Tonawanda News

September 13, 2012

Residents vent neighborhood problems

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — Two town residents took to the microphone to raise complaints at Monday's board meeting. The board didn't make any concrete decisions at the meeting to address the grievances, despite sympathizing with the residents. 

Jim Binner, of Moore Ave., asked to speak late in the meeting and emotionally presented his worries about the changing neighborhood surrounding his home near Lincoln Park. 

"I have been told the town has been trying to clean the area up, but I just see it getting worse," he said to the board.

Binner said there are many troubled people in the area and he doesn't want to raise his kids in the neighborhood's current atmosphere.

"I just walked to the hardware store the other day, and on my way back, there were a few people sitting outside asking for money," Binner said.

Town Supervisor Anthony Caruana asked Binner if he called the police that day, but Binner said he didn't because he didn't want to interfere in others' business.

"We respond to all complaints in the area," Police Chief Anthony J. Palumbo said. "But we need to know what's going on to respond to them. I can't encourage residents to call us enough."

Members of the board empathized with Binner and Caruana said he has seen the declining neighborhood, but they did not offer much advice in the way of a remedy apart from calling on Palumbo.

"We have aggressive patrols in the area, and if you call us, we will go," Palumbo said.

Binner suggested imposing a rule so only town residents are able to rent out the shelters at Lincoln Park, which he believes may cut down on suspicious activity there. 

"I am caught in a bad place," Binner said. "I need the town to do what they can so I don't have to leave."

A new town resident, Paul Chimera, also attended the meeting to voice his worries. Chimera just moved into his new house on Oakridge Avenue a few weeks ago, but he said he wishes he did a bit more homework before buying the home.

"We live about a one-fourth of a mile from the train tracks near Sheridan and Ensminger," he said. "So my wife and I woke up at 4 a.m. and heard a blaring train horn, and we just looked at each other."

Chimera brought some documents he found online on how to create a quiet zone at certain hours of the night to reduce train noise. He submitted the documents to the board. 

The instructions include creating a gates, median barriers, or temporarily closing the closest cross streets during night hours so that the horns don't need to be used to alert drivers or pedestrians. 

"Maybe it's a possibility," Chimera said. 

Caruana sympathized with Chimera and said he grew up on Ferndale Avenue, a block away from Chimera's new home.

"I remember that, too," Caruana said. 

He asked Town Attorney John J. Flynn if he thought any quiet zone creation was possible to help with the problem, but Flynn thought that the job would probably need approval from the Department of Transportation and the cost of closing off the streets would likely be high.

"It's my educated guess that closing off the streets at night would be a Herculean task," Flynn said. "But I will look into it." 

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000, ext. 4150.