Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008

Residents seeing more ‘dirt’ on city streets

LITTLE FALLS – Little Falls Department of public Works Supervisor Rick Zilkowski said Wednesday morning that the city streets are looking a little dirty.

The reason, he said, is due to a state-wide salt shortage.

“We are using more sand for this storm due to the shortage. Salt, in limited amounts, is being used on the hills only,” he said.

 Zilkowski added until salt is delivered sand will be the primary source for clearing the roads.

Gold Coast mansion may have new neighbors

IRONDEQUOIT — Back in the day, they called this ritzy stretch of the Lake Ontario shoreline as the Gold Coast.

Libanus Todd, who owned a Rochester company called Todd Protectograph, built the first home on Rock Beach Road, in 1912. Although his home burned to the ground in 1926, the mansion on site is still called the Libanus Todd House.

Developers now want to purchase the scenic lakeside property, just under five acres, to subdivide into five lots and build three new homes there.

After hearing from 15 citizens, all but one or two of them opposed to the project, during a nearly three-hour public hearing Monday, the Planning Board finally asked for a full environmental impact statement before making any decision.

“Because this would negatively impact the character of the neighborhood and has to do with the history of the site, and this area’s future, I think it’s important enough that we go through this process,” said Planning Board member Jay Ricci. “That street is magic ... I see this as repainting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.”

The 4.9-acre site eyed by developers Lou Fico and Robert Fallone, if built, would be called “The Manors at Rock Beach.”

Irondequoit resident Jean Czerkas, a history buff, said the landscaping, including decorative walls, statuary and steps, iwas designed by Alling DeForest, who also designed the grounds at George Eastman House in Rochester.

“Rock Beach Road is Irondequoit’s claim to fame,” Czerkas said.

Sewage resolution passes, splitting council

OSWEGO – For the first time since the new Oswego Common Council met in January, the vote was split Monday night between incumbent and new councilors, on a resolution concerning waste overflow on the city’s west side.

The resolution would not allow the city of Oswego to accept any more sewage from the town of Oswego except from single family homes. The resolution was passed 5-2, with council president, Daniel Donovan, R-5th Ward, and council vice president, Connie Cosemento, D-1st Ward, casting the two “no” votes.

“We’re in trouble because that overflow doesn’t get treated,” Cosemento said, acknowledging the problem.

Another reason Cosemento cited for not wanting to pass the resolution was that she had landlords banging down her door wanting her to write such a resolution last year. The councilor said she wanted to work with the landlords, but noted the city must be compensated in some way. “What are the landlords going to do for the city?” she asked, suggesting they could cut their grass, take care of their garbage or rent to a legal number of college students in a house.

Michael Myers, R-2nd Ward, was the councilor who initiated the discussion about the sewage overflow on the west side at last Monday’s committee meetings. At last week’s meeting, Michael Coffey, the superintendent of the West Side Wastewater Treatment Plant said that there was an overflow problem and admitted that the untreated overflow went into Lake Ontario.

Myers said Monday night that he wanted to go on the record and state that the issue was not a landlord problem. “It’s about the future capacity of development for the city of Oswego,” he said.

Gates Chili school could close

Among the $1.7 million in reductions included in Gates Chili Superintendent Rick Stein’s proposed 2008-09 budget was a recommendation to close Washington Irving Elementary School.

Citing declining enrollment in the district, increasing costs, and the loss of $1.6 million in sales tax revenue as a result of the county executive’s tax intercept plan, Stein said, he tried to find long-term cost savings in his $81.4 million budget, which is a 3.3 percent increase from this year’s $78.8 million budget. Closing Washington Irving will save the district over $1 million.

Stein’s budget proposal is based on a tax levy of $974,727, a 2.24 percent increase from this year’s budget. Based on those figures, the estimated tax rate under the Superintendent’s proposed budget would increase from $23.63 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $23.94 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, a 1.3 percent increase.

On the revenue side of the equation, Stein’s spending plan includes $800,000 from a sales tax reserve which the school board set aside last year. That leaves $475,000 in the fund to be used to offset the sales tax loss in the 2009-2010 budget. Stein said he expects retirements will save the district close to $300,000 next year, and renting a wing in the high school to the Westside Academy will net close to $200,000. His budget is based on the district receiving $2.2. million in state aid.

