January 29, 2019
Supervisor’s guest column from the Building, Zoning, and Fire Marshal Office
We enjoyed a mild start to winter but this week promises to bring dangerously low temperatures to the region with a brutal Arctic blast. With this in mind, we would like to share the following winter safety information with Penfield residents.
Many families will turn to portable heating sources to add more warmth to their homes this week because they can quickly warm a small space. Our department would like to stress that safety is a top consideration when using space heaters. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires every year are associated with the use of space heaters, resulting in more than 300 deaths. In addition, an estimated 6,000 people receive hospital emergency room care for burn injuries associated with contacting the hot surfaces of room heaters, mostly in non-fire situations. And remember, it is NEVER safe to heat a home with an electric or gas oven. They are only designed for cooking—not heating—and pose fire and safety risks when used to heat homes.
If you plan to use space heaters please take a moment to review this important safety information from energy.gov (https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/home-heating-systems/portable-heaters)
RG&E has also provided the following winter safety tips (www.rge.com):
Keep Electric and Natural Gas Meters Clear of Snow and Ice
Snow and ice accumulation may interfere with the operation of electric and natural gas meters and regulators, or may slow access in case of an emergency. Snow removal activities can also pose a hazard to natural gas meter assemblies or piping, and result in a dangerous leak. Snow should not be pushed or piled around electric or natural gas meters. Also, take care when operating snow blowers or plows around all meters to avoid damage. Electric and natural gas meters and regulators should be kept clear of snow and ice by using a broom or by hand – not a shovel. Should a meter become encased in ice, or begin to make an unusual noise, customers should please call RG&E at 800.743.1701.
Watch for Falling Ice or Snow
Homeowners should be alert to potential ice build-up on rooftops. Falling ice and snow can damage utility meters or regulators. Homeowners can contact qualified roofing contractors for safe removal of snow and ice accumulation above utility meters and regulators.
Keep Appliance Vents Clear of Snow and Ice
Beware of exhaust getting trapped by snow around an appliance sidewall outside vent from a natural gas appliance. If a vent is obstructed, the appliance may shut down or malfunction and create a potentially hazardous condition, such as a dangerous build-up of carbon monoxide. All equipment outside vents should be kept clear of snow and ice.
Contact RG&E if You Smell an Odor of Natural Gas
If you suspect a natural gas leak, get up, get out, and get away! Then immediately call RG&E at 800.743.1702or 911 from a safe location.
Perhaps you are getting through these winter days dreaming of warm weather and a new pool, deck, or spa. You may be looking forward to storing your snow blower and shovels in a new shed. Cabin fever may inspire a home or garage addition for a little more space for your family and things. If so, now’s the time to contact our office to get your project off to a successful start. Find out what type of projects require permits; learn about setbacks, construction and inspection requirements; and ask any questions you may have to get your plan started. Get ahead of the warm weather spike in permit applications and submit your documents as soon as possible!
If you find yourself indoors and decluttering this winter you may be considering a spring garage sale. Please call us to learn all you need to know about temporary signs to be sure people see your signs and find your sale. And if you have items to dispose of that are not fit for sale or donation, mark your calendar for Spring Drop-off at Penfield DPW on May 17 & 18.
We are happy to take your calls at 340-8636 and address your questions and concerns about fire safety; building, pool, shed, spa and other permits; inspections; code enforcement; garage sales; and any other topic on your mind. You can also visit us on the second floor at the town hall, 3100 Atlantic Avenue.
One last word on the cold weather on behalf of all family pets…if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your pets! Too much time outdoors and poor shelter can threaten pets’ lives. Frigid temperatures and salt can damage paws. Like humans, pets also suffer skin conditions from cold dry air. If you would like to learn more about keeping indoor and outdoor pets safe visit the Humane Society of Greater Rochester’s website at www.lollypop.org/humane-law-enforcement/winter-weather-pet-safety/
Lastly, please check on elderly neighbors and remember to keep your entire neighborhood safe by clearing snow from fire hydrants.
