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October 27, 2009 - 4:11pm

Molino makes pitch for improving neighborhoods through community engagement

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, localism.

Neighbors need to start talking with each other more, said City Manager Jason Molino during Monday night's City Council meeting.

Molino was giving the council an update on the work of the Neighborhood Improvement Committee, which previously brought forward programs for additional enforcement of yard clean up and property improvements.

There's a three-pronged approach to neighborhood improvement the city should pursue, Molino said:

  • Compliance with property standards use and regulations
  • Community Development Block Grants to help low-income property owners fix up and maintain their houses
  • And community engagement.

Here's Molino's full comment from last night on the community aspect of neighborhood improvement:

We’ve had some preliminary talks about how we can also facilitate the possibility, facilitate neighbors getting out and communicating more with each other, whether through national night out types of events, where you’re getting neighborhoods, blocks, streets out so that they’re socializing and communicating with their neighbors.

A good question to ask is, "Do we know 50 percent of the neighbors around us?” If you don’t, why not?

Those types of things are really going to be the crux of improving what you want to improve in terms of neighborhoods. You want to get neighbors communicating with each other, creating a dependent neighborhood where people look out for each other, they communicate, they talk, because if you’ve got undesirables that want to relocate into the area, they’re not going to want to come to a neighborhood or a street where neighbors are looking out for each other, neighbors are talking, neighbors have good relationships with law enforcement in the city to be able to report problems. That’s going to deter them from coming to that neighborhood, if  they’re non-desirables, so to speak.

It’s going to help with a little bit more pride, a little more esprit de corps. People are going to want to talk with each other, to communicate, to bring a little more of that sense of community back.

We’ve seen a little bit of a down spiral, and I don’t think Batavia is uncommon. It’s like a lot of communities. People are not volunteering as much, people are not familiar with their neighborhoods anymore. I think we want to try and bring that back. The way we want to do that is working with some of the departments, getting into select neighborhoods -- each is going to be different -- getting the people on the streets communicating with each other and talking with each other. Those are the types of things that I think are really going to make a difference in the long term.

I told Jason after the meeting that his little speech sounded a lot like something I might say on The Batavian. So many community problems can be solved just through a higher ratio of social connectedness. Communities with higher connectedness have less crime, better graduation rates, higher average income, less disparity between high- and low-income wage earners, better physical health, lower infant-mortality rates and lower teen-pregnancy rates. 

I recommended to Jason a book you've seen me mention before: Bowling Alone, by Robert Putnam. Putnam's work (Putnam is a sociologist) pretty much backs up everything Molino said.

