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October 1, 2009 - 10:11am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day.

Blue Pearl Yoga, 200 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Exercise your soul as well as your body in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere. We have a gift certificate for a seven-week Pilates session (one class per week), which is a value of $56, for $28.

Total Image Hair Salon/Sarah and Amanda Lowe, 226 Ellicott St., Batavia, NY: Time to update your style? Try something different or finally get the hair styling you've dreamed of, give Sarah or Amanda at Total Image a try. We have a $22 gift certificate for $11.

Adam Miller Toy & Bicycles, 8 Center St., Batavia, NY: Feel like a kid in a toy store again, or treat your kids to the greatest toy store they will ever see. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

The Mane Attraction, 99 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: The Mane Attraction is a spa and salon offering pedicures, manicures, hair styling and massage. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

The Enchanted Florist, 202 E. Main St., Batavia, NY: Brighten up your home or office with flowers! We have a $20 gift certificate for $8.50.

Great Kutz, in the Valu Plaza, 4152 W. Main St. Road, Batavia, NY: Batavia's newest full-service salon, offering affordable haircuts for men and women on a walk-in basis. Today, we have two gift certificates for men's haircuts, a $12.95 value for $6 each (gift card can be applied toward other services, but not products).

NOTE: If you've never bought Deal of the Day before, or are otherwise unfamiliar with the rules and process, click here.

October 1, 2009 - 2:13am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council, Bob Bialkowski.

Bob Bialkowski's active role in pushing forward the complaint against City Manager Jason Molino became a little clearer tonight. His participation is at the center of the current kerfuffle over breached confidence at Batavia City Hall.

Weeks ago, when Bialkowski produced a manila envelope with copies of the complaint letter, he told City Councilwoman Marianne Clattenburg that he received the complaint via email and printed it out for the complainant because that person's printer was broken, Clattenberg said.

Clattenburg said she didn't open the envelope and had no knowledge about the specific contents of the letter before handing it over to Council President Charlie Mallow.

However, the fact that this particular person filed the complaint wasn't a surprise to Clattenburg, because the person first asked Clattenburg how to handle the complaint. Clattenburg said she told the person the proper procedure was to take the complaint to the City Council President (Charlie Mallow). She indicated she was surprised when Bialkowski showed up with an envelope full of copies of the letter.

Mallow confirmed that he received the envelope from Clattenburg.

Both Mallow and Clattenburg say that the existence of the letter was revealed during the Council's next closed session, which had been called previously in order to conduct the contractually mandated performance review of the city manager. 

The council agreed to take the complaint up at its next closed session, since the council was obligated to continue with the performance review and vote on Molino's raise.

That next meeting was Sept. 14, which Bialkowski did not attend, and is central to the breach-of-confidence charge by members of the council. The council discussed the complaint against Molino and agreed that the person who made the complaint should be interviewed by the council and that Molino -- who was out of town -- should be given a chance to respond.

When the council came out of executive session, it voted 7-1 to give Molino a 2.8 percent raise. Councilman Bill Cox cast the lone no vote and after the meeting cited a "personnel" matter, which he wouldn't discuss further, as the reason for his "no" vote.

After that meeting, Mallow, Clattenburg and council members Rose Mary Christian and Kathy Briggs received phone calls from the person who filed the complaint. That person had just enough details of the closed discussion to make it clear to council members, Mallow and Clattenburg said, that somebody on the council spoke freely, either directly to the person who filed the complaint or to another party who then spoke to the complainant immediately after the meeting.

But not all of the details were right. There were also misrepresentations and exaggerations.

"I don't think the public understands," said Clattenburg, "that one of the reasons the council is so upset is that the person was feeding back a lot of misinformation about what was said and we didn't like how the council was being portrayed. This wasn't just a breach of trust. This person (the leaker) was making stuff up, saying stuff that was never said."

