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April 22, 2009 - 8:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Charter Review Commission.

The Charter Review Commission has finished its review of the City of Batavia charter and will soon submit its revisions to the City Attorney for review, chairman John Roach says.

The big surprise, Roach said, is the need to clarify how a vacancy is filled on the City Council when a member resigns his or her seat for any reason. The vacancy is supposed to be filled according to party affiliation, but what that phrase means exactly wasn't defined.

Councilman Bill Cox brought the issue to the commission because he noted that while he's a Republican, he was elected on the Democratic and Conservative party lines. Roach said Cox would want to see the seat go to a Republican if he left office.

“There’s another feeling that the party that elected you should get to back fill your position, but it’s not really spelled out," Roach said. "So out of the clear blue we found ourselves (thinking) ‘OK, let’s define what affiliation means.’”

Roach's suggestion: Affiliation is defined by the party line that gave a candidate the most votes. In the case of Bill Cox, that would be Democrat.

Another big change to the charter, Roach said, would allow the City Council to operate through subcommittees, like the County Legislature. The charter won't require subcommittees, but will make the creation of a subcommittee system possible.

“If this goes through, these nine people all trying to be on TV, grandstanding for the public," Roach said, "That will all disappear. You’ll have your committees like other governmental agencies and there will be no grandstanding and things will get done much, much better.”

The proposed charter will also require a mandatory review of ward boundaries.

The wards haven't changed in 20 or 25 years and the number of voters in each ward are no longer evenly distributed. There aren't big differences, Roach said, but the problem will only get worse if not corrected. The revised charter would require boundary changes every 10 years after the national census.

As an example, Roach mentioned that wards 1 and 2 are different sizes, and the ward boundary runs down the middle of Vine Street. If both sides of Vine were moved into ward 1, then they would be even again.

“Everybody’s known it. It’s no real big thing," Roach said. "But after 25 or so years, it’s time for them to just adjust it. It’s politically unpopular. Nobody wants to say, ‘well, now you’re in my ward.’” By putting it in the charter, they can say, ‘those charter guys did it.’ It gives them cover for doing what they should have done all along."

Another surprise for Roach and the commission was that New York prevents the city from creating a public safety director position that combines police and fire duties, as once heavily discussed in the city, because cities the size of Batavia must have a police chief.

“When we first started this idea, we were not aware that there was a New York State law that required a police chief  for a small department like us," Roach said. "I was surprised how micromanaging that turned out to be. I don’t know why I was surprised, but I was. I figured here’s a way to save some money. This makes sense. And boom, there’s a state law that stops us.”

The charter will expand from 19 sections to 20 so it can address the role of the city historian.

New York requires cities to have historians. Currently, it is an unpaid position and filled by Larry Barnes.

"It was never defined, what is his job, who appointed him, for how long, and what was it we wanted him to do," Roach said. "So in the charter we’ve now established how long can he be appointed for, who does the appointment and what is it we really want him to do. It’s a minor change to the charter and it costs no one any money."

While the role of the historian is now defined, the commission is proposing the elimination of the city engineer position. Now that the city's infrastructure is largely built out, there is no need for the job -- which has been vacant for some time anyway -- and so not filling the position will help the city save some money.

After the commission's next meeting, the proposed changes will be submitted to the City Attorney for review.  He will clean up any legal language and return it to the commission. Once that's done in June, a public hearing can be scheduled for July. The revisions can then be placed on the November ballot.

April 21, 2009 - 7:01pm
posted by Tasia Boland in batavia, starbucks.

This week at Starbucks in Target, here in Batavia, if you bring in your own coffee mug, whether it is Starbucks or not, you get a complimentary coffee April 18-24. It will be Pike's Roast which is a medium roast! This includes free refills also!

April 21, 2009 - 6:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

arbordaystamp.jpgWhen is the last time you planted a tree?

Friday might be a good day to do it. It is Arbor Day, a day far more community minded than Earth Day, which rolls around tomorrow.

Bill Kauffman brings out this point in a recent essay on Front Porch Republic:

Earth Day was not of ignoble birth. It was the legislative child of Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), a thoughtful liberal, who envisioned it as a national teach-in on the environment. The first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, was a hectoring mix of street theater, corporate p.r., and speeches by such paragons of restraint as Senators Ted Kennedy and Bob Packwood. Funding came, in part, from Dow Chemical and the Ford Motor Company. (The most prominent public opponents of the first Earth Day were the Daughters of the American Revolution, who had also fought vainly against the Uniform Holiday Act of 1968, which spawned the commerce trumps tradition three-day weekend.)