tim raines
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Many people don't know their neighbors and community engagement is difficult because 40% of all homes in Batavia are transient renters and 7% of homes in the city are vacant. Did Jason Molino address those numbers?
I fear that your numbers are too low, Tim. Regardless, I use to be a renter a long time ago and that didn't stop me from being involved. I was at the meeting last night and thought that some of the ideas that NIC brought were very good. Neighborhood improvement is more than just keeping homes up. It's building strength in community! I live on a little side street between Oak and Montclair, so I guess saying that I know all my neighbors might not be a big deal, but what is awesome, is how much we look out for each other. I have received calls at work if someone comes to my house that my neighbors don't recognize. If something gets left on my porch and no one is home they will grab it for us, so it doesn't get stolen. They have helped me search for my dog when she got out and they have been amazing supporters through everything that my family has done! Every Halloween we meet on an agreed upon porch for hot apple cider and pie. Every summer, a pool party and BBQ! Those are the things that make a community great and I don't think that you have to own a property to do that. Just my thought.
Bea McManis
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Posted by tim raines on October 27, 2009 - 4:59pm Many people don't know their neighbors and community engagement is difficult because 40% of all homes in Batavia are transient renters and 7% of homes in the city are vacant. Do you honestly believe that renters can't be friendly? There are people, from all economic lifestyles, who rent. Many have stayed in one location for years. Where did you get your figures and do those statistics bear witness that renters are not engaged in thier community?
Howard B. Owens
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Tim, I've been a renter more years of my life than not, Tim, and I'm a renter now. Currently, after a few months of living there, I know the neighbors on both sides of us, plus a few other people in our immediate area. Your statement is a straw man. Renting or being "transient" is completely unrelated with your ability to know your neighbors.
tim raines
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I never said that renters can't be friendly, nor did I say that renters are not engaged in their community. Do those figures surprise you, Bea, cuz they might, as Phil said, actually be a little low Howard, I would expect you should know your neighbors next door, but it should of been days and not months. And if you don't buy that house, and move elsewhere to buy, then you support exactly what I'm saying. Have fun paying those astronomical NY property/school taxes. Last I checked...what you'll be paying in taxes in 1 year, I pay in 21 years. Talk with your neighbors about that.......
Howard B. Owens
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Tim, on basis do you assume I didn't know my neighbors within days, if not the very day I moved in? And why am I obligated to buy a house? Are renters a lower life form? Making less of a contribution to the community? Why the prejudice against renters? And what makes you think I haven't owned a home in New York before and aren't already familiar with the property tax rate? For somebody who seems so sure of himself to spout a lot of negativity, you sure make horrible assumptions. For the record, however, assuming continued business success, Billie and I look forward to buying a house in Batavia.
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Tim, are you having a bad day? So far you have picked on the ARC, the 400 towers and renters. Pull away from the computer and think about what is really bothering you. This is where I would defend all three of those groups but, I doubt you mean what you are saying today.
Peter O'Brien
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"So many community problems can be solved just through a higher ratio of social connectedness. Communities with higher connectedness have less crime, better graduation rates, higher average income, less disparity between high- and low-income wage earners, better physical health, lower infant-mortality rates and lower teen-pregnancy rates." Correlation is not causation.
Howard B. Owens
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Read the book before you pass judgment. I'm merely summarizing.
tim raines
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Howard Owens......no assumptions here. I'm quoting what you have said on twitter and your blog. when you buy that house....I'll send you a I Love NY Taxes t shirt.
Daniel Jones
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Tim-Don't you have anything better to do than harass people on a website for a community that you clearly despise?
tim raines
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I don't despise "the community of opportunity" or the people who live there, but I think that the batavia gov't can't get their crap together. Too bad you don't see it that way. I don't see anyone on here giving them a standing ovation. I'll send you a t shirt too Mr Jones.
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Things need to change, I agree, but lowering taxes is just one step out of many that need to be taken. We also need to reform Government and focus on new industries. I won't however pretend that hope is lost and spend my time constantly beating up on this area. Change begins with people who believe it can happen, and then go out and make it so. Keep the t-shirt.
Howard B. Owens
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Tim, you're not quoting anything from me. Also, you don't just bash the government. You bash the whole community. You're loathing for Batavia is quite transparent.
tim raines
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I'll also send you a hankie Howard
Peter O'Brien
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"lowering taxes is just one step" And you call yourself a democrat.....
Charlie Mallow
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Tim, the weather is great in the South and the streets are paved with gold but, yet you seem so depressed.
