Town of Batavia drafting post-pandemic plan that continues 'virtual' operations; seeking CDBG grant
Batavia Town Supervisor Greg Post is looking forward to the day when he doesn’t have issue any more “state of emergency” declarations.
In anticipation of the end to what has become a monthly ritual, Post has set up a committee to work on a plan for Town of Batavia operations after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, Post extended the SOE for the town for another month “because of consistency with state and county and national responses to the pandemic.”
He said town officials will be formulating a new process for the utilization of town facilities, including the town hall, highway garage and parks “to address issues related to COVID but will not keep us in a constant state of emergency as we evolve from this both locally and nationally.”
Town Clerk Teressa Morasco, who is leading the committee, said towns and villages across New York are required to have an emergency pandemic plan in place by April 1 – a document outlining protocols and guidelines and the manner in which the municipality expects to conduct day-to-day business.
Joey Neth of the town’s engineering staff and Town Council members Patti Michalak and Sharon White also are on the committee.
Post advised that the town already has implemented numerous measures, such as working remotely and relying heavily on email and the town hall’s drive-through window.
“We’ve established a ‘virtual’ town hall and have been able to save $1 million without reducing efficiency of services,” Post said. “All of our inspections, accounting, plan reviews, assessments, document signing and bill collecting services have continued without interruption.”
The town had planned a $1 million project to design and expand the town hall, but that has been put on the back burner.
“If and when the state of emergency ends, we’re not going back to the way it was,” he said. “We don’t have the staff to check temperatures and we can’t hire more staff. Our plan going forward is to make the operation center more secure and making sure the business of the town gets done as efficiently as possible.”
In other developments, the town board approved the following at its meeting on Wednesday night:
- Resolutions supporting the application of a Community Development Block Grant to replace a 5,300-foot stretch (just over a mile) of water main on Park Road, prior to the Park Road Reconstruction Project scheduled for this summer or fall.
Town Engineer Steve Mountain reported that the town will seek funding from the New York State Office of Community Renewal program to take out the 50-year-old asbestos water main under the roadway that serves Batavia Downs Gaming and other commercial enterprises.
Mountain said the pipe runs along the length of Park Road from Route 63 to the gas station on Park Road, not far from Route 98.
Community Development Block Grants come with requirements that the applying municipality must meet, primarily that 51 percent of the project beneficiaries must qualify as low and/or moderate income. Mountain said a 2018 survey indicates that the town is at 52.95 percent LMI.
A public hearing was held on Wednesday and another one will be scheduled when 75 percent of the work is completed, Mountain said.
Post indicated that the town is hoping to receive the full amount of the water main replacement, estimated to be around $900,000. The board also approved a contract for $5,900 with Municipal Solutions Inc. of Canandaigua and Le Roy to prepare the CDBG application, which is due by March 5.
- A resolution to use a Bond Anticipation Note in an amount not to exceed $460,000 to purchase three high-end maintenance vehicles and apparatus for use by the highway, sewer and water crews.
Post said the BAN will be reviewed – and renewed annually – and he expects the town to realize “substantial saving on the interest rates, which have plummeted, and as a result of our bond ratings that have continue to increase.”
- Establishing a committee to draft guidelines and recommendations pertaining to solar farms, which have been popping up in the town at an increasingly rapid rate in recent months.
Committee members are Council Member Chad Zambito (chair), Dan Lang, Brittany Witkop, Don Partridge, Nancy Brach and Paul McCullough.