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October 9, 2009 - 8:15am

What is wrong with Batavia?

posted by Mike Freeman in batavia, NORTH STREET EXTENSION.

Yesterday’s poll showed that most people approve of the School’s plan to fix up their fields at North Street Extension.  A similar poll conducted less than a month ago seemed to indicate that the majority did not favor the improvement plan.  As I considered the drastic change in public opinion regarding the use of those fields, I couldn’t help but wonder what was different now compared to a few weeks ago.  Could it be that the information previously provided by City Council members (Bill Cox and Rose Mary Christian) failed to reflect the facts as presented on 10/6/09 by the School Board?

Many people have expressed the desire for a developer to build more houses in the City in order to increase the tax base and help relieve the burden on the rest of us.  That, of course, would require additional home owners to come to Batavia.  Right now, developers have the opportunity to extend streets in the First Ward such as Carolwood, Garden, Harold Square and North Street yet they have not.  One reason may be the high cost of the infrastructure which makes a new building lot so expensive.  Of course, basic economics tells us that when the customer wants the product bad enough, he will pay more.  The prospective homeowner would have to want to come to Batavia.

So you have to ask yourself, what’s wrong with Batavia?  It’s a 30 minute commute to most of Rochester and some of Buffalo.  Crime is low, the schools are good, shopping is plentiful, restaurants are nice and Main Street actually looks good.  We have programs for adults and kids interested in sports and theater.  Could it be a lack of parks for our kids?  Hmmmm. 

The City published a report several years ago that said there were not enough parks in Batavia.  Since then, Dewitt Park was developed in the Sixth Ward and it serves the community well as a partial remedy to the shortage.  The First Ward lacks a City park but does have John Kennedy School on the Western border.  The Eastern side of the Ward is ripe for development but lacks a park.  I have heard that the City’s master plan calls for a park on the Eastern side of the First Ward to serve residents in the area.

If we ever expect to attract homeowners to Batavia, we need to provide the services they want.  We should follow the City’s existing plan and extend the streets (North and Garden), create the park (that the School District has planned) and enable our current developers to more affordably build those new houses that will increase our tax base.

I submit that one of the few things wrong with Batavia is a hesitancy to look forward and make decisions that will grow the community.

John Roach
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The poll could show an organized effort by the soccer league to vote. I think a better poll will be in the election in just a few weeks. Republicans Marianne Clattenburg and Tim Buckley have come out against this as increasing taxes and hurting the neighborhood. The Democrat candidates still will not let us know where they stand, but it is my personal opinion they support it. So, let’s see what happens in November. Of course, a better poll will be this sports field construction itself being put up for a vote, right?
Chris Charvella
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John, Any idea where Bob Radley stands on this? He's been very quiet about his opinion so far.
Charlie Mallow
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John, I don’t think it’s fair to say the Democrats are for the field or not for the field. I think it would be fair to say, they are waiting to see what the plan is. I know for certain that is what Phil Ricci is doing. I also think it would be a stretch to say that if Marianne and Tim win it will be because of their stand for or against the field. Both those people are very strong candidates because of what they have done up to this point on Council and that has nothing at all to do with this field issue.
Daniel Jones
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Mike-Howard will tell you that these polls aren't scientific, it is entirely possible that supporters of the project could have "jammed" the poll by encouraging supporters to vote in favor of it.
J Clark
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John , You do realize that the fields are going support much more than just soccer games . And what soccer organization are you refering to .Or do you not even know that there is more than one . If the soccer organizations could of known about the poll ahead of it being posted then I could see your point but Howard isn't leaking any info on upcoming polls . Also the talley would have been more lopsided than it was . There were over 700 hundred kids in Batavia playing organized soccer and that number will grow . There are also men's and women's teams out there that must go outside of batavia to find fields . I would like to know where he Chamber of Commerece stands on this proposal . Soccer games and tournaments generate a ton of revenue from outside teams coming here . Isn't that good for our community also .
