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October 27, 2020 - 10:11am

City, county partnership aims to utilize Rotary Club grant for youth kayaking at DeWitt Recreation Area pond

With a boost from the Batavia Rotary Club and The Rotary Foundation, the City of Batavia Youth Bureau and Genesee County Parks, Recreation & Forestry are working together to provide an increasingly popular water sport for children.

Jocelyn Sikorski, youth bureau executive director, reported to City Council on Monday night that the pond at DeWitt Recreation Area on Cedar Street has been identified as a safe and secure place for a kayak launch, made possible through a $6,000 grant from Rotary.

Sikorski, speaking at council’s Conference Meeting at the City Centre Council Board Room, said officials looked at a section of the Tonawanda Creek near Kibbe Park, but determined it was “not really a safe place.”

She said the launch to be utilized at DeWitt Recreation Area will be easy and safe for youth to get in and out of the kayaks.

City Council considered a draft resolution to accept the grant from Rotary for the period of Oct. 1 through April 30, 2021 “to provide assistance to expand outdoor recreation and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education.” After hearing details regarding the city-county connection, it forwarded the measure to its Nov. 9th Business Meeting.

The resolution also calls for the city to “gift” all equipment from the grant – kayaks, kayak launch, paddles and vests – to Genesee County, which will maintain and store it.

Sikorski also said county workers are building a trailer for hauling the equipment back and forth.

The youth bureau is planning to teach kayaking as part of its youth center and summer recreation programming, incorporating STEM learning methods into the curriculum, she said.

As far as the Liberty Center for Youth, the youth bureau’s afterschool social and educational location for students ages 9-16, Sikorski said it continues to be closed due to COVID-19 and likely won’t open until next year.

“The City of Batavia Youth Bureau and Genesee County YMCA need to ensure that the Liberty Center participants have a safe and fun experience with us,” she said. “Currently, we are working through reopening plans carefully and monitoring the potential spike in COVID-19 cases due to increased travel through the upcoming holiday seasons.”

Sikorski said as the reopening date nears, the agency will send out information regarding the registration process as well as COVID-19 protocol in accordance with Department of Health and Batavia City School District protocol.

In other developments:

  • No one from the public spoke at a public hearing to amend the Batavia Municipal Code to include public garages (auto repair stations) in I-1 (Industrial) zones with a special use permit.

Prior to opening the public hearing, council members were required to declare the city as the lead agency in the State Environmental Quality Review, which has determined there will be no significant adverse environment impact.

The zoning ordinance change is a result of a request in January by Batavia businessman Eric Biscaro, owner of Classic Home Improvements, to place an auto repair shop on his property on Ellicott Street. It is expected to be approved at the next Business Meeting.

  • City Council approved a Just Kings’ “Trunk or Treat” event for 6 to 8 p.m. this Friday, noting that all application guidelines – including a certificate of liability insurance listing the city as an additional insured – have been met.

“This is a great event for the kids,” said Council Member Rose Mary Christian, advising that city police will be participating. She said that she will be donating candy to Just Kings.

In other action, Council advanced the following resolutions:

  • Entering into an agreement with a consulting, engineering or design firm (or a combination of those types of companies) for engineering services for the $750,000 Downtown Revitalization Project at Jackson Square, a music venue located between Jackson and Center streets.

Public Works Director Matt Worth said a team including Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski, Maintenance Superintendent Ray Tourt, a representative of the Downtown Business Improvement District and himself are in the process of scoring the 11 companies that have applied and would get back to City Council either next month or in December with a contract in hand.

Previously, Worth said that the project calls for upgrades such as decorative pavement, enhanced lighting, relocation of electrical utilities, planters, benches, tables, chairs for seating and a new stage. Funds have been provided through the $10 million DRI award from the state to the City of Batavia.

In response to a question from Council Member John Canale about the upgrade decision-making process, Worth said that all stakeholders, such as nearby businesses, vendors who have used the area, BID officials, city staff and the public, will have the opportunity to provide input.

Worth indicated that the design work is to be performed next spring, with construction next fall after the Jackson Square performance season.

  • Accepting public dedication of Carolwood Drive Extension, also known as Clinton Gardens Subdivision Part 21A, following city approval of Batavia Homes and Development’s completion of the installation of stormwater system, sanitary sewer system, water main, house services and street paving to add five more building lots on the street.

Worth said the developer, which was responsible for all project costs, followed the city’s engineering requirements. This sets the stage for the city to take over maintenance of the street, including plowing and fire and police protection.

“One of the houses is close to completion, and it is my understanding that there is some interest (in the other building lots),” Worth said, adding that the extension eliminates two dead-end streets in that northeast section of the city.

  • Contracting with New Wave Energy Corporation of Buffalo for the purchase of natural gas at a rate of $3.28 per dekatherm, which, according to Worth, is 8 cents less than what the city has paid in the past three years.

New Wave Energy, which also has a contract with Western Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., submitted the lowest of two bids. The pact is for three years, starting on Jan. 1.

  • Accepting a $5,000 award from Genesee County STOP-DWI for the police department’s to set up high visibility road checks, saturation patrols and DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) call out during impaired driving crackdown periods.

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