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Hidy plans to end shared code enforcement with town

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MASSENA — Town officials will consider whether to hire their own code enforcement officer after Mayor James F. Hidy announced the village will no longer provide code enforcement for the town.

The town has contracted with the village for the past several years to utilize the services of former Code Enforcement Officer Gregory C. Fregoe and firefighters trained in code enforcement. Since Mr. Fregoe’s resignation Jan. 22, the village has been relying on its career firefighters trained in code enforcement to handle Mr. Fregoe’s former duties.

In an email sent to town officials Jan. 20, Mr. Hidy wrote that the village would continue to provide code enforcement service outside the village “for a short period of time” until the town council could implement an alternative for code enforcement.

Mr. Hidy said the decision to stop providing code enforcement for the town is intended to keep firefighters with code training closer to the village for emergency situations.

“I don’t want (those firefighters) out at the east plant of Alcoa when there’s a call in the village,” Mr. Hidy said. “We had discussed changes in code enforcement, utilizing firemen, and it made perfect sense to keep (those firemen) focused on the village.”

Massena Fire Department foreman and career firefighter Ken McGowan said the department has not encountered such a situation yet. But he doesn’t see the scenario as a serious problem because the department always has at least two career firefighters on staff.

Mr. Hidy said he’d discussed the code enforcement changes with the town and made town officials aware the village may stop providing the service to the town.

But Supervisor Joseph D. Gray said he’d received no warning of the change prior to the “mysterious” email from Mr. Hidy. That announcement came as a surprise to Mr. Gray, who called the lack of forewarning somewhat unprofessional.

“It’s strange because (Mr. Hidy) talks with me every day,” he said.

Mr. Gray plans to hold a special meeting with Town Council members to discuss their options for code enforcement. The only options he sees are to persuade the village’s Board of Trustees to continue contracting code enforcement with the town or for the town to hire its own code enforcement officer. Mr. Gray finds the latter option wasteful and unfair. He added that under the arrangement, there would be two code enforcement departments working out of the same office.

“For the town to go and hire a separate code enforcement officer seems kind of foolish. Would it also make sense to kick the village out of the town offices?” Mr. Gray asked rhetorically, alluding to the fact the office is in the Town Hall, which the town owns.

“We’re supposed to be cooperating for the community,” Mr. Gray added.

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