Local Matters

Community Sponsors

May 7, 2021 - 1:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia HS, video.
Video Sponsor

Yesterday, the graduating seniors of Batavia High School visited Jackson, John Kennedy, and Batavia Middle School, both to celebrate their accomplishment and set an example for the younger students of success in school.

May 7, 2021 - 1:11pm

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors approved incentives for projects totaling $13.5 million of new capital investment at its May 6 board meeting.  

Forefront Power LLC (Elba Solar) will invest $9.7 million to build a 5 megawatt community solar project on Norton Road in the Town of Elba. The project would generate approximately $518,803 in new revenue to Genesee County, the Town of Elba, and the Elba Central School District over the proposed 15-year agreement.  

The project also will fund a community benefit agreement for workforce development and economic development projects in Genesee County. Forefront Power LLC will receive approximately $1.416 million in sales and property tax exemptions. 

Batavia Special Needs Apartments LP is investing $3.75 million to add 20 living units to an existing special needs housing campus on East Main Street in the City of Batavia.

Batavia Special Needs Apartments LP is receiving approximately $772,000 in sales and property tax exemptions. Additional revenues from the project will be added to an existing PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) agreement for the development

Application Accepted

The GCEDC Board also accepted an application by NY CDG Genesee 1 LLC (BW Solar) for a proposed 5 megawatt community solar project on Oak Orchard Road in the Town of Elba at a capital cost of $7.326 million. The project would generate approximately $518,803 in new revenue to Genesee County, the town of Elba, and the Elba Central School District over the proposed 15-year agreement. 

A public hearing on the BW Solar project is scheduled for Monday, May 17 at 10 a.m., as the project is requesting incentives of more than $100,000.

May 7, 2021 - 12:59pm

Press release:

DARIEN CENTER — Six Flags Darien Lake, the Thrill Capital of New York, is teaming up with the Genesee County Health Department to offer a free COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the park on Tuesday, May 11.

“As a proud member of this community, we are honored to partner with Genesee County and do our part to help protect the public,” said Six Flags Darien Lake Park President Mark A. Kane.

“The safety of our guests and team members is always our highest priority, and we’re excited to play a role in ensuring that anyone who wants a vaccination is able to get one,” added Kane.

The clinic will take place in the Six Flags Darien Lake Human Resources building on Tuesday, May 11 from 1 to 5 p.m.

Clinic participants will receive two (2) complementary tickets to Six Flags Darien Lake in 2021.

Advance appointments are required for Pfizer, and encouraged for J&J (Janssen) utilizing the links below:

 The Six Flags Darien Lake Human Resources office is located on Sumner Road just past the theme park entrance. If you are traveling south on Route 77 (the park will be on your left), drive past the theme park entrance and take the first left after the light onto Sumner Road, or guests may enter 1501 Sumner Road, Corfu, NY 14036 into their GPS.

Six Flags Darien Lake will open for a special Members and Season Pass holder preview weekend event on May 15 and open for the regular season on May 21.

May 7, 2021 - 11:43am

Jeremy Sinclair Logan, 44, of Meadville Road, Tonawanda Indian Reservation, is charged with second-degree assault and third-degree assault, which are, respectively, a Class D felony and a Class A misdemeanor. He was arrested at 8:50 p.m. May 4 at the Flying J Travel Center on Alleghany Road in Pembroke after he allegedly struck two victims in the face and head multiple times, causing injuries to both victims, for not wearing face coverings inside the store. Logan was arraigned in Pembroke Town Court then released on his own recognizance because the crimes he's accused of committing are not qualifying offenses for bail. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy James Stack, assisted by Sgt. Jason Saile.

Connor Lee Andrews, 21, of Bacon Street, Le Roy, is charged with: operating a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs -- first offense; criminal possession of a controlled substance; vehicle operator leaving the scene of a property damage accident; and failure to keep right on a two-lane road. At 8:27 p.m. on May 3, a Genesee County Sheriff's deputy responded to Route 19 in the Town of Le Roy for a report of a hit-and-run accident. The vehicle was found on Bacon Street in the Village of Le Roy. Andrews allegedly possessed methamphetamine and cocaine at the time of his arrest. He was released with appearance tickets returnable to Le Roy Town Court on June 1. The case was handled by Deputy Kenneth Quackenbush.

