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SEP 23- SEP 30, 2014

Lewiston Grass Seeding Job a Rip-Off, Photos Show

By Frank Parlato

September 23, 2014

Wait a minute? Lewiston taxpayers paid $3,400 in June to grass seed this park and this is
what we end up with? Someone’s got to answer for this!

Last year, Lewiston Town Supervisor Dennis Brochey ran his election campaign pledging to find new ways to save money, end wasteful spending and bring a new accountability to town government.

"We can't spend money we don't have," was his theme and a main plank in his platform was that he wasn't anything like former Supervisor Steve Reiter.

Both of those things helped him win a relatively easy victory.

This week an anonymous tip to the Niagara Falls Reporter showed that a check for $3,400 had been paid on June 10 to Beau Enterprises Inc. for "repairs" to Academy Park.

Those repairs were to add topsoil, grade and seed the park.

The photos we took this week of the area that was supposedly "landscaped" look more like a desert full of sand than a village park.

Somebody got the worst end of this deal - and it was Lewiston taxpayers.

After thinking about this peculiar and poorly done job, my first thought was, why does the town have to hire an outside landscaping firm to do such a simple job as planting grass seed?

The Town of Lewiston has a full-time Parks Department. In addition to that, any number of other town departments or the Village DPW could have lent manpower or equipment that was needed. The job would have cost nothing more than the few dollars for grass seed.

My next thought was who would have approved a $3,400 payment for a few stray wisps of grass? It made me think of the parking lot fiasco at Joseph Davis Park. It was there that $192,000 taxpayer dollars were spent on a parking lot that fell apart because no one from the town bothered to inspect the project.

They just got a bill and sent out a check to the contractor.

When reached by the Reporter, Brochey said he didn't remember the specific project but, checked with accounting, and verified the check and that he signed it.

He said that he did recall the town hiring Beau. He said they were contracted by the Parks Department to repair the winter damage that had been caused by the ice rink in Academy Park.

Asked why the town hired an outside contractor instead of using town forces to do the job, he thought that other departments either weren't willing or able to help with the work.

But when later asked what departments had refused to help with the project he said he "wasn't sure if any of them had actually been approached" for help or not.

Asked why full payment was made for what appeared to be substandard work, Brochey said that he hadn't seen it and then said that the area had actually been properly seeded, but had been subsequently "torn up" by the annual Lewiston Kiwanis Peach Festival.

The Reporter contacted a member of the Kiwanis Club's grounds crew for the Festival who stated "there was nothing but bare sand and weeds in that section of the park" before the Peach Festival began.

The upshot of this is taxpayers paid 10 times more to do a job than it would have cost if the work had been done in-house. No one bothered to check to make sure the work was acceptable before they paid for it, or asked the contractor to make good on the clearly improper work that was done.

While the current supervisor has much on his plate, and this is one small item, nevertheless this grass fiasco and the way it was handled doesn't sound like much of a change over what happened during the four years before Brochey.

Like it or not, the buck stops with Brochey and the council who approved this work and the payment. It was waste and while $3,400 is not much in some people's book - especially if it is not their money - it is a big deal to those who paid for it.

Go look at the job and ask yourself, if a landscaper did this work at my house, would I pay him $3,400?

The current own supervisor is fond of saying "we can't spend money we don't have."

He should add to that that "we shouldn't be wasting the money we do have," either.

Don't take my word for it. If you are anywhere near Academy Park, stop by and look at what $3,400 of grass seed bought you.





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