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November 1, 2017 - 10:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city centre, mall, batavia.

I just stumbled on this video on YouTube --  "Hidden Vintage Mall: Batavia City Centre."

The show notes: A nice little find in the heart of Western NY, Enjoy!

The producer, Ace's Adventures, seems to take a keen interest in old malls.

He included a vintage Kmart commercial at the start, probably because of the connection with JCPenney.

October 23, 2017 - 8:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city centre, mall merchants association, mall, news.

Statement from City Manager Jason Molino:

“The trial has been postponed today, awaiting results of the Mall Merchants vote tonight on the settlement agreement. Both parties are to report back to the court Tuesday morning with the results of the settlement vote to determine next steps with respect to the court cases.”

October 19, 2017 - 4:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in city centre, batavia, news, mall merchants association, business.

By this time Tuesday, the year's long dispute between the City of Batavia and the City Centre Mall Association will be resolved, or the two sides will be in an Erie County courtroom.

A bench trial was scheduled to begin tomorrow before Erie County Supreme Court Justice Catherine Panepinto.

That date has since been moved to Monday, the same day the merchants are scheduled to hold another vote on the settlement.

City Manager Jason Molino, speaking on WBTA's Main and Center program this morning, says the merchants have held up the vote that had been scheduled for earlier this month.

“The merchant's legal counsel was the one who recommended the adjournment from October 2nd to the 23rd," Molino said. "They knew well in advance when the trial was, we did not suggest that nor did we agree to that.

"The judge, at this point in time, does not want to postpone because if the settlement agreement does not pass, the trial has to go on.”

The primary issue in the dispute is over who is primarily responsible for ownership and maintenance of the mall concourse.

The proposed settlement places the responsibility squarely in the hands of the city and provides some cash for roof repairs.

The City Council ratified the settlement in February of this year but the mall merchants never voted to approve the settlement.

If the merchants approve the settlement on Monday there will be no need for a trial and it would bring to a close a long-simmering dispute that has hindered any attempt to improve the neglected and crumbling concourse.

“(The settlement) null and voids all the other agreements," Molino said. "The inter-tangled web of it (the old agreements) are gone. That was the first term of the term sheet – all the existing agreements are null and void. All the things that created the mess we are dealing with are gone.

"We have very clear ownership, which is the city, very clear responsibility, which is the city. Very clear as to who is responsible for capital improvements, maintenance, and operations – it is one entity, the city. Right now, it is not one entity and that is part of the problem.”

Story via our news partner, WBTA.

October 5, 2017 - 8:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city centre, batavia, news, business, mall merchants association.

Via our news partner, WBTA:

A trial date has been set in Erie County Supreme Court that would settle the dispute between Batavia City Hall and the City Centre Merchants Association.

WBTA has confirmed the two sides are scheduled for a bench trial on Oct. 20th before Erie County Supreme Court Justice Catherine Panepinto.

The basic dispute centers on responsibility for the mall’s continually leaking roof.

Last March the City Council approved an offer to the merchants that would have provided $650,000 dollars to repair the roof, silos and skylights over the concourse in return for the merchants dropping their lawsuit.

The merchants have never ratified the deal.

A member of the merchants association – who wished to remain anonymous – said the city has met all of the merchants’ requests but the association’s lawyers have advised against accepting the deal.

City Manager Jason Molino said the merchants are refusing to vote on the settlement terms that were negotiated last December. 

It is still possible the two sides could come to an out-of-court settlement by the Oct. 20 trial date.

October 3, 2017 - 2:11pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in mall merchants association, city centre, batavia, news.

The City and Mall Association have seemingly been on the verge of a settlement in the drawn-out legal fight over the future of the downtown mall, but maybe this time the case can finally come to a close.

According to Mall Association President and Operating Committee Chairman Robert Chiarmonte, the mall board has been updated on details of the latest draft of the deal.

