At least one Downtown business owner doesn't think the city is doing enough to address snow removal and he's not convinced the city cares.
Snow piled up on sidewalks and in parking lots costs bars, restaurants and retail shops money, said Derek Geib, owner of Bourbon & Burger Co. on Jackson Street, and the city loses sales tax revenue.
He thinks the city could be more aggressive about finding a solution.
Geib, along with other business owners, met with city officials earlier this winter and were told city work crews act as quickly as possible to remove snow, but there's only so many workers and so many hours they can work.
That isn't a good enough answer, Geib said.
"Accepting this as just the way it is is not an option," Geib said. "It is directly affecting just about every business Downtown. It needs to be addressed and something needs to be proposed as a solution. Reallocate BID funds, raise taxes, cut something else. Jason (City Manager Jason Molino) needs to sit down and address this. That's my only request. We can't just 'deal with it.' This is 2015. I'm sure someone has some solution somewhere."
Molino said, actually, snow pile-up this winter is something every municipality in the Northeast is dealing with this winter.
Unrelenting cold, near record snowfall, and storms spread out at a pace that keeps workers tied up and makes it impossible to keep up with the mounds of frozen water.
"This February has absolutely been challenging to say the least when it comes to snow removal," Molino said. "From Buffalo to Boston, everyone is having the same conversation. It's not just us with this problem. It's the circumstances of the type of weather we're having, and now we're about to get hammered with another snow and ice event, which means our guys will be out far into the night and perhaps into the morning, which means they're not going to be removing snow tomorrow."
The "not enough workers" answers isn't a good one, Geib said.
"We shouldn't as a city accept that things are just the way they are," Geib said. "If there aren't enough employees to actually do the task at hand then people should be made aware of that and budgets should be adjusted. If garbage wasn't getting picked up, it would be an issue. Snow removal is no different. There is a solution, but the City Manager has to recognize there is a problem first."
Molino said he does recognize there's an issue, but without unlimited resources, there's only so much the city can do.
"I understand and sympathize with the frustration business owners feel over snow accumulation," Molino said. "When there's manpower available, we remove the snow from the parking lots and then from the sidewalks. We do the best we can with the manpower we have."
This has been an incredibly difficult and challenging winter for the city's DPW and Water Department workers, as it has been for municipal employees throughout New York, he said.
The constant use of snow-removal equipment also puts a strain on city resources because inevitably, equipment breaks down and needs to be repaired, Molino said.
Under the circumstances, he said, he thinks they've done an incredible job.
Batavia has also been plagued by a series of water line breaks. Typically, those are handled by the Water Department, but the night of the River Street break, Water Department employees were already out helping with plowing and salting, and with the break, the city's already overextended DPW workers had to help with that nasty and complicated break.
"They went from plowing roads to jumping into a water-filled hole on the coldest night of the year," Molino said. "We've had a series of water line breaks in very poor weather and some of these have been large, deep digs that make the job very challenging. Throw on top of that, sub-zero weather, that makes the job very challenging."