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Work at site of Marilla’s oldest house has yet to resume

Work at the site of Marilla’s oldest house has yet to resume more than four weeks after it was halted by Supervisor Earl A. Gingerich Jr.

The work was stopped because of concerns that at least one volunteer might have been using town-owned equipment at the site.

That prompted the Town Board to create a waiver that volunteers are required to sign before they can work on construction projects on town property.

The waiver was adopted at the board’s Feb. 11 meeting, prompting Councilman Brian W. Nolan to voice concern that some volunteers might not sign.

“As far as I know, there haven’t been any waivers signed,” Nolan said at last week’s Town Board work session.

Council members said that a major reason why work hasn’t resumed at the house is the weather; the structure is open on one end, making conditions less than ideal for construction.

Nolan was optimistic that the volunteers will soon be back in action.

“We’re going to work with them to get them back to work,” Nolan said. “These people don’t do it because they’re getting paid; they do it because they love it. They love the history of Marilla.”

Although renovations have stalled, volunteers are continuing their work at another town-owned building that houses the Marilla Historical Society.

Meanwhile, Highway Superintendent Ronald W. Unverdorben Jr. rebutted Gingerich’s suggestion that a volunteer was working on the building with town-owned equipment.

“There are no volunteers operating town equipment,” Unverdorben said. “There are volunteers who bring their own tools, but they do not operate town equipment at any time.”

Unverdorben added that there has never been a policy in Marilla that would permit anyone other than town employees to work with town-owned equipment.

According to Unverdorben, he verbally instructs employees assigned to a task during which town equipment will be used that only they are authorized to operate the equipment.

“No one other than themselves operates any of the town equipment,” Unverdorben said. “It’s for obvious reasons.”

The town’s four council members discussed the waiver at the conclusion of the work session, with all of them recognizing a need to protect the town in case of an accident.

Councilman Randy R. Reichert said the potential for negligence was the biggest reason why he voted for the waiver.

“Just to make the volunteer understand that because it’s a construction site, there’s a little more risk involved,” Reichert said. “When you have a risky job, you have to acknowledge that. Our obligation is to prevent (accidents).”