In the four decades since, Earth Day has become a bloodless holiday for pallid urbanites, the sort of technology-dependent yuppies whose rare encounters with the unregulated outdoors usually end in paralyzing fears of Lyme disease. Earth Day is about as green as a $100 bill.

The City of Batavia hosts an Earth Day event Saturday at Lions Park/Wallace Street, rain or shine, starting at 9 a.m. (in the actual press release, the city does give a nodding glance to Arbor Day).

The Batavia Youth Bureau will present "The Benefits of Gardening and Composting. There will be a tree planting ceremony by local Girl Scout troop #42153, a seed-starting display and a proclamation by the City Council.  Volunteers will then organized into trash pick up crews for a city park or downtown.  Every volunteer will get a chance to win a tree.

Somebody designed a lovely flier for the event. You can download the PDF here.

April 21, 2009 - 3:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, wanted man.

crossett_wantedman.jpgPress Release from Detective Todd Crossett, Batavia Police Department:

The man in this photo is wanted for questioning in a larceny, that occurred today, outside the Tonawanda Valley Credit Union, at about 1220pm.  If anyone has any information into who this person is please contact the City of Batavia Police Department at 345-6444 or the confidential tip line at 345-6370.

I just called Todd with this information:  I saw this gentleman this morning in the Jackson St. parking lot, behind Main Street, half way between Ken Mislter's new gym and South Beach (I was walking down to take the picture of South Beach I used in this morning's post). That would have been about 10:30, I think. He was looking out at the parking lot like he was looking for somebody.  He did look at me and answered my "hello" tentatively. He had such a distinctive look, I was curious about him and all most stopped to chat -- wish I would have.

If you saw him around town, you should call the police department. I'm sure it would be helpful to trace his movements.

April 21, 2009 - 12:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Bill Cox, Rosemary Christian, Masse Gateway Project.

Council members Bill Cox and Rosemary Christian tell Joanne Beck they're representing the concerns of their constituents in raising a long-list of questions about the proposed Masse Gateway Project.

A hearing on the project -- a prerequisite to the city apply for a state grant to help fund development -- is scheduled for tomorrow at 5 p.m.

Both Christian and Cox recently sent a list of questions to City Manager Jason Molino to get answers about the project. In his letter to Molino, Cox said that "private contractors and developers in the city have also raised the concern that often with Genesee County Economic Development Center projects no competitive bidding is done and local contractors frequently do not even get invited to bid, which would create local jobs using local people," he said. "Collectively all of these citizens and local businesses have raised some valid points which need some answers and explanations before we vote on the application and hopefully before the public hearing."

Neither councilman has anything against the principal Masse Place property owner, Tom Mancuso or Mancuso Business Development, they said. But both have gotten calls from residents and are trying to represent those concerns

The list of questions, which Beck includes, should serve as good fodder for the hearing tomorrow night. Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: This afternoon I e-mailed City Council President Charlie Mallow for his comments on the Daily article and here is his response:

Questions are always good if your goal is to help move the city forward and avoid mistakes. That is a Council person’s job.

In the end our residents need real jobs and a turnaround in our local business climate. It is easy to oppose solution after solution; it is very hard to create alternatives. Batavia is stagnant because of the failure to reignite our central corridor and years of ineffective political leadership on this issue. There is this idea that doing nothing is seen as a better alternative than taking any action. Real leaders take point; they don’t throw rocks from the rear.  

April 21, 2009 - 11:44am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, South Beach, Ken Mistler.


Ken Mislter, who currently owns 9 buildings in Downtown Batavia by his count, has reached a purchase agreement for the former South Beach Restaurant location.

The deal will close May 1. Mistler said the building will be immediately available to a lessee looking to open a restaurant.  It's turnkey ready, Mislter said.

"The guy (Alex Giuliani) left the salt and the pepper," Mistler said, explaining how the restaurant is ready to open now.

Alex and Barbara left the location in pristine condition, other sources tell me.

The asking price for the building was $425,000. Mistler said he paid something less than that, but won't disclose the price until after it becomes public record. Separately, he also bought all the equipment.

Alex and Barbara Giuliani closed the restaurant unexpectedly three months ago, and the abrupt closure was controversial.

