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January 22, 2018 - 10:41am

The post-Jason Molino era for the City of Batavia gets under way tonight with City Council taking on a packed agenda that includes four budget resolutions requiring public hearings, the Redfield Parkway pillars, Healthy Schools sidewalk project, Habitat for Humanity’s proposal to build a home in the flood zone, leasing City Centre Mall space to Batavia Players and a Dwyer Stadium sub-lease with the New York-Penn League to operate the Batavia Muckdogs baseball team.

The Council’s Conference meeting, which is expected to be followed by a special business meeting to address the Dwyer Stadium issue, is scheduled for 7 o’clock at the City Centre Council Board Room.

Summaries of the planned discussions are as follows:

Budget resolutions with public hearings

Interim City Manager Matthew Worth is introducing resolutions that deal with the proposed budget ordinance, water rate changes, Business Improvement District plan and City Centre concourse user fee local law amendments. His proposal requests that these topics be acted upon at the Feb. 12 Business Meeting, with public hearings set for Feb. 26.

The 2018-19 budget calls for $5,249,947 to be raised by taxes, with previous reports indicating that the tax rate is expected to decrease by 3 percent – to $8.99 per $1,000 of assessed value. Total expenditures are $24.3 million (an increase of 1.9 percent).

Water rates will go up by 3.5 percent, with slightly higher increases in meter and capital improvement fees. There is no increase proposed for the sewer rate.

Since the BID plan has not been updated since 2005, the City proposes amendments that include a change in the district assessment charge to properly reflect operations, capital accounting for surplus funds, compliance with Open Meetings Law and Freedom of Information Law, and other budgetary compliance reporting.

The City Centre Concourse user fee proposal sets costs to Mall business owners at $2 per square foot, effective April 1, 2018 through March 31, 2021, and going up to $2.04 in 2021-22 and $2.06 in 2022-23.

Redfield Parkway pillars

City officials reached out to In Site: Architecture LLP, of Perry, to address the deteriorating condition of the pillars at the north entrance of Redfield Parkway.

The firm came back with a proposal to investigate the existing conditions, conduct design work as required related to lighting, preparation of bid documents, construction specifications, bidding coordination and construction administration at a cost of $4,860.

Council will be asked to appropriate the funds, contingent upon receiving a construction cost estimate prior to bidding the project.

Healthy Schools sidewalk project

Worth is reporting that Roman Construction Development Corp. of North Tonawanda has offered the low bid of $721,566 to complete construction of 12,300 linear feet of sideway in the City as part of the Healthy Schools Corridor Project.

Seventy-five percent of the project cost will be paid by the Federal Highway Administration and 25 percent will be paid from City sidewalk reserves and Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program (CHIPS), Worth said.

Habitat for Humanity’s proposal

Habitat for Humanity is looking to renovate and restore a home at 116 Swan St., property that was transferred by the City to the organization. However, this is the first property to be transferred that is in the 100-year flood zone, resulting in additional costs.

According to Lauren Casey, Habitat for Humanity executive director, the cost to demolish the existing structure and build a new home is $104,000, including $17,395 for engineering and architectural costs to design a flood-compliant home.

In a memo from Molino dated Jan. 11 (the day before his last day on the job), Council will be asked to cover the $17,395, utilizing some of the $48,000 remaining from the former Vibrant Batavia initiative. Molino said that the engineering/architectural information could be used for future new builds in the City.

Batavia Players lease

A lease agreement with Batavia Players Inc. to utilize three City Centre parcels for their productions calls for monthly rent charges of $747.92 for months one through six ($1 per square foot), $1,223.86 for months seven through 12 ($3 per square foot), and $2,991.66 for months 13 through 60 ($4 per square foot).

In a memo, Worth writes that relocation of the theater to the downtown area has been identified in the City’s 2012 Community Improvement Plan and 2017 Comprehensive Plan, and is under consideration in the City’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative application.

The lease agreement gives the City the right to terminate it upon 180 days’ notice and allows the City to sell the property as it sees fit.

Sublease of Dwyer Stadium to NY-P

With the Rochester Community Baseball organization (Rochester Red Wings) out of the picture, the New York-Penn League has assumed ownership of the Batavia Muckdogs.

According to Worth, the NY-P is agreeable to operating the team at Dwyer Stadium under the terms and conditions of the previous sublease to the Batavia Regional Recreation Corporation and Genesee County Baseball Club Inc. and declaration to the Rochester Community Baseball for the coming season.

Worth, in a memo dated Jan. 19, said that the league has been made aware of the proposed budget and funds that may be available for improvements and “have an understanding of these limitations.”

January 11, 2018 - 3:37pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, City Centre Mall.