John Willie Fore, 49, of Batavia (no address provided), was arrested at 9:28 p.m. on May 3 on Alexander Road in the Town of Batavia. It is alleged that he was driving while intoxicated -- first offense -- while having a BAC of .08 percent or more. He was arraigned in Batavia Town Court and is due to return there on May 13. The case was handled by Genesee County Sheriff's Deputy Austin Heberlein, assisted by Deputy Kyle Krzemien.

May 7, 2021 - 11:06am
posted by Press Release in sports, baseball, muckdogs.

Submitted photos and press release:

The Batavia Muckdogs are proud to announce the newest additions to the organization, Assistant General Manager Tyler Benenati and Head Groundskeeper Larry Hale!

Benenati (left inset photo) will assist Marc Witt, general manager of CAN-USA, in the Muckdogs' first season as a part of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL).

A native of New Paltz, Benenati attended SUNY Cortland, where he studied Sports Management. In his senior year at Cortland, Benenati met Witt for the first time when Witt was a guest speaker in his Sports Management class.

They continued to stay in touch, and before Benenati graduated from Cortland in May of last year, he was offered an internship with CAN-USA down in Elmira.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Benenati didn’t have a “normal” summer with the Pioneers due to a canceled season in the PGCBL, but he still gained valuable experience. CAN-USA made it a priority to be involved in the Elmira community as much as possible, so they hosted youth camps at Dunn Field and allowed high school and travel teams to play games at the facility.

During those days, Benenati was involved in every aspect of game-day operations. He did it all from public address announcing, running the concession stand, and compiling data/research to help future sales.

“I’m excited to continue to work with CAN-USA while revitalizing baseball here in Batavia," Benenati said. "I appreciate the opportunity to work alongside Robbie [Nichols] and Marc [Witt] for another season. Can’t wait for the season to start and to see all the Muckdog fans at Dwyer Stadium throughout the season."

Hale (inset photo right) will be joining as the Muckdogs' head groundskeeper. He is very well-known in the Batavia community, but he is most notable for his prominent role with Batavia Minor League Youth Baseball.

In 2000, he starting volunteering as a T-ball coach for his oldest son, Zach, and that is where he found his passion for coaching. Since then, Hale has coached teams simultaneously at nearly every level for Zach and his four other sons: Tyler, Jake, Alex and Dillon.

He has been fundamental to the success of dozens of players that would go on top play in high school and college.

Hale has served as treasurer for the Batavia Minor League Board along with president and vice president on the Batavia Little League Board.

He and his wife, Diane, have taken an active role in the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation since its inception in 2007, being one of the head coordinators in the memorial weekend baseball tournament for many years.

Larry was also an honoree of the Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation of Genesee County, which named him an “Outstanding Italian-American" in 2018.

Hale's experience maintaining fields for two decades at nearby MacArthur Park ensure that Dwyer Stadium is in good hands for the upcoming season.

The Muckdogs are coming home to Dwyer Stadium on June 4th for their home opener after opening the season on the road in Elmira on June 3rd, which you can catch on YouTube Live on the Muckdogs YouTube page!

Make sure to call (607) 734-7825 and get your season tickets now before the 2021 season kicks off on June 4th. Be sure to like our Facebook page and subscribe to our YouTube channel, “Batavia Muckdogs Baseball.”

Congrats Tyler and Larry, Go Dogs!

May 6, 2021 - 4:21pm
posted by Press Release in news, covid-19, coronavirus.

Genesee County is reporting 11 new positive cases of COVID-19.

  • The new positive cases reside in the:
    • West Region (Alabama, Darien, Pembroke)
    • Central Region (Alexander, Batavia, Bethany, Elba, Oakfield) 
    • East Region (Bergen, Byron, Le Roy, Pavilion, Stafford) 
  • The individuals are in their 0-19s, 40s, 50s and 60s. 
  • Thirteen of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.  
  • Five of the current positive individuals are hospitalized.