Stay warm and safe!
Town of Penfield Building, Zoning and Fire Marshal Department
January 24, 2019
A Message from Supervisor LaFountain: Shadow Pines South open to public February 1
I am pleased to announce that beginning February 1, 2019, Shadow Pines South will be open to the public for passive recreational activities like hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding. As of this date, both Shadow Pines North and South will be open and accessible to the public.
I would like to thank our Department of Public Works for their tremendous efforts to make the long-neglected former golf course safe for public use. Driver safety has also improved along Clark and Whalen roads with the removal of trees that were at risk of falling onto roadways and wires during storms, and dense thickets known to conceal deer were cleared.
Last spring and summer crews began preparing the property for community use following a 2018 public referendum in which residents voted four-to-one in favor of the town purchasing the former Shadow Pines golf course. The DPW began the long process of clearing and disposing of hundreds of dead, diseased, and compromised trees from the perimeter and interior of land north of Clark Road. Remarkably, they completed this work in just a few months with existing resources and between planned seasonal projects—not knowing when the year began that a derelict golf course would soon demand their attention. Shadow Pines North was opened to the public on September 1, 2018.
Resources then shifted to preparing the roughly 113 remaining acres of Shadow Pines South for public use. Crews assessed the property for hazards and removed dead, dying, and diseased trees. Trees near the Clark/Whalen intersection were also cleared to improve sight distance and lower the risk of deer strikes—historically a dangerous issue due to the large herd and dense roadside foliage. Enough of this work has been completed at Shadow Pines South to permit public use. There is still some tree cleanup work and stump removal to do as equipment, schedules, and weather allow. As this continues please stay away from marked work areas.
What activities are permitted at Shadow Pines North and South? Passive recreation like hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding. Dogs on leashes are welcome and owners must pick up and dispose of pet waste.
What is NOT permitted? Bikes, motorized vehicles—and of course hunting—are NOT allowed.
Long-term future land uses have not yet been determined. The Shadow Pines Land Use Advisory Committee continues its work to explore and recommend potential future uses to the town board. Also, in the coming weeks the town board will put out a request for proposals for use of the Clark House and its ancillary structures. Both paths forward will continue into 2019 when the town board will determine future land use and a tenant for the Clark House.
On behalf of the Penfield Town Board, I invite you to explore and enjoy the trails, fields, hills, and wildlife of Shadow Pines.
January 23, 2019
Annual Indoor Hike Will Highlight Shadow Pines Property
The Penfield Trails Committee will host its annual ‘Indoor Hike’ on Saturday, February 9, 10:00 am at Penfield Town Hall Auditorium, 3100 Atlantic Avenue. The topic of discussion will be “Perspective and Process—Shadow Pines Land Use Update” with featured speakers Jim Costello and Mark Valentine from the Town of Penfield Planning Department.
Costello and Valentine will review what has been going on with the Shadow Pines property since purchase, as well as the status of the future planning for the property.
There will also be information on trails groups from around the Rochester area and light refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to the public.
While the event is free, participants are asked to pre-register by calling Penfield Recreation at 340-8655, option 0.
Penfield Trails Committee is always seeking volunteers to serve on its planning committee, as well as to do manual labor for trails maintenance. For more information, please call Penfield Recreation at (585) 340-8655.
January 22, 2019
Supervisor's column January 22, 2019
The weekend storm came in as promised with close to 17 inches of blowing and drifting snow and frigid temperatures. Highway crews worked around the clock keeping up with snowfall and, as expected, temps were far too low for salt to be effective. A slight warmup and some sunshine early this week will put that salt to work. Thank you to residents for observing winter parking rules (no parking on streets 2:00–7:00 AM), your cooperation made it possible for overnight crews to thoroughly plow your neighborhoods. And on behalf of all residents, I would like to thank our dispatchers and highway crews for a great job keeping more than 200 miles of town, county and state roads in Penfield safe and passable throughout the storm event.
