The Town Board on Tuesday again rejected the county's offer to sell Bond Lake Park to the town for $1.
County Legislator Lee Simonson, at a meeting between county legislators and the Town Board, veered off the planned agenda, again suggesting that the town take control of the county-owned park, which lies within the town.
He even brought in an over 25-year-old master plan for the park. Simonson had first suggested the park be turned over to the town a month ago during a legislative committee meeting, much to the surprise of Town Board members, who had never discussed the matter.
"It is a gorgeous and beautiful park, but due to constraints (the county) can't do the park justice. I'd like to move in the direction of the town taking over responsibility for the park. There are a lot of possibilities," Simonson said.
Councilman John D. Ceretto said taking over the park at this point would burden Lewiston taxpayers. Board members have suggested repeatedly that tobacco settlement money be used for park improvements.
"I've spoken to a tubing company which is interested, but this takes infrastructure like tow ropes and snow-making machines. This is an underdeveloped park, and there are a lot of ideas, but it needs to be made viable and then we could take it over. . . . Merely shifting the financial burden without forethought and proper planning would be a disservice to the residents of Lewiston," Ceretto said.
Ceretto said one option under consideration was for the county to continue paying operating costs. Then the town could lease the park, with the option to buy, while seeking plans to develop the park.
In another matter, the board discussed the county self-insurance workers' compensation plan with Simonson; Legislature Clyde L. Burmaster, R-Ransomville; Legislator Malcolm A. Needler, R-North Tonawanda, head of the legislature's Human Resources Committee; and county Risk and Insurance Coordinator Rodger D. Smith.
The town had considered dropping out of the plan in January due to an increase in premiums, but will stay in on a month-by-month basis.
"The numbers are ridiculous," said Simonson, commenting on the jump in the town's premium from $87,500 to $204,000. "But we had an incompetent third-party administrator who was fired and a bunch of claims (that) all took place at once."
Needler noted that towns -- such as Niagara -- which are opting out of the plan this year may see savings only in the first year or two.
Smith said the plan was reformulated to take out all nontaxable property. In Lewiston, which includes the New York Power Authority and state parks, 86 percent of town property is tax-exempt. The new formula will give Lewiston $16,000 savings in insurance premiums.
Supervisor Sandra J. Maslen said she would like see more done. "We are still $100,000 higher than last year," she said.
Smith and the legislators all agreed that there could be a change in the board's plan, and Burmaster said he would bring it to a vote at next Tuesday's Legislature session.