 

Orleans County is reporting seven new positive cases of COVID-19.  

  • The new positive cases reside in the:
    • West Region (Yates, Ridgeway, Shelby)
    • Central Region (Carlton, Gaines, Albion, Barre)
  • The individuals are in their 0-19s, 40s and 50s.
  • Thirteen of the previous positive individuals have recovered and have been removed from the isolation list.
  • Two of the current positive individuals are hospitalized.
May 6, 2021 - 4:16pm
posted by Press Release in NYs Office for the Aging, news, AgingNY, GetSetUp.

Press release:

The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) today announced a partnership with The Association on Aging in New York (AgingNY) and GetSetUp to offer 50,000 classes, featuring more than 300 different course options developed by and for older adults.

The GetSetUp curriculum and community are designed to combat social isolation and promote independence through live, interactive classes and online connectivity with a community of more than 650,000 older adult learners from more than 160 countries around the globe.

Additionally, all guides and instructors are retired educators/professionals/technologists, promoting economic empowerment, healthy lifestyles, and a purpose driven life.

Instructors are trained to help older adults learn by doing, not just watching, and all learners are encouraged to become creators by leading their own interest groups.

GetSetUp classes are organized into four broad categories:

  • Digital Divide/Connectivity (orientation to Zoom and how to use various devices)
  • Physical Health (i.e. Tai Chi/Yoga/Healthy Cooking)
  • Mental Health (i.e. Dementia/Coping with Stress/Meditation), and
  • Social Health (i.e. Book Club/Gardening/Pets/Travel/Brain Games)

The GetSetUp platform offers more than 40 classes each weekday, and more than ten classes each weekend. They recently launched “GetSetUp TV” for hesitant older adults to get a flavor of the GetSetUp platform without having to fully participate. Classes are rotated regularly to offer the widest variety of programming for older adults in the four main categories.

Technology solutions have grown dramatically over the past year and platforms such as GetSetUp will be part of the new normal. Connecting older adults to an online forum of their peers empowers engagement, continual learning, and even access to employment opportunities outside of the traditional brick and mortar approach.

Director of the New York State Office for the Aging Greg Olsen said: “Social isolation was a public health problem prior to COVID-19, but the pandemic clearly made it worse. This partnership will expand our ability to reduce isolation, depression, and anxiety by significantly expanding virtual programming into the homes of isolated older adults to keep them connected.

"Furthermore, this partnership will allow us to build more programming and classes, taught by older adults, providing them with an economic opportunity to earn money through their skills. We are thrilled to partner with The Association on Aging in New York and GetSetUp to launch this project.”

Executive Director of the Association on Aging in New York Rebecca Preve said, “The Association on Aging in New York is thrilled to partner with GetSetUp, to bring interactive programming to older residents in their homes and communities. This opportunity will alleviate social isolation while providing enriched educational programs to thousands of older New Yorkers.

"As we continue to support older residents, programs like GetSetUp are vitally important to remain connected and engaged. We are grateful to GetSetUp, NYSOFA, and the 59 AAA’s that work every day to make New York a leader in aging services.”

 Cofounder of GetSetUp Lawrence Kosick said, “We are thrilled to partner with NYOSFA and The Association on Aging in New York to provide the state’s older adult population with a scalable way to support lifelong learning, health, and mental well-being.

"We could not be more excited to welcome New York’s older adults to the GetSetUp community, which has recorded more than four million minutes of learning and connection in the last three months, and half a million connections between learners. The power of the platform will continue to be amplified as the community of instructors and learners expands, and this partnership is another huge step in the right direction for our older adult population.”

About the New York State Office for the Aging and Health Across All Policies/Age-Friendly New York

The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) continuously works to help the state’s 4.3 million older adults be as independent as possible for as long as possible through advocacy, development, and delivery of person-centered, consumer-oriented, and cost-effective policies, programs, and services that support and empower older adults and their families, in partnership with the network of public and private organizations that serve them.

