OLEAN ã Joint Board members chose the short-term and long-term projects they plan to focus on over the next six months at a meeting of the strategic planning committee on Tuesday.
Strategic Planning Chairman John Padlo, D-Ward 7, asked his fellow board members to choose a few projects from 18 long-term goals and 21 short-term goals they set earlier this year.
The short-term goals agreed to on Tuesday include: resolving traffic issues around city schools, Olean General Hospital and along State Streets East and West; strengthen the application of the code; and developing a downtown strategic plan that includes ways to make better use of the city’s recreational facilities such as Bradner Stadium.
Long-term plans include: Attracting new industries to the area and increasing population to improve the city’s tax base; replacing the city’s aging infrastructure, such as century-old water and sewer lines; update the city’s overall development plan; and improve the overall image of the city.
Mr Padlo said he wanted the council to focus on a few achievable goals to avoid being overwhelmed by the weight of the problems facing the city. He said that for the remainder of the year, board members will try to make gains on the short-term and long-term goals chosen on Tuesday.
“I think now that we have a roadmap to follow for the rest of the year, that’s going to help us,” he said.
He warned that some of the projects will be expensive and difficult to complete. Mr Padlo said replacing aging water and sewer pipes will be particularly difficult.
“It’s going to be a very expensive goal,” he said. ßThe key is to try to deal with this element in a very profitable way.à
Council Chair Joyce Melfi, D-Ward 2, said refurbishing the city’s infrastructure is key to attracting new industries to the city. Without adequate water and sewer services, businesses will pass by the city, she said.
“It’s like your house, you have to do repairs and take care of things all the time, you can’t just wait for something to break,” she said.
In 1993, the city set aside $1 million to replace sections of water main in the central part of the city along sections of West Green, Clinton, Fulton, Sullivan, and North Barry streets. A 100-year-old line along West State Street that burst on May 4, 1993 was also replaced. The million dollars was quickly exhausted.
At the time, Director of Public Works Peter Marcus warned council members that water pipes throughout the city were at risk of failing.
Then-council chairman William G. Smith lamented that it’s not easy to get people to worry about the city’s infrastructure.
“Nobody wants to talk about infrastructure,” he said. “First, you can’t eat it. You can’t see it. You can’t take advantage of it. But it is very important.
Three short-term projects agreed to by Council this spring have been completed: the creation of a municipal skateboard park, the adoption of a comprehensive curb replacement program and the establishment of a public transit system.
Mayor William Quinlan said bids for the skate park will open today. Citywide bus service began on Monday and the council has set aside $40,000 to start a sidewalk replacement program.