The Cattaraugus County Legislature will be asked next Wednesday to authorize payment of a $500 fine and to repair some of the damage caused to wetlands during the Haskell Road reconstruction project.
Members of the Legislature's Public Works Committee, meeting Wednesday in Little Valley, learned the $500 was just part of a $2,500 penalty assessed in a state Department of Environmental Conservation consent order that was issued recently. The remaining $2,000 will be suspended if several retention ponds are made smaller and some other repairs are completed.
The lawmakers agreed to settle the matter quickly and to sponsor a resolution agreeing to the terms of the consent order that will be sent to the full Legislature for immediate consideration next week.
Dick Giardini, D-Allegany, Public Works Committee chairman, told committee members that the Allegany office of the DEC had verbally agreed to consulting engineering firm TVGA's plan to excavate the retention ponds without a wetlands permit because it was believed the work would not encroach on the wetlands. Property owned by Edward Burroughs, 2541 Haskell Road, Portville, was chosen for the location of the ponds.
According to the consent order, 2.29 acres of freshwater wetlands and slightly less than an acre of adjacent protected area was disturbed when topsoil was scraped, the ponds were excavated and stockpiled soil and new fill were dumped there. A ditch that was excavated into the wetland breached the bank of Haskell Creek, a protected and state-certified trout stream.
Giardini said that later, the Buffalo office of the DEC did not agree with the plan and that a permit was not needed. The agency was lenient in its ruling because, "They realized there was some culpability on their part and we didn't do it on purpose," he added.
In another matter, the committee agreed to support a $19,250 contract with Wendel Duchscherer to repair masonry cracks in the eastern, western and northern corner walls of the County Jail, as well as a crack at the eastern end of the southeastern facade. The cracks appeared after the jail's construction in 1992 and have caused leaks during heavy rains.
Public Works Director Dave Rivet said there is no money in the department's budget for the repairs and requested using fund balance to pay for the job. But Finance Committee Chairman Michael T. O'Brien said the financing source requires further study.