Daniel Jones
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J-It's easy, someone sees a poll go up and they start calling and sending out emails, you mentioned that there were over 700 kids playing soccer, that could easily translate into a couple of hundred votes. Plus, if you know much about web browsers, you could vote over and over again.
Daniel Jones
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Just a note, I'm leaning against the project but still haven't made up my mind entirely. I will say that I admire Bill Cox and Rose Mary Christian for taking such a strong stand.
J Clark
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Daniele , you are correct ,it is possible . I voted once and I am for the fields and I do coach soccer but no one ever contacted me nor did I contact anyone else to vote . I was interested to see what the people thought , not sure what to think now . Either way there was a lot of interest in that poll compared to others . Why wouldn't Mr. Cox rally his supporters to vote against it ( that is his way to influence people on the fence or maybe he did and it didn't work ) on The Batavian .
Daniel Jones
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I'm not saying that he failed to do so in this instance or that the poll was rigged. All that I'm saying is that one shouldn't take too much stock in the polls on this website, they exist to gauge the opinions of the readers and not the public at-large. John is right, on election day, we will find out how people really feel.
J Clark
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We do need soccer fields(along with Lacrosse) in Batavia , that is for sure .I know first hand what a stuggle it can be to get a field to play on and anyone who says we don't need them are being told so by someone who doesn't know . I am not sure where else we could put them other than North Street extension . I am open for playing fields anywhere in Batavia but North Street Extension makes the most sense . If anyone has better suggestion where to put some fields ,please tell us .We as a cummunity should not encourage kids to play sports if we are not going support the kids with the proper fields to play on . Should we cut our enrollment in youth sports because we can't support them with fields ?
J Clark
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Yes Daniel , you are right again that we will find out on election day . If it was up to me there would only be playing fields with no locker rooms and no track . That way we can go forward with the project with no vote . But the BOE is trying to give the community something to use there also ( track ) and curtousy to have a say .
Thanks Charlie. You are right. I sat down with our City Schools Superintendent to discuss everything. I was approached by those who opposed the measure and was given a lot of information. I later found out, that most of that was a gross misrepresentation of the truth. You see John, current council members have the luxury of being able to give you their positions up front because they are hand delivered information on issues. Someone like you or I have to beg, borrow and seek it out. Which is wrong. That being said, I have heard both sides and I will tell you my stance. I am not for anymore taxes being added to this city. If this measure is put up for a vote to use public funds, then I am not for it. That being said, This is a good idea. I agree with a lot of what Mr. Freeman says and I see no reason why some agreement can't be met to please all parties. Maybe you and I could serve on that committee John as I've heard you give some suggestions. The main issue I take with this whole situation is that false information was taken throughout the ward to ensure its defeat, which is unfortunate. Debating the issue on the premise that we should sell the land to a private developer is fine, to do so by telling residents unsubstantiated facts is another. Finally John, I will end with this. There has been very little in the way of development even though there is a substantial amount of usable space in that ward. Space, mind you that is owned privately and could be done whenever they see fit. I find it interesting that we only seem to discuss it's development when the "North Street Ext." project is brought up. Don't you?
Thanks Charlie. You are right. I sat down with our City Schools Superintendent to discuss everything. I was approached by those who opposed the measure and was given a lot of information. I later found out, that most of that was a gross misrepresentation of the truth. You see John, current council members have the luxury of being able to give you their positions up front because they are hand delivered information on issues. Someone like you or I have to beg, borrow and seek it out. Which is wrong. That being said, I have heard both sides and I will tell you my stance. I am not for anymore taxes being added to this city. If this measure is put up for a vote to use public funds, then I am not for it. That being said, This is a good idea. I agree with a lot of what Mr. Freeman says and I see no reason why some agreement can't be met to please all parties. Maybe you and I could serve on that committee John as I've heard you give some suggestions. The main issue I take with this whole situation is that false information was taken throughout the ward to ensure its defeat, which is unfortunate. Debating the issue on the premise that we should sell the land to a private developer is fine, to do so by telling residents unsubstantiated facts is another. Finally John, I will end with this. There has been very little in the way of development even though there is a substantial amount of usable space in that ward. Space, mind you that is owned privately and could be done whenever they see fit. I find it interesting that we only seem to discuss it's development when the "North Street Ext." project is brought up. Don't you?