An Erie County Supreme Court justice on Wednesday ruled in favor of the City of Batavia in a legal dispute with a Batavia orthodontist over the parking situation at his City Centre mall location.

“The City went before the judge (Catherine Nugent-Panepinto) with an order to show cause consistent with the settlement agreement between the City and the Mall Merchants Association, both parties were heard and the judge ‘so ordered’ the settlement agreement,” City Manager Jason Molino said today.

“This is the last piece of litigation for the City to take over operation of the mall on April 1.”

Dr. Marlin Salmon, owner of Salmon Orthodontics, brought the matter to court, seeking easement relief for parking spaces in proximity to his office.

A phone call to Dr. Salmon was not returned at the time of this story’s posting.

The settlement agreement calls for the city to retain ownership of the downtown facility's concourse, pay 100 percent of capital improvements, and take care of mall maintenance and operations.

January 9, 2018 - 10:34am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia.


Jason Molino and Lisa Casey at City Hall this morning.

Over a quarter century of work as an executive assistant, Lisa Casey has had the opportunity to evaluate the performance of organizational leaders.

In her opinion, Jason Molino, who is in his last week as Batavia’s city manager, has earned a high ranking.

“He’s a wonderful manager, through and through. I’ve worked for a lot of executives over the past 25 years and, by far, Jason is one of the best,” said Casey, the City’s confidential secretary and Molino’s assistant, following Monday night’s City Council meeting. “It is very hard to see him go, but I’m very happy for him.”

Molino begins his new job as Tompkins County administrator on Jan. 29. A farewell gathering (open to the public) is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday at T.F. Brown’s in Batavia.

Casey credited Molino for being a hard worker, “having a great heart” and possessing a memory that his served him well during his tenure in Batavia.

“He doesn’t ever forget; he remembers everything,” she said. “Even like from 10 years ago, he will pull out of his head a resolution that he did 10 years ago.”

She said that she will miss him and believes the community will, too.

“I know I’m going to miss him. I would like to think that Batavia is going to miss him as well. It’s going to be hard. It’s definitely a loss for Batavia,” she said. “I did not grow up here, but I know enough people who have said that so much has changed for the positive in this city.”

Casey said she is encouraged by Molino’s assertion that the right person will come along to take his place.

“It’s going to hurt us for a little bit, but as Jason has told me, he is very confident that we will find someone that will be just as good as him, if not better … which I don’t believe.”

December 18, 2017 - 5:41pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, Tompkins County.

"I wish Jason the best, but we can't waste any time (in finding a replacement) with all the projects we have going on." -- Eugene Jankowski, City Council president.

"Tompkins County's gain is our loss." -- Adam Tabelski, City Council member.

"He's coming over to the dark side!" -- Jay Gsell, Genesee County manager.

Those were the initial reactions from City of Batavia and Genesee County leaders to the news that Jason Molino, Batavia City manager for the past 11 years, has resigned to accept the position of Administrator for Tompkins County. Reports indicate that Molino will serve in his current post until the end of January, when he and his family will move to the Ithaca area.

(See press release from Tompkins County below).

Jankowski said he wishes Molino well, but admitted that he is "jealous of Tompkins County -- they're getting a good county manager."

He and Tableski credited Molino for creating Batavia's solid financial picture and for spearheading the many projects that have infused the city with federal and state money (specifically the $10 million DRI award) in recent years.

"I'm sad to see Jason leave; Tompkins County's gain is our loss," Tabelski said. "Jason has provided realiable leadership and continuity for over a decade, and is largely responsible for turning the finances around. It is readily apparent that he is respected inside the walls of City Hall, as he has done a great job of setting goals for the city and working collaboratively."

Both Jankowski and Tabelski said they weren't surprised by Molino's desire to advance -- the Tompkins County job comes with a much larger budget and hundreds more employees -- but would not say that stalled contract negotiations were the reason for his departure.

"I can only go by what Jason told me and he said that the last couple years were some of the best he ever had," Jankowski offered. "He never said, 'It's the way you treated me and I'm out of here.' I just think it is time for him to expand his wings."

As reported in The Batavian, Molino's salary of $93,782 was not increased by Council last month, but the two parties had been talking about a long-term contract. According to a story in the Ithaca Journal, the annual salary commanded by Tompkins County Administrators for a 40-hour workweek is $117,000. There is reason to believe that Molino's starting salary will be more than that.

Jankowski said that Council may put the search for an assistant manager on hold, instead ramping up its efforts to replace Molino.

"Speaking for myself, I think it may be best to hire a manager first, then wait until the new manager picks his or her assistant," he said. "Until then, the department heads can handle their own jobs. I've been through this before as a city employee, so we should be OK."

Jankowski said he also is "looking to the public to weigh in -- to let us know what our direction should be."

