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Canandaigua City Council debates racetrack noise study

Canandaigua’s City Council kicked off 2021 with its first meeting of the year on Thursday.

Councilmember Steve Uebbing (At-Large) began the Council’s work by offering a resolution calling on the City Manager to develop a plan for studying the impact of noise from Land of Legends Raceway on County Road 10 in Canandaigua. Uebbing stated that he had received numerous complaints about the noise coming from the track and felt that it was important to collect data on this issue to determine if there was truly a problem. If there is too much noise coming from the track, Uebbing also felt it would be important to determine if that noise posed a public health threat, particularly for young children.

Councilmember Renee Sutton (At-Large) opposed the Resolution. Sutton asked what had changed since last September when the Council determined it would not pursue the track noise issue. Sutton also questioned whether the Council or City had any jurisdiction to pursue the issue even if a study found a problem. In addition, Sutton was concerned about the associated costs because she believed that in order to have any merit any study conducted would have to be performed by professional consultants.

Councilmember Karen White (Ward 3) also expressed opposition to the Resolution. White felt it was not appropriate that the Resolution had not been considered at the committee level. White also felt that the racetrack offers a valuable entertainment opportunity for the community and that this study was simply part of an effort to close the track down.

Uebbing countered that the resolution merely called for staff to develop a plan on how a noise study could be done. Uebbing also stated that no one wanted to close the track and that the goal was simply to determine if there is in fact a problem and then to develop appropriate noise mitigation methods.

Some Councilmembers believed that collecting data on the problem could be a worthwhile path towards negotiating noise mitigation efforts. Corporations Counsel David Hou advised the Council that a lawsuit would likely be required to resolve the noise issues at the track. Hou also indicated that the City might have difficulty showing standing to bring the suit and that there could be proof issues as well. Despite Hou’s concerns, the Council ultimately approved Uebbing’s Resolution on a split vote.

The Council then considered seven resolutions that had been previously announced via the meeting’s agenda.

Resolution 2021-001 authorized the City to enter an Inter-Municipal Agreement with the City of Geneva for information technology services. This agreement allows both cities to achieve cost savings and improved efficiencies for their information technology services. Mayor Bob Palumbo stated that this agreement has been a good arrangement for both cities. The Resolution passed with a unanimous vote.

The 2021 City of Canandaigua Budget set camp fees for residents of the Town of Canandaigua at $120 a week per child or $310 per week per family. Resolution 2021-002 proposed implementing these budgetary provisions. The fees were increased in 2021 to ensure that the City would not bear any extra costs associated with camp attendance by Town residents. However, the Resolution indicated that Town residents could potentially attend camp for the same fees paid by City residents if the Town and City reached an Inter-Municipal Agreement regarding the program. Sutton asked what the goal of the Resolution was. Councilmember Nick Cutri (Ward 1) stated that the goal was to create a situation where the two sides would resolve the issue so that the Town provides appropriate support for the program. Sutton moved to amend the Resolution to reflect Cutri’s stated purpose. Both the amendment and the full amended Resolution passed with a unanimous vote.

Sutton introduced Resolution 2021-003 to renew an agreement with Habitat for Humanity for housing rehabilitation services. The resolution allocated $17,000 from Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to pay for the contract. The program is designed to assist low-income homeowners in making exterior repairs to their homes. The program also provides wheelchair ramps to low-income homeowners who use wheelchairs. Palumbo stated that the program has done a fantastic job serving the community so far. The Resolution passed on a unanimous vote.

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

In a related item, the Council also considered Resolution 2021-004 which authorized the City to renew an agreement with PathStone Corporation, extending the Home Energy Efficiency Program. The Home Energy Efficiency Program assists low and moderate income homeowners with making repairs and implementing energy efficiency improvements. The Resolution allocated $53,800 in CDBG funding for the program. PathStone also funds the program through additional grants from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and other organizations. Palumbo thought that this was another great program for the community. The Resolution passed on a unanimous vote.

The Council’s newest member Thomas Lyon (At-Large) introduced Resolution 2021-005 authorizing the City to apply for the New York State Main Street Grant Program. The Resolution authorized the City to apply for up to $500,000 for building renovation projects for properties along a three-block stretch of Main Street (West Ave. to Ontario Street). City Manager John Goodwin advised the Council that all of the impacted property owners were on board with the proposed renovations and had already obtained all of the commitments necessary to go forward. The grant would not require any City matching funds, but the grant is provided on a reimbursement basis, so funding must be put up in advance. The Resolution passed with a unanimous vote.

The Council also passed unanimously and enthusiastically Resolution 20201-006 honoring the retirement of City employee Francis “Fran” Knoerl. Knoerl was scheduled to retire January 22, 2021 and worked for the City of Canandaigua for 34 years. His most recent position was as a Water Treatment Plant Operator. Knoerl was known to be extremely dedicated and meticulous in his work. He was also known to be generous in sharing his knowledge about the jobs he performed. Knoerl told the Council that he had very much enjoyed living and working in Canandaigua.

The final resolution of the evening was Resolution 2021-007 which created a new policy regarding gifts to the City of Canandaigua. Uebbing indicted that the hope was that the policy would create a standardized procedure for processing gifts, and would allow the City to properly recognize community members who make unusually large gifts to the City. The policy specifically stated that any gift made to the City over $1000 in value would have to be approved by the Council before acceptance.

The Council was next scheduled to meet Thursday, February 4, 2021, at 7:00 P.M. Council meetings are still occurring remotely via Zoom due to COVID-19 and can be viewed live on Finger Lakes Television.