New York is nationally recognized for being the first age-friendly state in the nation. Using the state’s Prevention Agenda as the overarching framework, in 2017, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo launched a Health Across All Policiesapproach, where public and private partners work together to positively impact population health by marrying health care, preventive health, and community design, in concert with addressing social determinants of health, to improve the lives of all New Yorkers, young and old.

Stay connected—download the NYSOFA mobile app for iOS or Android; visit the NYSOFA Facebook page; follow @NYSAGING on Twitter and NYSAging on Instagram; or visit aging.ny.gov.

About the Association on Aging in New York

The Association on Aging in New York supports and advocates for New York’s mostly county-based Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and works collaboratively with a network of organizations that exist to promote independence, preserve dignity, and provide support for residents of New York State as they age. For more information, follow us on Facebook, visit www.agingny.org or call 518-449-7080. 

About GetSetUp

GetSetUp is an online community of people who want to learn new skills, connect with others, and unlock new life experiences. Their safe, social, and interactive learning environment has been specifically designed for older adults. Classes are taught by older adults and kept small to ensure everyone can actively participate. The platform helps older adults stay mentally and physically fit, creates economic opportunities through jobs and reskilling, and provides a community where people find meaning and purpose by helping each other and forming new connections. Founded in 2019, GetSetUp is headquartered in California. Learn more at https://www.getsetup.io/.

May 6, 2021 - 3:45pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Vallance Road, Le Roy, news, photos.

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Out on Vallance Road in Le Roy this morning I stopped for a couple of landscape shots.

vallanceroadmay62021.jpg

May 6, 2021 - 3:04pm

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Udderly Better Acres, a dairy farm on Vallance Road in Le Roy, has been selected by the Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District as the 2021 Conservation Farm of the Year.

Brad Mudrzynski presented the Conservation Farm of the Year sign to owners Don Krenzer and Roz Krenzer this morning.

Press release:

Since 1959, Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District (District) has honored a farm that has displayed a long-term commitment to sustainable conservation, leads by example, and implements farm conservation best management practices on their own or with the District. Udderly Better Acres has met and surpassed these criteria and continues to demonstrate outstanding stewardship of the land.

Don Krenzer and his family operate the dairy farm on 1,200 acres in the Town of Le Roy within one-half mile from Oatka Creek. The farm began using no-till and strip-till methods many years before they became common in our region. These methods, coupled with his use of drag-lining manure and other practices, put him as an early adopter of soil health practices before that term’s recent rise in popularity.

These practices have benefitted not only the farm’s productivity but also ensured watershed health and preserved water quality in Oatka Creek, a blue-ribbon trout stream. The farm has worked with the District to collect and treat silage leachate, manage manure better with new storage, and identify a plan to collect farmstead runoff and prevent it from entering the aquifer.

We thank Udderly Better Acres for their continued use of sustainable farming practices that help to preserve the land. 

soilwaterfarmyear2021.jpg

Friends, advisors, helpers, John Zastrocky and Molly Higgins, with Don, Roz and Brad.

May 6, 2021 - 2:29pm
posted by Press Release in town of batavia, news, public availablity.

Press release:

Town of Batavia Clerk's Office drive-up service window will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Town of Batavia Clerk's Office inside the Town Hall will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on WEDNESDAYS ONLY OR  by appointment Monday through Friday.

The Town of Batavia Court facility resumed court proceedings in person today -- May 6. 

The Town of Batavia lobby inside the Town Hall is closed. For in-person service to pay a fine, etc., please call the court at (585) 343-1729, ext. 216.

The Town of Batavia Highway facility will remain closed to the public.

The public town park is open.

Public meetings:

  • The Town of Batavia Board meetings are resuming in person.
  • Planning Board and Zoning Board meetings continue to be held virtually via Zoom video/teleconferencing.

Town of Batavia website:   http://www.townofbatavia.com

Communication with the Town of Batavia department officials will be available by email, phone or by appointment.

