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City and town asked to pitch in funds to look into expanding recreation areas

By Philip Anselmo

On September 4, Batavia City School Superintendent Margaret Puzio wrote a letter to City Manager Jason Molino. It begins:

Some weeks ago, you and I were part of a larger discussion regarding expanding usable playing fields and recreation areas for Batavia residents. At that time we talked about a long term plan that might include the development of our North Street property into an official recreation area. This would be a great benefit to the school district, the city, and the town. An added advantage would be to secure funds for this development through grant funding.

Included with the letter is a proposal for a "needs assessment"—a study to see if there is a real need for a recreation expansion—that would total $11,000. The school district offers to put up $5,500 to be matched by the city and town, which would pitch in $2,750 each. It seems implied that the recreation areas would be for use by everyone, not merely school students.

This letter is included in the City Council agenda for the meeting Tuesday. There is no indication that Council has already addressed this topic, and, in fact, earlier today, City Council President Charlie Mallow said he had asked Molino to add the item to the agenda so that Council can discuss it. They have not yet had that opportunity, he said.

In the letter, Puzio writes that "we will need to act quickly" in order to qualify for the grant funding that is available. "Please let me know," she writes, "the earliest date that you would be able to consult City Council to determine their willingness to proceed with a collaborative effort for our recreation needs."

Unfortunately, the schools and city offices are closed today. We left messages with Puzio, Molino and Town Supervisor Greg Post to find out more about that meeting in August and whether or not the city and town will consider pitching in. We would also like to find out more specifics about the expansion, should the city and town get on board.

The complete letter and proposal can be downloaded as part of the meeting agenda here.

Gabor Deutsch

Yeah thats just what Batavia needs another playing area and spending money the budget cant afford especially with winter coming up. God forbid we miss out on a grant for money.

Oct 13, 2008, 6:54pm Permalink
Daniel Jones

Gabor, you should know that grant money comes from the state, the qualification is time and it needs to be met in order for their to be facilities built.

The School District and the City have multi-million dollar budgets, this would be a small expenditure for both that would result in a great asset for the community.

Oct 13, 2008, 7:00pm Permalink
Philip Anselmo

Lazario: The link should work now. Unfortunately, the file for the full agenda was too big to upload. So I pulled out the pages that concern this topic in particular and uploaded that.

Dan: You make some good points here, but I'm always a little wary of the "grant money comes from the state" or "grant money comes from the Fed" line of logic, because those grant funds still come from us. We are the state and the Fed. I only say that to urge folks to be wary of the belief that grant money is free money. Not that you, Dan, are saying that at all. Rather, you gave me the opportunity to caution against it.

Oct 13, 2008, 7:28pm Permalink
Mark Potwora

I do agree with GeeDee..Batavia cant take care of the parks they have now..sound like this a way for the person thats doing the needs assessment to make a quick 11,000 dollars.Why would the school system need this..A public park is a public park..anyone can use it..Point to consider is who would be paying for the maintence of these parks..Is there some kind of shortage of playground area in Batavia..why would the town want to pay for our parks..Alot of questions..I"m Glad to see that the School district has a extra 5500 dollars laying around for this..The population is declining ..Why do we need the school system meddling in our park system..

Oct 13, 2008, 8:33pm Permalink
Daniel Jones

Pat Burk can correct me if I'm wrong on this, but the North Street extension (the area being discussed) is owned by the School District if I'm not mistaken, that leads to the School Districts involvement. The cost burden would also be alternately shared by the town of Batavia as well, we need more areas like playgrounds in the parks....more people would actually use the field.

Things like playgrounds are needed to attract people back here, if there's a poor quality of life the area becomes a tough sell.

As far as "free money" goes, this would represent a very small percentage of the state budget as well and this is a project that would actually serve a good purpose. I would rather that all levels of government spend money on something like this that has a direct positive impact on residents.

Oct 14, 2008, 12:04am Permalink
John Roach

The school district does own the land and has refused to sell it. If you are going to keep it on the school rolls, then we are already paying for it's up keep. If you are not selling it, then don't add to the tax burden by turning into a sports field or a park at this time. We just can not afford it. Remember, the city has another tax increase coming next year. Charlie has done a great job cutting cost, but he has Bob Bialkowski, Frank Ferrando and Bill Cox already trying to add spending and they might win. This is no time to add to our cost.

Oct 14, 2008, 5:15am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Daniel, without getting into the merits of the current proposal -- I do think the "it's only a small amount of money" line of thinking is a slippery slope.

In a state as large as New York, you can have thousands of projects, or more, that are "only a tiny percentage of the budget," and all of those projects together become a large percentage of the budget.

Sometimes, when you're going to adjust a budget downward, you've got to start with the small cuts first, because lots of small cuts can quickly add up to big cuts.

Oct 14, 2008, 6:50am Permalink
Mark Potwora

Why hire an outside source to tell us how many parks we have..We have a city engineer,and a parks dept.Seems like they could add up what we got..And the school district should now what they own..I agree with John,sell the property,if the cost of taking care of it is too much for the school to handle.Go by some of the parks batavia has..some are total empty..not much over crowding.

Oct 14, 2008, 11:48am Permalink
Charlie Mallow

We don’t even know what the school board wants to do yet. Mrs Puzio is coming to council tonight at 7PM. I wouldn’t jump to conclusions from what you have heard or read.

Why doesn’t everyone just come and listen to the unfiltered explanation tonight? I would love to see a full house; it would good to have some participation in the process. Your thoughts really do matter if you make them known publically BEFORE things are voted on. We council people are your neighbors and want to make sure we get things right. We don’t have crystal balls and we are not any smarter than the rest of you.

Oct 14, 2008, 1:55pm Permalink
Mark Potwora

Charlie..I read the letter and the proposal ,that is what i formed my opinion on..Your right you do got to hear what the school system is up to...

Oct 14, 2008, 2:47pm Permalink

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