Mallow didn't speak directly to the complainant that night (he only received a voice mail), but after he spoke to the other council members, it was clear to him that whoever called the complainant got enough of the facts right that a council person had to be the leaker.

"It was enough of the truth to see that it was somebody who was in the room," Mallow said. "There were enough tidbits of truth, but it wasn't the whole truth. It was just twisted and it was exaggerated."

Neither Mallow nor Clattenburg could say whether the letter as produced by Bialkowski was actually signed by the person making the complaint. The Batavian's news partner WBTA asked Mallow yesterday if the letter was signed, and Mallow said he thought it was. Tonight, The Batavian pointed out that it didn't seem likely that a letter that Bialkowski provided several copies of -- all coming from his printer -- would be signed. Mallow admitted that maybe it wasn't and said City Attorney George Van Nest had his only copy and he would have to check with Van Nest.

Clattenburg also couldn't remember if it was signed and didn't have her copy available.

If the letter wasn't signed, it would call into doubt, at least partially, the veracity of the letter because it would suggest the letter wasn't reviewed by the complainant before it was presented to council.

Mallow was quick to point out that there is no doubt the complainant is a real person and that this person has a complaint he or she considers legitimate. Mallow said that based on an email exchange with the complainant, he's sure the writing styles are the same, but admitted he can't be sure the letter is entirely written by the complainant.

"We don't know that the end-result that we got was the same end-result that Bob got," Mallow said. "I don't know and I can't say for sure."

He then added, almost under his breath, "That would be really devious."

"I can't say for certain that it's the same letter, but I believe the person wanted the council to have the letter," Mallow said.

As we noted in our previous story, The Batavian has offered Bialkowski several opportunities to comment on this matter and he has yet to respond. Mr. Bialkowski has several options available to him to tell his side of the story: He can call us; he can email us a statement which we will post without editing; he can post his own post; he can make a video and post it to YouTube; or he can leave a comment on this or any other post. The Batavian is an open forum and Mr. Bialkowski has all the freedom in the world to tell his story without editorial interference. The same goes for any other council member who has additional information to share on this or any other matter.

Previously:

October 1, 2009 - 12:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in politics, Democrats, Lorie Longhany.

County Democrats must be happy with the job Lorie Longhany is doing as county chair -- Tuesday, the County Committee met at the Elks Club in Batavia and unanimously voted her into a new two-year term.

Joe Cassidy, with more than 30 years on the committee, was selected for a second term as vice chair. Donna Ferry won for treasure and Carrie Henning, who filled a vacancy four months ago as secretary, wins a two-year term outright.

Sixteen new committee members were seated.

In a press release from the County Democrats, Longhany says, "Party building from the grassroots is my biggest priority with choice at the ballot box being the end result. It's exciting, we are adding many energized people to our ranks, including many young people."

As an example of energized people getting involved, the party can point to: Town Board candidate, Michael Plitt from Darien, Sarah Burk-Balbi, Phil Ricci, Julie Wallace running for Batavia city council at large, Jennifer Keys running for LeRoy Town Council, and Christopher Charvella running for the 8th District county legislature seat.

"I am proud of all the Genesee County candidates, elected officials and committee people but it is especially satisfying to see so many young people with fresh ideas willing to step up and serve their communities and their Party," Longhany said.

Download: Full Press Release (pdf)

September 30, 2009 - 11:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, dispatch.

Le Roy Dispatch signed off tonight at 11:42 with, "Le Roy Base signs off. End of tour. It's all yours."

We did not hear the next call on the scanner, but Genesee County Dispatch replied to it with, "Copy LV-2 and welcome aboard."

And so begins a new era of Genesee County Dispatch handling police and fire calls for the town and village of Le Roy.

September 30, 2009 - 9:20pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deal of the Day.

O'Lacy's Irish Pub, 5 School St. Batavia, NY: In Irish pubs, it doesn't get more authentic than O'Lacy's. Be sure to try the homemade chips. We have a $25 gift certificate for $12.50.