tim raines
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My God.....you would think from the comments posted that the city/school board is considering building a 100,000 seat stadium to host the Super Bowl 24/7! The North St Ext property has sat there for what, over 50 years now. Plan and build something, anything, with the needed parking and amenities and get on with it! That's why is called an IMPROVEMENT plan.
With all due respect Mr. Raines, but if I'm not mistaken, you are the one blasting us on here for our high taxes constantly aren't you? If this project is going to add more of that, then I think it's fair to say taxpayers have a right to be upset and ask questions. I agree that we do need to do something with all that space which is why I made my statement the way I did.
Richard Gahagan
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What's wrong with Batavia? Howard the reason no one wants to move or return to Batavia isn't because they don't have soccer fields. The area has been in a slow economic decline for my entire life time, the large manufacturing facilties closed or left, there are no private sector jobs, the tax rates are among the highest in the country, the public employee unions suck the tax payers dry, the the schools are old and nasty, the infrastructure is in a shambles, major sections of the town are in disrepair and need to be knocked down (harvester, swan, the mall, etc), and the weather is so bad most of the country can't understand why anyone would ever even consider living there. This link shows the sports complex in Mansfield, Texas http://www.bigleaguedreams.com/ which is located adjacent to the high school football field http://www.mansfieldisd.org/athleticsweb/misdstadium/misdstadiumhome.htm. The athletic fields in batavia haven't' changed in over 50 years. The main reason people don't want to move to or return to Batavia is simply because they can find or have found a better quality of life elsewhere.
John Roach
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The issue here is not a “park”, its Soccer. If the school board was really all that concerned over the lack of parks, they would just donate the land to the city for that purpose, but they will not. And it’s not the need for a place to walk around a track; we have two of them already in the City. This is all about soccer and lack of soccer fields. So the only real question is do we want a soccer complex at the end of North Street, and how much we want to pay for it. While the initial construction might be paid for by grants, the year to year cost of maintenance will not be. That will be paid by us in the city.
tim raines
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Mr Ricci.....the Batavia City School District has a $40 Million Dollar SURPLUS in the bank. Batavia residents should not pay another dime for any quality of life improvements. And I'll keep blasting the CITY/SCHOOL BOARD (not residents) over high taxes, and you should too. In my community, my taxes don't increase while 3-4 new schools, huge new parks, libraries, recreational facilities, roads, etc. are built EVERY year. Why should your taxes increase for ANY project? They shouldn't! The next thing you know....they will be increasing your school taxes to buy new pencils. Is the North St. Ext property going to sit there for another 50 yrs? If I'm a bettin man.......
Richard Gahagan
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Its simple charge the soccer teams, players, parents a fee to pay for the maintenance costs. The problem is soccer associations and parents want something for nothing.
tim raines
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Unfortunately for WNY residents, Mr. Gahagan is right on. Ditto to you sir.
John Roach
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Chris, In answer to your question on Mr. Radley, nobody seems to know where he stands on anything. I see Rose Mary Christian walking the district (and I am voting for her), but have not seen him yet. Of course, he might be out and just has not been to my street yet.
Richard Gahagan
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Tim, I drive by 4 brand new schools with all the fixins, ball fields, tennis courts, soccer fields, golf ranges every day on my way to work. Families relocate here for that reason alone. Mansfield ISD has 39 schools and grows by approximately 2,600 students each year. http://www.mansfieldisd.org/schools.htm. The parents and kids in Batavia would be amazed at the facilities that are being built elsewhere in the country without hesitation.
