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Fregoe could be out as Massena’s code enforcement officer

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MASSENA — Village trustees will discuss whether to reappoint Gregory C. Fregoe as code enforcement officer for another term during an executive session Tuesday, according to Mayor James F. Hidy.

The village Board of Trustees will review the action it took at its reorganizational meeting in December when it opted not to reappoint Mr. Fregoe to the $28,476.24 post.

Mr. Hidy said the board is “exercising our options on whether to continue” with Mr. Fregoe or to filter in firefighters trained in code enforcement.

“What we’re electing to do is have the Fire Department take over code enforcement,” he said.

Fire Driver in Charge Kenneth J. McGowan and fellow career firefighter Aaron T. Hardy completed New York state code enforcement training in early November. They join career firefighter Bill O’Brien, who previously received the training.

A fourth career firefighter, Walter J. Bean, has started code enforcement training and is expected to become a certified code compliance technician sometime this month.

The possibility that Mr. Fregoe will not be reappointed caused some concern for the Massena Town Council at its organizational meeting Wednesday. The town has contracted with the village to provide code enforcement services for the past several years.

Councilman Charles A. Raiti was concerned the village would choose not to reappoint Mr. Fregoe, leaving the town without a code enforcement officer. Councilman Albert N. Nicola pointed out the village has three career firefighters trained in code enforcement.

The council voted unanimously on an interim appointment for whomever the village is using for code enforcement until its monthly meeting Jan. 16.

“We’re not sure how the village will fulfill the obligation” to provide code enforcement for the town, said Supervisor Joseph D. Gray. “We will appoint whichever code enforcement officer the village has on staff.”

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

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

Mr. Hidy said he sees advantages and disadvantages in having the Fire Department take over code enforcement. With more personnel handling code enforcement, the village would not have to rely on a single officer to handle code enforcement duties. However, with three firefighters trained in code enforcement, Mr. Hidy is worried there will be scheduling gaps in which no firefighters trained in code enforcement will be on duty.

“Right now, we’d need more code enforcement officers because they’re not always working weekday shifts,” he said. “The advantage is they would be on hand readily when they are on shift.”

Mr. Fregoe’s latest contract with the village expired May 31, 2011, but called for its terms, which included 12 holidays, life insurance, sick days, 21 vacation days and five personal leave days, to remain in effect until a new contract was signed.

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