Assessment:

Building/Zoning:

Court Clerk:

Engineering:

Highway:

Supervisor:

Town Clerk:

Water / Wastewater:

  • (585) 356-4900
May 6, 2021 - 12:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Notre Dame, schools, education, batavia, news.

nd70thcornorstone.jpg

As part of its ongoing 70th Anniversary Celebration, Notre Dame High School today commemorated the laying of the school's cornerstone with a reenactment by Principal Wade Bianco.

The school opened in 1951 as one of 18 high schools in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. Today, Notre Dame is one of eight remaining Catholic high schools in the region.

nd70thcornorstone-2.jpg

Photo: Deacon Walt Szczesny, Kate Edwards (Director of Advancement), senior Ben Skalney ‘21, Mike Rapone (Vice Principal and AD), Joe Teresi (Board President), Kristen Gomez (Director of Academic Advisement), Wade Bianco (Principal), Tom Rapone (Business Manager), John Dwyer, Jennifer Tomm Petosa ‘82, Jim Fix ‘69 

nd70thcornorstone-3.jpg

Maria Prattico lays a wreath on the head of Mary during morning Mass at Notre Dame in an annual tradition, the crowning of Mary, at the school. Deacon Walter Szczesny looks on.

May 6, 2021 - 12:00pm


Bontrager's Spring Consignment Auction • Internet Bidding Only • Auction: Monday, May 3 - Tuesday, May 11
Live Preview: Saturday, May 8th: 9-11 a.m.
Location: 9921 Hickox Road., Alexander, NY 14005 (Some items are located in other places, please read descriptions carefully.)

Auction includes equipment, machinery, tractors, vehicles, tools, hardware and more. Successful bidders will pick up their purchases May 13th-15th by appointment. Click here for more information.

May 6, 2021 - 11:26am
posted by Billie Owens in Nurses Week, news, Sen. Ed Rath.

Nurses' Week is May 6th through May 12th. Senator Ed Rath (NYS-61st) will be honoring local nurses nominated by the community. 

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is how important our nurses and medical professionals are," Senator Ed Rath said. "We owe a huge debt of gratitude to our nurses.” 

To nominate someone, visit Senator Rath’s website and fill out the nomination form.

*****************************

FYI...

Today is National Nurses Day.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife to honor of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale's birth and to advance nurses' role in transforming health care around the world.

This year, the American Nurses Association (ANA) joined with WHO and global colleagues in extending the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife into 2021 because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the increased visibility of nurses’ contributions.

In the United States, the national theme for Nurses Week in 2021 is #WeAnswerTheCall.

May 6, 2021 - 11:05am

Press release:

The Genesee County Department of Parks, Recreation & Forestry and Rotary Club of Batavia invite you to a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the DeWitt Recreation Area at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 7th.

It's for the new launch dock installed on the ADA floating fishing pier at the DeWitt Recreation Area and the kayaks that will be available to all recreational programs throughout the City of Batavia and the surrounding towns and villages. The dock is a stabilizing device that makes it safer to enter and exit your kayak. The launch dock is free to use.

Please feel free to stop by and share in the moment and even try out one of the 10 kayaks purchased.

This activity is a culmination of efforts of the Rotary Club of Batavia, City of Batavia Youth Bureau, Genesee County Youth Bureau, City of Batavia, Genesee County Legislature and County Parks to bring kayaks and an accessible kayak launch site to Genesee County Parks.

The donation was made possible by Rotary Club International/ Regional grant program, which provided funding to the Rotary Club of Batavia.

DeWitt Recreation Area is located at 115 Cedar St. in the City of Batavia.

May 6, 2021 - 10:40am

Press release:

Jeff Nichols, host of the “History Comes Alive” podcast and member of Webster Bible Church, will speak for the Reformation Society of Western New York on May 13 at Bergen Evangelical Presbyterian Church at 38 S. Lake Ave. in Bergen.

The event, which begins at 10 a.m., is free and open to the public.

