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State of Hamburg is good, town supervisor says

Hamburg started last year with a blizzard and ended the year with a federal disaster declaration, Supervisor Steven J. Walters recounted in his annual “state of the town” address Thursday.

“It was stormy both inside and out,” he said, an apparent reference to some of the disagreements on the Town Board.

But it was the lake-effect storms of November 2014 that the supervisor discussed at length.

“From the time the snow began falling until we finally began sending our crews home, a full week had passed,” he said. “And even though the flooding never occurred, it was still one of the most arduous weeks the town has faced.”

The town pulled through the storm successfully, he said.

“As always, there were those who wanted to focus on what could have gone better. But I am very proud to say that much more went right than wrong,” he said.

The town made 44 requests through DLAN, Erie County’s Disaster Local Access Network that provides Internet coordination of requests in emergencies, and sent out 10 Code Red messages. Hamburg received mutual aid from 37 fire companies from throughout the state, as well as assistance from State Police, state Department of Environmental Conservation Police, Niagara County Sheriff’s Office and Amherst Police Department.

He also said the flap with Erie County over the use of the DLAN has been cleared up. Hamburg had complained it took a number of days to receive heavy equipment to clear the 7 feet of snow that fell in the town, and County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz had criticized the town for not using the county system. Walters said Thursday that there was a coding error that listed the town’s request under the State Police, making it appear as though Hamburg did not make any requests. He said the county executive apologized for unfounded criticism of the town, and he thanked him for that.

Several expansions and initiatives will be completed soon, he said, including the new Senior Center and Adult Day Care Center and the Hamburg Library.

In the private sector, he said FedEx plans to break ground this spring at the Lake Erie Commerce Center along Route 5 in Woodlawn.

The company plans to spend $1.25 million to buy 50 acres of the former Bethlehem Steel complex, and invest another $50 million to build a 375,000-square-foot distribution center that would create as many as 600 new jobs.