Weekly Feature



2018-03-22 / Front Page

End of an era for Mayor Allan Kasprzak

by KATE PELCZYNSKI
Editor


Kasprzak Kasprzak He’s a familiar face in the village, often seen walking his German shepherd around the neighborhood. Now, after eight years as mayor of East Aurora, Allan Kasprzak is stepping down.

Kasprzak never planned on being mayor when he moved here from North Buffalo 15 years ago with his wife and daughter.

“I was never going to be running for anything,” he said. “I was going to serve my time here if you will. Basically live in the village and do the right thing.”

However, he felt it was necessary to take action after the state started suggesting that villages dissolve. He was even more convinced of the decision when former mayor Clark Crook started taking steps to dissolve the village.

“I didn’t think we should go there,” Kasprzak said, adding he didn’t see a reason for it.

“You see how an effective government can be run.” However, the talks of dissolution didn’t end when Kasprzak was elected. He said in his 10 years as mayor, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has tried to push the dissolution agenda three separate times.

“Through a concerted effort, not from just the local mayors but statewide and New York Conference of Mayors organization, we’ve been able to battle (the issue).”

Kasprzak is used to battling; he served as a member of the Buffalo Police Department for 37 years before retiring in 2015.

“I always try to do the good,” he said. “You try to defend those people that were in trouble. And the same thing is here, maybe not in trouble per se, but you’re trying to do the right thing for people.”

It was that need to do good that helped keep the village afloat during the November 2014 snowstorm, when East Aurora was buried under 8 feet of snow. In what he considers his hallmark moment, the mayor worked with first responders and eventually declared East Aurora in a state of emergency.

“We went through that whole thing, and we did not see anybody from the state until an hour before we were having our last meeting to pull out the emergency declaration,” he said, adding that eventually two forest rangers showed up.

“We told them, ‘You guys are late. We solved it ourselves.’”

It’s not the only issue Kasprzak has successfully led the village through. In October 2015, the village took legal action against the East Aurora School District. The village claimed the district violated village code when it placed an LED sign in front of the Middle School on Main Street, directly across from the Roycroft Campus.

In November 2017, the village again came under fire after a sinkhole opened up under the parking lot of a Main Street restaurant. The sinkhole resulted from a rotting pipe inside the Tannery Brook culvert, which runs directly under the parking lot of the restaurant.

“We had a plan in place; it’s just something that happened at the time,” he said. “But those are the things you deal with.”

He said he’s amazed at how much the village has gone through in his tenure as mayor, and said he was reminded of it recently by Village Administrator Bryan Gadza.

“He goes, ‘Al, I can’t tell you how much stuff that we’ve done.’ I said, ‘You know, it gets away from you; you don’t realize how much you’ve done until somebody really points it out to you.’”

He’s also proud of what his team has accomplished the past few years, and credits them with the success of the village.

“Trust me when I tell you this: When you ask them to do something, they do it. And we do it at the best economical way possible,” he said, adding that he’s grateful for the fire and police department chiefs, who regularly keep him updated on the village.

“People come in here, they want to be here, they want to be part of a school system, they want to live in a nice community where you don’t have to worry about overdevelopment, or about the nonsense that takes place in a larger city,” he said.

Even though he’s hanging up his mayor’s hat, Kasprzak won’t stop working entirely. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Polish American Sports Hall of Fame, where he and fellow board member Tom Tarapacki are tasked with researching athletes who are eligible for the nomination.

“They send us out to find out who’s Polish and who’s not. So when the next year of nominees comes up, we have a slate that we can prepare to give to (the board) so they can vote on it.”

He and his wife, Barbara, have also looked into relocating to Maine.

“We’ve been going up to Maine for the last 25, 26 years for vacations,” he said. “We talked about this a long time ago when I had a job opportunity there,” he said. However, he added that nothing was set in stone.

He also plans to keep walking his dog around the village. But now, he has a new answer for people who stop him to ask questions about the village.

“I’m going to refer you to one of those three people,” he says smiling as he points to the trustees.

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