While joking that Molino is "coming over to the dark side," Gsell was serious when he said that Molino will "absolutely" do a great job for Tompkins County.

"Jason has been in New York State for a long time and he has experience in county government as an intern in Schenectady County," Gsell said. "Plus things are in good shape there (in Tompkins County), not like they were here when Jason came in."

Gsell said the biggest differences from city management to county administration focus on the social and human services programs, as well as Job Development, Office for the Aging, and overseeing a jail.

"Tompkins County has done a lot with consolidation under Joe Mareane, who was there for nine years and was well-respected," Gsell said. "Jason also has been involved with shared services, and this will help him."

Per Tompkins County's press release, Tompkins County began a national search for a new County Administrator in July, after former administrator Mareane announced his intent to retire. A diverse search committee comprised of county legislators, department heads, labor representatives, and community members narrowed a field of more than 20 applicants and conducted interviews. Three were recommended to the full County Legislature and were interviewed by all 14 members; new Legislators-elect observed and asked questions.

Molino could not be reached for comment this afternoon.

December 11, 2017 - 8:48pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, zombie properties.


Operation Keep Our Homes, a program designed to identify and reduce the number of vacant and abandoned homes in the City of Batavia, is making some positive strides, according to the administrative intern who has been working on the program for several months.

Speaking at tonight’s City Council meeting at City Hall, Lindsey Luft, a graduate assistant at Brockport State College who has been serving the City since May, said the initiative has just about reached its goal of connecting with 10 families facing foreclosure.

“We have been working with nine families – one kept their home, one the case was closed and seven others are still open,” said Luft, who is on track to earn her master’s degree in Public Administration in the spring.

Luft said there are about 89 zombie properties in the city – “and we’re really focused on getting them up and rehabilitated.”

“It (vacant homes) affects the City at all levels and at every census tract, and it’s not targeted at any kind of income level,” she said.

Operation Keep Our Homes utilizes a database called Opportunity Space, Luft said.

“We load all kinds of information (gathered from county, town, city, police and fire data) to narrow down our search for zombie properties,” she said. “And from there, with the targeted list, we go out to site visits and we confirm vacancy.”

Luft gave City Council members a demonstration of the software, starting with 5,453 parcels in the City, and using various filters -- such as floodplain property, whether there is a structure on the site, water usage and residential homes – to reduce the list of targeted properties to a manageable number.

Filtering allows officials to come to the conclusion that “there is reasonable cause to think they can be vacant properties and to go to them, instead of aimlessly wandering around,” she said.

Luft said currently the database is updated quarterly, but the plan is to be able to access the information in a “real-time situation.”

During her presentation, she outlined the Zombie Property Remediation Act’s four components – requiring lenders to maintain mortgage-delinquent properties, requiring mortgagees to register vacant properties with the NYS Department of Financial Services registry, allowing mortgagees to complete expedited mortgage foreclosure for abandoned property, and enhancement of consumer protections.

When the DFS determines that a property is vacant, municipalities working with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation can act to remediate the property with the goal of getting it back on the tax rolls. Luft said that Batavia is one of 77 municipalities that have received grants from the LISC to achieve their goals. The City reportedly received a $66,500 grant. 

She said that Batavia’s strategy includes educating individual property owners, using the Internet and local media to reach at-risk persons privately and reaching out to entities such as the Housing Council at PathStone, Genesee County Bar Association, banks, realtors, local pastors and Habitat for Humanity.

City Manager Jason Molino said that Habitat for Humanity has rehabilitated one single family home per year in the City over the past eight years, “producing a 38-percent average increase in assessed value after rehabilitation.”

Batavia also has a property tax exemption in place for residential redeveloped property, and is in the process of partnering with a local bank to develop a mortgage package aimed at redeveloping a zombie home by utilizing the exemption.

The Operation Keep Our Homes program also seeks to revise the City code in the areas of grass, weeds and debris; solid waste (cars) and graffiti.

Toward the end of her talk, Luft was met with a question from Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian, who wondered why some properties with paid-up mortgages were vacant.

“What’s the reason for that?" Christian asked.

To which Luft replied, “That’s something that we can work on together.”

Photo -- Administrative intern Lindsey Luft speaking at tonight's City Council meeting.

December 7, 2017 - 2:37pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

Press release:

The first community meeting to gather public input on Batavia’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) will be held at City Hall, One Batavia City Centre, Batavia, at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 14.

Those in attendance will be provided with information on the DRI followed by a hands-on, interactive public workshop. The purpose of the workshop is to identify potential transformative redevelopment strategies that will provide long-term community and economic benefits for Downtown Batavia.

This is an opportunity for residents and businesses in the community to provide feedback and help plan the future of Downtown Batavia. The DRI Local Planning Committee would like to know what you love about Downtown Batavia, what draws you downtown today, and what amenities would bring you downtown more often.