April 21, 2009 - 7:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Deal of the Day.

Today's Deal of the Day: A $25 gift certificate from Adam Miller Toy and Bicycle in Batavia. The Batavian's Good Deal Price: $12.50 -- HALF off!

At Adam Miller's you can feel like a kid in a toy store again. It's a great place for gifts for kids of all ages, and for yourself. Adam Miller's is at 8 Center St. in Batavia.

The gift certificate must be used by within 30 days of purchase. It is not valid with other offers and has no cash value. Previous winners of this gift certificate are not eligible for this offer.

Rules: Purchase using the PayPal "Buy Now" button below. After the first person to hit the "buy now" button completes the purchase, PayPal will let you know that the item has been sold. Ideally, the winner will arrange to stop by my office on Main Street before 5:00 p.m. to pick up gift certificate. Mail is an option, but it would be better to hand you the gift certificate. 

If you want to be notified via e-mail of future Deals of the Day, sign up for the Deals of the Day e-mail list by clicking here.

Merchants: If you would like your business featured in Deal of the Day, call Howard Owens at 260-6970.


April 20, 2009 - 5:10pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, business, real estate.

The regional real estate market may be picking up steam, but the impact is muffled in Genesee County, according to Howard Cohen, owner of FearyCohen Realty in Batavia.

Cohen said since the Batavia area is considered a bedroom community -- meaning a lot of folks commute elsewhere to work -- it doesn't get big ups or downs in the market that metro and resort areas do.

"We have a stable market," Cohen said. "Most people tend to stay in the area, even when they buy up."

The Democrat and Chronicle reported this weekend that a tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time home buyers is heating up home sales.

"The tax credit is making homes go off the shelves," said Garry Britton, an agent at Nothnagle's Fairport office.

Homes priced below $150,000 in good condition are moving swiftly, followed by those under $200,000.

The tax credit is available for first-time buyers, and returning buyers who haven't owned a home for at least three years, who purchase a home by Dec. 31. It allows them to get a tax rebate of up to 10 percent of the selling price, up to $8,000.

Existing home sales for January through March were 1,648 compared to 2,112 in the first quarter of 2008. That's a drop of 22 percent, according to the report released Thursday by the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors. The median house price of a house was $105,000, with half higher and half lower in price, which represents a 3-percent decline.

The data spans a 12-county area from Seneca Lake to Genesee County and Lake Ontario to the Southern Tier.

The tax credit may help improve those numbers, but it probably won't have much impact locally, according to Cohen.

"We don't have a lot of first-time buyers here," Cohen explained. "We're still in a bit of a slump, but sales are a little stronger that in the last period of 2008."

The folks at Bob Harris Realty said they are optimistic that the tax credit will help boost sales, plus buying typically picks up in springtime.

Real estate advisers say to avoid low-ball offers in these categories and to expect a negotiating window no greater than 5 percent.

April 20, 2009 - 4:57pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Announcements.

Press Release:

Road repairs now under way

The state Department of Transportation will be working on I-490 between Route 259 (Union Street, exit 4) in the Town of Chili and Route 19, exit 1, in the Town of LeRoy. Traffic will be reduced to a single lane from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. so pavement repairs can be made.

Ramps will not be affected.

The highway workers will begin at Route 259 and work in the westbound direction. The work zone will be approximately one mile in length. The speed limit will be reduced to 55 mph when workers are present.

This preventative maintenance work started Monday, April 20 and is expected to take about a month to complete. Once repairs are made, the same section will be resurfaced by a paving crew.

Motorists are advised to travel slowly and carefully through the work zone area.

April 20, 2009 - 4:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Announcements.

Press Release:

Summer Art Programs Available at Genesee Community College

Batavia -- Genesee Community College's fine arts department is again offering the Performing Arts Experience this summer and a new Summer Studio Fine Arts Workshop. Both programs are available to GLOW area children and young adults.

The Performing Arts Experience is a three-week theatre workshop, targeted for children and young adults ages 8-16, that runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 6-25, Monday through Friday at the College's Center for the Arts.

It introduces the fundamentals of theater in an engaging way for children and young adults fascinated by stage and live performance.  Students learn acting, dance, voice lessons, movement, audition techniques and scene study. The cost for this three week program is $250 and registration is required. Registration deadline is June 6.

