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Master plan and $500K grant a beginning for Austin Park

By Joanne Beck
Austin Playground
A state $500,000 grant and public works reserve funds will be put toward a new inclusive playground as part of Phase One of a master plan for Austin Park in the city of Batavia.
Photo by Howard Owens

City officials are considering a project that would — after a couple of phases — make Austin Park an entertainment hotspot in the center of Batavia, with a potential pickleball court, outdoor event shell, new picnic pavilion, updated splash pad, carved-out spaces for a Farmers Market and craft fair, an all-inclusive playground, and the thoughtful touches of an entrance archway sign to clearly mark the site from Jefferson Avenue. 

An Austin Park master plan calls for all of that and more in what Assistant City Manager Erik Fix admittedly considers to be “quite expensive,” and is therefore recommending that it be broken down into more bite-size chunks, beginning with what is most needed first.

“It's going to be used to help replace the existing playground, which is desperately in need of replacement. Along the way, we hope to make it a universally inclusive playground as we go forward. We are at the point right now where the playground that's there is not only falling apart, but our Bureau of Maintenance staff cannot find a replacement piece parts for it, so it's definitely something we need to do,” he said during the Jan. 8 council meeting. “If we can also afford it and have any money left, there are some needed renovations to the splash pad (to help with drainage) and things like that that will help that run better. So we're calling this Phase One of the master plan. So as you look at this entire thing, this will be phase one with the hopes that we can secure additional grant money and resources down the line.”

The entire scope would include the demolition and replacement of the steel picnic shelter with a larger one, including the concrete pad, repurposing the concrete brick restroom/concession building and older stone building, possible splash pad updates, mechanics and control replacements, complete replacement of the existing playground with a universally inclusive and accessible system, a new drinking fountain, trash containers and benches, installation of modern, low-maintenance rubber cushion surfaces, and reconditioning or eliminating the stone dust cross-park trail.

City officials retained LaBella Associates to conduct the master plan and assist with a grant application to help with a park improvement project. Along with these revisions are suggestions for the larger covered picnic shelter, at 40 feet by 64 feet; a band shell for small musical groups, festivals, speeches, lectures and other events; a pickleball court to accommodate the “fast-growing sport;” carving out space for a fresh produce Farmers Market and craft fair; and entrance arch or gateway and clearly marked signage for Jefferson Avenue. 

How to pay for it? The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has awarded the city an environmental protection fund grant of $500,000. 

There is a 25 percent match, and, although 25 percent would be $125,000, “we’re budgeting $225,000” and “hoping that any unused amount gets returned back to us,” Fix said.  The city intends to use public works reserves of $225,000 for that purpose. There is a total of  $960,822 in the DPW reserves now, Fix, said, and he is therefore recommending using the $225,000 to supplement the cost of the project. 

City Council was tentatively going to vote on a resolution to accept the grant and use those reserve funds during a business meeting on Jan. 22; however, the project is on a temporary hold because city officials need to talk to the state parks department, City Manager Rachael Tabelski said, about potential questions that may arise from the sale of Brisbane Mansion just across the parking lot from Austin Park.

“We have a meeting scheduled with New York State Parks and Recreation to understand the easement associated with Austin Park and the parking lot and the Brisbane Mansion, because currently they are situated as one parcel. So we want to make sure it doesn't hinder our ability to move to divest of the Brisbane Mansion in the future, Tabelski said. “So we don't want to move forward to a business meeting and have full approval of the resolution until we have that conversation with the parks department."

The city will be putting Brisbane Mansion, home of the current city police station, up for sale now that a new police facility will be built at the corner of Alva Place and Bank Street downtown. Prospective ideas for the West Main Street property include a boutique hotel, apartments or a mix of residential units. The city will still retain the rights to the adjacent parking lot, however, so city officials want to clarify the use of the parking lot in the future, including overnight parking for future occupants of residential units at the Brisbane property.