Nichols will present a paper entitled: "A Brief History of Some of the Popular Evangelical Presuppositions and Why They Matter." 

The Reformation Society of Western New York is in partnership with the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (alliancenet.org). For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/RefSocWNY/.

May 6, 2021 - 8:58am

The Batavia Town Planning Board -- not satisfied with the answers they received regarding screening from a neighboring couple’s home – on Tuesday night tabled for a second time a proposal to install a ground-mounted solar system off R. Stephen Hawley Drive, across from Genesee Community College.

Batavia Solar LLC is looking to acquire a special use permit to construct the 1.65-megawatt system on vacant land at 99 Med Tech Drive, owned by the Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp., which has an office in the nearby Med Tech building.

Town planners requested Kaelyn Roche and Jim Taravella, project representatives, to provide one-, five- and 10-year simulations of how the property will look with adequate screenings, such as trees and berms, to obscure the solar panels from the sight of Robert and Michelle Wood, who live at 8244 Batavia Stafford Townline Road.

This is what the board had asked for during an April 20 site plan review and special use permit request consideration, when it tabled the proposal until this week’s meeting. Apparently, the information provided on Tuesday is still insufficient.

Roche, project development manager with YSG Solar in New York City, said that she spoke to Michelle Wood and reported that “we basically came to an agreement that we would work with her down the road and determine what works best for her.”

Taravella, an engineer with LaBella Associates, said that the plan is to plant 15 white spruce trees behind the Wood property, noting that the couple’s garage would also serve as a shield from the solar panels.

“As we near construction we can work with them if they want something other than white spruce,” he said.

During the ensuing discussion, planner Paul Marchese asked if the Woods were given the option to have berms placed on the site.

“I told them they could do whatever they wanted,” Roche replied.

Previously, during a Feb. 2 public hearing, Michelle Wood specifically requested berms:

“We really would like a berm put along the back of it – it protects us and our house. We’re OK and in favor of a solar farm there. We would prefer a solar farm versus a cement industrial building there, so we don’t have a real problem with it. We would just like for them to come to us with what their ideas are and what they’re planning to do.”

After Taravella pointed out that additional screening would be placed along the road to obscure it from traffic and that he would work to keep utility poles to a minimum (a planning board priority), Planning Board Chair Kathy Jasinski asked if it could be passed contingent upon Town Engineer Steve Mountain’s final review and approval.

Mountain and planner Jonathan Long brought up the need for visualizations – what the site would look like down the road, warning that it would be best to make sure everyone is on the same page before getting started.

All six planners at the meeting agreed, prompting Donald Partridge to recommend tabling the referral once again.

“I would like to see this tabled; I’m not ready to vote on it. I’d like to be able to talk to the Woods myself,” he said.

At that point, the board voted unanimously to table it and put it on the next agenda (May 18) as long as Taravella has enough time to provide the computer renderings requested.

The proposal calls for the installation of about 4,500 modules on the 7.95-acre parcel, of which 5.63 acres will be fenced in. Other aspects of the project include an access road with a 13- by 20-foot equipment pad and a 6 foot high chain-link fence around the entire layout. 

In other action, the board approved a special use permit for a drive-thru for the Chipotle restaurant to be put into the existing commercial building at 4222 Veterans Memorial Drive – in space formerly occupied by Metro Mattress.

Mountain said the drive-thru on the northwest side of the building would allow room for the stacking of five cars.

Matt Mahaney, town zoning ordinance compliance officer, said all building and zoning requirements have been met.

May 6, 2021 - 8:00am

Community Action Angels present "Journey to Resilience" from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, May 14th, at the Engagement Center at Robert Morris School in the City of Batavia.

The evening will offer inspirational stories and songs -- voices of survival -- from trauma to transformation.

Tickets are $10 each, available at Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, 5073 Clinton Street Road, Batavia. Call (585) 343-7798 for more information.

Proceeds benefit Batavia City School District Community Closet and Children’s Emergency Fund -- helping those in need.

It will featuring original poetry written and read by Jacqueline Fields.

A motivational story and music by Elly Riber.

