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August 9, 2011 - 10:21am

Drinking ban on public property in the city extended to picnic areas

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia.

If you're the guy who wants to walk down to your neighborhood park afterwork, kick back and drink a beer, Councilman Frank Ferrando has a message for you: Use your own backyard.

Ferrando was among five Batavia council members on Monday to vote in favor of a change in the local code banning adult beverage consumption, without a permit, in picnic areas in public parks.

Drinking was already banned on all publicly owned property in the city, with the exception of picnic areas.

"We keep having the example of the guy who wants to have a beer in the park," Ferrando said. "He can have the beer in his back yard if he wants to have a beer. We don't want to have somebody seriously injured because he drove to the park, got drunk and then got in his car. The guy doesn't need to have a beer in that park."

John Roach and Dan Jones (inset) both used the public comments section of the council's agenda to speak against the proposed ban.

"It has nothing to do with public safety and it has nothing to do with public health," Roach said. "There are plenty of laws in place to deal with disorderly conduct or throwing trash around, but this is unnecessary. It's just something to keep people you don't particularly like out of the parks."

Jones, a candidate for city council, called the change in the law an affront to personal liberty.

Roach said he found it ironic that it was the Republicans (supposedly the party of individual freedom) on the council pushing for the change in the law.

Ferrando said the decision had nothing to do with politics.

"Whether it's Republican or Democrat, I don't know what that means," Ferrando said. "I think we all vote our conscious and what's best for the community. I don't think any politics is involved."

Rosemary Christian was among the three Democrats -- along with Kathy Briggs and Sam Barone -- who voted against the change.

"It's a violation of my rights," Christian said. "I pay for the right to enjoy these parks. If I want to smoke, if I want to have a beer, without bothering anybody else, without hurting anybody, without destroying property, then it's a matter of rights."

Even before the change, it's not like the guy with the beer could go toss a line into the Tonawanda Creek and pop open a Miller High Life, nor could he take his girlfriend down to Ferrell Park and spread out a picnic blanket and uncork a bottle of pinot noir. Alcohol consumption outside of the picnic areas -- defined, it seems, as the pavilions, was already illegal.

Now the guy with the beer needs to apply in advance for a permit, which will cost him $25.

