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Easement is granted for camp near park

The Common Council on Tuesday night granted Giardini Bros. Construction Co. a 30-by-50-foot temporary easement across city-owned property near Gargoyle Park.

The five-year agreement, in exchange for a $400 yearly fee to be paid by Giardini Bros., allows access to property in the Town of Allegany that William Giardini intends to use as a private campground.

The agreement replaces a long-term easement that expired in December and was the subject of negotiations with the administrations of two mayors before officials satisfied concerns about the nearby Allegheny River Trail that passes through another Giardini site. Giardini has agreed to provide $1 million in insurance to cover the city.

Two opponents of the plan, Barry Miller and Maureen Sheahan of Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County, warned that the Giardini firm is seeking a gravel-mining permit that could affect the use of the property.

Speaking during a public comment portion of a committee agenda prior to the vote, Sheahan said the area is not zoned for heavy equipment or gravel mining, and Miller asked that a vehicle weight limit be attached to the easement.

"You can't take a piece of a project and approve it with an unlimited easement -- so we asked for a limited weight," Sheahan said.

But the Common Council moved ahead with the plan in a unanimous vote.

Before voting in favor of the plan, Ward 1 Alderman Glenn Van Dixon commented, "It's about time. This should have come two weeks ago."

Mayor David J. Carucci, who has announced he will present his 2006-07 spending plan to the aldermen at 4 p.m. Thursday, drew fire from two residents who fear a possible 25 percent increase in taxes.

Resident Kim Hughes accused Carucci of exercising rash judgment for trying to balance the city's ailing financial accounts in just a few months after taking office.

She quoted from his campaign statements that he would seek out new business investment to help the city but said balancing the budget is "preposterous."

"You're scaring the heck out of me," she said.

Resident and former Alderwoman Jennifer Fairbanks-Black said the burdened taxpayers are the same ones who voted for Carucci. She asked the aldermen to be logical, realistic, compassionate and responsible, and to refrain from voting on a budget just to reach the April 15 approval date.

Carucci said earlier Tuesday that after he unveils his spending plan, he will invite the aldermen to participate in a series of meetings with department heads to refine the proposal. He added that he hopes that the Council can approve the budget by Feb. 28.

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