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Batavians choose not to live like they do in big cities.

By Charlie Mallow

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.


Philip Anselmo


Thanks again for tackling a tough question. If there's one thing I've learned about Batavia in these past few weeks, it's that Batavians have pride in their community. When I ask someone if they were born and raised here, and they were, they say so with conviction. They talk about how they'll raise their kids here, about how they wouldn't want to live anywhere else. That says a lot, for sure.

Batavia is fortunate not to suffer many of the woes of the bigger city, while still maintaining its virtues — you've heard Howard and I praise the dining here almost incessantly, for example.

I still have one question about the issue of neighborhood decline. You mention that 800 violation notices have already been sent out, more than double last year. (Well, first, is that because there are more violations or because more violations are being written up? That says a lot.) What is being violated? Which codes? As I said, I didn't see much on a cursory drive through the southside that would indicate decline or heading towards decline. Are the indications more internal? Or am I just tainted by bigger city living. I don't think I'm that tolerant of disrepair.

You say the city is trying to attack the small problems before they get big. What are those small problems? As Bob Bialkowski shrewdly put it: a big part of getting at the egg before it hatches into a scorpion is public education. Maybe Joe Batavia is dumping his yard waste out over the curb because he thinks that's how it's done — maybe, though we should never disregard good old fashioned American laziness. That being said, organizing community groups and getting out and picking up the trash in the streets is an excellent way of maintaining quality of life. But letting folks know how that trash should be handled from the get go is a great way to get at the roots, too — even if that means sending along a little pink slip from time to time to help learn the lesson.

Many thanks. Keep the dialogue going. —Philip

May 8, 2008, 10:26am Permalink
Charlie Mallow

I think your past experience has tainted your perceptions a little bit. Batavians are defensive when it comes to our quality of life. Our neighborhood problems are not black and white. You can’t point to one thing and say that is the answer, it’s a group of small things. Make no mistake, there is NO PLACE better than Batavia to live. Our problems are small by comparison to larger cities but, never the less they effect our quality of life. Maybe it’s the word “decline” that has you perplexed. Our declining neighborhoods are better places to live than most any area in the Buffalo and Rochester, that is a fact. Our standards are higher and we are not going to give a pass to crime and people not being responsible neighbors.
As to your question about the statistics. Code violations are up but, so is our work to enforce our city codes. There is no one code that sticks out, there are multiple things that are at issue. The big problem was the lack of enforcement in the past. Lack of education and awareness to what is right or wrong is an issue and we are looking for ways to advance that as well. These code violations are precursors to larger festering issues that will not be given a foot hold in Batavia.
There are very few “bad” people in Batavia and they are far outweighed by people who want the best for the city. Like Bob Biackowski said, crime is up but, our police force is also working harder and has better tools to seek out crime.
This is a good time for Batavia; we are heading off our problems and looking to keep the city on course. Council is on the same page and we are not going to rest until we have put the processes in place to continue our high standards.

May 8, 2008, 11:03am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Charlie, it's wonderful that people like you and your fellow council members are forward looking in dealing with issues now before they get out of hand.

There are parts of Canandaigua (where Philip last worked) that are in far worst shape any any part of Batavia. A few weeks ago, I spent a day in Watertown, NY. There is a small city with serious decline problems -- it's not just one neighborhood, but every neighborhood and downtown.

We started this site in Batavia because it is such a great town, with people who really care about the quality of life here and a business community that is engaged and focused on growth.

We support your code enforcement efforts -- I've seen first hand how lack of enforcement does lead to decline -- but from our perspective, there is little here that makes Batavia look bad. Anybody who likes small city life will find Batavia is a great place to live and work.

May 8, 2008, 1:10pm Permalink
Daniel Jones

Charlie Mallow and the "A-Team" of Sam Barone, Bill Cox, Rosemary Christian and Cathy Briggs have stabilized the city, took a 20-something percent property tax increase and lowered it to 8, made necessary consolidation changes and have begun seriously enforcing the City Zoning Code....our door-to-door council people (Charlie Mallow, Sam Barone, Bill Cox, Rosemary Christian and Cathy Briggs) have done a great job representing us!

May 8, 2008, 1:15pm Permalink
Charlie Mallow

Thanks Dan but, lets not turn the neighborhood stuff into a political thing. Frank Ferrando, Tim Buckley, Marianne Clattenberg and Bob Biakowski care about our neighborhoods just as much as the five of us and have also been an important part of taking care of the cities budget problems.

May 8, 2008, 1:37pm Permalink
daniel cherry

I had an idea.Mabe part of the problem is it cost 10$ to throw some things out and 5 for others.I think or mabe i am wrong that landlords are supposed to give us 1 free sticker a year.I have yet to get one.Are they ever going to have a free day again.Mabe that wont work cause people went far overboard.Mabe they could have like one free day a month for awhile.

