Yesterday, we reported an initiative on the part of the Batavia City School District to pursue a jointly funded "needs assessment" that would look at whether or not the school, the city and the town should consider upgrading and expanding its recreational lands and playing fields. That study would cost $11,000. The school district would pay $5,500, and the town and the city would pay $2,750 each.
School Superintendent Margaret Puzio sent a letter to City Manager Jason Molino in the beginning of September asking him to bring the matter before Council. That matter will go before Council at its meeting tonight. A similar letter was sent to the town, which agreed to pitch in the funds for the study almost immediately.
"We heard from the town right away," said Puzio. "They are on board. They're interested. Just waiting on the city."
Where did this all come from? It turns out that the genesis of the idea came in August when Molino sat down with Puzio and a pair of representatives of Batavia's youth football program to discuss short-term and long-term options to find a home for the program that had then been asked to leave Dwyer Stadium.
"The opening conversations happened around the whole youth football issue and trying to find a home for them. The district coincidentally owns some property which we were considering whether to develop as playing fields and a recreation area. But we didn't want to do that without knowing everything that was already available. We wanted to get together with city and town and fund a needs assessment and have somebody take inventory of all the recreation areas in the city and town and see if what we currently have is adequate. Do we need more, or do we already have enough?"
Puzio also mentioned in the letter that she was hoping the city could act quickly in its decision—again, this was over a month ago—as a grant opportunity that could help fund such a recreation expansion will expire in December. She could not tell me just how much money was available, but she could say that the Local Government Efficiency Grant was "money that the state has set aside to support municipalities that work together not to duplicate services." In other words, these are funds used to support municipalities that work together to establish shared services.
There would be no more related costs for the "needs assessment," said Puzio, but if the study found that there was a need to, say, construct a new atheltic field at the school district's North Street property, more funds could be forthcoming from all parties involved.
Thanks to Margaret Puzio for getting back to us so quickly and answering all of our questions.