Irene Will
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Since WHEN is the Republican party the party of individual freedom ???? I thought the Republicans were the " let's go back in time" party - AGAINST civil rights - like blacks voting, like women's rights [see http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/ad-lib/2011/mar/26/r... , like same-sex marriage, and so on.
Ted Wenzka
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This is the most stupid thing I can think of. The city council must not have anything else to do. I also want to know who made Councilman Frank Ferrando the wise one who rules over everyone in the city. I would also like to know into what city coffer does the $25 go to? I know the city is hurting for revenue but $25 for a sheet of paper is a little too much. Another reason why people are leaving the city and why the Town of Batavia would never vote to consolidate with the city.
Mary E DelPlato
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LMAO @ permit....little by little they gonna strip us of our freedoms that our soldiers fought for!
Frank Bartholomew
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The more laws made, the more lawless we become.
Jason Crater
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If I want to get drunk and go down the slides and swing on swings, that is my God-given right.
John Roach
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Jason, not any more.
Howard B. Owens
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John, not true. You can get as drunk as you want, walk to the park and slide on the slide and swing on the swing until you puke. Just do your drinking at home, first, not in the park.
Liz Fuchs
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Is this going to effect then when their is a wedding reception held at a park or birthday party or reunion. Alot of these go on at city parks. Are they now unallowed to have a drink at these events.
Howard B. Owens
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Liz, the hosts must apply for a permit. It will cost them $25.
Ron C Welker
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Have you read the book "1984'? In the very near future your home TV will be watchig you, if not already doing so. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING.Do we just stand by and and let this happen? Wake up before it is to late. What if you dont have a back yard to drink beer in? What then I might ask? Lets say your apartement complex has no provisions for outside dinning or socilizing and you and your friends/family want to have a couple beers and cook hot dogs. 25 bucks every time you want to do so! CRAZY
John Roach
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Liz, if you pay the $25.00 fee to rent the pavilion, you can drink. This whole thing came up because a few council people did not like people sitting around having a beer. The people were not causing any problems, were behaving, and did not litter. They were just there too long for our new behavior watchdogs. The drinkers were just not the right kind of people. Pass a new behavior control law, problem solved. Now only approved people will be at the park for hours.
John Roach
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Ron, some of these people who voted for this are running for election in November. Just remember to vote.
william tapp
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i don't drink but very little but i don't think its right, one more freedom taken away, as Jack said some of these people who voted for this are running for election in November. Just remember to vote.
Jessica Moscicki
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This is nuts, so they pretty much are saying you can still drink just gotta pay me money? Either make it you can drink with rules and times. Or not at all. Another way you got us for our money. Just like NYS raising taxes on beer and pop? Are you JOKING?! What next raise taxes on oreos bc they are bad for you too? What about me, I am mom and live with my mother currently. The only person who watches my child is my mother. So i am going to have her watch my son and relax and have a drink where? lol At my home? I think the point of me asking her to watch him is to leave and relax and not pay $5 for 1 beer at a restaurant. You are more likely to drive to a restaurant and drink and drive then a park. Are you going to have to pay $20 before you do that too? This is the most ridiculous thing i ever heard of!
Jason Crater
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I heard brown paper bags are an effective tool in combatting enforcement. If you keep your drink in a brown paper bag, police can't see it.
Mark Potwora
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My question for council is how many people can apply for a permit to use a pavilion on the same day..Can the permit just be for myself.Can i have the whole pavilion for just me..Making it so other can't use it..So i can just sit there and drink..sounds like just another knee jerk rule the city lays on us..Remember the lady last month who was fine for parking in front of her house..the city's answer was to stop parking on that side all together..or when the city and GACSA deciede we can long smoke in the park that we pay taxes to the city to maintain..Thanks John and Dan for speaking up and for Rosemary Kathy and Sam..Whats next city council..Do you want us to only walk single file on Main Street..Like good little Lemmings do..When are you going to outlaw coffee drinking in the park..Thats a stimulant.....
Chris Charvella
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@Mark, let's do it. I'll rent one side of a table and you rent the other. We'll play beer pong.
dennis wight
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How many people can i have drink with me on my $25 permit? What happens if i hurt myself in the park after "buying" permission from the city to drink in OUR park? Will the city be liable?
dennis wight
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Maybe the city should focus on getting the hoodlums out of Austin park before they tell the tax payers what they can't do there. Almost every time my kids, 15 and 12, go to Austin park they come back within 20 minutes because of "hoodlum" behavior going on.
Mark Potwora
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Chris that is to funny...i'm in....
Bea McManis
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Remember that $25 absolves you from offending children who may see adults drinking. You can rent the pavilion; invite your entire family (including children) and drink as much as you like. Children, not invited into the pavilion, can also witness the legal use of alcohol because the party paid their $25.00 Would it not be a better use of our tax money to have the police rid the parks of those causing trouble rather than impact the entire city with what amounts to a scuff law? Mr Ferrando, I recall, held a birthday party for his mother in the community room at 400 Towers. They put up signs saying the room was off limits to residents because it was a private party. That party included alcohol beverages (at the time, residents of the Towers were not allowed to have alcohol in the public rooms or even outdoors). No money was paid to have a private party that prevented residents from entering THEIR community room. Even now, if the room is used for a private function, one cannot stop other residents from entering the room. I guess, Frank lives by the "do as I say, not as I do" motto.