If you park cars in your driveway overnight your doors may have frozen closed over the weekend. But you may not be the only person who was locked out of your vehicle! According to a recent weekly report from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Zone A office, more Penfield residents need to get in the habit of locking vehicles parked in driveways. There were several reported vehicle break-ins during the overnight hours of January 14/15 in various Penfield neighborhoods. In all cases, doors were left unlocked and thieves helped themselves to change, cash, and credit cards. I read in the same report that the overnight of January 8/9 the same thing happened in a Pittsford neighborhood. Suspects were apprehended and when questioned, they estimated they went through about 120 cars in that one night. Thieves move quickly and efficiently through entire neighborhoods while owners are asleep. Don’t think your street is immune to theft—all cars left in driveways are targets. Lock your doors and do not leave tempting valuables in sight.
The Penfield Symphony Orchestra will present “A Suite for the Sweet” on Monday, February 25 at 7:30 PM in the Penfield High School Auditorium. The concert will feature Bernstein’s Overture to Candide, William Grant Still’s Poem for Orchestra, Hanson’s Symphony No. 2 in D-flat major, and Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite. Tickets can be purchased online at www.penfieldsymphony.org, by phone at 585-872-0774, at all area Wegmans, the Penfield Recreation Department, Canandaigua National Bank (Four Corners Penfield branch), and at the door on the night of the concert. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $12 for senior citizens ages 60 and over. Tickets are free for students of any age with a student ID. Free rides to the concerts are available from LIFESPAN by calling 872-0774.
How much fun can you have in Penfield for just $2.00? A lot! Leave the winter cold behind when you enjoy a Friday night open swim at the Penfield High School pool offered by Pen-Rec. Come play, swim, and exercise while enjoying this spacious pool that is set up to meet all your needs. There is a shallow end with a 4x4 tot dock for the little ones, a deep end for water walking, and two lanes dedicated to lap swimming. The fee is just $2.00 at the door, winter Fridays (1/25, 2/1, 2/8, 3/1, 3/8) from 7:30 to 9:00 PM. For more details go to www.penfieldrec.org.
If you prefer great music to a winter swim, check out Nels Carman Big Band Night featuring the Penfield Rotary Band at the Penfield Community Center the first Tuesday of every month (except July and August) from 7:30 to 9:30 PM. The next one is Tuesday, February 5. Put on your dancing shoes or tap your toes—either way you will have a fun night out for just $2.00 at the door!
The Penfield Rotary Band was formed in 1954. They offer western New York's best representation of the classical sound of late the 1930s through the 1940s Big Band era, showcasing the modern Big Band arrangers in the style of The Tonight Show band leader "Doc" Severenson. The talented 17-member band is equally adept at swing dance ballroom and stage concert outdoor venues.
Until next week, bundle up! Please check on fire hydrants in your neighborhood and keep them clear of snow for emergency responders.
Be well and be safe,
January 18, 2019
A Message from Supervisor LaFountain: Weekend storm preparation and safety
With a winter storm warning in effect that promises heavy snow and high winds into Monday, Penfield DPW has plows ready to take to their routes to clear snow and salt roadways.
Please keep the following in mind throughout the storm event:
• Please do not drive unless necessary. If you must drive, please allow for extra drive time. Clear all snow from your vehicle including headlights and tail lights.
• Give plow operators plenty of room to do their job. Never try to race a plow or make quick moves to "get away." Cars are not always visible and big trucks cannot always stop quickly to respond to sudden moves by cars.
• The effectiveness of salt will be lessened as temperatures drop due to predicted high winds
• Winter parking rule are in effect—this means no parking on roadways 2:00–7:00 AM.
• Please keep neighborhood fire hydrants clear of snow to assist emergency responders.
• Check on elderly neighbors to be sure they are safe and warm.
• Keep house furnace vents and gas meters clear of snow and ice to prevent hazardous conditions.