There are a series of items that must be met in order to qualify for the grant, according to state parks paperwork. The city must provide vendor ID numbers, file annual written reports, and provide proper documentation, including a boundary map that satisfies the state’s requirements, a copy of the contractor’s deed to the property, an opinion of municipal counsel, a state environmental quality review of the property, prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace and non-discrimination certifications, the Prohibiting State Agencies and Authorities from Contracting with Businesses Conducting Business in Russia disclaimer.  

Austin Park Master Plan (pdf)

austin park plan
Proposed site plan for Austin Park.
austin park bandstand
Example stage design for a proposed new amphitheater in Austin Park
austin park playground inclusive
Proposed inclusive playground for Austin Park.

Overdose awareness day set for August 30 at Austin Park

By Press Release

Press Release:

The Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force, in conjunction with the National Institute of Health’s HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-Term) Initiative, will be commemorating Overdose Awareness Day next month to raise awareness of the dangers of opioids and to remember the lives of those who have succumbed to an overdose.

The annual event is scheduled for 4 - 7 p.m. on August 30 at Austin Park in Batavia.

Residents are invited to take part in the family-friendly activities – which include face painting and live music courtesy of Groove -- and enjoy free pizza and refreshments.

Narcan (naloxone) training is on the agenda and local health and human services agency representatives will be on hand to provide information on recovery resources, medications for opioid use disorder, and the benefits of staying on medication treatment for people in recovery.

Guest speakers include:

  • John Bennett, chief executive officer at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, who will provide updates on substance use treatment programs and lead a moment of silence in memory of those who have died.
  • Dawn Stone, a peer advocate from Spectrum Health in Wyoming County, who will discuss the stigma surrounding substance use disorder and steps that are being taken to remove unhealthy perceptions.
  • Cheryl Netter, a community “hope coach,” who will share a story of hope and healing.
  • Scott Davis, a certified peer recovery advocate for the Rochester Regional Health system, who will share how medication has helped him in his recovery.
  • Paul Pettit, public health director for Genesee & Orleans County Health Departments, will share local data and the initiatives that the health department and local partners are implementing to address overdoses.
  • Nikki Lang of Batavia, who lost a loved one to an overdose.

Additionally, Lynda Battaglia, director of Genesee County Mental Health & Community Services, and Danielle Figura, director of Community Services at Orleans County Department of Mental Health, are expected to talk about opioid use disorder related to mental health.

Participants will be offered the opportunity to leave a note on the task force’s memory board for a deceased loved one.

Registration is recommended, but not required. To register, go to

New playground, ice chiller, water meters, streets in city's future

By Joanne Beck
Austin Park playground
City Council has agreed to pursue a grant for up to $500,000 to upgrade the playground equipment and pavilion at Austin Park in Batavia. 
Photo by Howard Owens.

For a 40-minute meeting, City Council got the ball rolling for some major spending Monday, including a minimum of $2.5 million for an ice chiller at the McCarthy ice arena, a $650,000 capital project for several city streets, pursuit of a $500,000 grant to outfit Austin Park with an inclusive playground and a $1.73 million water meter replacement effort.

Council also agreed to submit an application for a $1,235,000 grant of matching funds to upgrade the ice rink chiller system as part of a state Climate Smart Communities Grant Program and transfer $12,500 of video lottery terminal money (Batavia Downs Gaming revenue) for use by LaBella Associates for grant-writing services.

The ice chiller has been an issue since at least last year when council approved emergency spending for a refrigerant to keep the equipment operational. During a City Council meeting in June, members of the ice arena world, including a Batavia Ramparts coach, Friends of the Rink, and rink operator Matt Gray detailed the many activities that have reinvigorated the Evans Street facility.

Gray also outlined the difficulties of continuing an ice rink with a piece of equipment that was failing, costly and time-consuming to maintain. No one on council argued that the rink has vastly improved this past year, and all agreed they wanted to see it continue as a city recreational resource.

Council’s hope is to obtain a matching grant for bond financing to purchase the new ice chiller; otherwise, the total cost, with interest over time, will cost about $4 million, City Manager Rachael Tabelski said.

Council’s approval to pursue an environmental protection fund grant of up to $500,000 would be part of an Austin Park Master Plan renovation. The money would go toward new, inclusive playground equipment and upgrades to the current pavilion at the park that’s adjacent to the city police station parking lot. 