The workshop will culminate with all participants giving two live musical performances on stage in the state-of-the-art Stuart Steiner Theatre. They will be open to the public. Performances are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, July 24-25. Admission is free.

The Summer Studio Fine Arts Workshop debuts this year. This week-long art workshop is open to children ages 9-14 and features drawing, mixed media, pottery, painting, sculpture and more.

The fine arts workshop will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 3 - 7 in the ceramics and painting studios at the Batavia Campus. At the conclusion of the week, the art work will be on display in the Stuart Steiner Lobby Art Gallery. There's a reception scheduled for 3 p.m. Aug. 7.

Genesee art instructors Moi Dugan and Margaret VanArsdale will oversee the workshop. Cost is $150 and the registration deadline is June 6.

For more information or to receive a brochure, please contact the Genesee Center for the Arts office at (585) 343-0055 x6438.

For tickets to any of the performances held July 25-July 26, contact the Box Office at (585) 343-0055 x6814 or by email to [email protected].

April 20, 2009 - 4:27pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Announcements.

Press Release:

City of Batavia Celebrates

City of Batavia will celebrate both Earth Day and Arbor Day from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 25.

The event begins at Lions Park on Wallace Street in the City of Batavia with a presentation on “The Benefits of Gardening and Composting” by the Batavia Youth Bureau. There will be a tree planting ceremony by a local Girl Scout troop, a seed-starting display by the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardeners and a proclamation by City Council. 

Volunteers will then be assigned a city park or downtown Main and Ellicott streets area to pick up debris. The volunteers will regroup at Lions Park at 11:30 am for the door-prize drawing. Every volunteer will receive a chance to win a tree.

The trees for the planting ceremony and door prize have been donated by a local Girl Scout troop through a special deal provided by Pudgie’s Lawn & Garden.  The Girl Scouts will donate a tree and so will Pudgies.

The ARC is also donating services and supplies and Tim Horton’s is donating coffee and TimBits for volunteers. Kiwanis is also helping out with a donation of supplies.   

This event will take place rain or shine.  The city is seeking volunteers and there are additional hours available for students interested in earning community-service credit.

If there are questions, please contact the city manager's office at 345-6330 or email
[email protected].

April 20, 2009 - 4:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Announcements.

Press Release:

Local Doctor Certified in Sports Medicine

Dr. Matthew J. Landfried, a United Memorial Hospital medical staff member and orthopaedic surgeon has received certification in the subspecialty of orthopaedic sports medicine from the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, Inc.

Dr. Landfried is a partner in the Genesee Orthopaedics medical practice with locations in Batavia and Perry. He is a graduate of Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia and is board certified in orthopaedic surgery.

He is also chair of the surgical department and chief of surgery at United Memorial. He lives in Batavia.

Sports medicine relates to the care of injuries resulting from athletic activities. Orthopaedic sports medicine specialists are proficient in addressing conditioning, training and fitness for athletic performance. This includes: the role of dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals and nutrition in the short- and long-term health of athletes; coordination of medical care with trainers, physical therapists and physicians.

They provide on-field evaluations with their knowledge of soft tissue biomechanics, injury healing and repair. They coordinate treatment options, both surgical and non-surgical, and understand athletic equipment and orthotic devices used in the prevention and management of athletic injuries.

April 20, 2009 - 3:49pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Announcements.

Press Release:

Cultural Fest 2009

The Genesee County Youth Bureau AmeriCorps and Reality Check programs are
gearing up for the 2009 Cultural Festival. 

This free event will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 25 at Batavia Middle School. Along with booths, displays and local craft sellers, there will be food and live
entertainment by a number of groups including McMahon¹s School of Irish Dance and TNT Productions.

If you would like more information on the Cultural Festival or to register your
organization or business to for a booth or performance, please call 344-3960. 

You can also visit the Youth Bureau page at www.co.genesee.ny.us for
registration forms.

April 20, 2009 - 3:41pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Announcements.

Press Release:

Batavia Business Improvement District
 Annual Meeting & Awards Luncheon

Batavia –  The Batavia Business Improvement District will hold its annual luncheon meeting at 11:45 p.m. on Friday, April 24 at the Homestead Event Centre (former Roxy’s Music Store), 4 Batavia City Centre, in downtown Batavia.

The agenda includes a review of the B.I.D.’s accomplishments in 2008-2009 and the announcement of the newly elected members to the Board of Directors. Also, the “Spirit of Downtown” Business Award will be given to O’Lacy’s Irish Pub and the “Spirit of Downtown” BID Volunteer Award will be given to Jeffrey Gillard.    