Foreword by Pat Standish; also featuring Michelle Figueroa and Julie Wasilewski.

The school is located at 80 Union St.; the engagement center is near the bus loop entrance. Look for balloons.

This event is being held in partnership with Batavia Community Schools.

May 5, 2021 - 6:42pm

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The redesigned Jackson Square looks great, but is it functional?

That’s a question that promoters of The Batavia Ramble Music & Arts Festival are hoping City of Batavia officials and representatives of Architectural Resources consider before breaking ground on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative project later this year.

“They’re putting too much emphasis on the artistic aspect of the design and they’re forgetting about the practicality of what it is used for,” said Stephen Kowalczyk, who has been involved in sound, lighting and (recently) administration of The Ramble since its inception 13 years ago.

Kowalczyk expressed his opinion this afternoon – a day after community residents made their way to the venue between Jackson and Center streets near Center Street Smoke House for an informational meeting set up by city leaders and the Buffalo design firm hired to bring new life to the property.

Enhancing Jackson Square is being funded by a strategic investment grant of $750,000 from the New York State DRI program.

Kowalczyk and co-promoter Paul Draper said their main issues are with components of the proposed stage – its configuration, roofing material, its height and placement of a handicap ramp. He said they gave suggestions to the architect previously, but believe their input was disregarded.

City Manager Rachel Tabelski, in an email message this afternoon, did report that The Ramble musicians requested officials to re-examine the sound acoustics, specifically the “current canopy design of the stage and the materiality of the canopy as well as the stage height and the ramp access point to the stage.”

She said the city will work with Architectural Resources to modify the design to accommodate the commentary, including the canopy and stage.

“We want the citizens of Batavia to utilize Jackson Square for a multitude of events and will continue to work through design to get it correct,” she said.

Kowalczyk provided his “blueprint” for making the area not only attractive but practical:

  • Changing the stage's proposed glass roof to wood with 50-year metal roofing over it.

He said a see-through roof idea is not appropriate for the setting.

“Maybe in an open park it might work but it does not work in a concrete jungle that is Jackson Square,” he said. “It’s already an acoustical nightmare because of all the concrete walls, and they’re just going to make it worse by adding more reflective surfaces that are angled inappropriately to the way a band would be on stage.”

  • Changing the stage from the proposed oblong shape to a rectangle.

“There are no right angles on the stage. Every single cut that they’re going to have to make in building this is going to be an odd angle that will take more resources and time to build,” he said. “We’re just asking for a simple rectangle stage with a normal roof on it so the band can have its gear protected and have some shade from the sun.”

  • Keeping the height of the stage at 30 inches instead of the proposed 16 and moving a new handicap ramp from the front of the stage to behind it to avoid having to go over any cables and wires.

“The height of the stage is the biggest thing that’s killing me,” he said. “They’re cutting the stage almost in half, which means anyone further back is not going to be able to see anything.”

Kowalczyk said the proposed design “is not functional or practical for any live event out there except maybe a poetry slam.”

“They kept talking about a poetry slam. For someone who has done acoustic shows there, with the motorcycles and trucks going by, you can’t get away with doing anything with the spoken word. It’s too noisy.”

He said he was hoping to attract band recitals and start movie nights, but the stage reconfiguration would make it difficult to hang banners or a projector screen.

Draper said he thinks the architect had “good intentions but they were considering the design more than the utility of the event space.”

“It seems like they could have done a better job if they would have listened to people who actually utilize the space,” he added.

Tabelski said that the pavement and lighting element feedback was “all positive.”

“The concept integrates many historical layers of Batavia including the Great Bend -- changing the trajectory of the Tonawanda Creek -- the Ancient Seneca Footpaths and the history of ‘old’ downtown Batavia,” she said.

Following approval of the final design concept, the project will move to the construction bidding phase. Groundbreaking is expected this fall, with completion anticipated next spring.

A call to Justina Dziama of Architectural Design this morning was not returned.

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Architect renderings of the proposed Enhanced Jackson Square project.

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