Kravings, Valu Plaza, W. Main Street, Batavia, NY: Recently opened, it offers soups, salads and sandwiches, fresh and flavorful; Monday through Saturday. We have $10 gift certificates for $5.

Alex's Place, 8322 Park Road, Batavia, NY: People come from all over the region for a fine dining experience at Alex's. It's best known for its ribs, of course, but Alex's seafood is also a favorite of the restaurant's diners. We have a $50 gift certificate for $25.

Center Street Smoke House, 20 Center St., Batavia, NY: Ribs, brisket, steak, prime rib -- Center Street is a meat lover's paradise. We have a $25 gift card for $12.50.

Delavan's Restaurant and Tavern, 107 Evans St., Batavia, NY: To me, Delavan's is one of those restaurants where you want to eat frequently until you try everything on the menu. We have a $20 gift certificate for $10.

Clor's Meat Market, 4169 W. Main Street Road, Batavia, NY: Clor's features the finest and freshest selection of meat in town, from strip steaks to a variety of sausages. Clor's also serves lunch and dinners from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. We have a $15 gift card for $7.50.

Belladessa's Pizzeria, 9 Jackson St., Batavia, N.Y.: Here's a deal -- half off on a Family Meal Deal from Belladessa's, which is a large 1 topping pizza, 24 wings and 2-liter bottle of soda. It's a $25 value for $12.50.

Sport of Kings Family Restaurant, 419 W Main St., Batavia, N.Y.: A favorite locally owned family restaurant that is open 24 hours per day, seven days a week. We have a $15 gift card for $7.50.

NOTE: If you've never bought Deal of the Day before, or are otherwise unfamiliar with the rules and process, click here.

SOLD OUT

 

September 30, 2009 - 5:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Bob Bialkowski.

We don't know yet who leaked a complaint letter to the Daily News, but two council members say that Councilman Bob Bialkowski is the person who brought the original letter to the council.

Bialkowski also reportedly told a council member that he would divulge the contents of the letter if City Manager Jason Molino received a pay raise.

Council President Charlie Mallow and Councilwoman Kathy Briggs both confirmed that letter first came to the council through Bialkowski.

"That's highly unusual," Mallow said. "Complaints usually come through the council president or the city attorney. We treat all complaints we get equally. But that's not normal."

We've left a message for Bialkowski on his home phone. Yesterday, The Batavian left two messages for Bialkowski asking him to respond to our survey of council members. Bialkowski has not responded to our email, answered the questions or returned phone calls.

Councilman Bill Cox said he had no knowledge of Bialkowski bringing the letter to the council. He thought it came through Councilwoman Marianne Clattenburg, whom he thought had the letter two or three weeks before it was discussed in closed session.

Briggs said that prior to the vote on Molino's raise, another council member called her and said that Bialkowski was threatening to make the contents of the letter public if the council approved Molino's raise, and Briggs said, "What letter?"

She said at that point, she hadn't received the letter and referred to it as "the first letter" that went to only "select council members" from Bialkowski.

Briggs said she believes Bialkwoski brought forward two letters from the same person, and it is the second one that the council reviewed in closed session.

Mallow said he wasn't aware of a "first letter." Cox wasn't aware of there being more than one letter.

Following the closed session where the letter was discussed, four council members -- Briggs, Mallow, Rose Mary Christian and Clattenberg -- received phone calls from the letter's author discussing the substance of, in some detail, though with inaccuracies, the things individual council members said during the closed discussion.

Both Mallow and Briggs said that it's clear that a council member discussed the meeting afterwards with somebody not at the meeting, which made it possible for the letter writer to learn what was discussed behind closed doors.

Bialkowski was not at that Sept. 14 meeting, which was the same night the council voted on Molino's pay raise.

Cox voted against the pay raise, and after the meeting, first characterized his "no" vote as related to a personnel issue he would not discuss publicly. Later he issued a statement that criticized the timing of the raise.