Cleanup work on site nearly complete

MOHAWK – Cleanup work on the former Duofold site in Mohawk is nearly complete and does not require any further purification processes, according to the representative from the village’s environmental engineering firm.

The less than one acre lot is being cleaned up with funds from the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Brownfield Project program, which cleans up abandoned and contaminated sites for reuse.

The village hired HRP Associates, Inc., of Malta, N.Y., to administer the cleanup process.  Jeffrey Soteck of the firm updated the Mohawk Village Board of Trustees at Monday night’s meeting on developments that have occurred since he last spoke to the board in September.

“I feel the (project) is complete,” said Soteck after he submitted a draft of his report to the board.

Soteck also submitted his report to the state Department of Health so the agency can learn what has been done on the site’s current status and approve the report.
The board has to decide whether to register the site’s the deed for commercial and industrial use, or as residential.

Soteck added there are vapor barriers which can be installed and have become common, such as Radon barrier devices.

Previously the property housed a warehouse that burned down and the federal Environmental Protection Agency removed a tank and asbestos from the property.
The village currently has no concrete plans for the site at this time.

College to jazz up arts center

PITTSFORD — Nazareth College has the go ahead to renovate the school’s Art Center.

The Town Planning Board approved the work earlier this week.

The $6 million project is slated to begin in the next couple weeks and will include improvements to the Callahan Theater and the building. The town Zoning Board recently approved a height variance for the center, which is increasing by a little more than 16 feet to accommodate a new pulley system for the theater's background sets.

Changes to the building include a patron's lounge and an art gallery.

Renovations could be complete by January 2009.

Odyssey for Greeks

CHILI — From Europe’s Greece to Greece, N.Y. to Chili, the Acropolis Restaurant has come a long way to find its home.

Over 30 years ago, Theo and Anna Manos overcame many obstacles to open their own business. Immigrants of Greece, they barely knew English. Along with Theo’s brother Chris, they took their experiences working in local diners and restaurants, mixed it with their heritage and opened the Acropolis Restaurant at 1233 Ridge Road in Greece.

Back then, the area was booming with industry and so was business. For the first 20 years at least. In the last 10 years, Eastman Kodak Co. started to shrink. So did other companies. There were less workers looking to dine.

“It’s too bad,” said Theo Manos. “All the jobs moved to China.”

On Feb. 21, 2007, the Acropolis moved to Chili Paul, from the center of an industrial setting to the center of town.

“Here it’s different, good business on the weekends,” Theo said. “There is the opposite. Nobody’s working on the weekends there.”

So far, so good. “We still have new customers every day,” he said.
When they moved, a longtime customer presented them with a replica of the old restaurant. It’s now on top of the dessert cooler near the register.

A bird whose goose was cooked finds a savior

WEBSTER — Jocko and Paul Kittredge are pals. The former is a Canada goose and the latter is a Webster senior who rescued the doomed bird.

They crossed paths late last year when Kittredge was walking his cocker spaniel in North Ponds Park. Every day he noticed the bird with one useless wing drifting about the partially frozen pond.

All the other geese eventually moved on for winter. Kittredge knew the injured Canada goose was a goner unless he got him some help.

He named it Jocko because despite its miserable circumstance, he said it seemed “jaunty” and always greeted him with a fanfare of noisy honks. The whole-kernel corn and hamburger rolls he brought along, of course, increased his popularity.

Along with his wife, Doris, the quest began for a rehabilitator.

“We called everybody — the police, animal control — nobody was interested in helping us,” Paul Kittredge said. “I'm thinking everybody's out there saying 'Merry Christmas!' and 'Happy Holidays!' and here this poor guy's about to freeze to death.”

Their search led to Gerald Balonek, an Irondequoit veterinarian who aids injured wildlife as a community service. There was one catch: The Kittredges would have to catch the 40-pounder and bring it in for treatment.

That where Michele Mills of Fairport came in. She's an animal rehabilitator. Her first attempt to rescue the goose failed because it was too wary. On the third attempt, it got close enough to be scooped up.

“Jocko came up to us and plopped down in front of me,” Kittredge said. “I'm thinking how's this little slip of a girl going to capture this goose? She must've had ninja training because in a flash she got him by the neck and pinned his arms.”

Good thing, too, because the next day every inch of the pond was covered in ice and the goose would have frozen its tail feathers. The couple said they will be sad when Jocko, nicely on the mend, flies off.