"There's a current supposed agreement that's pretty recent but it's not ... approved by either side yet," Chiarmonte told WBTA. "Each merchant has to approve and sign off. It's not it hasn't gotten to that point yet. The meeting that we had last night was mostly informational. There was no voting actually took place."

It's not certain the owners of all the mall parcels will agree to the settlement.

"Both sides have to agree before we can bring it to a vote," Chiarmonte said. "There are some things in that agreement that we do agree on but I can't discuss most of that. ... It's probably closer than it's been but there are still a few hurdles we need to get passed before we can call it an agreement. I don't think I can discuss details of the agreement at this point because it's still considered an act of litigation. I am hoping that we can come to an agreement soon because it's been going on for a very long time."

City officials have been waiting since most of the year for the mall owners to agree to a settlement they thought attorneys for both sides had accepted in February.

April 9, 2017 - 12:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, news, city centre, mall.

In a letter to his clients, an attorney for the Mall Merchants Association is trying to change the terms of an already finalized settlement agreement with the City in the long-standing legal fight over the past, present and future of the City Centre mall, said City Manager Jason Molino.

In a letter dated April 6 and provided to local media late Friday, Attorney Hugh C. Carlin said the settlement with the city was only tentative and that there were two significant issues still to be addressed.

He accused Molino of discussing the settlement with the media in violation of an agreement, but word of the settlement came not directly from Molino but was a matter of public record because it was on the City Council agenda the first week of February.

"The City has proceeded with every aspect of this matter in accordance with the settlement terms that were agreed upon by the City and merchants representatives in December," Molino said.

Molino had not seen a copy of the letter before it was provided to local media outlets.

The terms of the settlement were agreed to through an 18-month-long mediation process in which both sides ran up significant legal bills, Molino said.

"In that time frame, the merchants have changed attorneys several times, however after extensive discussions, both parties agreed to settlement terms which were outlined publicly in the city’s February presentation," Molino said.

In his letter, Carlin said there are two main factors of disagreement remaining between the city and the mall merchants. 

First, there is an issue related to easements for pedestrian and vehicle traffic for each property owner in the mall. The attorney also accused the city of using heavy-handed tactics to force a settlement by "hoarding" nine foreclosed properties and refusing to pay maintenance fees.

"During the negotiations between your representatives and the City, the issue of individual owners' rights to access their properties was not discussed," Carlin wrote. "In fact, the only restrictions on City property that were addressed related to the present contractual obligations of the City to maintain specific numbers of parking spots.

"The City now insists that, as part of any settlement, the easements be terminated," Carlin added. "The termination of the easements raises significant issues concerning your title. If the easements were terminated, your ability to refinance or transfer your parcel in the future would likely be jeopardized."

This misrepresents that facts, Molino said.

"It’s important to note that the first term agreed upon was the termination of all prior agreements, making them null and void," Molino said. "By the nature of terminating these agreements, all covenants, easements, and restrictions placed on real property associated with those agreements would be terminated as well.

"This included the concourse and city parking lots. For the merchants' attorneys to claim this issue was never discussed is simply not true as a third-party mediator, merchants' representatives and merchants' attorneys themselves all reviewed and approved the terms prior to an agreement being reached."

Carlin now says he won't support an agreement that changes the terms of easements. 

"The City's inexplicable and irrational proposal comes at a cost to the Merchant Association," Carlin wrote. "The City will give the inferior and unacceptable easement only in 'exchange' for a cost-sharing arrangement for roof repairs should the sum of those repairs exceed $650,000. As you may recall, one of the primary reasons for the merchants negotiating team reaching an agreement with regard to the settlement framework was the City's assumption of all costs relating to the roof replacement without any cap on costs."

As for the foreclosed properties, Molino said Carlin was also informed on state law regarding how the city is obligated to handle those properties.

"The merchants' attorney has been repeatedly advised that upon foreclosure of real property taxes under the Real Property Tax Law all prior rights, interests and restrictions of record are terminated in the parcel," Molino said. "Hence, under the RPTL the City has no legal obligation to pay the past or future maintenance fees on foreclosed parcels under the historic mall agreements.

