Weekly Feature

2016-10-06 / Front Page

Meeting on dissolution highlights village services

by AMY ROBB Editor

The Friends of Depew, a group against village dissolution, held an informational meeting at the Fraternal Order of Eagles on Friday.

Group founder Leigh Ann Wacht spoke to roughly 35 people in attendance, including Mayor Jesse Nikonowicz and Village Attorney Kathleen McDonald, as well as other village officials.

The meeting was set in light of a petition to dissolve the Village of Depew submitted to officials Sept. 20 and accepted as valid Sept. 29.

The Friends of Depew was started six years ago when civic activist Kevin P. Gaughan was pushing to dissolve villages, including Williamsville, where Wacht teaches seventh grade.

“After the vote, after the Williamsville vote, it was overwhelmingly denied; they didn’t want the dissolution. I think he just went away, I never heard from him again,” said Wacht.

The group is also known as “Vote-Depew” on Facebook, and has regrouped its efforts to focus on the petition, upcoming vote and informing residents of what will happen in the event of dissolution.

“We’ve morphed into the Friends of Depew. You can see the flags around the village; Friends of Depew did that. It went away just a little bit, and now it’s coming back. We’re needed,” said Wacht.

Residents who attended the meeting expressed concern regarding what would happen to their services if the referendum to dissolve the village passes.

Individuals speculated that services provided by the towns of Lancaster and Cheektowaga would not have the same one-on-one attitude that they’re used to seeing in the village.

“The government is close to you. If we get rid of that, we have to go to Cheektowaga, or people would have to go to Lancaster, and I really think that your voice will be lost with people,” said Wacht.

Wacht described a situation highlighting village service, where Chief of Police Stan Carwile went to a woman’s house to fix her sump pump one evening.

“He went in there, and he fixed it. Chief of Police. Where else are you going to get that? That to me is impressive,” said Wacht.

An immediacy of government assistance coupled with the sense of community is enough for many to want to keep the village intact.

“I think it’s the services, and I think it’s also the feel of being in Depew. You drive through Depew, you’ve got Fireman’s Park, you’ve got Veteran’s Park. You get that feel of a community. This is my community. I don’t want this to go away,” added Wacht.

Residents won’t be able to compare services from a town versus services from the village until they actually experience it. Wacht believes the scope of what the towns will have to cover will impact the immediacy of service village residents enjoy.

“I think it will be too big. I think it will be a headache for them to take us on,” said Wacht.

Upcoming meetings for the Friends of Depew will be at noon Saturday, Oct. 8, at Veterans Park, and at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, at the Fraternal Order of Eagles, 4569 Broadway.

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