This afternoon, in a phone conversation with The Batavian, Cox agreed that there would be nothing wrong with a council member who was present at a closed session calling a member of the council who missed the meeting and discussing what was said in executive session.

We then asked Cox if he called Bialkowski after the closed door meeting and Cox said he would rather not comment on that question.

While Bialkowski missed the vote on Molino's raise this year, he was present a year ago, June 23, 2008, and voted "yes" on that year's raise for Molino. Bialkowski has been a member of the council since Jan. 1, 2008.

Molino was on vacation the night of the council voted on his raise, which is the same night the council first discussed the complaint letter. Sources say the council delayed further discussion of the complaint until Molino could be present to reply to the charges. Before the council could meet again, the letter was leaked to the Daily News and now at least five council members are unwilling to enter into an executive session without confidence that statements made in a closed session will remain confidential.

UPDATE: Councilman Frank Ferrando just returned our call. He said it was his understanding the letter was brought forward by Bialkowski, but he never heard of Bialkowski threatening to release the letter if Molino received a raise.

Previously:

September 30, 2009 - 3:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

Engine 12 and Ladder Truck 15 are on scene at 15 Bank St., Batavia.

I didn't catch the original dispatch, but there have been fire alarms from this building before.

UPDATE 3:50 p.m.: Engine 12 back in station.

September 30, 2009 - 2:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Oakfield.

An Oakfield man who had sex with a 15-year-old girl and videotaped multiple sexual acts with the girl was sentenced to seven years in state prison and 15 years of supervised release following his time in lock up.

Corey W. Klase, 24, was previously plead guilty to charges of sexual performance with a child and rape in the third degree. He was originally indicted on 12 counts.

Klase was arrested in January after deputies searched his home and found a video that depicts Klase engaging in multiple sexual acts the girl.

Arrested a few days after Klase was his girlfriend, Jessica R. Henry, 23, of Oakfield. She was accused of directing the girl in the videos. She was sentenced in July to six months in jail and 10 years probation.

September 30, 2009 - 10:21am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oakfield.

A fire alarm has been activated at Oakfield-Alabama High School.

September 30, 2009 - 8:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

City of Batavia Fire Department has been dispatched to Batavia High School because a fire alarm has gone off.

UPDATE 8:52 a.m.: Engine 12 on location. Building evacuated.

UPDATE: 9:09 a.m.: False alarm. Microwave, burnt food.

September 30, 2009 - 8:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

In California, I was familiar with Grand Juries investigating various government activities, sometimes uncovering wrong doing or mismanagement.

Grand Juries have the power to subpoena and compel testimony, with witnesses facing possible perjury charges if caught in a lie.

In the aftermath of the probable leak of personnel documents by a member of the Batavia City Council to the Daily News, the question came up: Who has the power to investigate something like this?

I sent an e-mail to District Attorney Lawrence Friedman and asked him about the authority of Grand Juries in New York.  Here's his answer:

I have copied and pasted below two sections from the NYS Criminal Procedure Law, with relevant provisions in bold print.  While the alleged conduct might constitute "misconduct in public office by a public servant," the Grand Jury certainly does not investigate every claim of "misconduct... by a public servant."  In fact, in my nearly 28 years in the District Attorney's Office, I can only recall one such Grand Jury investigation.  I think that this is based in large part on the belief that such matters can usually be dealt with more effectively through internal means, rather than involving a Grand Jury.

The code sections come after the jump below.

NOTE: The purpose of this post is not to call for a Grand Jury investigation. That is a major step and could have significant consequences. But I asked the question, got an answer and thought I should make the information available.

September 29, 2009 - 8:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

Last night I e-mailed five questions to each of the nine members of the Batavia City Council related to the reported leak of information from a confidential personnel closed session. Five of the council members cooperated by answering the questions directly. Two others did respond, and three have yet to respond (in addition to the questions, I've telephoned each council member who has not answered three times and twice left messages).

Below are the questions and responses.