"To suggest otherwise evidences a serious lack of understanding of municipal law practice and procedure. However, if the settlement agreement is executed and the concourse user fee law adopted, the City would pay future user fees on foreclosed parcels."

Molino said it is normally against city policy to discuss ongoing litigation in public, but given the nature of the misstatements by Carlin to his clients, he wanted to clarify matters.

"Unfortunately, it appears from this letter that the merchants' attorney is attempting to reverse, back down or change the agreed upon settlement terms between the City and Merchants Association," Molino said. "While this is concerning on many levels, most concerning is the merchants' attorney is preventing the City and Merchant Association settlement terms from being executed, stopping the City from moving forward with the needed capital improvements to the concourse.

"Furthermore, after having expended close to $90,000 in legal fees over the last year (over $200,000 since 2009) without a signed settlement agreement, the letter from merchants' attorney appears to be an unfortunate attempt to deflect attention and blame. Sadly, the significant expenditures forced by the merchants' attorney suit and handling have drained substantial funds from the group's budget, and away from repairs and improvements of the mall."

Despite the disagreements, both Molino and Carlin said they are hopeful the 2008 lawsuit filed by the merchants can be settled.

"We are obviously disheartened by the turn of events in this case, but will persist in efforts to remain hopeful that cooler heads will reach a settlement consistent with the terms negotiated and agreed to in December and presented to you in February," Carlin wrote. 

Molino: "Regardless of this setback, the City remains hopeful that despite the merchants' attorney's obstructions to the settlement process, the original terms negotiated in good faith between the City and Merchants Association will be executed in the near future, and the mall can be improved, adding value to the merchants' properties and open to the door to future revitalization in the City’s Downtown."

March 15, 2017 - 3:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in city centre, City Centre Mall Association, mall, batavia, news.

City officials are wondering what's up with the settlement they reached with attorneys for the City Centre Mall Merchants Association. They thought the matter would be resolved by now, but apparently, the attorneys for the merchants haven't even shown the membership the final draft of the settlement agreement.

While City Manager Jason Molino said he has no reason to believe the settlement won't eventually be presented to the merchants and the settlement will be approved, the delay just means the city can't work on structural deficiencies in the concourse.  

"I would like to think that there is nothing that suggests the deal is going to fall apart," Molino said. "The issue is how do we get to the finishing line and get to the finishing line as expeditiously as possible, which is in the best interest of everyone in the community, the best interest of the property owners in here in the mall, and then we can start to talk about what we can do to trigger new growth and new investment in this concourse and in this mall. That's the most important thing to keep our eye on."

Mall Manager Madeline Bialkowski, who scheduled her retirement for April 1 to coincide with the settlement of the mall merchant's lawsuit being in place, said that merchants are waiting for a final draft of the settlement agreement from the attorneys.

Hugh Carlin is the attorney representing the City Centre Mall Merchants Association. 

Yesterday, we asked Carlin when the merchants would approve the settlement.

"I can't say yet," Carlin said. "Hopefully in the near future. There are a few more details we're working on."

Asked what those details might be since his side had already agreed to a settlement, Carlin said, "I can't comment." Pushed for clarification, he repeated, "I can't comment."

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

In February of 2015, The Batavian reported that the association had spent $103,317 on the lawsuit. The tab has gone up another $108,738 according to documents obtained through the FOIL request.

The city, through the same period, has spent $168,070 on attorney fees, with $63,872 being added since February 2015.

"The city has done everything it can prior to the lawsuit (to reach an agreement), during the lawsuit and now, having entered into terms we've agreed to to end the lawsuit in a way that is expedient and in the best interest of everyone," Molino said. "Now, we're still having challenges with the mall's legal counsel."

The lack of an agreement is delaying Bialkowski's retirement. She's agreed to stay on until the settlement is finalized, but she and her friends are still going ahead with a retirement party at Ken's Pits on March 30 because she anticipates she will be retired not long after that, she said.

