The Wales Town Board announced that some changes are coming on how meetings will be held – and that has raised some ire.
The changes are aimed at bringing some order to a group of residents who attend all board meetings and are vocal about their support and opposition on items.
Last year, the group requested a spot on the agenda at each board meeting to bring the board up to date about what the group was doing, just as some other town organizations do. The request was granted.
But last week, Susan J. Everett, who acts as a spokeswoman for the group, questioned the board at its meeting on why it changed the agenda from allowing an open segment of the meeting for residents or groups to speak about anything to an agenda that limits speakers to adhere only to agenda items.
Everett said: “It’s the one time the public can address the Town Board on issues or complaints when the board is all together.”
She added that the group was “not happy limiting the open speech period; it seems wrong. Open time is important.”
Supervisor Rickey A. Venditti replied that “the board did it to maintain decorum at meetings and end the negative way it is being used.”
Over the last few years, the group has been vocal against hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and a pumping station built by National Fuel on Reiter Road, among other issues. They have also advocated for a new walkway around the town park and urged the board to have an expert do a study of residents wells.
They had proposed a “Meet the Candidates Night” for voters in November but were accused by a board member of being too political. In an attempt to clarify that they were not, Everett explained that the group was made up of every political party and not limited to any one in particular. The members invited a representative from the League of Women Voters to conduct the evening event. Most of the board did not appear, with the exception of Jude A. Hartrich. Other candidates for countywide offices did participate.
At the second invitation for public comment held at the end of Tuesday’s meeting, the new agenda said that “previously stated rules apply and any new items requiring further discussion may be addressed with any board member after the meeting.”
During the annual organization meeting Tuesday, the board had re-appointed most officers with the following exceptions:
Because of the retirement of the Town Historian Jean Allen, the board appointed Deanna M. Zeigel to the post, with Linda M. Hausauer as deputy historian.
The board also chose J&M Cleaning for janitorial services, and named Mark G. Gietler, a South Wales resident, to a seven-year term on the Zoning Board of Appeals, replacing 20-year member Merlyn F. Hudson. Venditti said the board wanted to have more of a presence from South Wales.
The board will continue to meet on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. and hold a workshop on the fourth Tuesday at 7 p.m. All meetings will be held Tuesdays at the Community Center, 12345 Big Tree Road, with these exceptions: a May 27 workshop that will take place in South Wales; Sept. 10, a Wednesday, due to primary day, Sept. 9.; and Nov. 12, a Wednesday, due to Veterans Day, Nov. 11.