This effort builds upon existing plans and projects, including the City’s Comprehensive Master Plan and the Batavia Opportunity Area Plan.

The workshop is the first in a series of three DRI public participation meetings that will be held over the next four months.

Future public meetings will focus on a review of the goals and strategies developed by the DRI Local Planning Committee as well as a review of potential projects. 

In October, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the City of Batavia will receive $10 million in funding and investments as the Finger Lakes winner of the second round of the DRI.

November 21, 2017 - 5:34pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

Press release:

A meeting for those wishing to submit information on potential projects for Batavia’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative is scheduled for 2 p.m. next Tuesday (Nov. 28) at City Hall, One Batavia City Centre.

An update on the goals of the DRI will also be provided. Project information submittals are due Dec. 18.

Downtown business and property owners, developers, arts and cultural organizations, and anyone with an interest in investing in Downtown Batavia’s future are invited to attend.

For RFI forms, visit the City of Batavia’s website –

October 30, 2017 - 11:23pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, Batavia City Council.


Batavia is a small city but it’s not immune to big city problems when it comes to respect, responsibility and accountability from its youth and law enforcement.

That is the gist of the message shared at Monday night’s City Council meeting by longtime Batavian Bill Blackshear, who is calling for citizens to come together “for a better communication and a better understanding of each other.”

Blackshear, 61, has lived in Batavia for about 50 years – he was elected as Batavia High School’s first black “Mayor” back in 1975 – and has expressed his views in the past, always in a dignified manner.

Last night was no different as he appealed to council members to take action to stem what he sees as a growing unrest among youth, especially minorities.

“I am concerned about the rash of crimes committed by people 15 to 19 years old,” he said, specifically mentioning a recent incident where youths threw fluid in the face of a man, causing second-degree burns, and a previous incident where people were accosted by young men.

Blackshear said it’s time for people to “build bridges” to improve relations between the community and law enforcement, and that he welcomes all “feedback, guidance and your prayers.”

He believes that police, city agencies such as Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, parents and others should “establish dialogue to instill pride” in young people and promote programs – such as police ride-alongs and Q&A sessions – to get youths more involved.

“I would hate to see Batavia become another Rochester or Buffalo,” he said. “There is always room for enhancement to adapt to the new challenges that have arisen.”

Council President Eugene Jankowski responded to Blackshear’s plea by requesting Police Chief Shawn Heubusch to work through the Criminal Justice Advisory Council to “start some dialogue and see if there are programs out there.”

Afterward, Blackshear, who said he will be meeting with Assemblyman Stephen Hawley in the near future, elaborated on his views of today’s Batavia. He said is aware of destructive influences from outside the area but also believes there have been incidences of racial profiling.

“I fear that because of their youth that they may be easily manipulated by forces from some of the larger cities – and it is definitely having an impact in Batavia with the rash of crimes as well as a feeling of mistrust for law enforcement and vice versa,” he said.

“I understand that police officers fear for their lives as well, and so we need to establish some sort of dialogue for a better communication and a better understanding of each other through talking and some programs that can be innovative.”

Blackshear, an employee of Goodwill Industries of WNY in Batavia, said that “inclusion” is a way to give young people “a voice that matters.”

“Then they feel more empowered and it gets them to seek alternative means of pride as well as opportunity,” he said. “I’m not saying that it’s necessarily lacking; it’s more of a misunderstanding based upon a lot of elements coming from sources other than the home.”

He said he hopes that “a lot of the things we’ve seen happen … in the larger cities where kids have been shot and harmed because they were mistakenly taken for someone or suspects as far engaging in behavior that seems threatening” doesn’t become part of the fabric of Batavia.

“And vice versa -- police are concerned, too,” he said. “They may feel like everyone is suspect, and that’s not always the case. So we all need to sit down and communicate. Maybe some of these kids can get to know law enforcement and how it works better in order to understand that not everybody is an enemy.”

To make Batavia’s streets safe for everyone, there needs to be accountability on both sides, Blackshear said.

“(Young people) need not be profiled or suspected when they aren’t doing anything or if they are nonviolent (and) they shouldn’t be treated like criminals. There should be accountability on both sides. Kids should know that they’re accountable for their actions and their choices as well as anyone who deals with them. There’s always the accountability factor.”

Photo at top -- Batavian Bill Blackshear spoke at the City Council meeting tonight on the need for outreach to the City's young people.

October 25, 2017 - 8:14am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, Jason Molino.

Batavia City Council President Eugene Jankowski says that a combination of maturity and patience has enabled City Manager Jason Molino to have grown “by leaps and bounds” since he took over as a fledgling administrator in 2006.