Mark Potwora
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Is this a city of batavia soccer league..How many kids are in the league..What happened to the land on River street that the school district bought.Richard has got it right, no one will move to this city until there are jobs,not soccer fields.Whats wrong to leave it as is..I don't see a rush to develop Centennial Park.That park doesn't have a blacktop path to walk around it..So why do we need one for this site.. Mr.Ricci any way you look at it,it will cost tax dollars..Weather is school,city ,state,or federal tax dollars it will cost...
Howard B. Owens
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Richard, you addressed your comment to me, but I didn't write this post. But, you wrote, "the reason no one wants to move or return to Batavia," And I'll politely call bullshit on this remark. I moved here. I've met a dozen or more people who have relocated here in my time here. Further, I've met an equal number of younger people who talk about how they moved away and decided to come back. I was just at an event last night were a couple of 20somethings talked about either staying or coming back because they love it here -- and it's not just about their family being here. Richard and Tim, your constant running down of Batavia, when you don't even live, here gets old. You don't know, really, what you're talking about and you don't have money on the table or a ball in the game to really have credibility with your constant harping, negative attitudes. There's a lot more good and positive going on in Batavia than you're really aware of because you're not here every day doing your part to make a difference.
Howard B. Owens
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I drove around the North Street neighborhood today and I thought, "My God, why wouldn't these people want a first-class part/athletic facility in their neighborhood?" It's just what the neighborhood needs to enhance the value of the homes and neighborhood. If I lived over there, I'd be taking up a collection to help pay for it. The proposed North Street Extension is probably under scaled for the neighborhood and should be expanded.
Mary E DelPlato
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WE NEED JOBS!!! Not circles signs and fields
Howard B. Owens
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Mary, what are you doing to try and create jobs? Have you written a business plan yet for the new company you're going to start to create jobs?
Mary E DelPlato
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oh btw theres more place to shop in the TOWN of Batavia I do most mine out of town anyway
Howard B. Owens
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I'm going to get a bumper sticker made, I think: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, bitch and moan"
Mike Freeman
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Howard, I agree completely. If half the effort spent whining in these posts had been spent on productive projects, think of how much better Batavia would be. I'm beginning to think that several of these people failed to read the study that has been posted on the School's website for weeks. The plan presented by the School District is focused on adding a lacrosse field to the North Street property in order to upgrade the Varsity softball field in compliance with NYS Title IX. Practice soccer and practice football fields would help ease the shortage of fields. As a matter of practicality, there would be a restroom building that would provide shelter in the event of a weather emergency. A playground and a walking path would also be added as a good faith gesture to the community. Mr Roach, this is not about soccer fields and certainly not about the community soccer programs. It is about High School lacrosse, softball, soccer and football. More importantly, it is about the kids. Folks, do some research before you post what you believe to be the truth.
reagan Viele
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I have been reading these comments for the last couple of days. There are quite of few down right stupid and actually offensive remarks made on here. My husband and I are a young couple with a 1 year old and a new baby on the way in Feb. We are currently building a home in this area.I am still not sure exactly how I feel about this park,as we are a new family with small children it would be very nice to have a park this close. On the other hand the main reason that we are moving to this community is because it is a very quiet neighborhood with very little traffic. The taxes are extremely high but we are willing to pay them for the security and peace and quiet. Will this park really increase the value of the homes or decrease them because it will obviously take away a lot of the privacy that is so appealing? Now to get to the real reason why I am commenting. Richard who is not even a Batavia resident had offended me deeply with some of the things he said for example the comment about Swan St. being in disrepair. I take this personally, my husband who is a contractor and his father have spent many years and quite a bit of money fixing a lot of the run down property on Swan St. compared to the way it used to be I think that they have improved it quite a bit and deserve some recognition for this. There are still some places that could usea little more attention, slowly but surely things are getting cleaned up, I just had to say my piece about this people who don't live here should not even have an opinion about this or anything that goes on here. Also for the comment made the other day that implies that people that live in the area are snobs and "uptight not in my back yard people" honetly we are families that have worked hard to get where we are and wanted to move to a safe quite neighborhood, and this project may or may not jeapordize that. If that means we are uptight then so be it!
tim raines
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Mr Owens.......I meet a dozen people or so a WEEK who move here. Maybe Mr Gahagan and I don't know what we're talking about...but...our comments on this topic today have been factually accurate, and you know it too. Batavias population declines every year. What a terrible thing to waste..........
