SALAMANCA — Sandra Magiera has been a resident and business owner in Salamanca for many years, and she never remembers the state roads in the city ever being this bad.
When she was first elected to the Common Council about a decade ago, Magiera said she remembers talk of getting the state to fix some of the roads in the city. Since then, the only road to see any major improvement is Wildwood Avenue.
Meanwhile, pothole-littered Central Avenue and Clinton and Broad streets continue to be patched annually by the city only to have the potholes return each spring.
The council representative for Ward 4, which Route 417 passes through, said she was tired of waiting for the state to respond to requests to fix their roads and decided to do something about it.
About two months ago, Magiera began circulating a petition around the city for any resident, worker or commuter who uses the state roads to sign, demanding the state DOT fix them.
So far, about 750 people have signed the petition, she said.
“I’m sorry for the people who want answers,” said Magiera. “I’m trying the best I can to get the answers. It’s taking time, but I haven’t given up on it.”
The plan to repave the state routes in the city, most notably Central Avenue, which carries Route 219, were originally scheduled for the summer of 2017. Each year, the plan has been pushed back with it now set for 2020.
In recent months, city, county and Seneca Nation representatives have made their opinions known on the state’s lack of fixing the roads through various methods, but Magiera’s petition was the first attempt to get the state’s attention at this time.
“I mailed three copies of the petitions,” she said. One went to the office of Frank Cirillo, DOT Region 5 director; State Sen. Tim Kennedy (D), chair of the state transportation committee; and to the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Copies of the petition were left at several community centers in Salamanca, including the library, the comptroller’s office and the public utilities office, among others. Mageria said one business owner gave her permission to set up at their store and ask people to sign.
“I stopped at the mayor’s office at the time and said, ‘Do you think a petition would help?’” Magiera recalled. “He said it wouldn’t hurt.”
In May, Magiera was in communication with the governor’s office about how to submit the petition to the office and to set up a meeting with one of the governor’s aides, she explained. After sending in a request, she was told to check back after about four weeks, which will be next week.
“It’s in the second phase of being processed now,” she was informed last time she called.
Magiera said she talked with Lori Cornell, the governor’s regional representative, as well as Cirillo, and was told to keep working up the ladder of people to talk to about it.
If a meeting can be set up with someone in Albany, Magiera said she and a couple other city officials would make the drive to the state capitol to address the issue in person, as well as deliver the original signed petition documents.
“I’m happy with the number of signatures we got,” she said. “If we get some more, that’s great. It’ll show them there’s still interest in getting this done.”
Meanwhile, work is already in progress on a state paving project that covers Route 219 in portions of Ellicottville and Great Valley, one of which will meet the Salamanca city line.
“There’s only a few spots there that are bad, and I think that’s a statement to us that they’re not fixing the road,” Magiera said. “I just want an answer. I want them fixed, but I want to know why they keep taking it out of the budget every year, putting it back in and taking it out again.”
City Department of Public Works crews patched the potholes on the state roads in the city at the city’s expense earlier in the spring, Magiera said. But she knows it won’t last.
“I wish these people would come down and drive on these roads and see how bad they are,” she said. “It’s going to be here next spring again. Every hole they patched last year had to be repatched this year. It’s a constant battle.”
For Magiera, starting the petition process and working to meet with the state comes down to her duty as a representative from the city. She said she was elected to help fix things and this is something that needs fixing.
“I couldn’t just sit and just wait and keep hearing, ‘Oh, they’re not going to do anything. They’re not going to come down,’” she said. “You don’t know unless you try, and at least I’m trying.”