• Kids are home from school Monday; please be mindful of bitter temps and potential for frostbite AND do not ever allow them to play in snowbanks adjacent to roadways. Plows will be out during and after snowfall to clean up and “shelf” snowbanks.
Also, do you know you can sign up for RG&E alerts? Now is a good time to set up an account and choose which alerts you want and how you want to receive them: by text email, phone, or all three. Go to www.RGE.com and have your account number handy.
Please heed weather reports and stay warm and safe.
January 14, 2019
Supervisor's Column: January 14, 2019
I am dedicating this week’s column to the Registration of Defaulted Mortgage and Vacant Property Ordinance adopted by the town board on January 2, 2019. This new legislative tool requires lending institutions to register foreclosed properties with the town of Penfield and provide specific contact information for the management of each property. It gives our town government more influence over derelict and vacant “zombie” homes located in Penfield and owned by individuals and lenders.
This Ordinance is being amended to our Town Code as Chapter 260 and it is effective immediately. It promises to benefit every neighborhood in Penfield because it establishes a process to identify, regulate, and limit the number of zombie properties caused by defaulted mortgages and other financial circumstances.
To the frustration of many property owners and town officials, zombie houses can be found in just about any neighborhood in Penfield. As I write this column, there are 118 foreclosed properties in Penfield, and another 70 are in pre-foreclosure. As properties linger in financial uncertainty they often deteriorate, inviting crime and vandalism that result in blight and a decline in property values.
On a regular basis, residents call the town hall to complain about the impact of derelict properties in their neighborhoods. Understandably, residents want to know why zombie properties are allowed to languish with no apparent actions or consequences.
The unsatisfying answer is that historically, local governments have had little influence over the behavior of banks and lending institutions as they buy and sell mortgages at an alarming rate. While municipalities play “musical chairs” to identify responsible parties and hold them accountable for property maintenance, financial institutions are free to be vague, inconsistent, and unmotivated to maintain their assets. Such runarounds can go on for months or even years as foreclosed properties continue to decline. In fact, it takes about 1,100 days to complete the foreclosure process in New York.
In Monroe County, municipalities are left to take action and incur costs by hiring resources to perform basic maintenance like lawn mowing or window repair. Fees for that work are added directly to property tax bills. Prior to 2017, Monroe County reimbursed municipalities for those expenses. They would ultimately collect the fees from property owners with County/Town tax payments. That scenario changed in 2017 when Monroe County stopped reimbursing local governments in advance of tax collection. Now, local governments foot the bill and must wait to be reimbursed after County/Town tax bills are ultimately paid.
What’s a town like Penfield to do? This: create a legal requirement for banks to register defaulted mortgages with the town, add fees and penalties, outsource the entire process to an organization that is dedicated to holding lenders accountable for property maintenance, and generate income in the process.
As of January 2, 2019, step one in that process is in the books with the adoption of the Registration of Defaulted Mortgage and Vacant Property Ordinance. On January 10, 2019, the town took the next step by entering into an agreement with ProCHAMPS, a service provider that specializes in identifying and tracking zombie properties, contacting responsible parties, and registering them per town code. With this agreement, there is no cost to the Town of Penfield. ProCHAMPS manages the contact process, collects registration fees, and then shares revenue and property data with us.
The Registration of Defaulted Mortgage and Vacant Property Ordinance gives the Town of Penfield legislative muscle to hold deed owners and financial institutions accountable for their properties. Fees and penalties for neglect will motivate lenders to act on and remedy complaints.
By working with ProCHAMPS, the town gains a new tool to fight blight and generate revenue. A dedicated ProCHAMPS team will work on behalf of the town to identify and track responsible parties and monitor property maintenance issues. Town code officers will have easy access to a web-based management tool to register complaints and communicate with all parties and ProCHAMPS.
The Penfield community will benefit because code enforcement officers can effectively act on complaints, thereby protecting property values and minimizing the risk of vandalism and crime associated with blighted homes.