Hart Street road work
State CHIPs money is going to work on Hart Street, along with Norris, Fairmont and Madison avenues, in the City of Batavia this summer. 
Photo by Howard Owens.

Work began shortly before council officially approved the $650,000 capital project for four streets on the city’s north side. Traffic cones, dust, and those grooved, wavy lines in the pavement were evident from grading work Monday afternoon on Hart Street, between Bank and State streets.

The work, paid for with state Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program funds, is targeted for Fairmont, Madison and Norris avenues and Hart Street.  

Council will also be pursuing two more grants: one to offset the cost of replacing customer water meters and a $500,000 New York Main Street grant for building and streetscape improvements.

The city will be replacing water meters for the remaining two-thirds of customers that have not yet gotten new meters as part of a climate change mitigation effort.

The local match for the project is $434,000, to be paid for through Water Fund Reserves, out of a total expense of $1.73 million, Tabelski said. Council is to apply for a grant from the state Environmental Facilities Corp., which has up to $15 million available through its Green Innovation Grant Program.

Photos: Spray Park open in Batavia

By Howard B. Owens
austin spray park
Mika, Emmet, and Hazel play in the spray park at Austin Park in Batavia on Saturday.
Photo by Howard Owens

The temporary shutoff of water to Batavia's spray park in Austin Park Friday, with temperatures approaching 90, is over, and a steady stream of kids was hitting the park throughout Saturday morning and into the afternoon.

Mikayla Brown and James Malone went to the park on Saturday to cool off with no idea the park had just been through a temporary water shutoff.

Malone said the spray park is important on hot days.

"When it gets to be 90 degrees some days, with the humidity, yeah, yeah, it would be kind of sad (without water)," he said.

When told the water was temporarily shut off because of a water shortage, both Malone and Brown said they could understand why it would be shut off. 

Le Roy's spray park had also been turned off, and there has been no word on whether it was up and running again for the weekend.

Previously: Water shortage means no spray parks in 90-degree heat

austin spray park
Photo by Howard Owens
austin spray park
Photo by Howard Owens
austin spray park
Photo by Howard Owens

GLOW out hosting back-to-school picnic in Austin park on Saturday

By Press Release


Press release:

Join GLOW OUT! in uplifting LGBTQ+ youth as they head back to school at their first-ever Back-to-School BBQ this Saturday, September 24 from 12:30-3:30 pm at DeWitt Park in Batavia. This all-age event is free, open to the public, and will be hosted by the fabulous Vanessa Leroux who is returning from the 2022 Pride Festival to entertain and wow participants again!

The afternoon will also feature Act Out!, GLOW OUT’s youth league led by Lilly Fiscus of Caledonia-Mumford HS, Abigail Merkley of Holley HS, Ruth Metzgar of GCC (formerly of Attica HS), Ayden Carlson of Batavia HS, and Judith Newton of Batavia HS. Learn about upcoming youth-related events and their efforts to combat bullying with the launch of their campaign “Fail the F-Slur!”. Targeting the need for family support, the group will also promote the start of their PFLAG/parent group which will begin in October.  

GLOW OUT! would like to pay a special thank you to Lynda Battaglia, Director of Mental Health and Community Services of Genesee County, whose generous time and stellar performance as a “Celebrity Bartender” helped to raise the funds for this event to be free for the community. This organization and the LGBTQ+ youth uplifted by this work are grateful to live in a community with such inclusive and dedicated leaders. More information about the event can be found on their website If you are bringing a larger group or if you have questions, please email Sara Vacin at Families, friends, and clubs are welcome!

Photo: Submitted photo.  Ayden Carlsen, Judith Newton, Sara Vacin, Abby Merkley, and Lilly Fiscus

Just Kings gives back to community with free backpacks and school supplies for local students

By Howard B. Owens


Members of the Just Kings Social Club gave back to their community on Saturday, handing out dozens of school backpacks, and other school supplies along with free hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken at Austin Park.

There were also free haircuts from the Royals Barbershop for kids getting ready to go back to school.

