The city's police and fire chiefs and leaders of the departments' unions Wednesday said they would take a wait-and-see attitude before responding to a proposal to use civilian dispatchers to answer emergency calls.
Mayor Thomas C. Rotondo Jr. opened Wednesday's Common Council work session by asking Council members, city workers and residents "to keep an open mind."
Two weeks ago, the mayor appointed an 11-member ad hoc group to study the possibility of using civilian dispatchers, allowing the city to put more police officers on the street and keep more fireman available for emergency calls.
Since then, Rotondo said, "rumors have been flying, and my position is that we are not trying to detract from (the duties of police and firefighters)." He said the use of civilian dispatchers "has been successful in other municipalities and it's just another way of looking at ways we might be able to provide better public services."
He said the study "might take a year or more to complete" and said he was just asking for "local cooperation."
And, he added, "I want to assure all that if civilians are ever used in the departments, it will only be after they are well-trained. We would not think of putting a (non-professional) is such a position."
He also assured the union representatives that the plan was not aimed at reducing the numbers of firemen and police officers.
He and members of the Council also stressed that the possible use of civilian dispatchers "is not a new idea. It was talked of 16 years ago and a number of times since," the mayor said.
The ad hoc panel named by Rotondo includes Aldermen Phyllis J. Green, R-2nd Ward, and John T. Pitrello, D-3rd Ward, Police Chief J. Paul Leyden, Fire Chief Thomas J. Darroch, Police Hickory Club President Edward Ott, two members each from the fire and police boards and two private citizens.
The Council also:
Transferred $351,420 from the municipal retirement insurance account to pay for refuse disposal service. City Clerk Richard P. Mullaney said the city could use the funds "because the state did not require us to make as large a contribution to the fund as we had planned for last year."
Announced the following holiday refuse collection schedule: Monday and Dec. 31, pickup only from 7 to 11 a.m.; Tuesday and Jan. 1, no service; double pickups Wednesday and Jan. 2.
Urged the area delegation in the State Legislature to support a city application for state grants to build new youth bureau quarters.
Last week the Council authorized Paul G. Foster, director of youth and recreation, to seek nearly $1 million in grants from the state Urban Development Corp. to build the new youth center on a tract on Ontario Street next to the Lockport Senior Citizen Center.
Set 8 p.m. Jan. 16 for a public hearing on a recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Board to issue a special-use permit for a parking lot at 215 Davison Road.
Set a public hearing for 8:05 p.m. Jan. 16 on a second recommendation of the board to consider rezoning a portion of land along 221 Cold Spring Road for expansion of the Lockport Country Club golf course.
Set a public hearing for 8:10 p.m. Jan. 16 to consider a board recommendation to rezone a portion of Davison Road between Lincoln Avenue and Akron Street from R-1 residential to a B-4 business.