Submitted by Fred Gundell
I have lived in Batavia for basically a short time. Only nine years. But I do know enough to see this is a poorer community with an aging population. Some empty businesses. A small but efficient police department and other public services. I heard yesterday that 35% or higher of our population is considered elderly. We appear to have an overabundance of low-income housing and very little or no middle-income housing. This does not attract younger people or add to the tax base. But not the purpose of this letter.
This city has only a very few sidewalk plows for our extended winter months. Seems like Downtown and Schools are the only requirement. If you live on East Main Street or Ellicott Street (and other places) and are elderly or, for that matter, any age and need to get up the sidewalk, it is impossible. Local homeowners (and local businesses)seem to shovel their personal walks to their porches but leave the public walk untouched. (Not all, but many) This forces elderly and handicapped folks to walk on the roads to get to the store or church or the doctor, or where ever they have to go. This is not acceptable. I was raised in Rochester. Much bigger than Batavia, and our sidewalks were always plowed by the city. If this city can not hold homeowners and businesses to shovel their walks, they should provide plowed and passable sidewalks.
The financial costs for more plows and folks to run them are, of course, the continual claim by the City Manager, City Council and DPW. But I did not see any of this fiscal restraint recently when City Council voted for many pay raises for city officials that were well beyond the 2-3 percent that most of us get. They also went beyond the State's two percent tax cap, which we will pay for. I urge residents to let their council members know of their distaste for this waste of public money. And urge them to purchase whatever plows we need for our sidewalks, so anyone in a wheelchair can get to their doctor's office. I submit for the amount of taxpayer money that just went to pay increases, we could have purchased five more plows and people to run them. Which, to me, is far more important to our community and the well-being of our citizens.