Just Kings member Victor Thomas explained that the leadership of Just Kings are men who grew up in Batavia and have been part of the community their whole lives, so one of the organization's goals is to give back to their community. 

Just Kings grew out of the March for Justice in Batavia in June 2020.

The people showing up for the supplies and food made up a diverse cross-section of Batavia's community, and Thomas said he and the rest of Just Kings like to see that.

"That was a visual of what Batavia represented and what we represent," Thomas said. "That day, at that march, we saw 400-plus people and only a handful of us. We're just all mixed in with each other, you know? So we're a product of our environment. Yes, we are here for the black community and the black community knows that. We stand up for them whenever we can. We speak out against anything that's happened against our people. But as far as the community goes, this is what our community looks like. So we have to embrace what our community looks like. So I'm glad that they're embracing us and coming back and making this crowd look so diverse today."





GCASA hosting Overdose Awareness event Wednesday at Austin Park

By Press Release

Press release:

Christopher Budzinack has a straightforward reason for agreeing to speak at next Wednesday’s Overdose Awareness Day: To show those affected by substance use disorder that there is hope and there is help.

“As a person in long-term recovery, I know first-hand how important these services are and I want to help promote them as much as possible,” said Budzinack, a residential counselor at the Atwater Community Residence operated by Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

“It is my hope that someone will leave this event feeling encouraged and inspired to make a change for the better and for the ones who have lost someone to addiction, my hope for them is that they will know they are not alone and there is help for them as well.”

Budzinack, who also serves as a case manager for GCASA’s supportive living program, is one of several people signed up to speak at the annual event, which is set for 4-7 p.m. Aug. 24 at Austin Park in Batavia.

Designed to raise awareness of the opioid epidemic and remember the lives that have been lost due to an overdose, the event is being hosted by the GOW Opioid Task Force.

Task Force Coordinator Christen Foley said attendees are invited to take part in the family-friendly activities – which include face painting and live music -- and enjoy free pizza, refreshments, and ice cream. A Narcan training also is on the agenda and local agencies will have informational tables.

Participants also will be offered the opportunity to leave a note on the task force’s memory board for a deceased loved one.

Other speakers include Paul Pettit, public health director for Genesee and Orleans counties; John Bennett, GCASA chief executive officer; the Rev. Vern Saile, pastor of Northgate Free Methodist Church, and Jarett LoCicero, case manager at GCASA.

Democratic Socialists host anti-fascist 'teach-in' at Austin Park

By Howard B. Owens


As the ReAwaken America Tour's stop at Cornerstone Church in Batavia wore on during its second day on Saturday, members of the Democratic Socialists of America gathered in Austin Park for a "teach-in" about fascism. 

There were about 40 people at the gathering.

The Batavian was present for a talk by Rev. Jennifer Butler, author of the book "Who Stole My Bible?"

Butler said what drew her to Jesus Christ was his radical message for his times, resisting the Roman government and the Pharisees. 

"Who stole my Bible? Christian nationalists stole it," Butler said. "What do we need to do to reclaim Scripture as a handbook for resisting tyranny? Scripture, when you read it the right way, is actually a radical book."

Starting with Constantine, Butler said, people with a lust for power and the power of the state have been distorting the message of Christ to their own ends.

"Ever since then, there's been this tendency, as there is throughout history with all religions, and in all contexts to co-opt religion in order to control people," she said. "It started with Constantine. We saw it during the Crusades. We saw it under Hitler."

She said today there is a global movement with impetus from Putin's Russia to use religion to promote authoritarianism.  

"These global oligarchs and global authoritarians are weaponizing religion and relating to each other globally to enrich themselves and to strengthen their own power," Butler said. "They're kind of like global crime syndicates that are also abusing and using religion to control people."

The strategy employed by authoritarians is to divide and conquer, Butler said. They manipulate people's emotions.

"I think first and foremost, in the people who are getting drawn in, it's fear. Fear gets weaponized. That's why actually, Scripture -- sorry to quote Scripture so much, because I know Christianity really pisses people off -- but the Bible says over and over again, perfect love casts out fear."



