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Wheatfield to conduct survey on constructing public library

WHEATFIELD – The town is planning to conduct a survey of residents on whether they want to construct a public library.

Melissa A. Germann, chairwoman of the Town Center Focus Group, said the estimated cost of building a 6,300-square-foot library is $2.2 million, plus an annual operating budget of $360,000. She said those figures were settled on by discussing the potential project with the Nioga Library System and the library management in Lewiston, Medina and Newfane.

On the other hand, Wheatfield is planning to pay a total of $175,000 in 2016 to the Sanborn-Pekin Free Library and the North Tonawanda Public Library. Germann said members of her group attended a North Tonawanda library board meeting.

According to a flier announcing the survey, the North Tonawanda library circulated about 90,000 items to Wheatfield residents this year, which is about 20 percent of their total circulation.

The surveys will be conducted primarily online, although paper copies will be available at Town Hall, the Senior Center, the Youth Center and perhaps elsewhere. There will be a space asking for respondents’ street addresses, in an effort to make sure only town residents participate in the survey.

Germann said the link to the website for the survey will be printed in the town’s recreation program handbook, which will be mailed approximately Jan. 4. The survey deadline is March 1.

Supervisor Robert B. Cliffe said, “We know we won’t get a response from every resident of Wheatfield. We need to do that before we go into negotiations.”

The focus group’s flyer says, “Wheatfield currently lacks a main gathering venue for residents, such as a ‘Main Street’ or a cluster of businesses and services that many other communities enjoy. A library could help our community gain additional identity and pride.”

On another topic, audience members criticized Cliffe for moving the site of the planned National Fuel natural gas dehydration station, part of the company’s overall plan to move fracked gas from Pennsylvania to Canada.

The company’s original choice for the site was off Lockport Road in the Vantage International Point industrial park.

Jennifer Wozniak accused Cliffe of moving the project “from your backyard into my backyard.”

Cliffe said that it would have been in the flight path of every plane from Niagara Falls International Airport and the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and that he didn’t think having a “24-inch, high-pressure gas line” there was a good idea.

“If it’s going to stay in Wheatfield, the only place that made sense was Liberty Drive, because of where the pipeline is now. It’s the only other M-1 (industrial) zone,” Cliffe said. “We didn’t pick the spot. They picked the spot.”

The use is permitted in that zone, and it wouldn’t have been in any other zone, Cliffe said. “We don’t get to pick and choose,” he said.

Wozniak said the station would spew benzene into the air. “I am not willing to submit my 15-month-old daughter to a life of respiratory distress,” Wozniak said. “No percentage of benzene is acceptable when it comes to childhood cancer.”

“You work for us. You’re supposed to protect our health and safety,” resident Monica Daigler told the board. “I don’t understand why the byproducts of fracking would be acceptable if fracking itself is not. … I think we should have pushback. I don’t understand why we don’t.”

National Fuel will hold a public information meeting on the project in the Wheatfield Community Center behind Town Hall, 2800 Church Road, from 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 13. The company will allow attendance only by residents who register in advance by emailing their name and address to corpcomm@natfuel.com.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com