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Volunteers must sign waiver to resume Marilla house restoration

A dedicated group of volunteers is helping to restore the first home constructed in Marilla, which was moved in July 2014 about half a mile from its original Bullis Road location to town property on West Avenue.

However, their work was recently shut down by Supervisor Earl Gingerich Jr. when it was learned that at least one volunteer, with town employees, was using town equipment.

Although officials are anxious to let them get back to work – the recent focus was on restoring the structure’s floor – volunteers will have to sign a waiver to do so.

The exact age of the house isn’t known, but it’s believed to have been built between 1810 and 1854.

Gingerich said the waiver, which was approved at Thursday’s Town Council meeting, is necessary to maintain its fiscal obligation to the town.

“It only applies to construction-type activities,” Gingerich said. “That’s where the risk level goes up; where the insurance companies get a little nervous.”

The waiver was discussed at Tuesday’s Council work session during which it was suggested that it should apply to anyone who volunteers at a town activity.

However, Gingerich said several texts and emails exchanged between Tuesday and Thursday between him and Council members led to the decision to set the waiver only for volunteers involved in construction-related activity.

“So, we toned it down to make it more agreeable to everybody,” Gingerich said.

Those who sign the waiver agree that their participation as a volunteer is without compensation and they are not eligible for health insurance, workers’ compensation or other employee benefits from the town.

“I understand that there are inherent risks and dangers in my participation in activities on behalf of the town,” the waiver states. “I agree that I will not operate any town vehicles or other equipment as a volunteer.”

The waiver was adopted by a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Brian Nolan dissenting.

Nolan said he’s afraid the move will dissuade people from helping.

“Volunteers are important to the community and I know how difficult it is to get them,” Nolan said. “My fear is that some key people may not sign and we’ll lose them.”

Councilwoman Deborah Beats said she voted for the measure, understanding its purpose to protect the town as a whole, but she wasn’t happy to cast her “yes” vote. “I see the need for it on the town board side,” Beats said.