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Some progress on downtown gulls, but business owners still complain about the mess

By Howard B. Owens

It's possible Verizon has conquered the sea gull problem it had on its Center Street building.

The mobile phone and internet company brought in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove birds and eggs two weeks ago, and today, employees spread netting on the roof to discourage the return of the birds.

Meanwhile, gulls continue to menace cars and pedestrians from their roosts atop the old Latina's market building on Ellicott Street, though their numbers seem fewer than last spring and summer.

Owner Vito Gautieri said he's done everything the state Department of Environmental Conservation has told him he can do, but the gulls have not completed vacated the premises. 

"We've spent a ton of money," Gautieri said.

He said he's deployed fake owls and pelicans, installed noise makers and sends employees up to the top of the roof at least twice a week.

"Two days later they get used it (the decoys and noise) and they're back," Gautieri said.

Both Gautieri and Verizon received code violations for alleged failure to maintain their properties, according to City Manager Jason Molino.  

The owners were advised to keep the premises clean in order to comply with city code.

Local business owners say the problem was unusually acute on School Street this summer, largely because of the migration of the birds to the Verizon building. One store owner said the problem has seemed to lessen in the past two weeks.

Michael DeFelice, owner of Michael Anthony's Salon, said last summer he could safely park his car in the lot off School Street, but this summer, there has been no safe place to park.

Gautieri said the gull problem is an entire city problem and city officials need to address it as a citywide problem.

"They (the gulls) are going to continue to be a problem for all of us unless the city gets involved and the agency that protects them gets involved," Gautieri said.

Molino said it's not that simple. It's not like the city can go around cleaning up properties for landowners. The gull problem is a basic maintenance issue, he said. 

"It's like mowing your lawn," Molino said. "It's easy, but you've still got to do it."

Molino said the city hasn't had problems with gulls on City Centre for three years, since it started getting the permits necessary to take care of the problem (removing the eggs) and keeping the roof properly maintained.

As for the old Latina's building, Gautieri said he remains hopeful he could have new tenants soon. He said he's also been discussing the idea of turning the building into an office complex and recruiting firms with offices in Rochester and Buffalo to consolidate their offices in Batavia.

"That would be great for downtown," Gautieri said.

Another option for the building is to add another six or eight feet of height (which is possible because the building was originally constructed to have warehouse space on the second floor), which would make it possible to turn the second floor into apartments. If he did that, Gautieri said, he would add a steeple roof, which would keep the gulls from nesting on the roof.

Paul Dibble

Is there standing water on the roof? If so,that may be why they continue to return there. Also, I notice at a few resorts I've been to in Florida they use a clear fishing line streched accross open areas to prevent the birds from landing,maybe it will work there? I had to laugh the other day I stopped at the ATM machine at the bank and looked up to the roof of the old Latinas bldg. and a gull was sitting on the head of the owl decoy.

Jun 1, 2011, 9:02pm Permalink
David Andersen

Gulls. How are they a city government problem again? They aren't. On my roof, they are my problem. On your roof, they are your problem.

Jun 1, 2011, 10:18pm Permalink
wayne bell

I feel as though it is a city issue as far as quality of life in the city. This summer you have the Jackson Square concerts, summer in the city and any number of other events that people will be coming downtown for and might stay away from due to the noise and other s*** from the gulls. The city want businesses and event to bring people downtown so maybe they could be a 'lead' agency into solving this so the money they give for these other events will continue to be money well spend and not throw away like bird feed in the wind.

Jun 2, 2011, 12:49pm Permalink
tom hunt

A one word solution: Decon. This should bring out all the bleeding heart liberals and Animal Rights people. But dam, these gulls are nothing but winged rodents that are threatening the safety and health of the good people of Batavia.

Jun 2, 2011, 5:05pm Permalink

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