Cost is $15. To make reservations and payment contact Don Burkel, B.I.D. Director, at 585-344-0900 or fax 585-815-0233.

April 20, 2009 - 3:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Announcements.

Press Release

New Scholarship to Benefit Volunteer Firefighters and their Families

Batavia -- Genesee Community College Foundation is creating the new Ben Franklin Scholarship, believed to be the first of its kind in New York.

Named after Benjamin Franklin, the founder of the first volunteer firefighting company in the United States, this scholarship will be made available to GLOW (Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming) region volunteer emergency responders and their immediate families.

Twenty $500 scholarships will be awarded to full-time Genesee students who apply and meet the Ben Franklin Scholarship selection criteria.

Awardees must be involved in a volunteer fire or ambulance department for at least one year, or be the immediate family member of a volunteer who has been active for more than one year. Scholarship applications are available online at www.genesee.edu/foundation/programs.cfm <http://www.genesee.edu/foundation/programs.cfm>.

Assemblyman Stephen Hawley is scheduled to participate in the scholarship awards ceremony.

This event will take place at 10:30 a.m. Friday, April 24 at the Batavia Campus in the Clock Tower Plaza, weather permitting. In the case of bad weather, the location will be moved to the North Lobby of the Conable Technology Building.

For further information, please contact Richard Ensman, director of Development and External Affairs at 585-343-0055 x6534.

April 20, 2009 - 3:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime, Todd Crossett.


Batavia Police Detective Todd Crossett has been honored by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for his efforts to identify and arrest a suspected online predator.

Crossett was nominated for the award by FBI special agent Matthew Braverman. Crossett and Braverman worked together on the Dalton Wilke case.

Wilke allegedly made contact with a person he thought was a juvenile male and agreed to meet the youngster in Batavia for sex. Crossett posed online as the young male.

Wilke was arrested in Batavia with the assistance of the Buffalo FBI, LeRoy Police Department and members of the Batavia Police patrol unit.

Statement from the press release:

Competition for the National Awards given by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Center is always high. Detective Crossett was given the award for his unwavering commitment, determination and expertise in ensuring a safer world for our youth and children    

Here's a video interview with Det. Crossett that Philip Anselmo shot last May.

April 20, 2009 - 12:47pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire.

Fire units were dispatched to 33 Ross St. for a reported fire in the basement of a residence.

When firefighters arrived, they found an overheated boiler, but no fire.


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April 20, 2009 - 11:35am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Ken Mistler.


Ken Mistler gave me a deluxe tour this morning of the gym at the corner of Jackson and Main he hopes to open in about six weeks.

The picture above is of a staircase that will lead to the lower level work out area and men's locker room. Mistler said a previous tenant built the staircase, but when the city would not let the business put an entrance to the building on Jackson, the staircase was floored over.

I copied the photo off the Facebook page Ken set up for Next Level.

Mistler seems to be putting forth the effort to create a first-class gym. The building is being completely renovated with new electrical (an upgrade required by new building codes implemented since the building's 1967 construction), new heating and cooling and such attention to detail as ceiling lights that defuse light so that people laying on a bench lifting weights won't have a bright light shining in their eyes.

There will also be a full sevice coffee bar accessible from Main Street.

The four-level building will also eventually serve as Mistler's home. He's building a residence on the fourth floor.

When I saw how much work is left to be done, I expressed surprise that it would take only six more weeks of work to get the facility open, but Mislter said the hard work is done (he did much of the jack-hammering in the cement floors himself to improve drainage (did you know there is an artesian well under that part of downtown?) and lay in new plumbing in the basement).

Previously, Ken told me a number of membership have already been sold -- and who can argue with the price? People can join for as little as $20 per month.

Mistler's gym looks like it's going to be a great addition to downtown, helping to bring a lot more people into the center of the city on a regular basis.

April 20, 2009 - 10:55am
posted by Tasia Boland in batavia, schools.

April 21, 3 p.m. at the Batavia High School Library The BHS School Improvement Team will have a meeting. SIT involves teachers, administration, and parents working together for the betterment of BHS.

April 20, 2009 - 10:51am
posted by Tasia Boland in batavia, schools.

Tonight at the administration building at 7 p.m. there is a Board of Education meeting for Batavia City Schools.

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