With the new Ordinance and decision to partner with ProCHAMPS, the town is positioned to gain control over a chronic problem that has been frustrating and costly for all. Once this process is in place this spring we can look forward to seeing action taken at neglected properties. We will also start to see some revenue from mandatory registration fees that we will reinvest back into local code enforcement efforts.
Penfield will be joining the towns of Greece and Gates in utilizing ProCHAMPS in Monroe County to address these derelict and vacant “zombie” homes within our community.
If you have any questions please contact our Building/Zoning/Code Enforcement Office at 340-8637. Additionally, you can go to https://prochamps.com to learn more about the company and their process.
Until next week continue to enjoy the mild weather.
January 11, 2019
Let it Snow!
Let it snow! As we begin to see the snow accumulate around Penfield the town is excited to be adding some cross country skiing opportunities to the Shadow Pines property. We have been working with the Penfield School District to provide cross country skiing trails for community use as well as for the PHS Nordic team practices. The school district will begin grooming trails as soon as the conditions warrant, and those trails will be located on the property north of Clark Road. Stay tuned for further information on this new opportunity!
January 7, 2019
Supervisor's column January 7, 2019
The Penfield Trails Committee’s next free guided is this Saturday, January 12, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at Ellison Park. In January, we normally encourage you to dust off your cross country skis or snowshoes and enjoy us for a trip through this very scenic park; however, based on the weekend forecast, this will be a traditional walking hike. The route will follow the predominately flat portions of Ellison Park on the north side of Blossom Road. Meet at the north side of the parking lot off Blossom Road and look for the hike signs.
Consider picking up your trails “passport“ and take it with you on these hikes as you discover the trails of Penfield. Passports are available at the Penfield Recreation office or either Penfield Wegmans stores (Rt. 441 or Empire Blvd). A special thank you to Wegmans, our wellness partner!
By now, everyone who normally receives a tax bill should have received their 2019 County/Town Tax Bill. Each year I prepare a supervisor’s message to share information you may find helpful as you review your bill. This message is available online at www.penfield.org (go to “departments” then click on “Tax Receiver”). If you have any questions regarding your bill, please contact the Tax Receiver at 340-8626. I welcome any suggestions you may have to better or further explain the elements of your tax bill.
Are you looking for opportunities to have your children spend more time outside and away from the TV and electronic devices? Consider signing them up for Pen-Rec’s “Running Wild” after school program! This unique survival skills program by Earthworks is designed to teach ancient knowledge and understanding of the natural world combined with unique instruction on the time-honored techniques of wilderness living. Expect your child to learn about the wonders of their environment and all its natural processes through immersion in a full sensory experience with nature. Earthworks staff encourage kids to explore while working closely with peers to practice wilderness skills such as shelter building, fire making, wild crafting, identification of flora and fauna, use of plants for food and medicine, purification of water, natural navigation, responsible tool use, and more. The curriculum combines unique outdoor games with challenges that give children the confidence to discover the outdoors in a safe and meaningful way. Their goal is to activate each child’s curiosity and love for learning while fostering personal growth, social responsibility, and bonds that last a lifetime.
This six session program for ages 8 to 15 is held at Veterans Memorial Park behind the Town Hall and runs from Monday, February 11 through March 25 from 4:00 to 6:00 PM (no class February 18). The fee is $80.00 and the registration number is 118080-B. If you are interested do not delay, this program will fill up fast!
The next few van trips with Pen-Rec’s “Out to Lunch Club” promise to be fun. The January 18 trip is a visit to Label 7 and Pittsford Farm and Dairy. Lunch is on your own. Depart the Community Center at 11:30 AM and return by approximately 2:00 PM. On February 15 the club goes to the Irish Mafia Brewing Co. in Bloomfield. Again, lunch is on your own. You depart the Community Center at 11:00 AM and return approximately by 2:30 PM. The fee for each of this programs is $10.00. The registration numbers are 149450-01 and 149450-02, respectfully.