City manager suggests using ARPA funds to build 'inclusive destination playground' at Austin Park

By Mike Pettinella

Labeling them ARPA-1 through ARPA-7, City of Batavia Manager Rachel Tabelski has put together a list of priority spending items – including an “inclusive destination playground" at Austin Park – to be funded in whole or in part by the $1.4 million the city received from the American Rescue Plan Act.

In a memo dated Sept. 20 to City Council, Tabelski wrote that she is recommending these expenditures as part of her Batavia Investment 2021 report, which is on the agenda for discussion at Monday night’s Conference Meeting.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 o’clock at City Hall Council Board Room.

Should City Council forward any proposed resolutions on Monday, voting would take place at the board’s next Business Meeting, which is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 12.

The federal government, acknowledging the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on municipal economies, allocated $19.53 billion from the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund to support non-entitlement units of localities with populations under 50,000, Tabelski wrote.

With that, the city received $1,474,764.79 from the ARPA (getting half this year and half next year).

The money can be used for public health costs, lost public sector revenue, essential worker pay and investment in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure, but comes with restrictions.

Those restrictions, as outlined in Tabelski’s report, include the inability to use the money to lower the tax rate, to offset retirement/pension funds, to pay off current debt, for sidewalks and roads (unless documented proof of being related to COVID-19) and to support current operations in the majority of cases.

Tabelski’s report indicates the recommended projects were derived through multiple means:

  • Conversations with department heads and staff, and citizen input;
  • Review of capital plans, current needs and current reserve accounts;
  • Analyzing the ARPA regulations to create projects that will be most beneficial to the city and/or to advance future ventures, with consideration of social and economic factors;
  • Allocating ARPA money to projects that could receive alternate funding, such as matching funds from other sources to increase the total investment;
  • Ability of city staff to complete, monitor and report on the projects.

Brief descriptions of the seven projects recommended by Tabelski are as follows:

ARPA-1: Engineering Services for Water System Planning

A resolution to contract with GHD Group of Buffalo to “map, inventory and plan to address lead service lines in the city related to the new Lead and Copper Rule” and “to prepare for the closure of the city water treatment plant in connection to Genesee County’s Phase 3 Water Project that would bring Monroe County Water Authority water to the city.

Cost: $248,000, using all ARPA funds.

ARPA-2: Cohocton Water Transmission Line

Replacement of 3,700 linear feet of a 12-inch water transmission line that supplies water to the southwest quadrant of the city – with the connection being made to the existing 12-inch main near the intersection of Industrial Boulevard and Treadeasy Avenue, and continuing to the existing 12-inch main near Walnut Street. The main has incurred 11 breaks in the past 30 years.

Cost: $800,000, equally split between ARPA and reserve funds.

ARPA-3: Inclusive Destination Playground at Austin Park

Located in the city’s Opportunity Zone, Tabelski writes that now is the opportunity to upgrade Austin Park (see photo above), believing that the expenditure will benefit local families, attract visitors from outside the city, assist in public safety in the park and surrounding areas through appropriate environmental design.

Recreation websites describe inclusive playgrounds as activity areas that remove barriers to exclusion, both physical and social, providing a “sensory rich” experience for all. They are designed to be a safe place where children of all abilities can play together, and are developmentally appropriate for children with and without disabilities.

Cost: $800,000, using $400,000 in ARPA funds and seeking grants to double the investment.

ARPA-4: Modify Facility Capital Plan Project

“Critical” improvements are necessary at the city’s Bureau of Maintenance and Fire Department, Tabelski writes, recommending the purchase of a new generator to run fire headquarters on Evans Street and spending to make access into the facility compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Cost: $540,000, using $100,000 in ARPA funds, with the remainder committed to the project in the Facility Reserve Fund.

ARPA-5: Wastewater Treatment Plant Headworks Analysis

Tabelski is seeking another contract with GHD Group (via a resolution) for engineering services to solve problems being caused by an aging aeration and blower system. The last headworks study took place in 1983, and since them the WWTP’s aeration system had deteriorated due to leaks in the main header. “While this problem has been remediated, it highlighted the need to complete a more thorough analysis …,” she wrote.