May 9, 2008, 10:21pm Permalink
daniel cherry

yea lets not turn it into a political thing.It has nothing at all to do with polotics right charlie??na it couldn't be a political thing.Tell it to my boys when we're homeless charlie.I didn't see anybody rushing down to our basement to fix that wire that can burn us did i?look at the video on utube its a fact.yea utube getjustice.See when the boys and i become homeless only because the city asked the landlord to fix something its wrong.So then we'll go to the news.Thank you so much for being so concerned.Like you said its not good to bring up problems then you'd have to fix them right?Why compare batavia to larger cities?the way i see it charlie since we have no mayor who would be held accountable? We need someone who is not from a big city.someone from here who lived here a long time...dan 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.

May 9, 2008, 10:28pm Permalink
Daniel Jones


First I want to say that I am so sorry to hear about your current situation, its heartbreaking to hear about these kinds of things happening to people, especially the ones with children.

However, I don't think that attacking Charlie (or other individuals by name) is the best way to go about solving the problems that you are facing, I know that your frustrated and angry, but being persistently negative doesn't solve anything. Perhaps you could schedule a meeting with a HUD supervisor or another local official to talk your problems over, who knows, they may be able to help you.

No, I'm not in Public Office, but I do want to improve my community, I too was born with leg and coordination disabilities, disabilities that I have worked hard to overcome and I know that you have too. Being positive is part of overcoming any obstacle and I know that you know this.

I was trying to point out the success that this council is having in solving some the problems that many Batavian's are facing, and I think that everyone needs to be part of the solution, that means that everyone should get a say and work together to build a stronger community. How can you do that? Vote, get involved, make yourself known and be positive, its not about what we can't do, its about what we can do.


May 9, 2008, 11:10pm Permalink
daniel cherry

dear daniel jones,ok so what can we do to improve our community?I know we'll just ignore the problems.Pretend they don't exist right?Let's keep inspecting homes and turn a blind eye to real problems under homes where 4 apartments are.It'll go away.Lets make those poor people pay!!I mean theyre just hud ssi and welfare recipients who cares right?Let's compare batavia to rochester and say theres no problems compared to them.Lets not use names it will look bad.Especially a big man like mike ognibene.Its ok if hes a slumlord.Let some other poor sucker buy that home at 119 state.Dont tell whats wrong of course.Bad for buisness right?Hey lets all go to a city council meeting.Mabe we'll get free pizza.We like pizza too.Lets overlook the mortar running down the front of city centre.Its not there.It was only 5,000,000.I know we'll never ask to ever ever have somthing fixed again we'd be homeless.We can just i know pretend we found a place to live.And when the sheriff comes we'll just say it must be one of the nightmares i've been having.No he's not really there.It must be my imagination run wild.Let's say gas still costs 1.00$ a gallon and no prices went up no they didn't.We the poor people just imagined it.Eveybody did.We imagined the prices went up 30% in every store.Of course it has nothing to do with the war.We'll pretend HUD cares about tenants more that slumlords.We must have a very good imagination.We must be positive.We'll pretend the judge is not biased against us.When we go to court and show what happened was illegal.And we'll pretend we're not living in a motel.And there was no loophole that a certain mjo properties can use to get us out now.We'll pretend Huds helping us.We'll pretend Mrs ognibene let us have time to move.We must have imagined our rent amount they got was 24,0000$...Mabe an imaginary mayflower truck will appear to move us.Yea and whole neighborhood will help like when i lived in the country.We'll pretend poor people have the same rights as others.We'll pretend we have a great lawyer for free......and we surely will be positivly done for......ya know what i think may not be what people want to hear.So it would be very controversial.It says on WBTA let your voice be heard.I did.I am also my childrens only voice they dont have one yet.

May 12, 2008, 2:57pm Permalink
Daniel Jones

We don't disagree on ideals, we both want the same thing, a stronger and more prosperous nation and city. I think that our disagreement stems from ideas and policies.

By the way, the "crisis" that you keep referring too was actually addressed by members of both parties, as last years and this years budget were consensus budget agreed upon unanimously last year and with only one vote against this year (who was a Democrat, actually).

May 27, 2008, 3:36pm Permalink
Daniel Jones

No Conor, I happen to agree with Charlie on many local government issues but I come to my own conclusions, always, I also believe that you and I may have more in common politically and personally than you may think.

This thread is three months old, shouldn't we be focusing on the current issues? We're both young, we both are looking at the city in terms of a 10-20 year period (when our generation will be taking over), shouldn't we be at least trying to work together even with our disagreements?

Jul 18, 2008, 8:32pm Permalink

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