The association and the city had a long-simmering dispute over who is responsible for repair and maintenance of the mall concourse. According to a 1987 settlement, the merchants' association was supposed to take control of the city-owned concourse on April 1, 2000.

The settlement agreement the city and the attorneys for merchants agreed to during the first week of February puts the burden back on the city to repair and maintain the concourse. That's a task Molino said the city is eager to take on because that's the only way all of the necessary repairs will take place so the mall becomes once again a viable business investment.

The City Council approved the settlement Feb. 27.  Each owner of properties in the mall must individually sign off on the agreement or submit a motion to the court to show cause for not agreeing to the settlement.

The city is ready to get started, he said, as soon as the merchants approve the agreement.

"The city is in position and we're ready to move," Molino said. "We're ready to take this 17-acre area and take on the responsibility to move it into a better position so that in the future it triggers investment."

There's a lot of work to be done but that doesn't apparently include mitigating mold.

Contrary to reports in other media outlets, there is no evidence of mold in the mall, Molino said.  

The speculation for mold in the mall apparently comes from an interview Ron Viele, a local contractor, gave to a reporter. We placed calls yesterday afternoon and early this afternoon seeking clarification but Viele has not returned our calls.

We did speak to Paul Viele, Ron's son and a member of the City Council. He said he didn't participate in the interview with his father but did say "it's possible" there is mold in the mall, especially given the leaks and moisture in the mall.

He said the city should hire a professional to evaluate whether there is mold.

"We don't do that kind of work," Viele said. "We're contractors."

Until the merchants' attorneys move forward with the settlement, it would be up to the mall association to hire a contractor to deal with any potential mold, Molino said.

However, he said, as part of the settlement process, a third-party consultant was brought in to evaluate the mall concourse. Molino said he can't release that report, even as part of a FOIL request, because it's part of the technically ongoing litigation, but that consultant found no evidence of mold, he said.

As for whether it's possible, of course, it's possible, Molino said. It's also possible, he said, that if you have forced-air heating in your home that you have mold in your home. In fact, if you haven't had your ducts cleaned in a long time, it's likely. That doesn't mean the mold is harmful. It depends on the type of mold and a person's sensitivity to it.  It would take a professional, not just somebody looking up at the ceiling, to determine if mold is present. (Here's what the CDC says about the health risks of mold.)

March 1, 2017 - 4:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GAMS, batavia, city centre, business.

gamsopen2017.jpg

Opening a bakery is something Batavia resident Vangre Canty has always wanted to do, so after a few decades working in the corporate world, she said she decided to do it.

Canty has opened GAMS in the City Centre, right by the entrance to City Hall.

"It's just a passion of mine," she said. "A passion to bake and cook. It puts smiles on people's faces."

All of the baked goods -- cookies, cream puffs, brownies, cheesecakes and more -- are prepared fresh every morning.

She also prepares a lunch special daily of sandwiches, soups or salads, with Friday's special usually being something meatless.

GAMS opens at 8 and closes around 3, unless a customer calls in with a special request.

February 6, 2017 - 4:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in city centre, City Centre Mall Association, batavia, news.

Both sides have agreed to drop their lawsuits against each other in the years-long battle over who is responsible for the condition of the roof over City Centre, City Manager Jason Molino told WBTA this afternoon.

The City Centre Mall Merchants Association is scheduled to meet tomorrow to discuss a proposed settlement, according to a document acquired by WBTA.

The agreement will include an out-of-court settlement, Molino said, but he declined to reveal when the settlement will be made public.

The merchants have long maintained that the city is responsible for repairing the mall's leaky roof while the city has asserted that the mall association failed to keep up with routine maintenance. 

Via The Batavian's news partner, WBTA.

February 6, 2017 - 8:58am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city centre, City Centre Mall Association, batavia, news.

A lawsuit over the state of the dilapidated City Centre mall that began in 2008 may be nearing a settlement according to a source who provided information to WBTA.