“You have to credit the city manager for putting the right people in the right place, and trusting them to do their job,” said Jankowski, a former city police officer who has served as City Council president for the past two years. “Over the last four years, he has grown exponentially – looking at the big picture and making moves today that will have a positive outcome down the road.”

Jankowski said City Council and management have worked as a team to overcome hard times in Batavia, but acknowledged that it hasn’t been an easy road for Molino.

“He started out kind of young and that was a disadvantage in that respect. He was thrust into it and had a lot of ground to make up,” Jankowski said.

Molino made decisions in the late 2000s that were “not popular,” according to Jankowski, who admitted that he did not agree with many of them.

“It was a bad situation; we had to tighten our belt,” he said. “Eventually, there was daylight, thanks to strong budgeting and fiscal responsibility. The past four years, Council has taken more responsibility and now we are in the building stage, with a little room to look toward the future.”

Jankowski said that all of the good things happening today – revitalization of the former Soccio & Della Penna property on Ellicott Street, the JJ Newberry building on Main Street, the $10 million state DRI award, fixing the City Centre Mall situation – have come about as a result of strategic planning and implementation.

“Council made these priorities and Jason has been working on these for several years,” he said. “He has built bridges and through careful planning has made this happen.”

Jankowski said that a true sign of maturity was Molino’s approach to a second DRI application after Batavia lost out in its initial attempt.

“He did his research and modified the second application with a totally different pitch – a total different angle,” he said. “He learned from things that didn’t go so well and made the adjustments to make it work.”

All in all, Jankowski said he was encouraged and excited over the City’s recent good fortune.

“We even were able to buy a $900,000 fire truck, paying in cash, and that is due to Jason’s foresight by keeping the budget trim. Normally, we would have had to take out a bond and pay thousands of dollars in interest over so many years.”

Jankowski said Molino deserves to be acknowledged for hanging tough.

“When things were going bad, he took the heat,” he said. “Now that things have turned around, he should get the credit.” 

October 11, 2017 - 10:29am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia.

Press release:

On Thursday, Oct. 12, the City of Batavia Water Department along with United Memorial Medical Center will be replacing valves on the main water line on Bank Street.

Water service will be interrupted on Bank Street from East Main Street to Washington Avenue. Bank Street will be closed to traffic at 6:30 a.m. from the Mall parking lot to Alva Place until repairs are complete. Please avoid the area if possible.

Every effort will be made to keep water service interruption to a minimum. This work may result in a period of discolored water in this general area after service is restored.

Residents should check to make sure water clarity has returned before resuming activities such as laundry which may be impacted.

October 10, 2017 - 4:36pm
posted by Steve Ognibene in city of batavia, news, road closures, Construction Update.


Photos taken over last weekend by Steve Ognibene.

According to county Highway Superintendent Tim Hens, the River Street Bridge Project will be completed next month and is scheduled to be open to traffic by Nov. 10th.

Deck concrete is curing now, he said this afternoon, and workers still have the guide rail to put up; gas line has to be attached; and the street/curb repairs near the bridge must be completed.

The contract price is still unchanged from the award at $1,419,581.



September 12, 2017 - 8:21am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, Batavia City Council.


Calling it his “dream job,” Batavia native Cody Mulcahy began his career Monday night as a Batavia City Police officer.

The 2010 Batavia High School graduate was sworn in as the department’s newest recruit at last night’s City Council meeting.

Mulcahy, 25, will be attending the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy at Niagara University over the next several months before embarking upon four months of field training. After that, he will join the Batavia force on road patrols.

“This really is my dream job,” Mulcahy said. “I live in the City of Batavia and it gives me an opportunity to be a positive role model.”

The son of Tim and Pam Mulcahy, he studied at Genesee Community College and Brockport State College, obtaining a degree in Criminal Justice.

Mulcahy is the third resident of Batavia to be enlisted for duty in his hometown in recent months, joining Matthew Dispenza and Ryan Shea.

In other action last night:

-- Council passed a pair of resolutions to accept grants for the police department.

The first is an $11,374 grant from the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee to fund overtime patrols over the next 12 months designed to increase seat belt usage and reduce dangerous driving behaviors.

“The grant period is Oct. 1, 2017 through Sept. 30, 2018, during which we will set up checkpoints, singular patrols and dedicated patrols – such as Main Street pedestrian safety,” Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch said.

The second grant is for $10,000 from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to offset the purchase of body cameras.

“This was a surprise,” Heubusch said, noting that around $27,000 was spent per last year’s budget on body cameras for officers.

-- Councilman Paul Viele commented on renovations being made at Falleti Ice Arena on Evans Street.

“I would like to thank (DPW Director) Matt (Worth) and (City Manager) Jason (Molino) for the improvements at the rink,” said Viele, who brought several issues to light earlier this year.