1. Did you call any member of the public, including but not limited to, the person who wrote the letter in question, after the closed session (or did this person call you and then you revealed the substance of the closed session to the caller)?

Charlie Mallow: "The only contact I have made was this weekend was to send an apology note that the information was leaked." 'No' answers from Frank Ferrando, Tim Buckley, Marianne Clattenburg and Kathy Briggs.

2. Did you call any member of the media following the meeting and discuss, either on the record or off, the content of the closed session?

'No' answers from Mallow, Ferrando, Buckley, Clattenburg, Briggs.

3. Did you provide Joanne Beck or any other member of the media, or any member of the public, a copy of the letter in question?

'No' answers from Mallow, Ferrando, Buckley, Clattenburg, Briggs.

4. In the spirit of Frank Ferrando's statement during tonight's meeting: Are you willing to release Joanne Beck and/or the editors of the Daily News from any promise of confidentiality and let her release your name if you are the council member who leaked the letter or otherwise discussed the matter off-the-record or on background or as an unnamed source?

'Yes' answers from Mallow, Ferrando, Buckley, Clattenburg, Briggs.

Ferrando also included: "I am willing to have Joanne release my name if indeed I am the person who leaked this information.  I release any possible promise."

5. Do you agree or disagree that the council should not meet in closed session again until this matter is resolved to each member's satisfaction?

Mallow, Buckley, Clattenburg and Briggs also said either "I agree" or "No further meetings."

Ferrando wrote:

I believe we should take the recommendation of our attorney George Van Ness and include in our Council rules the confidentiality of Executive Session. Until then, I am reluctant to meet  in an executive session where privacy, particularly involving individuals, is not respected.  In my estimation, someone on our Council was looking to assassinate the character of a person without allowing the individual the Constitutional rights everyone is guaranteed.

City governments are public entities and the rights of ALL of our citizens, under the constitution, must be clearly noted and protected. Whoever did this is, in my opinion, a coward for not stepping forward and owning up to his or her actions.  As  public officials we take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the U.S. and the Charter of the City.  If someone deviates from that sacred trust, they should have the courage to step forward and explain why it was so important to have done so and accept the consequence of such action if deemed by the public to be unacceptable. That's the way our democratic system works and why our system of governance is so special.  For a publicly elected representative to hide behind the confidentiality of a person in the media is also appalling because it casts suspicion on the innocent. That is why I am so intent. as are my colleagues, on finding out who this was because until then it casts doubt and suspicion on all members of Council. In any case Howard, you have my answers to the questions posed.

Councilman Bill Cox sent an written statement, which I posted previously. I sent another e-mail to Mr. Cox and asked if he would respond directly to the questions. He wrote back: "The city attorney advised us not to answer any questions about the executive session." By reply, I pointed out none of the quesitons dealt with what happened in closed session, but what happened after closed session. I have not received a response.

Councilman Sam Barone wrote: "Howard, I will not be responding to these questions.   Sam."

I have yet to hear at all from Council members Bob Bialkowski and Rose Mary Christian.

September 29, 2009 - 8:25pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Bill Cox.

Last night I e-mailed a series of questions related to the apparent leak of personnel information from a Batavia City Council closed session to local media. I'll have a separate post on the responses shortly, but Councilman Bill Cox sent along the following statement, which we're posting in full:

"The purpose of the executive session in question was to discuss a personnel matter. The specific subject matter and person it involved should be and remain confidential until such time it is deemed advisable to release a statement. That discussion among council members is still ongoing and a second executive session has to be held to complete it. The employee in question has not even had an opportunity to speak to council. It is inappropriate to have any of this information disseminated when the facts have not been evaluated, discussed in total, or any findings made. It is also unfair to any employee to do so without both sides having a chance to discuss the matter. After that process has been completed then we need legal advice on what gets published.