The document is a notice for members of the City Centre Merchants Association to hold a special meeting tomorrow to discuss a possible settlement with the City of Batavia.

A vote on the possible settlement would reportedly come at a meeting on another date.

City Councilmembers have told reporters that there has been discussion behind closed doors about a possible resolution.

Via our news partner, WBTA.

May 7, 2015 - 6:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city centre, mall merchants association.

A mediator could help resolve the long-simmering dispute between the City of Batavia and the Mall Merchant's Association, City Manager Jason Molino said this morning during an on-air interview on WBTA's Main and Center.

The bickering and lawsuits and counter-lawsuits are leading nowhere, Molino suggested. They won't lead to a resolution that satisfies all parties. A mediator would have a better chance and an equitable solution.

“When litigation is filed, it is on a narrow scope of issues and if it ever goes to trial and has a determination, the determination is going to be on that narrow scope of issues, and generally, on anything, there is more to it than just those narrow scope of issues and in this case, there is a lot more to it," Molino said.

The city and the Mall Merchants Association have been locked in a dispute for several years over who is responsible for the maintenance of the roof over the mall concourse.

The merchants claim the city owns the concourse and should repair or replace the roof.

The city maintains the merchants failed to properly maintain the roof.

Molino said he would like to see the case go to a mediator.

“Can there be a mediator? Yes, absolutely," Molino said. "Is that something we’re looking to do? Yes, it is.”

So far, no mediator has been appointed.

The city owns the Mall Concourse. The stores and offices in the mall are individually owned.

February 27, 2015 - 10:10am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city centre, infrastructure.

There is a water main break outside City Center on the east side of the mall.

Businesses on the east side are impacted.

Water department crews are on scene.

UPDATE 12:55 p.m.: Repairs are completed and service is restored.

February 24, 2015 - 12:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, city centre, mall merchants association.

So far, attorneys have been paid a combined $207,000 for the City of Batavia and the Mall Merchants Association to battle in court over who is responsible for what in the rapidly deteriorating structure.

There's a chance now the case may go to mediation, the City Council was informed Monday night.

After losing a motion for a summary judgement, City Manager Jason Molino said the MMA is willing to submit to mediation. 

A final agreement on mediation has not be completed.

The city and MMA have locked horns over responsibility for concourse maintenance, major repairs, ownership and governance.

In 2009, the MMA filed suit against the city.

Since then, the city has spent $104,199 on legal fees, while the suit has cost the mall merchants $103,317, according to Molino's memo.

"A thriving and healthy City Centre is critical to the City's downtown revitalization, and the City is very interested in an overall resolution that will best support long-term and prosperous solutions for all parties involved," Molino wrote.

January 13, 2015 - 6:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, mall, city centre, genesee country mall.

There was a degree of frustration on all sides in council chambers Monday night over the long-simmering dispute over the state of the downtown mall after a resident raised the issue during public comments.

Some council members initially joined in the call of Richard Richmond to have the state's comptroller's office audit the city's legal fees associated with the city's dispute and the current lawsuit with the Mall Merchants Association.

Molino noted, however, that the city was audited last year and no irregularities related to legal bills were found.

He also asked what the goal of such an audit would be. The legal fees are public record and have been released before.

Richmond said he would like to see an itemized list of attorney fees for the mall, even suggesting audio go back six years to check for any inadvertent double billing.

The city's financial statements are scrutinized every year by an independent accountant, Molino told the council, and "they report any fraud or inconsistencies."

There have been no such reports.

Last year, resident John Roach issued a public records request and received documents showing the city's legal fees related to mall litigation, but some material was redacted if it could reveal information covered by attorney-client privilege. 

An audit, Molino suggested, would not necessarily uncover the kind of information perhaps some think it might.

"The comptroller is not going to provide you with guidance on what you pay for what services," Molino said. "They're not going to come in and tell you you're paying too much for police services, you're paying too much for fire services or you're paying too much for this."