kevin kretschmer
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I take it none of you have rented a shelter in a State Park in a while. This is hardly a novel idea.
John Roach
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Mr. Ferrando suggested that if you need to go to the park to drink, you might need professional help. i wonder, does that come with a permit?
Frank Bartholomew
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How many people are allowed to drink in the pavilion on one permit? I had thought there was a limit on how much booze could be brought in as well. City council reminds me of grade school, because one or two students were out of line, the whole class was punished.
John Roach
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Frank, nobody was out of line. The reason they gave last month when this was first brought up was that some people were staying too long. That's it. That bothered some of them.
Amy Platten
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And do you actually think that the police are going to monitor these parks. I really don't think they will.
Frank Bartholomew
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John, were people complaining, or just city council?
John Roach
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Frank, No member of the public came to council to complain and only council members said they had a personal issue with it. I bet if you ask now, a bunch will tell you they were getting complaints all the time.
Dave Meyer
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Ridiculous! This is what the council feels is their most important issue?
wayne bell
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Does anyone know if we can get the e-mail addresses of the city council ? Then maybe we can send our complaints directly to them, because at a meeting you are given only 5 minutes and the concil doesn't even allow for open debate with the public. It seems to me that they are really scared to go face to face with the people of the city and hear that they are really out of touch with what people want from their elected officials. So now it is okfor me to sit along Main Street on one of the benches having a Jack Daniels and a cigar but I can't do it in Austin Park where kids may see me. The city council is not now or ever was the moral compass and the parent of the city , they are there to assist in the running of the city, Stop trying to make us all regret living in Batavia.
Mike Weaver
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Wayne, I'm pretty sure that sitting on a bench on Main St. drinking a Jack Daniels will get you a citation too.
Howard B. Owens
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Wayne, the council e-mail addresses are all on the city's website. Also, sitting on a bench on Main Street drinking JD will definitely get you a citation (if caught).
Kim Grant
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Next will come the dress code law. You just know that someone on the council will have a problem with or be offended by the length of some girls shorts or the bare chest of some guy. Any guesses on how long that will take? How about someone's dog that barks too loud? Or, a child budging in line at a slide? Running too fast? Yelling too loudly? Looking to be having waaaay too much fun?? It's just a matter of time.
RICHARD L. HALE
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"We all vote our conscious". And you don't think politics has anything to do with it? Shame, shame on you Mr. Ferrando......
John Roach
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Richard, you hit the nail on the head.
John Roach
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Richard, to fair to Ferrando, he had help passing this with Bob Bialkowski (4th Ward) and Bill Cox (1st Ward).
Tom Guentner
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Just another case of disallowing the use of a park by law abiding citizens because of the misuse by a few. You can't single out the "misusers" in any way,shape ,or form because that would be discrimination. Aren't you all just warm & fuzzy now??
Ted Wenzka
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The scary part is two of them (Clattenbug and Ferrando) are running for county legislature. The worst part is I will be stuck with Clattenburg because no one is running against here. HEAVEN HELP US!!!!
Mary E DelPlato
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For 5 bucks I ll let ya drink in my back yard...
Mary E DelPlato
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yea ...i think its the bottom line...more ways to make money off of us...since they are so dependant on us...we pay them to make our lives miserable....doesnt make sense does it...they make laws in hopes to make money...sad that God put me on this planet to be enslaved by political diabolic leaders
Mary E DelPlato
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Voting for different candidates doesnt absolve a dam thing....city council needs to find a more logical item to discuss...like job growth...(too late)...oh my mortgage went up btw...cuz..taxes went up LMAO...less money I will put into blahtavia...
RON GIBSON
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Thanks, Mr. Roach for this information. When Mr. Cox comes to my home looking for his vote, while I'm on my front porch drinking beer, I'll remember this, or will I need a "PERMIT".
Mark Potwora
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Ron i too have Mr.Cox here in the first ward..He tries to label himself as a conservitive and also runs as such.But yet he votes to either raise the city tax rate or come up with these restrictive rules to live under.....That i do not understand...He also decided to build his company in the town of Batavia in the new AG-Park,but at the same time voted to create a new Economic Agency Head here in Batavia..Why not go into the new Masse Mall he voted to give Mancuso money to create..
Daniel Jones
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Firstly, I do not have anything negative to say about any member of council personally, but I do not think that this decision is going to do much besides give a hard time to law abiding citizens or young families who aren't bothering anyone by drinking a beer or a glass of wine. I said it at the Council meeting and I'll say it again, if someone is acting in a disorderly way, then they are guilty of disorderly conduct and should be removed from the park (alcohol or not). Many of the people who use the parks in my ward live near them and walk to or from them from their homes, I know this because I am one of those people. Our parks are a beautiful resource, our DPW does a wonderful job maintaining them and our police do a great job of keeping them safe, lets not run people out of them because they want to peacefully enjoy a beer there.