Viele ran the meeting in place of President Eugene Jankowski, who, along with Councilman Al McGinnis, was absent.

-- Molino reported that he continues to wait for word about the city’s attempt to receive a $10 million state downtown revitalization grant for the Finger Lakes Region.

Communities in seven of the state’s 10 regions have yet to hear of the results, Molino said. Batavia submitted its proposal about three months ago.

-- Council approved a liquor license for Batavia Brewing Company LLC, which will be opening on Main Street in the near future, and plans for the Alzheimer’s Association WNY Chapter Walk on Sept. 23 and the John Kennedy Intermediate School Color Run on Oct. 21.

At top, Cody Mulcahy is sworn in as a Batavia City Police officer by Deputy Clerk Aimslee Cassidy. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

July 25, 2017 - 4:12pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, ICMA.

Press release:

The City of Batavia received notification this week from the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) that it will be recognized for its performance management efforts with a Certificate of Achievement from the ICMA Center for Performance Analytics™.

The Center encourages the use and public reporting of comparative performance in order to foster organizational cultures that deliver results that matter.

Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said, “It is wonderful to be recognized for solid transparent decision making. Making sure the public has access to information we use to make decisions allows everyone to monitor how the City does its business.”

The City regularly updates its Strategic Plan outcomes and performance management system on the City’s website at:

In addition to being recognized, the City of Batavia’s Employee Engagement Survey is highlighted as a leading practice among certificate recipients.

According to Assistant City Manager Gretchen DiFante, who led the employee survey efforts, “The survey for which we got an 86-percent return rate served as the foundation of our formal leadership initiative, which kicked off in 2015. Trust is at the foundation of leadership, and we are proud that our employees from every department participated in sharing their perceptions of Leadership across the organization.

“We’ll be re-surveying every three years to gauge improvement and stay on track.”

The survey can be found on the ICMA website

“Performance management is a bedrock principle of professional local government management,” ICMA Executive Director Marc A. Ott said. “By recognizing these leaders, ICMA hopes to encourage others to make a commitment to collect and analyze data, report it transparently, and use it to continuously engage their communities and improve their organizations.”

Performance management aids in cost reduction, program prioritization, and quality improvement. It also encourages accountability and transparency. Certificates are based on established criteria and are awarded at three levels: Achievement, Distinction, and the highest level of recognition, Excellence.

Recipients at all levels collect and verify data to ensure reliability, train staff in performance measurement, and report data to the public through budgets, newsletters, and/or information provided to elected officials. Batavia is among 19 jurisdictions receiving the Certificate of Achievement, and one of 57 recognized overall, and only the second in the State of New York to receive this type of recognition. 

June 20, 2017 - 9:22am
posted by Mike Pettinella in city of batavia, Downtown Revitalization Initiative.

The City of Batavia is "ready to roll" out its presentation to a selection committee after receiving the news that it, once again, has reached the finalist stage in an Empire State Development Downtown Revitalization Initiative competition.

"We're ready to roll," said City Manager Jason Molino this morning, revealing that five city leaders will be representing Batavia on Thursday afternoon in downtown Rochester. "We will make a half-hour presentation, followed by 15 minutes of questions."

Molino said Batavia's presentation will focus on the 88-acre Business Improvement District in three distinct categories:

• Arts, culture & entertainment.

• Healthy living & wellness.

• Prosperity for all.

"It's all about creativity and innovation ... ways to enhance the quality of life," he said.

Molino said the fact that the city has just come through a 15-month Comprehensive Planning process should bolster its chances.

"We had a lot of community input during this time, which has helped develop our process," he said.

At Thursday's interview, Molino will be joined by City Council President Eugene Jankowski, BID Director Beth Kemp, City School Board President Patrick Burk and Batavia Development Corporation Coordinator Julie Pacatte.

Molino said he wasn't aware of what other three cities are finalists but did say that officials of those communities also would be presenting on Thursday.

Word that Batavia is one of four finalists spread quickly this morning. The Batavian found out via a message on Twitter this from City Councilman Adam Tabelski, 

"This is certainly great news for the community -- to be a finalist again," Tabelski said..

City officials filed the formal application for the $10 million award last week.

In 2016, the City of Batavia was a finalist from the Finger Lakes Region but eventually lost out to Geneva.

April 14, 2017 - 4:49pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, mall merchants association.

The proverbial “cupboard” is bare.

That’s the view of City Manager Jason Molino, who, in a letter dated April 10, 2017 and obtained by The Batavian in a FOIL request, indicated to the president of the Mall Merchants Association that the group has run out of money.

