There have been a few postings about the state of our neighborhoods and people’s opinions of the rate of decline. From someone new to the area or familiar with big city living, some missing paint and a little litter are not anything to be concerned about. People in big cities have had to live with falling property values, absentee landlords and drug activity for years. The obvious question is, why wouldn’t the people of Batavia point to the precursors of decline and pull together to keep the quality of life we have always enjoyed?
Make no mistake the natural instinct of someone in elected office is to gloss over the obvious decline in the quality life. If you’re in public office and you want to stay there, why would any rational person draw attention to the problems? It’s not an election year.. Besides if you draw attention to the problem and you are in office, you will then be expected to do something about the problem. That is how the system has worked for years. Inaction or denial by elected representatives has been the reason for decline in all our major cities.
Batavia is a little different and so are its people. Batavians care about our quality of life and elected people who understand that there is a problem and are willing to do something about it. In this city, improving our neighborhoods is not a political issue. We are past the notion that there is a developing problem, we are on our way to looking for solutions.
Last night’s Neighborhood Improvement meeting was another small step forward. Those meetings have become gatherings for landlords, volunteer groups, public officials and regular citizens to work together and find solutions to our small problems before they get bigger. Our acting police chief reported on a new program to help landlords protect their property and help police spot drug activity. City inspections reported over 800 letters being sent out for violations in the last month, more than double what we did all of last year. They also reported that almost 80% of the violations were taken care of quickly and how most property owners accept the letters as a reminder. There was a report on the success of the “helping hands” volunteer group with their work on Thorpe and Watson Streets over the weekend. Ideas were passed on for ways to educate the public, so that they can be more aware.
With a little work and by people taking responsibility for the problems we have, Batavia will never be like Buffalo, Rochester or Chicago. Batavians choose not to live like they do in big cities.