Council members such as John Deleo expressed concern about how much was being spent on mall litigation and compared the years-long conflict with the mall association to a messy divorce that has gone on too long.

More than just the legal fees, perhaps, Deleo said, "people are concerned about the mall and the 57 buckets and how long does this divorce will go on."

After the meeting, Molino hinted at his own frustration with five or six years of disputes over the mall, but also expressed hope that a once-and-for-all solution can be reached during legal negotiations.

The condition of the mall and the disputes over the mall create a perception problem, Molino said, that could hold back redevelopment and brownfield development.

"It does not help the long-term success of the city nor the long-term success of the businesses and the redevelopment potential downtown, so, yes, it does hurt," Molino said. "It hurts everybody. I think everybody's business involved is going to benefit when it's resolved, and the city as a whole, and the community, will be able to get through this, and I hope it's a milestone that we can get past and say we were able to get past that hurdle."

There is an openness, Molino believes, to finding a solution to the disputes that led to the lawsuit, the involves negotiation and not further litigation.

"I think both parties want to resolve this issue and it's just a matter of coming together to find common ground that is going to meet everybody's needs," Molino said.

January 2, 2015 - 7:04pm

The New Year's Eve party at City Centre to celebrate Batavia's centennial has given rise to a new point of contention between the city and the Mall Merchants Association.

While there is a long simmering dispute over who is responsible for a troubled roof and other repairs to the structure, and with a city-filed lawsuit pending over alleged unpaid rents, Mall Director Madeline Bialkwoski says you can now add "trespass" the the association's list of complaints.

Prior to Wednesday's event, Bialkowski sent a letter to City Manager Jason Molino that said as far as the association was concerned, using a portion of the mall concourse for a dance floor and photo studio was never authorized by the association.

"Therefore, we are once again letting you know that you do not have permission to use our insured and leased concoure space for your New Year's Eve Celebration and respectfully request that the City gate remains closed and locked," Bialkowski wrote to Molino.

Reached at his office this afternoon, Molino said, "We own the mall."

Asked if that isn't a bit like a landlord saying "I'm going to use your house for a party," Molino said there's a difference between a residential property and a commercial property. The city owns the space and therefore doesn't need the permission of the merchants to use it.

Bialkowkski said the association's big concern is over its insurance. She said the association's policy, like most mall policies the past few years, forbids the consumption of alcohol in the concourse.

"It voids our insurance," she said. She's concerned, she said, that now that the party has taken place, what the ramifications might be for the association's policy.

Molino said the city had insurance to cover the event.

"We had everything we needed in place," Molino said.

The event included a cash bar in the second floor community room and partygoers were free to carry drinks, if they wished, into the portion of the concourse being used for the party.

Bialkowski thinks the conflict could have been resolved if the organizers had been willing to put up signs and station one or two people in the stairway to ensure drinks were not carried down stairs.

"There justification is that they had insurance," Bialkowski said. "A million dollar policy with an additional insured is nothing in today's atmosphere."

Bialkowski said she first alerted Vibrant Batavia to the potential problem as far back as August and raised concerns then.

Leanna Di Risio, of Vibrant Batavia and a member of the Centennial Committee, wrote a letter to Bialkowski on Nov. 7 outlining celebration plans and requesting the mall association's support of the celebration.

The association's operating committee voted Dec. 4 to deny the committee permission for use of the space. (Dec. 4 is a late date for such a decision, Bialkowski admits, but said the committee couldn't meet in November because of travel and vacations of members).

The city has filed a suit against the merchants claiming the association owes more than $800,000 in back rent for the concourse.

As for the claim of trespass, Molino said, "The mall merchants are just being obstructionists."

Bialkowski said she realizes she could have called the police on the trespass complaint, but felt that would just be unfair to any officer who responded, putting the officer in awkward position.

"No one here wanted to ruin the event," Bialkowski said.

July 18, 2014 - 1:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city centre.

