In other City Council news...
We reported last night on the City Council's decision to delay the vote on whether to allow Batavia's Youth Football program to remain one more year at Dwyer Stadium. For those of you wondering what else the council got into last night, here's a brief recap:
A few concerns were raised over the cost of the Summer in the City event. Overtime costs for the public works and police department of Batavia will run to $5,355.
"It seems like a lot of money to me for a two day event," said Councilman Sam Barone.
Downtown economic developer Don Burkel explained that much had already been cut.
Comments from a Highland Park resident about the poor state of his neighborhood sparked a discussion about more policing that quickly turned into a call for organized neighborhood watch groups.
"We need to train citizens to take charge of their own neighborhoods," said Councilman Frank Ferrando. "I'm talking about a 24-hour watch."
Councilwoman Marianne Clattenburg insisted that the police should have more of a presence in neighborhoods. They should be walking the streets, getting to know the people in the neighborhoods.
"If we have pockets of trouble in the city, there should be a strong police presence in those areas," she said. "I'm all for neighborhood watch, but I'm more for police watch."
Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian suggested that if the city was really interested in forming neighborhood watch groups, they should contact the state attorney general's office, which sponsors a neighborhood watch training program.
Mostly due to the pleas of Marianne Clattenburg, City Manager Jason Molino will look more into grant possibilities for working up a master plan for the city's tree plantings and arrangements.
Chris Boron, of GZA GeoEnvironmental of New York, recapped the cleanup opportunities for the heavily polluted Batavia Iron & Metal site on Bank Street. Remediation could range in cost from about $1 million to $20 million or more. Unfortunately, there are no grants currently available, though the city may petition the state for potential superfund.
Council concluded the meeting with a debate over the mall sign. The former mall sign was removed by the city during the construction of the city center several years ago, and the Mall Merchants Association want the city to put one back up.
Council President Charlie Mallow was vehemently opposed to erecting any sort of sign for the mall. First, he said, the city should not fund private business interests.
"In the meantime, the Mall Merchants Association is suing us," he said.
In fact, though the Merchants have said they would like to sue the city, no litigation is yet pending, said City Attorney George Van Nest.
Marianne Clattenburg called the sign — anywhere between $15,000 and $20,000 — a "colossal waste of money." Councilman Frank Ferrando was less decided on the issue
I don't know what it means when a community is business friendly. A lot of the actions we've taken over the past couple years have sent the message that we are not. A community thrives because of its business.
We've cut back on downtown activities. I'm not saying just spend money. But I think money can be spent smartly to support business. ... The more we support business, the more taxes we can get. We eliminate our parades, our celebrations, now we're worried about putting signs up.
Councilman Bill Cox said that quite simply the city took down the old sign, so it should put one back up. The issue will come up for vote at the next meeting.