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Tonawanda board explains why free split wood isn’t offered anymore

The Town of Tonawanda until about two years ago offered split wood from trees cut down by the Highway Department to residents at no charge.

But then its hydraulic splitter broke, and the land where the wood was stored was sold to become the North Youngmann Commerce Center.

“To replace it is about $20,000,” Councilman John A. Bargnesi said of the splitter during Monday night’s Town Board meeting.

The Town Board was asked by resident Damon Piatek during public comment about the new arrangement that has trees taken instead to Al’s Tree-Care Service on 2 Mile Creek Road, near the North Youngmann site.

Barngesi explained that the town worked out an agreement with Al’s that has the business accept the wood, including diseased wood, at no cost. Previously, the wood was trucked to a landfill at a cost of $40.77 per ton, and over $30,000 annually, Barngesi said.

“All those factors actually turned into a very big savings for our Highway Department and their town budget,” he said. “The service is gone. We no longer split wood. But the benefits in cost and savings factors outweighs the few people that actually picked up the wood.”

There were also issues with residents entering the former town site and climbing up on wood piles to throw the pieces in their trucks.

“Sometimes arguments would develop,” he said. “So it seemed that everything was coming together at once why this program wasn’t going to continue.”

Political tensions then flared between Piatek, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for Town Supervisor last year, and Democratic Councilman Daniel J. Crangle when Piatek asked about a claim that was paid out by the town to Crangle at a Town Board meeting in January.

Piatek noted that the town paid out over $30,000 in claims at that meeting, which prompted a response from Town Supervisor Joe Emminger.

“Do you know how big our town is?” Emminger asked. “We’re a big town ... this isn’t, you know, Elma – no offense Elma.”

Piatek asked if the town was studying its risk assessment then asked for details on Crangle’s claim.

“Out of almost 100 claims you want to pick the one out that pertains to me?” Crangle asked.

“Because you’re a public official,” Piatek replied.

“I’m glad you’re concerned about that,” Crangle said. “I’m glad you think about me.”

Crangle explained that the claim concerned an incident in December when he drove his car into Brighton Arena’s garage area and ran over a spike left in the yard, which flattened his tire.

“You’ve got to do better than that,” Crangle said as Piatek returned to his seat.