“Aside from prior year concerns, the Association’s cash position for the current fiscal year is at a deficit,” Molino wrote. “On April 5th, the City recorded a payroll and payroll taxes transfer for the Association in the amount of $3,285.43. However, mail maintenance fees and revenue to date have only totaled $2,170.67. Therefore, the current cash position for the Association is a deficit of $1,114.76.”

The prior year concerns referred to by Molino are what he estimates as $18,000 in attorney fees and material costs expected to come in for February and March of this year.

“The estimate was based on prior year expenditures and the average of material costs from November through January,” he wrote.

Molino went on to state that the City needs cost summaries for services provided in February and March before it can complete its pre-audit preparation work and “make final payments with remaining cash balances for the prior year.”

Per the 1987 Settlement Agreement between the City and the Mall Merchants Association, the City is required to maintain all Association billing and accounting activities, with the Association’s funds subject to the City’s annual audit.

Molino’s letter paints a bleak picture in terms of the Association’s finances, and could further complicate the parties’ quest to ratify a proposed 11-point settlement framework released to the public in February.

At that time, Molino outlined a “settlement framework” for the City and Mall Merchants Association to end their lengthy dispute over maintenance and operation of the City Centre Mall.

That proposal calls for the City to retain ownership of the downtown facility's concourse, pay 100 percent of capital improvements and take care of mall maintenance and operations.

City Council signed off on the plan and expected the merchants to do the same.

Since then, an attorney for the merchants said the Association would not be agreeing to any settlement that didn’t grant easements for pedestrian and vehicle traffic for each property owner in the mall, and also accused the city of trying to force a settlement by “hoarding” nine foreclosed properties and refusing to pay maintenance fees.

Robert Chiarmonte, president of the Mall Merchants Association, reportedly is out of the area until Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

However, Madeline Bialkowski, director of the mall, said today that Molino is misrepresenting the Association’s account by exaggerating the attorney fees and material costs for February and March.

“All of our actual bills are supposed to be turned in by next week, and we are asking our attorneys to get us their billing,” she said. “Actual bills will be much less than estimated. There won’t be a deficit once these bills come in.”

Bialkowski added some merchants have made their mall maintenance fees’ payment in advance and that she and her staff of three part-time employees are being paid.

According to documents obtained by The Batavian last month through a FOIL request, the merchants have paid their attorneys $212,056 since starting the litigation against the city in 2009.

March 16, 2017 - 3:55pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia fire department, city of batavia.

When asked if he wanted to be a firefighter since he was a little kid, Stefano “Steve” Napolitano wasted no time in responding.

“One hundred percent correct,” he said. “When I was 6 years old, my uncle John – we lived in Long Island then – took me to the fire station where he worked and when I saw those giant, red fire trucks, I said, ‘Oh, my God.’ Ever since then, napolitano_1.jpgI wanted to be a firefighter.”

Napolitano’s dream came true at the tender age of 18 when he was accepted as a volunteer firefighter with the Frankfort fire company, and he progressed through the ranks to become the deputy fire chief for the Village of Herkimer.

In less than a month, April 17th to be exact, he will continue his firefighting journey when he begins his tenure as chief of the City of Batavia Fire Department.

“There is a renaissance that is taking place (in Batavia) and a quality of life improvement, and as far as public safety is concerned we want to enhance that to continue to attract industry and mom-and-pop businesses,” he said.

Napolitano, a Queens native who has lived in the Mohawk Valley for about 45 of his 50 years (he turned 50 on March 13th), said he appreciated the thorough process that resulted in his hiring by City Manager Jason Molino.

“It has been a long process; we started in September of last year,” he said. “They did an outstanding job of vetting people, and by the grace of God, I was fortunate enough to be chosen. I look forward to working with an outstanding group of individuals in the fire department and those who are part of the executive team.”

Napolitano sees himself as a “boots on the ground-type firefighter” but he also has continually taken steps to educate himself on the finer points of firefighting.

A mechanical engineer by trade, he has used his expertise to design fire trucks, consult on fire equipment and coordinate major projects. He said he has spent hundreds of hours in classroom training en route to becoming a certified code enforcement officer and state fire instructor.

His varied background – he’s been with the Herkimer fire department for 25 years -- also includes a stint as deputy director the Herkimer County Office of Emergency Services from 2008-2015, where he assisted with local disaster and emergency management plans, the county 9-1-1 dispatch communication center and the administration of the county’s mutual aid plan, mutual aid radio system and state fire training.

In 1996, he founded Advanced Technologies, a company that served as a regional fire equipment distributor offering quality products at fair market prices. He recently sold it to Herkimer Industries, a divison of the Herkimer ARC, a nonprofit agency servicing those with disabilities and special needs. Napolitano continues to serve as a consultant to company officials.

Calling his hiring “a promotion in so many ways,” Napolitano said he looks forward to meeting the 40 or so members of the Batavia department and “coming in to enhance the great things they are already doing.”