Press release:

On Wednesday July 16th the City refunded (refinanced) the current City Centre debt service. This effort refinanced approximately $4,050,000 of general obligation bonds that financed the construction of the City Centre in 2004.

These bonds were issued by USDA Rural Development, and at the time were considered low interest at 4 percent. However, much like refinancing your own home mortgage, refinancing the City's outstanding bonds will reduce the interest paid over the life of the loan. The refunding was approved by City Council on April 8, 2013, and the City along with its financial advisors, Municipal Solutions, Inc., have been monitoring bond market rates for over the past year to find the time when market rates would be at their lowest level to maximize the savings to the City's taxpayers.

Interest rates on municipal bonds are very favorable at this time and the savings realized by refunding the outstanding bonds now resulted in more than $73,000 in increased budgetary savings compared to rates that were presented to City Council one year ago. In total, this refunding has saved the City approximately $303,000 in interest payments during the remaining 21-year life of the reissued bond, ending in 2036.

April 21, 2014 - 9:18am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city centre.

Via WBTA:

The City of Batavia is suing the Genesee County Mall Merchants Association for $805,000.
Court papers just filed and obtained by WBTA show the city has filed a complaint against the mall association for past due rent. The city also wants the lease for the mall concourse to be terminated.
The city claims the Mall Association has not paid fair market rent for the mall concourse since April of 2000.

The bad blood between the city and the mall association goes back years.

The mall has claimed that since the city owns the concourse, it is responsible to replace the roof and make other improvements.

The city says that the lease clearly states the mall is responsible for the maintenance of the roof and other public areas.

City Manager Jason Molino, reluctant to talk about details of the latest legal salvo, says he is hopeful the situation can be resolved:

"Hopefully, we will be able to have a permanent resolution to a decade-long conflict that will ultimately contribute to the community."

City Council President Brooks Hawley issued a prepared statement declining comment on the latest legal action while it is pending litigation:

"In the course of defending the City's interests in the case, certain information has become available resulting in the City to pursuing a claim against the Merchants Association. To the extent that this is pending litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment any further."

The Mall Association has been leasing the concourse from the city for $1 a year plus the maintenance costs. The city contends the mall has not kept up with repairs and maintenance equal to the fair market rent.

 

June 11, 2012 - 10:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, city centre, Gardening.

Two flower beds that in recent years haven't looked like much got a hosta makeover by city staff Monday afternoon.

City Manager Jason Molino, himself an avid gardener, organized the effort and convinced several local businesses, including Genesee Dental, Hawley Insurance, the Bank of Castile and WBTA, to pay for the hostas.

City staff from several different departments turned out today and got the 21 plants in the ground in about 30 minutes.

The plants were selected by Molino, who also drew up the plans on where each should be planted, and purchased from Pudgie's Lawn and Garden.

Asked, why hostas, Molino said, "Partially, because I’m a big fan of hostas myself. Hostas don’t need a lot of care. They’re pretty hardy. They’re a good no-brainer in terms of maintenance and something that will come back every year. As they come back and fill out more, you’ll see more and more the hostas themselves and less of the dirt."

Photos: Above, Molino and Sally Kuzon. Below, Sgt. John Peck, Batavia PD, and bottom photo, most of the staff (and Sgt. Peck's wife) who participated in the planting.

September 2, 2011 - 7:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city centre, 9/11.

This is the Remembering 9/11 display set up at City Centre by the NYS Museum, one of several 9/11 artifact displays set up in various municipalities throughout New York.  The car is an unmarked NYC Port Authority sedan that was found under the rubble of the Twin Towers. The display is outside the mall-side entrance to Batavia City Hall.

February 26, 2011 - 4:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city centre, Genesee Cancer Assistance.

The City Centre was packed with Zumba dancers this afternoon as part of a "Party of Hope" to raise money for Genesee Cancer Assistance.

Zumba is a fusion of Latin beats, international music and fitness dance moves.

Dancers donated money to participate.

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