I guess my only question is, Tim. How much do you miss being apart of this community? I only ask this because you spend more energy critcizing Batavia then you do being involved in your new one. Taxes are bad. I am running for office because I am a 29 y/o guy with a young family that I want to make the best life for. I saw things that I didn't like and I am putting my hands to the plow to change it. If I fail, I will do so while putting my full effort towards success, but I will try. I'm not interested in attacking you or criticizing you in any way. I know what it's like to miss home. If it pains you so much to see your Batavia not to your standards, maybe TheBatavian isn't a good place to be. Just My Thought
tim raines
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Shouldn't you be working at 1:30 pm Mr Mallow and Mr Ricci?
John Roach
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Tim does not sound like he has much going for him.
Daniel Jones
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The Batavian is the perfect example of why hope is not lost. Howard is building a successful business (an online news source) with participation from people across the political spectrum. There are progressives like myself, Bea McManis and Lorie Longhany. There are conservatives like Peter O'Brien, Bud Prevost and John Roach. Times are very tough, we need to make major changes, but if the lights weren't ever going to shine brightly again then Howard wouldn't be here.
It's called a lunch break, Tim! I work an hour away from home, so I eat, read and comment. How about you?
tim raines
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Retired at 53. I'm too busy counting the $250k that I've saved by not paying NY property/school taxes. So so sorry the truth hurts. Get yer snowblowers ready cuz winter in WNY is comin! So so cold!
Daniel Jones
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Tim-If you have all of this money and you clearly are so happy with your new life, then why are you on The Batavian arguing with all of us?
Congrats on the early retirement. The truth doesn't hurt at all, sir. Enjoy your money and time! My kids love the snow and there is nothing better then my kids laughter. Have a good day!
Patrick D. Burk
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I do find it ammusing that someone can cast dispersion on our community. I too LOVE Batavia, and feel that it is a wonderful community. I think that those that really LOVE Batavia work to make it the best place it can be. I have seen complainers sitting on the side lines BUT it sort of bothers me that Tim R. finds the need to criticize us and yet he moved away....hmmm You know the phrase,"He protests too much"....??? Maybe that is really what Tim is trying to say... maybe he just misses us and doesn't know how to say it. WOW ...Retired at 53?? Could boredom have set in this soon. Anyway.... Just my thoughts...such as they are. But then again.....I am just another PROUD BATAVIAN and in Tim's world that makes me the lower than low.....
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Tim, you need some part time work or a charity to donate time too. I sit in front of a computer all day for work, what's your excuse for sitting behind a computer at 1:30 in the afternoon?
tim raines
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Just stating the facts about Batavia government Mr Jones, and it seems fellow posters don't like it. There's a big pink elephant in the middle of main street and no one notices or remarks on it. I do. Thank God I didn't eat a piece of coffee cake. Have a good day1
Charlie Mallow
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Oh and Tim, I'm pretty happy with my life. I am not the one that uprooted myself in pursuit of paradise. Guess what, you didn't find it in Georgia. Do us all a favor and move back so you can enjoy your life.
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I think what Tim misses, and envies, is that we can spend the day bickering over this and that, and even strongly disagree, but WE know and HE knows that we are like one big family. We may not see eye to eye on a lot of things, but if one of us were involved in a serious accident or were touched by misfortune, most of us would rally around whomever was involved. That is what is best about Batavia - we are not a cookie cutter suburb, we are a community of caring people. Snow? Cold? Let it come. Yes, some of us have bones that complain in the cold, but it is a small price to pay for the pleasure winter brings. Regardless of age or economic station, we are here because we know the challenges we face to make this a better Batavia. We may not agree on how it should be done, but almost all of us will find a way to pull together to get it done. Some leave this area and still call it HOME. Others leave this area, like Tim, and try to convince us that his choice of location is far better than what he left. He may have a house, and a retirement fund, and whatever else he choses to brag about, but in the end he has found himself HOMELESS. Sad isn't it?
tim raines
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Bea, Your panties are in a wad again.
Daniel Jones
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Tim-That's the best you can come up with? Stunning.
Howard B. Owens
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Tim, in my life in journalism, I've covered eight municipalities. Some have been much bigger than Batavia (San Diego), and some have been smaller (La Mesa), and you know what I find -- there isn't much difference. They all have their petty politics, the city manager is loved by some, hated by others, people complain about taxes and services (and taxes are MUCH lower in California, and there are NO municipal taxes), it some times seems like nothing ever gets done and the politicians are all self-promoting and uninvolved. And I can guarantee that if I came down to your city and covered your city government for a year, I'd walk away with the same impression. It's the nature of the beast. Judging by this post alone, Atlanta ain't no bed of roses -- corruption, racism, lazy employees ... not too pretty. The fact of the matter is, you've got some burr up your butt that has no basis in reality, and I think you can tell from the reaction that you're getting, that your rants against Batavia are quite unwelcome. Not a single person here is saying Batavia is perfect, but we all are involved in our community, whether it's our native home or adopted home, because we believe in its now and we believe in its future. If that rubs you the wrong way, that's your problem, not ours.
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Like I said, Tim doesn't have much going for him.

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