To provide legal guidance to our council, city management, and the public, I e-mailed a letter to NYCOM, the organization all the cities, towns, and villages belong to for this kind of legal guidance to request what municipal and other NYS laws say about the sharing or disclosing the contents of discussions and documentation at executive sessions. I personally told this to Council President Mallow before the meeting Monday night in hopes of preventing the fiasco that occurred from happening. It obviously had no impact. 

It appears some members of council are overreacting and are on an emotional roller coaster. The tragic thing is they are deflecting (intentionally or unintentionally) the real issue and turned it into a second issue. Without a second executive session a determination cannot be accomplished, the employee cannot have an opportunity to reply, and the complainant cannot have his or her complaint heard by council and taken care of.

The real thing going on right now appears to be a witch hunt by some council members who want to require a litmus test of all council members, then a loyalty test, and finally a lynching. Those same council members are the ones who are not doing their job and they are not living up to their oath of office because they are preventing a city matter from being resolved by refusing to go into executive session. They have blown this situation all out of proportion; they have prevented a resolution to a problem; they are allowing a cloud over someone’s reputation to continue and have turned this into a circus.

I would hope this is not a ploy on some council member’s thoughts who are up for re-election to get their names in the paper in hope of getting votes this November. Our voters are smart people. I hope this fall they remember the antics going on at council by certain members, the unwillingness to act as a council on an important matter, and then vote accordingly. This entire fiasco can’t pass the “smell test”; it stinks of politics by those specific members who continue to stir things up.

If this were a business those council people would be told by senior management to get on with business or else. Council has accomplished some very good things in the past 12 months, we need to continue our work.

I take the council position I was elected to seriously will not participate in any of their childish games, litmus tests, or anything else they are trying to sell to the public. We have a lot of important objectives to work on; we have to start our budget process soon, deal with pending neighborhood proposals from NIC, and also get resolution to this problem so we can all concentrate on what we were elected to do which is better government at lower cost."

Bill Cox
Councilman – First Ward

September 29, 2009 - 5:55pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, taxes.

Right now, the cost of garbage collection in City of Batavia is just part of each property owner's tax bill.

It doesn't matter if dwelling is four units with four families, or one unit, the fee you pay is based on assessed value. There's no direct correlation between the amount of refuse produced from your property.

Councilman Sam Barone said last night the current system is unfair.

“Presently, it's based on the value of your home, for example," Barone said, "and there are some agencies that don’t pay at all, non-profit organizations, for example do not pay for trash service.”

Barone brought forward a now familiar proposal -- one that hasn't gotten far before -- to break out the cost of garbage collection as a separate fee on tax bills, and modify the fee-based system so its charged on a per-unit basis, including non-profits.

Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian immediately objected to the idea, saying, "You’re going to see a lot of garbage all over the city."

Councilman Frank Ferrando then backed Barone's proposal.

“We should investigate this because this should really bring down costs to taxpayers,” Ferrando said. “What we're doing is we're looking at the cost, a fairer way of distributing the costs. We should look into it."

At which point, Christian said, “There’s no doubt we should look into it.  We discussed it at the last budget meeting and agreed that we should discuss it sometime this year because it would definitely bring down the cost to taxpayers, so somehow, some way if we can do it, yes.”

Council President Charlie Mallow said he didn't favor putting a fee on garbage collection for non-profits. "Non-profits do a lot of good for the city," Mallow said.

The decision: City staff will investigate what other municipalities in the state are doing and bring a report back to council.

September 29, 2009 - 4:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, animals, pets, Sheriff's Office.

A Sheriff's Deputy was forced to destroy an aggressive Rottweiler this afternoon after the dog bit him on the hand.

Deputy Cory Mower responded  to a report of an aggressive dog running at large in the area of 8300 block of Bank Street Road in the Town of Batavia.

When Mower located the dog and approached him, the dog attacked him, biting his left hand, according to Deputy Chief Gordon Dibble.

Mower was heard on the scanner during the incident telling dispatch, "I tried to make friends with him."

After animal control arrived on scene, Mower transported himself to UMMC, where he was treated and released.

