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Placement of construction fence for new police station draws complaints

By Howard B. Owens
police station contruction
Photo by Howard Owens

On Monday morning, workers moved a construction fence off the sidewalk behind a group of office buildings on Washington Avenue, Batavia, that was erected late last week in preparation for the start of construction of the new Batavia police station.

Dr. Tom Mazurkiewicz said he and other businesses in the complex were upset with the placement of the fence and even just moving it off the sidewalk isn't good enough.

He claimed that city officials presented plans to the businesses showing the fence being placed in the parking lot, where space is striped for a second row of cars, keeping the first row open for business parking.

After the fence was erected, he said city officials told him OSHA requirements dictated the location of the fence and "the plan changed."

He doesn't believe there is an OSHA requirement for that particular placement of the fence.

"They're just lying about everything," Mazurkiewicz said. "It's a mess."

Brett J. Frank, the city's director of public works, declined this morning to comment on the situation, citing a meeting planned for Monday evening as the reason.

City officials will meet with representatives of the businesses, which are mostly medical offices, at 5:30 p.m. at the current Batavia police headquarters. Mazurkiewicz said the issue has also been added to the City Council agenda for Monday. That meeting starts at 7 p.m.

On Friday, City Manager Rachel Tabelski put out a statement addressing the parking issues:

“The City of Batavia Police Department will move from their 167-year-old converted mansion, known as the Historic Brisbane Mansion.  There have been no less than five studies conducted since 1991 to determine the future of the police station in Batavia, as well as a citizen task force commissioned to investigate possible site locations.  The location of the new facility was identified by the task force.

“Working with the construction team, the City will continue to provide the community and surrounding businesses, and their patrons with free parking with some restrictions in place.  The safety of the construction workers and those using the Alva lot is the highest priority.  At this time, the West Side of the Alva Parking Lot is available for medical/customer parking; the streets of Washington, State, Bank and Alva have free on-street parking as well.

“Patrons of Washington and State Street businesses without mobility issues are encouraged to park in the City Centre lot, leaving adjacent street parking for individuals who need access.  The City recognizes that parking will be inconvenient, but the goal is to minimize the impact on businesses and residents.  The City looks forward to project completion and appreciates everyone’s assistance and cooperation during the 18-month construction period.

The lack of parking is costing him business, Mazurkiewicz said.  He had seven clients cancel appointments on Thursday and Friday and two on Monday morning. 

He had one 90-year-old client try to walk from the open spaces behind Millenium Computer to his office, which is at least 150 yards across three grass outcroppings that disrupt the sidewalk.

He said city officials told him they would create three on-street handicap spaces, but Mazurkiewicz believes that many elderly patients either can't or won't parallel park if that's required to use those spaces.

"We need at least eight handicapped parking spaces," Mazurkiewicz said.

He said one customer told him, "I can walk 20 feet, but I can't walk 150 yards," and he added, "What about a mom with a baby in a car seat? That's 50 pounds. Is she going to carry it 150 yards?"

When asked what he expected in terms of parking availability once construction is finished, he said he didn't know. "They haven't told us," he said.

The city is building a $15 million, 21,000-square-foot facility at Alva Place and Bank Street. It is partially funded by a $2.5 million USDA grant and low-interest loan from the USDA.

Joanne Beck contributed to this story.

police station construction
One of three grass patches that disrupt the sidewalk along the Washington Office office complex.
Photo by Howard Owens.
police station contruction
A construction worker taps down asphalt in the parking lot of the construction site after digging a hole to inspect something under the asphalt.
Photo by Howard Owens.

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