Canandaigua City Council calls on Ontario County to rename Court Street to honor Susan B. Anthony

The Canandaigua City Council met on Thursday, July 2, 2020. The Council continued to meet via Zoom conference call due to the continuing COVID-19 crisis. As was the regular process for the Canandaigua City Council, the meeting was also televised on Finger Lakes Television (FLTV). However, the Council’s agenda only referenced the Zoom meeting link and did not provide the required password to access the Zoom call. The meeting went slightly beyond 9:00 P.M. and FLTV stayed with the meeting until its conclusion.

The Council meeting opened with Public Hearing regarding proposed amendments to the Canandaigua City Comprehensive Plan. The proposed changes can be viewed here. Thomas Lyon Chair of the Comprehensive Plan Committee opened the hearing by making a presentation on the proposed changes to the Canandaigua Comprehensive Plan.

The main points of the Comprehensive Plan were outlined as:

  1. Prioritized implementation of prior plan recommendations.
  2. Identified gaps in existing planning knowledge
  3. Permitted higher density and housing alternatives particularly in the undeveloped North East and South East areas of the City and near Downtown.
  4. Promoted walkability and connectivity throughout the community
  5. Directed grants and public incentives to support projects that advance the goals of the Comprehensive Plan; and
  6. Supported the City’s natural beauty and enhancement of the environment.

The proposed Comprehensive Plan also recommended that the City:

  1. Establish a Comprehensive Plan Implementation Committee to provide ongoing strategic input;
  2. Conduct a comprehensive review and revision of zoning throughout the City; and
  3. Conduct a Community Survey before the next full comprehensive review.

Councilmember Jim Terwilliger (At-Large) thanked the committee for their hard work. There was no public comment made during the Public Hearing.

The Council also held a public hearing to end the New York State Community Renewal Project related to 170 South Main Street.  The business created under the project established 1 full-time job and 10 part-time jobs.  Although COVID-19 slowed the process a bit, it is was completed. City Manager John Goodwin indicated that the project seemed to have been well received by the community. There were no public comments made during the Public Hearing.

Ben Frevert of Roctrcity made a presentation on the Community Choice Aggregation process. The program is aimed at reducing carbon emissions and lowering electricity costs while simultaneously protecting consumers. This goal would be accomplished by allowing municipalities to aggregate energy demand and negotiate bulk purchases. Municipalities could create a joint program to further expand the benefits of the program. Under this program the municipality would select the default electricity provider and customers assigned to a default utility company would automatically be enrolled in the program and assigned to the municipality’s selected default provider. Customers would have to affirmatively opt-out of the program if they did not want to participate. However, if the customer had already selected a 3rd party supplier, their affirmative choice would not be impacted by the program.

Frevert indicated that there would be no guarantee that this program would work for Canandaigua because market conditions created by COVID-19 had caused electricity prices to be extremely low. In addition, he could not guarantee, due to the market volatility, that electricity rates would not drop to a level lower than any negotiated rate obtained through the program.

The program’s next steps would include:

  1. Program details developed and pricing secured;
  2. Public outreach; and
  3. New supplier identified on electric bills.

In addition, Fevert indicated that although the New York Public Service Commission was pushing forward with Community Choice Aggregation program implementation, some existing electric suppliers had resisted the implementation process within some communities.

Next, Mike DeBadts from Mengal, Metzer, Barr & Co., LLP made a presentation on the 2019 Independent Audit. He indicated that 2019 was a good financial year for the City and that the audit found no major issues. The complete final audit is posted on the City’s website.

The Council then moved to the evening’s action items.

Councilmember Erich Dittmar (Ward 4) introduced Resolution 2020-045 which authorized a budget amendment to the Sewer Fund Capital Budget to replace the emergency generator at Towne Harbor Lift Station. Documentation indicated that the emergency generator to be replaced was having mechanical difficulties and that some parts had been difficult to purchase because the generator was approximately 40 years old. The budget amendment was required because originally $35,000 was budgeted for this project but the Director of Public Works determined that the project would cost $48,550. Dittmar indicated that the resolution was reviewed and approved at the June Environmental Committee meeting. The resolution was approved unanimously.

Councilmember Steve Uebbing (At-Large) introduced Resolution 2020-046 which proposed approving the Community Choice Aggregation Electricity Supply Agreement. In November 2019, the City of Canandaigua adopted Local Law 2019-003 and joined the Community Choice Aggregation Program. In April 2020, the Council passed Resolution 2020-030 that authorized a contract with Joule Assets, Inc. and Roctricity, LLC to administer the program. Joule Assets recommended approval of the Community Choice Aggregation Electricity Supply Agreement to implement the purposes of the program so that a “Supply RFP” could be issued to implement the process of selecting an electricity supplier under the program. Uebbing indicated that this resolution was also reviewed and approved at the June Environmental Committee meeting. The resolution was approved unanimously.

Councilmember Robert O’Brien (At-Large) introduced Resolution 2020-047 which proposed awarding a bid to PRV and Guard Valves to replace 1 pressure reducing valve and 4 butterfly valves at the water treatment plan. The resolution included a budget amendment for an additional $10,000 to pay for the cost of replacing specific butterfly guard valves that were not initially anticipated. This amendment would make the total project cost $30,000. The resolution was approved unanimously.

Councilmember Nick Cutri (Ward 1) introduced Resolution 2020-048 which proposed approval of a settlement of a lawsuit with Fort Hill Housing Development Fund Company, Inc., Conifer Fort Hill Associates, L.P., and Auditorium at Fort Hill, LLC in connection with a pending tax assessment. This lawsuit related to property located at 235 North Main Street in Canandaigua. The apartment portion of the property was originally assessed at $2,508,000 in 2018/2109, and at $4,808,900 in 2019/2020, and $3,738,360 for 2020/2021. The theater portion of the property was assessed at $665,000 for 2018/2019. Under the terms of the settlement, the apartment property assessment would be reduced to $2,352,580 for 2018/2019, to $2,253,898 for 2019/2020, and to $1,241,307 for 2020/2021. In addition, the assessed value of the theater would be reduced to $115,000 for 2018/2019. Corporations Counsel David Hou indicated that part of the reason the original assessment was inaccurate was because the Assessor initially did not have all of the information needed to evaluate the financial status of the business operation. The resolution was approved unanimously.

Councilmember Dan Unrath (Ward 2) introduced Resolution 2020-049 which proposed retaining Boylan Code LLP as Corporation Counsel for the City of Canandaigua. Boylan Code, LLP has been the City’s counsel since August 2017. The most recent contract expired on July 31, 2019, and the relationship continued on a month-to-month basis. The new agreement would run until December 31, 2021. Boylan Code LLP would provide basic services for a flat fee of $100,000 per year and provide additional services at an hourly rate of $220. The resolution was approved unanimously.

Councilmember Karen White (Ward 3) introduced Resolution 2020-050 proposed asking Ontario County to rename Court Street to Susan B. Anthony Lane. This proposal was brought forth in recognition of Susan B. Anthony’s contributions in leading both the Abolitionist and Women’s Suffrage movements. Unrath indicated this idea came about because 2020 was the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. Councilmember Renee Sutton (At-Large) read the resolution and spoke in support of the resolution. Terwilliger also spoke in support of the resolution stating that it was long overdue. The resolution passed unanimously.

Mayor Palumbo concluded the meeting by making initial appointments to the City’s new Diversity Committee. He indicated that he is still waiting to hear back from some individuals and that he anticipated additional appointments in the future. Palumbo also anticipated the first Committee meeting would be planned for July 14, 2020, and that the Committee would eventually be broken up into smaller subcommittees to address specific diversity issues.