Residents address Council with requests for action at Austin Park and on Thorpe Street
More police presence at Austin Park and less parking on Thorpe Street.
Those are the hopes of two Batavia residents who let their feelings be known at Monday night's City Council meeting at City Centre Council Chambers.
Sandy Merkle, of 6 Thorpe St., a narrow small street on the city's Southside, said all she wants is a sign put up prohibiting parking near the corner of the street to enable her to safely enter and exit her driveway.
"I've talked to the neighbors about it, but they're renters ... and they say, 'we pay our rent,' " Merkle said.
Council members readily responded to her request, with Kathleen Briggs stating that "something has to be done" and Rose Mary Christian adding that "there should be signs for no parking near the corner and also for no parking on one side of the street, and tickets should be given to violators."
Council President Eugene Jankowski noted that Police Chief Shawn Heubusch is "responsible" for handling this matter and has the "authority" to correct the situation without City Council action.
As far as Austin Park is concerned, Sonya Alwardt, of 335 Bank St. said she was extremely disappointed in the response she received from City Police when she called on them to break up a fight there around 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Alwardt said she saw a group of 10 to 20 people fighting when she took her 6-year-old child there to play. She said she called the police but was dismayed that it took a long time for them to respond and that the crowd wasn't disbursed promptly.
"I told officers that I didn't feel safe, but was told that they had a lot of pending calls to take care of," Alwardt said. "How is protecting children not a priority?"
At the end of her comments, Alwardt said she would not go to Austin Park anymore.
"It's a shame that you can't bring your children there," Christian said, before asking Heubusch to increase patrols there.
Jankowski said the matter "could have been resolved by Alwardt speaking to the (police) supervisor" on duty that night, and not having to come before City Council.
Councilman Robert Bialkowski agreed with Jankowski and added that Council "needs to set an example."
"If it happens again, there should be arrests," he said. "This is not tolerable."
Following the meeting, Heubusch could be seen speaking with Alwardt.
In other action, Council:
-- Approved a resolution to extend the current sales tax allocation agreement with Genesee County -- a pact that is set to expire next February -- through Dec. 31, 2018 in order to buy more time as negotiations between the city and county continue.
"The only reason we're extending it is that part of the process will require 16 or 17 small municipalities to renegotiate their water contracts (with the county)," Jankowski said. "That could be a major holdup. Just to be safe, we're extending it so we don't run out of time."
Calling it a "complicated process," Jankowski said the city is at the "fact-finding stage" and can't go further until the municipalities reach their agreements. He said the Genesee County is on board with the extension and likely will be passing a similar resolution.
Currently, the terms of the sales tax agreement provide the city with 16 percent of the sales tax generated in Genesee County, with the towns and villages splitting 34 percent (based on assessed valuation) and the county receiving 50 percent.
The contract is tied in to the city/county water treatment agreements as well, which leads to the complications cited by Jankowski.
-- Approved a resolution to transfer $35,000 from reserve funds to replace the message board at Dwyer Stadium, hopefully prior to the start of the New York-Penn League season later this month.
Originally, that money was earmarked to replace seats at the Denio Street ballpark, but Council deemed that the scoreboard was a more immediate need.
-- Commended Doug Cecere for his exemplary performance as a city firefighter for 24 years. Cecere recently retired.
Best way to get action, if other efforts do not work, is to go to Council and make the complaint public. Sonya Alwardt did the right thing.