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A snow-free autumn has allowed the Village of Orchard Park to vacuum up almost 90 percent of residents' leaves and permitted the Department of Public Works to replant some of the maple trees that were removed along Freeman Road last spring, Public Works Director Paul H. Barker told the Village Board Monday night.

"You know we had to remove 14 big old maples along Freeman Road this year because they'd died of old age," he said. "So far, we've put in eight saplings. The holiday wreaths are mostly up and I've got 3,000 cubic yards of leaves to compost, too."

The village has always composted residents' leaves. Some goes to two local nurseries, Barker said, and right now he has "about 3,000 cubic yards of well-rotted leaf mulch available to any resident who wants to come to the village garage and pick it up for gardening." And he'll add that many new leaves this year.

In other matters, the Village Board moved to join with the town and the School Board to seek county planning funds and noted that the village's own master planning process has almost been completed.

"We were a little worried about having sufficient input on a joint master plan," Trustee Andrew C. Hilton III said, "but I believe it will be all right. We are going along, but we do have some concerns. We don't want (those village concerns) to get lost in the process."

One of the major issues in a joint master plan is the village's desire to have on-street parking and, perhaps, a less-than-speedy multilane route through its core. Town residents (and school buses) would likely prefer a new road system that favors more lanes and faster traffic flow.

Recent state Department of Transportation hearings to gauge sentiment for DOT proposals to reconstruct Route 24 0/2 77 and its intersections, especially the "four corners" in the center of the village, brought those differences into focus.

"Two merchants put out a petition that had 580 signatures, and our own questionnaire drew 130 responses," Mayor Patricia A. Dickman said.

"We have not taken an official stand yet, but we have sent all the material to the DOT. I don't know when we've had so much response to a single issue," she added.

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