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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Massena Village Board tables code officer’s fate for a week


MASSENA - The village’s code enforcement officer will have to wait another week before learning of the fate of his employment in Massena government.

After an hour of discussion in executive session Tuesday, the village’s Board of Trustees voted to table a motion that would decide whether to reappoint Code Enforcement Officer Gregory Fregoe to his post until its Jan. 15 meeting.

Mayor James F. Hidy said the board wanted more information before deciding whether to reappoint Mr. Fregoe to the $28,476.24 post.

Mr. Fregoe attended Tuesday’s meeting, but he was not allowed to remain when the village board moved into executive session to discuss his future employment with the municipality. The board did not reappoint Mr. Fregoe to his post at is reorganizational meeting in December. He has been working on a day by day basis since that time. Mr. Fregoe has indicated village officials have not discussed the issue with it and had not told him he wasn’t be reappointed prior to the organizational meeting.

After hearing the the board was tabling the motion Tuesday night, Mr. Fregoe pressed the board whether he would continuing performing his duties as the code enforcement officer until Jan. 15. Mr. Hidy said he would.

“We need more information on our options to make a proper decision to how to move forward,” Mr. Hidy said.

The board of trustees will not be meeting again to discuss Mr. Fregoe’s post until the Jan. 15 meeting, according to Mr. Hidy.

Village Attorney Matthew H. McArdle will be reviewing the impact not reappointing Mr. Fregoe, a Civil Service employee, would have on the village.

If the village chooses not to reappoint Mr. Fregoe, it would rely on firefighters trained in code enforcement to take over Mr. Fregoe’s duties.

“We’re exercising our options on whether to continue with (Mr. Fregoe) or to filter in (firefighters trained in code enforcement),” Mr. Hidy said previously.

Career Firefighters Department Foreman Ken McGowan and fellow career firefighter Aaron Hardy completed New York state code enforcement training in early November. They join career firefighter Bill O’Brien, who had previously received the training.

Two additional firefighters, Jeremy Lefeve and Matt Tuper, are trained as code compliance technicians, and Walt Bean will finish this training later this month, Mr. McGowan said.

A code compliance technician is trained in enforcing the fire and property maintenance codes, but is not certified in other code enforcement officer duties, such as issuing building permits or inspecting new construction projects.

Mr. McGowan said he’d not been in discussions with village officials over the possibility of taking over Mr. Fregoe’s duties, but noted it was something they had been preparing for.

“We assumed we’d be taking over when (Mr. Fregoe) retired, but we’ve had no concrete talks” on taking over code enforcement, Mr. McGowan said.

Currently the fire department handles code enforcement whenever Mr. Fregoe is busy or off-duty. Mr. McGowan said at least one firefighter with some code enforcement training is always on duty.

Mr. McGowan noted there are some advantages to firefighters handling code enforcement, including the ability to condemn a fire-damaged structure after responding to the fire. He said municipalities across the country have been allocating code enforcement duties to fire departments.

The possibility of Mr. Fregoe not being reappointed caused some concerns for the Massena Town Council at its organizational meeting Jan. 2. The town has contracted with the village to provide code enforcement services for the past several years.

At that meeting the council voted unanimously on an interim appointment for whomever the village is utilizing for code enforcement until its monthly meeting Jan. 16. “

Mr. Fregoe has served as the village’s code enforcement officer since 1999.

Roger M. Bennett told the town board he believes not reappointing Mr. Fregoe will present problems, as Mr. Fregoe has knowledge of ongoing construction projects that firefighters might be unfamiliar with.

Mr. Hidy declined to comment Tuesday on how the loss of Mr. Fregoe’s experience would affect ongoing construction projects, nor would he comment on whether the firefighters who provide code enforcement would receive pay raises for their additional duties, should Mr. Fregoe not be reappointed.

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