Government, from local right up to the federal level was meant to govern, but only with bounds that respect people's rights, passing a law to remove people from the park because they are drinking while not bothering anyone, or, acting disorderly, is overstepping it's bounds. I don't think it's right and had I been on Council I would have voted no.

C. M. Barons
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Our representatives in all levels of government should reflect on the old adage: "If it ain't broke- don't fix it!" Unfortunately, when confronted with the eventuality of problems- clearly "broke," they don't fix them. Why? Because the party bosses and special interest groups who manipulate/buy votes don't want those problems fixed. The "fix" would impede the progression of greed, constitute a 'loss of face' or violate some political sacred cow. So... Instead of fixing problems, politicians pass politically 'safe' laws that give the appearance of "doing their job" while the work they are elected to do never gets done. ...Or in the case of health care reform, job creation or deficit reduction, gets half (a**) done. The Middle Class (if there really is such a thing) should get its act together and create a special interest lobby of its own. The Tea Party could have been such an organization, but it allowed itself to be co-opted by the GOP. Maybe if Americans bulldogged a legitimate force that actually promoted issues average Americans deemed important, the government (two parties) might accomplish something other than buttressing its self-image with 'feel good' legislation that costs taxpayers money and infringes on personal liberty.
Mark Potwora
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CM maybe you are reading the Tea Party wrong..Maybe they are the ones who is going to be co-opting the GOP..not the other way around as you so state..
Daniel Jones
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Tara Pariso
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How does this take away a personal freedom??? No individual owns the park, so they have no right to be mad about what is allowed in it. As a parent, I am glad to see that the city cares enough to ban certain behavior in PUBLIC areas. If someone wants to drink, why is it such a big burden to do it in their own space instead of in public space? Children have a right to go to parks and not have to see drunks while they are playing. This does happen whether complainers believe it or not. Having a party at a city maintained park should be considered a priveledge unless individuals plan to mow the lawn, pick up trash, and maintain the park. Stop complaining about losing freedom and look at the bigger picture. Substance abuse is a huge problem and it effects children and adults everyday. Do some research and you'll learn that growing up around consumption leads youth to believe it is ok, which can in turn increase the possibility of addiction. Go drink your beer in your own space!!
Daniel Jones
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Tara - I understand where you are coming from, but someone drinking does not mean someone is acting disorderly. It is possible to have a beer without becoming rowdily drunk, and if someone is being rowdy or unreasonable then they can be charged with disorderly conduct and forced to leave. The park belongs to the citizens of Batavia, all of us, and we should be able to use the park to our liking so long as we aren't bothering anyone else or being obscene.....and I do not drinking a beer or a glass of wine is being obscene. The City has it's DPW to maintain the park, and we the citizens comprise the city. Parks are a right for citizens to use so long as our government pays for them.

Many people also grew up around people consuming alcohol and have not become alcoholics. Should we ban tobacco so people will not become addicted? Cars so the environment doesn't become polluted? Of course not, we have standards for each of those things and we have them with alcohol consumption, it's disorderly conduct, it's a fair standard and one we should keep instead of outright banning alcohol consumption for those who may not have a backyard or can't afford to go to the bar.

George Richardson
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Not just anyone will be able to get a 25 dollar permit, you can bet on that.
Where will the riff raff go? To Texas, most likely.

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