Mr Raines, The school district does NOT have a $40 Million in surplus. Where in the world did you get that number? Seriously. For the record, I will continue to fight to lower our taxes. I will just try to have facts to make my case. The reason why you can have all of that new development without your taxes going up is because of the increase in population that you stated your area has. We are NOT in that boat, hence your comparisons while understandable are not accurate in the least. The only way that we are going to control and reduce our taxes is by right sizing our costs and service levels, while trying to develop new business. That way, to Howard's point, more of the families, like mine will come or come back. Just because someone has the sight to see a problem doesn't mean that have the courage to fix it. All I hear from you sir is someone who can criticize. If you want to see Batavia improve, please come on back and put your hands to the plow with those of us who are trying to get it there!
Richard Gahagan
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Howie, not bashing just giving people a different perspective from an area of the country that is thriving economically due to a business friendly state regulatory climate and a favorable corporate tax structure, which is intended to attract major corporations and young professionals with families. Three new schools are currently under construction now within 5 miles of where I live. Each one will have top of the line athletic facilities on an extensive school campus.
John Roach
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Mike, That was the point I was trying to make. The need for a park was how some people tried to sell this idea. This is a school board sports complex plan. All the rest: The selling lots for some housing, the track, etc was to me an effort to change the focus. This will be a sports field. So, it comes down again to how much do we want to spend on sports? I don't live near the property, so the only thing that will effect me in all of this is my school tax bill.
J Clark
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Richard , I love how you comment on things that you have no clue about . As a matter of fact the soccer teams and or organizatios that run soccer teams outside of the school teams , do pay maintanace fees for anything above and beyond the daily maintenance . I can't say the same about all the other sports because I don't know .I do want to point out that Richard said people move to where he lives because of the facilities , isn't that interesting !!!!! Richard I understand also from your comments that you do not like soccer , is that because you don't get a pat on the bottom everytime a player makes good play .
J Clark
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John , I understand your concern for more spending and increased tax bill . That is a legit. concern , but for what the community will get for such a minor increase if any would benefit all . Some like yourself might not be affected by the positives of new fields directly , but indirectly you might be . I am so glad we are not discussing landfill issues as did Albion not so long ago . All of this debate is good . We need to make good use of our people and this site is a gateway for people to express themselves and values . All and all anyone who is concerned about the project are good people who are concerned about the community that we live in . Richard I can't tell why you even care!!!
Richard Gahagan
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J was trying to help the main point against the new SSSSSSoccer Complexsss isss tax payers not wanting to fund it. If ya pay your own way that goes out the door. So now all ya have to deal with is the "uppities" (people with jobs and not on public assistance) not wanting all the snot nose rug rats from all over the county coming to their neighborhood to run around in circles and kick each other in the chins, while their parents scream at the top of their lungs for them to get the funny looking ball.
J Clark
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Reagan , I personally apoligize for the uptight remark . I really don't think that it applies to all . But it was a knee jerk reaction to the statement "not in my backyard " . I don't understand what the phrase is supposed to mean but it kind felt like the people were saying we are to good to let this happen in our neighborhood . I grew up over there and there are a lot of uptight people over in the Naramore Dr. area as with everyy neighborhood . I actually think it is good to have uptight people in the area . They kind of police the neighborhood and make sure it is safe . So I appoligize for the insult it was not intended to ridicule . Tell Paul I said Hi and we do need more playing fields .
