELD – Residents in the village are concerned the entity may not get its fair share of tourism this summer.

At a recent village board meeting, many voiced their opinion on the way the village officials are handling things in the community.

Former Mayor William Christ wasn’t in favor of the board approving a director position for the department of public works. Trustee Debra Puckhaber opposed the department of public works having an board of public works.

“We have the best electronic department we have ever had,” Christ said. “Andrew (Thompson) is working well with the plant down there. Ed (LeBarron), my son- in-law takes good care of the streets and parks. We have at this time someone who is the chair of the board (Todd Swanson) and I think that is who we should stay with. This guy is a civil engineer who has helped to build dams all over the country. I don’t think we should be going with a director. I think an appointment is a slap in the face to these gentlemen who work so hard.”

Christ added Department of Public Works Superintendent Ed LeBarron has given 28 years of service to the village and is a retired Navy Officer.

“We have a good crew here,” he said. “Why screw it up?”

Puckhaber addressed Christ announcing Department of Public Works Chief Operator Andrew Thompson was who the board had in mind of making director of the department. However, she didn’t like the language in the law stating this would be another board of commissioners for the water department.

“It sounds like the board of fire commissioners,” she said. “It seems incomplete to me, and I don’t agree we should move forward with this.”

Local Law 3 states the Department of Public Works will have an advisory board, and was approved 4-1, with a nay from Puckhaber. It is not yet approved Thompson will be it’s director.

Code Enforcement Officer Jim Pacanowski brought to the board attention the problem with vacant buildings and lawns not being mowed.

“I am getting lots of complaints,” he said. “If they don’t mow their lawn after 10 days we need to decide what to do. If they don’t show up to court we send out a bench warrant. Most people walk away from their property when they get evicted and don’t care about it. When we have a front porch covered with 30 or 40 garbage bags that becomes a health problem.”

This problem is happening all over the community and it has many fed up.

“I can’t continue to live next to this stuff. It looks bad for our village,” Resident Mike Luchey said. “We have tried to get something done.”

Planning Board Member Darlene Golibersuch added the appearance of the village is causing problems with tourism.

“I feel the village should sink its teeth into this a little bit,” she said. “No one is going to come to Westfield if they see fields growing in peoples lawns.”

Pacanowski said the grass gets up to three feet in some cases and it leaves worry for liable suits.

Mayor Michael VandeVelde announced if nothing has been done with the properties in 10 days then LeBarron will be in charge of cleaning up the properties.

The West Side Pump Station has been giving the water department headaches lately.

“We have raw sewage dumping into the creek,” Resident David Haslin said. “We can’t bring tourists here with that.”

LeBarron said FEMA refuses to help them with the pump stations.