The Penfield Public Library has a great lineup of programs planned for winter break week (February 18 to 22). These programs are very popular and tend to fill up very quickly so do not delay in signing-up. Check out page 43 of the Winter/Spring 2019 Pen-Rec brochure or go to www.penfieldlibrary.org for complete details.
Important Dates and Events in History: January 8, 1815 – American forces win the Battle of New Orleans; January 12, 1945 – American forces liberate the Philippines; this year January 21 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday will be observed.
This Wednesday, January 9, is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. If you see a New York State Trooper, Monroe County Sheriff, Rochester Police Officer, or a local community Police Officer, please thank them for their service and keeping our communities safe!
Until next week,
January 2, 2019
Supervisor's column January 2, 2019
On behalf of the Town Board, I would like to wish all Penfield residents a very healthy, prosperous, and happy New Year; I look forward to serving you as Town Supervisor in 2019.
The next Flapjack Saturday Community Fundraiser sponsored by the First Baptist Church of Penfield (FBP) will be held on Saturday, January 19 from 8:00 to 10:00 AM at 1862 Penfield Road. FBP invites you for delicious pancakes, pure maple syrup, scrambled eggs, sausages, and more—all for just $5.00 per person. All January proceeds will go directly to help support the Shepherd Home, a hospice care facility in Penfield providing 24-hour care for the terminally ill in a residential setting. Shepherd Home offers physical, emotional, and spiritual support to those facing the prospect of death. They also provide hospitality and support to family members and friends as well as bereavement counseling and community education. For more information on the Shepherd Home go to www.shepherdhome.org. Please note that Fellowship Hall is handicap accessible and the breakfast is outstanding! For more information and details, please visit www.fbpenfield.org.
Work on the solar array located adjacent to the DPW facility on Jackson Road is progressing nicely. Most of the rack bracing that supports the 3,648 solar panels is completed and the contractor has begun installing the first few rows of panels. This task will continue over the next two to four weeks with a goal of all having all panels installed and wired by end of January if the weather cooperates. Finally, we remain optimistic that we continue to run ahead of the projected February 22 “permission to operate” from RG&E. Stay tuned for further updates on this project.
The cleanup of compromised trees and hazardous conditions continues at the former back nine of Shadow Pines. The mild stretch of winter weather has given DPW crews more opportunity to work at the site rather than responding to the usual snow and ice removal expected this time of year. Our large excavator recently experienced some mechanical problems and will be in the shop for the next several weeks, thus our cleanup efforts will be slowed a bit. Our goal continues to have the property ready for cross-country skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing once we receive significant snow. We will keep everyone updated via this column and the website once this area is officially open.
More on Shadow Pines…we have recently heard from different sources that an individual or individuals have been seen bow hunting on the former back nine—this is troubling for many reasons. First, NO hunting is permitted on any town-owned property and no hunting is permitted anywhere in this part of town. Secondly, the back nine of Shadow Pines remains closed to the public and no one should be on the site for any reason. We have informed the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation of this concern. Anyone caught hunting on this or any town-owned property will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
With the recent mild weather many residents are already thinking about getting their spring gardens organized. If you are in the garden planning mood please mark your calendar for the “Seed Swap” hosted by the Penfield Community Victory Garden on Saturday, January 26 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the Penfield Community Center. Participants will share seeds, learn from some fun talks, practice making seed-starting tools, and enjoy refreshments. There will be a demonstration on making your own environmentally friendly paper pots and a couple of really neat methods for creating your own seed tapes and “square-foot” pre-seeded papers.
Christine Froehlich (www.gardeningwithwhatyouhave.com), an instructor, garden designer and author, will present a slide-talk on winter-forcing flowering branches. This program is co-sponsored by the Penfield Community Victory Garden and Flower City Garden Network. This event is free and open to the public; however, pre-registration is requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember registration for all Pen-Rec Winter/Spring programs begins January 2, so do not delay in singing up!
Until next week, be well and be safe…happy New Year!