CHAUTAUQUA - Republican and Democrat county legislators learned details about the present offer to purchase the Chautauqua County Home at exactly the same time, Fred Croscut, R-Sherman, told the Town of Chautauqua board meeting Monday evening. Croscut said Democrat complaints that GOP members were tipped to the new offer sooner than Democrats "just isn't true."
Croscut announced at the Chautauqua town board's July session that another offer was likely, but said he had learned that just by asking County Executive Greg Edwards. He said Edwards made no secret that the county expected a new offer, but offered no details until the formal announcement Aug. 7.
A special meeting of the legislature Aug. 21, Croscut said, will be devoted to gathering facts about the $16.5 million offer from Richard Platschek, who has majority ownership of three long-term facilities in Erie County.
"We're out to get the facts. I'm not here to argue or state a position," he said.
Vince Horrigan, R-Ellery, the Republican candidate to replace Edwards, said, "For me it's about saving the county home."
Horrigan said he will emphasize "sustainability" of various social services and that may include privatizing some portions.
When asked why Platschek's offer was only on the table through September, Horrigan noted Platschek put $1.65 million in escrow.
"I'm sure he doesn't want that (money) on the table for a long time," he said.
Town Supervisor Don Emhardt asked about enforcement of a proposed smoking ban on all county property. Croscut said, "It's going to be unenforceable." Horrigan said he thought it would be self-enforced, mainly through peer pressure from nonsmokers.
"I see enforcement problems," Emhardt said. He noted the ban, as contemplated, would affect the town's office building because the county occupies part of it. He expressed doubt the sheriff's dept. would be interested in enforcing the ban.
Dave Himelein, R- Findley Lake, said, "It's an education problem." Enforcement, he said, would likely be "the honor system."
Horrigan complimented the town board for what he thinks is an improvement of conditions in the Elmwood Road neighborhood. "It looks like a whole different place," he said. Residents of the area appeared in front of the board 13 months ago to tell of seedy housing, child neglect, spousal abuse, drug dealing and lack of law enforcement in parts of the neighborhood.
Emhardt agreed with their complaints and blamed some of the trouble on the county health department, which he said, had failed to respond to repeated entreaties from town officials.
Horrigan promised to investigate, and has made repeated visits to the area. Emhardt said he still isn't completely satisfied but added, "It looks a lot better now."