The Oswego Village Board will be voting at its next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 5, on whether to provide reimbursement for two separate projects for the Firehouse Pizza and Pub, after much discussion at its last meeting.
The Village was approached by Firehouse Pizza and Pub, which opened in December in downtown Oswego, for reimbursement for waterline improvement, as well as replacement of a retaining wall at the village-owned building.
Police Chief Dwight Baird, who served as interim village administrator at the time Firehouse Pizza originally approached the village about occupying the space at 65 W. Washington St. in September 2011 spoke on the matter at the board's Jan. 22 meeting.
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The first issue dealt with waterline required for the Firehouse. Code requires a 1.5-inch pipe and the building only had a 1-inch pipe.
Originally, the project was to have cost about $9,000 with the village paying half. Baird said the cost to change the pipes and additional work under village streets escalated to about $35,000 — about $18,000 of which the village would need to cover given the deal to cover half the bill.
Village staff suggested increasing the Village’s reimbursement to help cover the new costs.
President Brian LeClercq said in his mind the pipe fell under infrastructure upgrades, and trustee Jeff Lawson said it was the Village’s responsibility to upgrade water pipes and was not opposed to supporting it.
The second issue was the retaining wall that extends from 63 W. Washington to 65 W. Washington.
“The retaining wall was going to need to be replaced from day one,” said Baird.
He said according to the restaurant's owners, the wall sustained heavy rainfall damage last April and they were seeking reimbursement. Heavy machinery that was located atop the wall was also suggested as possibly damaging the wall.
“So they’re looking for is reimbursement on property that isn’t theirs,” clarified LeClercq.
The Village’s part of the 108-foot wall on the properties would total a little over $6,000 in repairs.
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Trustee Gail Johnson said she rarely disagreed with staff recommendation, but felt uncomfortable putting out money to Firehouse. In September 2011 the board approved a loan of $130,000 for the restaurant’s owners from the village’s revolving loan fund at a rate of 3 percent over 10 years.
“We have a pattern of behavior regarding disrespectful treatment of village staff. They have had late payments, at least two that the made up with an (non-sufficient funds) check,” said Johnson, saying there also was a pattern of unresponsiveness and irresponsibility.
“I cannot justify putting another penny forward. I feel very uncomfortable putting out more money… I have no faith our loan is going to be repaid," Johnson said.
Trustee Terry Michels agreed, saying he was also uncomfortable with spending more money on the project. Michels has previously cited what he called the owners' poor business plan and working without building proper permits.
“They were doing their own thing and taking their time. This is a year and some months later now,” he said.
Trustee Tony Giles suggested the items be broken into two parts, approval for the waterline and approval for the retaining wall.
Both items will be voted upon at the upcoming February meeting.