WATERLOO — Jack O’Connor began his first term as mayor of this Seneca County village April 1.
From the start, he made it clear his first priority for his first term is improving the appearance of this village of 5,200 people.
Speaking at Monday’s Village Board meeting, O’Connor said stricter code enforcement efforts already are making a difference.
“I have started out my term addressing situations in the village code book, looking at ways to update it where needed, but mainly to enforce what’s there now,” O’Connor said.
He said those who don’t mow their lawns as required will be warned, given a time limit to comply, and if they don’t, village crews will do the mowing and fines will be imposed ranging from $100 to $400, plus a labor cost.
“We will follow the code book, which was not done to a great degree before,” he said.
He cited trash placed at the curb, other than normal household garbage, that will not be picked up by village crews. O’Connor said those property owners will be given five days to remove it or face fines ranging from $150 to $250, plus 50 percent of the cost of village workers removing the material.
“If any of these fines are not paid, they will be levied on the property tax bills,” O’Connor said.
Unlicensed and uninsured motor vehicles are another situation that will be addressed with stricter enforcement, along with buildings that are destroyed or damaged by a fire. He said the property owner will have 30 days to clean up the property and have it leveled off, unless there is an active fire investigation ongoing to prevent it.
Again, he said fines will be imposed.
“Ride around the village and I think you’ll see it look cleaner. That and improving streets will be the top priority of my first term. If we improve our appearance, it will help get people to come here, live here and start a business here,” O’Connor said.
Referring to New York City developer Howard Friedman, who has bought several downtown buildings and begun major renovation of those structures, O’Connor said the village can help Friedman by doing its part to help upgrade the physical appearance of the village.
“We have a program available that will buy up to $500 worth of paint for residents to paint their buildings and we have a sidewalk replacement program. But there’s been little interest in them. We need to change that attitude,” O’Connor said.