Mike Freeman
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The fact is that the school needs athletic fields and the City needs a park. The need for a park is the reason why the City Council should embrace the School's plan. Seems to me that the concept of shared services applies here. Why build a City park and then a School athletic field? Doesn't it make sense to combine the two?
Richard Gahagan
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In most newly planned communities parks are integrated into each neighborhood. Athletic fields on the other hand are located in less populated areas outside of residential zones to reduce the potential impacts from noise, traffic, trash, and lighting that could disturb otherwise quiet neighborhoods.
tim raines
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Richard.....I don't think anyone here knows what a "planned community" is.
Charlie Mallow
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Richard, you said, “Three new schools are currently under construction now within 5 miles of where I live. Each one will have top of the line athletic facilities on an extensive school campus.” What are you doing about that? Do you have any idea what that’s going to do to your taxes? I’ll bet those schools will be filled with Unionized labor as well. So, you stood by while the taxes rose out of control here, then left town. Now you’re doing the same thing in Texas. Where you going to move next?
Richard Gahagan
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Come on Charlie your smarter than that, people have upper level corporate jobs that pay well and the schools are enrolling on average 2,600 new students a year. Thirty percent of the population is not totally dependent on government jobs that over burden a dwindling tax payer population. Housing is extremely reasonable and new homes are going up at a mind blowing pace to expand the tax base. Plus there isn't any state income tax, so what is that, any easy 10% raise for everyone.
tim raines
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Charlie.....I'll answer the 1st part of your question for Richard. I don't think his taxes will go up at all. I have 4 new schools under construction within 8 miles of me, along with top of the line athletic facilities on an extensive school campus. This goes on year after year after year. My property and school taxes have actually gone down the last few years. The tax base is always expanding thru new housing and businesses. That's the beauty to it all. If fact, there are discussions of eliminating property taxes. If that goes thru, after age 62, I wouldn't have any property or school taxes to pay. Ahh....what a great country, America.
Richard Gahagan
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Yeah what Tim said, Chuck take a trip south of Attica and I don't mean Varysburg, you might not come back. I was amazed the first few months here. This is one of the newer High Schools, they don't mess around either everything is top of the line no pinchin pennies. http://www.mansfieldisd.org/schools/mansfield/index.htm http://www.mansfieldisd.org/athleticsweb/mansfield/mshome.htm
Jim Glidden
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I am writing in response to Howard’s question, "My God, why wouldn't these people want a first-class part/athletic facility in their neighborhood?” In my case, it would be the sudden, sporadic increase in people that bring with them noise, traffic, garbage and frequently vandalism. Did you happen to stop by the field Howard? Lovely isn’t it?
Bea McManis
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Here we go, we hicks - again! They seem to forget from where they sprang. Tim, I lived in a planned community called Chesterbrook. It was very upscale, built on Misery Mountain across the valley from Valley Forge National Park. You'd be amazed to learn that we hicks from Batavia actually did leave the city and then chose to return. I also lived in a gated community just outside of San Jose. But, never once, when working for major companies and living away from home did I lose sight of my roots. Never once did I ever feel that I was above them. This is my home, regardless of where I lived. I care about this city and the people who reside here. Since you and Richard care so much about your adopted home towns, and have so little regard for the City of Batavia and those who live here, I would strongly suggest that both of you focus your energies and opinions on your new locations and let the rest of us work on improving our city. We may disagree on the process, but ALL of us have the ultimate goal in mind...making our city, our hometown better.
Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
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Last seen: 2 days 22 hours ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm
Now, I can't rightly says as I ever lived in one of dem dere Gates Co-mun-it-ees, but dang if I ain't seen a darn sight few of um when I was trapsin' throu' dem hills of Cal-if-forn-i-a. They got demselves a mess'o dem. Can't say as they ever rightly appealed to me.
Howard B. Owens
Howard B. Owens's picture
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Last seen: 2 days 22 hours ago
Joined: Apr 23 2008 - 3:05pm
Jim, those issues can be mitigated. And how you make sure they are mitigated is to be part of the process.

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