Weekly Feature

2018-01-11 / Front Page

EA Property owners presented options for Tannery Brook project


Village Engineer Steve Tanner, along with East Aurora trustees Ray Byrnes and Peter Mercurio, discuss construction options for the Tannery Brook project during a meeting on Tuesday. Village Engineer Steve Tanner, along with East Aurora trustees Ray Byrnes and Peter Mercurio, discuss construction options for the Tannery Brook project during a meeting on Tuesday. Property owners near Tannery Brook expressed frustration Tuesday night about plans to fix the rotting culvert that sits on their land, with many saying they are not comfortable with having to pay for a portion of the project.

The project came about after a sinkhole formed in Mikey Dee’s parking lot on Main Street in November due to a rotted pipe that collapsed in the Tannery Brook culvert.

During the Village Board meeting, East Aurora Engineer Steve Tanner discussed five options for replacing the culvert. The first would cost an estimated $553,000 and involve spin casting concrete inside the existing pipe. It’s an option Tanner does not recommend, as the life of the project would be only five to seven years.

“It’s pushing the problem down the road and throwing away money,” said Tanner.

The second project calls for replacing the culvert with a new 12- by 6-foot box culvert at an estimated cost of $1.5 million. However, the life expectancy of the project would be around 50 years.

The third option, Tanner said, would be to replace the remaining plate structure with a box culvert. The total cost would be $1.4 million.

The fourth option calls for an open channel with a free-flowing stream, but Tanner says this option is the one he is least likely to choose.

“It’s really not a feasible alternative unless we added up a lot of sheet grid and piles and added our own embankments that were basically vertical down to the creek bed.”

The final option is similar to the fourth, with an open channel that would realign the creek bed. However, that option also would eliminate all of the parking behind the Bank of America and some of the parking for the other businesses on Main Street.

Tanner said no matter what option is chosen, the parking lot will undergo construction during the project.

The pipe was constructed more than 30 years ago as the culmination of two projects in the 1980s.

“In 1983, the culvert plate that was put in the ground was the first project,” said Village Administrator Bryan Gazda, who explained that the original project called for an open channel. However, changes were made to the 1983 project, and the board decided to put piping in the culvert. Four years later, a parking district was also created, and the parking district was born.

“So we’re dealing with two different projects here, two different bond issuances that were done from this.”

Gazda said he has searched for records of how people were taxed for the project, and while he found that both the village and the property owners paid a share, finding out how officials at that time got the numbers was difficult. Gazda said he and Tanner believe board members based the tax rate on a flow basis of water from Tannery Brook, but he is unclear as to how they calculated the numbers.

“We’re not quite sure they came up with the actual data that says, ‘There’s 50 cubic feet per water flowing down to this area at this time compared to 1,300 cubic feet of water that is going through the brook at that time.”

The 1987 project had a large number of area businesses paying for the project, but Mayor Alan Kasprzak said it could be up to those currently paying the easement to decide how to split the payment.

“The reality is depending on these property owners who are funding this brook right now, if they feel that joining business, whether they be across the street or on a different end, should they be part of the payment structure also.”

Not everyone agrees with paying for a portion of the culvert.

Katerina Scouras, owner of 227 Main St., expressed concern that limiting the number of business owners who would have to pay would negatively impact businesses.

“I’m thinking a lot of businesses will go out of business because it’s such a huge project. So if it doesn’t entail more business or spread across the village of East Aurora through the people who are actually benefiting from the parking, it’s going to be a problem.”

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