“Just look at the department’s Facebook page and you can see how much they are involved in community service projects,” he said.

He also credited Dan Herberger, who had been serving as interim chief, for doing an “outstanding job.”

Napolitano leaves behind a chief and co-workers in Herkimer who have nothing but respect for his knowledge, ability and positive outlook.

“Steve is very well regarded, and very knowledgeable in apparatus, as a state fire inspector, an EMT and deputy chief,” said Herkimer Fire Chief John Stanfelner.

“He was one of my go-to people. I’ve always said that I don’t know everything, so I go to the people who do know. If you ask him a question, he will give you the right answer or do what it takes to give you the answer.”

Napolitano said he is working with a couple of real estate agents to find a place to live in Batavia.

He has two children – a daughter, Alyssa, who just took a job at Oswego State College, and a son, Steve, a third-year student at St. Lawrence University in Canton.

And, by the way, he said to the best of his knowledge he is not related to former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano or Fox News TV personality Judge Andrew Napolitano.

February 13, 2017 - 10:14pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, City Centre Mall Association.

An agreement between the City of Batavia and the City Centre Mall Merchants Association -- outlined by an 11-point "settlement framework" that calls for the city to retain ownership of the downtown facility's concourse, pay 100 percent of capital improvements and take care of mall maintenance and operations -- will provide the impetus for private investment in one of the city's priority areas, said City Manager Jason Molino at Monday night's City Council meeting.

"The mall is a major part of our downtown, we can't ignore that," Molino said. "This is an opportunity to facilitate and lead cooperative and successful partnerships ... and lead new development and investment in our downtown."

"For long-term investment in the mall and the 17-acre area around it, this is the best-case scenario," Molino said. "We're looking at a project with at least a $5 million value."

The settlement comes after a decade of lawsuits by both sides over responsibility for the City Centre Mall. Per its terms, all previous agreements -- which have been clouded by four rounds of litigation since the late 1970s -- will be terminated and become null and void.

Additionally, the city will:

-- Retain ownership of the concourse;
-- Complete roof, silos and skylight capital improvements (estimated at $650,000) no later than March 31, 2020;
-- Pay 100 percent of capital improvements, with future capital improvements paid by all property owners with revenue from a user fee (which would replace the current mall maintenance fee);
-- Perform mall maintenance and operations (coordinated by the Department of Public Works and Batavia Development Corp., respectively, with the latter focusing on marketing and redevelopment strategies);
-- Establish a user fee by local law based on square footage for property maintenance fee;
-- Continue to maintain budgeting and accounting;
-- Charge single-parcel owners who own more than 11,500 square feet the set user fee at 11,500 square feet;
-- Set the user fee at $2 per square foot for years one, two and three; $2.04 per square foot for year four, and $2.06 per square foot for year five. After year five, the fee will be based on the projected budget.
-- Eliminate all parking restrictions in city parking lots, with the city to restripe in 2017;
-- Turn over the fund balance as of March 31 to the Merchants, with the Merchants returning any fund balance to the city on April 1, 2022.

Molino, who along with City Attorney George Van Nest presented the plan to Council, said terms of execution of the settlement will be presented to City Council and the full membership of the Mall Merchants Association for approval later this month (at the next Council meeting on Feb. 27).

The settlement agreement must be ratified and executed by City Council, the Mall Merchants Association, parcel owners and JCPenney, and in the event that any parcel owner or JCPenney refuses to sign the agreement with 10 days of approval, both parties shall support an application to the court by motion or Order to Show Cause to gain approval of the settlement or have the agreement ordered.

"All must sign off on past agreements and sign the new agreement," Molino said. "Until then, these cases (pending litigation) are still open."

Molino said both parties have been meeting over the past 18 months, with a mediator playing a significant role in forging this settlement agreement and putting an end to suits and countersuits, claims and counter-claims over which party is responsible for maintaining the mall concourse and capital improvements, including the perennially leaky roof.

During negotiations, three other solutions were considered, Molino said. They were (1) having a private developer buy the mall; (2) having the Mall Merchants Association buy the mall concourse at fair market value, and (3) having the city lease the concourse to the merchants for fair market value.

All three were "taken off the table" as restrictions in the current agreements would render those options as not feasible from a financial standpoint, Molino said.

Pier Cipollone, president of the Batavia Development Corp. Board of Directors, said the settlement "opens up future discussions" by removing the prior agreement and its restrictions -- and "paves the way to bring developers in and gain ideas as to what they would want to do with the mall."

He said he would like to see retail, such as boutique stores, T-shirt shops ... anything where somebody could come in and buy something and walk out the door. What we have now is a mix of retail and medical, and the mall was never designed for the medical world. We need foot traffic downtown."


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