The 1:30 p.m. call was the second complaint the Sheriff's Office received today of a Rottweiler running loose in that neighborhood. In the morning, a deputy searched the area but did not find the dog. (The deputy did locate the dog, but was not able to capture it and it ran away. See comments below.)

The Rottweiler reportedly had current rabies tags, but the owner has not yet been identified and the incident remains under investigation.

September 29, 2009 - 4:16pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, ambulance.

Interim Fire Chief Ralph Hyde has a simple request: Let him use the newest of the retired city ambulances as an additional emergency response vehicle.

It would carry specialized rescue equipment that doesn't currently fit on the fire trucks and provide an air-conditioned space for overheated firefighters to rest when on scene of fires.

Hyde said with all the equipment stored in one mobile vehicle, instead of lockers in the fire station, the equipment could be deployed to emergency scenes when needed much more rapidly.

Councilman Bill Cox questioned, however, the wisdom of not selling the most valuable of the old ambulances at a time when the city still has $1.3 million in debt.

His suggestion set off a discussion last night that revealed that four of the council members present favored letting Hyde repurpose the ambulance, and four favoring selling it.

Councilman Bob Bialkowski suggested that the city look at selling the ambulance -- which has 50,000 miles on it -- and using that money to buy a new, potentially more suitable, all-wheel-drive vehicle for the fire department.

All members agreed the city should at least explore that idea.

September 29, 2009 - 3:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, grants.

In the past year, the city has applied for five state and federal grants.

Three of the grants -- totaling nearly $2 million in funding -- have been awarded. The city invested a little more than $12,000 on the grant application process.

"That's quite a return on investment," City Manager Jason Molino told the City Council during Monday's conference meeting.

The city has been awarded $411,000 for the Bank Street Project, $1.5 million from RestoreNY for the Masse Gateway Project and $25,000 for records retention.

With two grant applications unresolved, the city is looking forward for more grant opportunities.

Brownfield Opportunity Area: This grant is designed to help governments focus on revitalization strategies, not actual rehabilitation, for under utilized and dormant sites. It's intended to help with development stages between planning and actual redevelopment, such as site assessments and environmental reviews. The program reimburses up to 90 percent of costs and is supposed to foster a private-public partnership in redevelopment. Property owner participation is required. Molino said the ideal area to target is what the city has identified as the Ellicott Microenterprise District as part of the Central Corridor Project. The district extends down Ellicott Street from Evans to Swan. "It takes several uses (commercial, retail, residential) and puts them together, which is what they're looking for," Molino said.

Small Cities Community Development Block Grant: There are two types of grants available in this program. One grant is available for a small city to replace outdated sewer and water systems in low- to moderate-income areas. The other allows for assistance to property owners of low- to moderate-income housing. Molino is suggesting that the city go after a housing rehab grant, but unlike the Jackson Street project of 10 years ago, where the grant program provided loans, the city will pursue a straight grant option. In whatever designated area selected (or citywide), homeowners of low- to moderate-incomes could get grants, or landlords who rent to low- or moderate-income tenants could receive a grant. Up to $400,000 is available for this program. Molino anticipates that individual grant awards to property owners would be in the $10,000 to $15,000 range each. The city could apply to the housing rehab program every year, Molino said. it is competitive though, with only one out of three grant applications accepted. 

Records Management Grant: This year, the city received $25,000 for new shelving and software to convert key data records and city council minutes to electronic storage. This year, Molino said the city should apply for a grant to upgrade water metering and billing systems.

Upstate Blueprint Fund: This is a new state program intended to help communities attract business, improve commerce and revitalize downtown business areas. The program can fund grants and loans for businesses and municipalities. The program funds only 20 percent of a project and would require private business investment.

September 29, 2009 - 9:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire, Pavilion.

A van fire has been reported at 7500 York Road in Pavilion. The caller reports her van was being worked on. There is a lot of smoke, but no visible flames.


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