Cost: $250,000, using all ARPA funds.

ARPA-6: Replace Aging Sewer Camera

Scheduled to be replaced next year, the city’s sewer main line camera – purchased in 2012 -- is at the end of its useful life and has malfunctioned on several occasions, resulting in repair costs. Tabelski recommends buying an Envirosight Rover X camera from Joe Johnson Equipment of Rochester, which can be bought at a discount through a cooperative purchase program.

Cost: $100,000, equally split between ARPA funds and wastewater reserve funds.

ARPA-7: Replace Aging Water Meter Readers

As in the case of the sewer camera, the city’s meter reading equipment is about 10 years old and need of replacement. The recommendation is a resolution to purchase new handheld and data recorders from Ti-Sales, Inc., of Sudbury, Mass., along with utilizing a cloud-based data storage system.

Cost: $26,765, using $26,764.70 of ARPA funds and $1,718.79 from water reserves.

VIDEO: Beating the heat at the Austin Park Spray Park

By Howard B. Owens
Video Sponsor
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Beating the heat at the Austin Park Spray Park.

Spray pad in Austin Park closing for the season Sept. 5

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

To all residents: Please be aware that the spray pad at Austin Park will be closing for the end of the summer season on Sept. 5.

Thank you for a wonderful year.

The spray pad is scheduled open again next Memorial Day.

Photos: Here and Now Festival in Austin Park

By Howard B. Owens


Austin Park was filled with praise and worship this weekend for the Here and Now Festival, featuring several Christian music acts and pastors along with dozens of vendors and activities for families.

More than 3,000 people turned out for last night's music and the festival continues today through 10 p.m.











Photos: Children's carnival at Austin Park

By Howard B. Owens


Community Action of Orleans & Genesee hosted its fourth annual Children's Carnival in Austin Park today, with local agencies providing crafts, games and activities for local families.




Residents address Council with requests for action at Austin Park and on Thorpe Street

By Mike Pettinella

More police presence at Austin Park and less parking on Thorpe Street.

Those are the hopes of two Batavia residents who let their feelings be known at Monday night's City Council meeting at City Centre Council Chambers.

Sandy Merkle, of 6 Thorpe St., a narrow small street on the city's Southside, said all she wants is a sign put up prohibiting parking near the corner of the street to enable her to safely enter and exit her driveway.

"I've talked to the neighbors about it, but they're renters ... and they say, 'we pay our rent,' " Merkle said.

Council members readily responded to her request, with Kathleen Briggs stating that "something has to be done" and Rose Mary Christian adding that "there should be signs for no parking near the corner and also for no parking on one side of the street, and tickets should be given to violators."

Council President Eugene Jankowski noted that Police Chief Shawn Heubusch is "responsible" for handling this matter and has the "authority" to correct the situation without City Council action.

As far as Austin Park is concerned, Sonya Alwardt, of 335 Bank St. said she was extremely disappointed in the response she received from City Police when she called on them to break up a fight there around 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Alwardt said she saw a group of 10 to 20 people fighting when she took her 6-year-old child there to play. She said she called the police but was dismayed that it took a long time for them to respond and that the crowd wasn't disbursed promptly.

"I told officers that I didn't feel safe, but was told that they had a lot of pending calls to take care of," Alwardt said. "How is protecting children not a priority?"

At the end of her comments, Alwardt said she would not go to Austin Park anymore.

"It's a shame that you can't bring your children there," Christian said, before asking Heubusch to increase patrols there.

Jankowski said the matter "could have been resolved by Alwardt speaking to the (police) supervisor" on duty that night, and not having to come before City Council.

Councilman Robert Bialkowski agreed with Jankowski and added that Council "needs to set an example."

"If it happens again, there should be arrests," he said. "This is not tolerable."

Following the meeting, Heubusch could be seen speaking with Alwardt.

In other action, Council:

-- Approved a resolution to extend the current sales tax allocation agreement with Genesee County -- a pact that is set to expire next February -- through Dec. 31, 2018 in order to buy more time as negotiations between the city and county continue.

"The only reason we're extending it is that part of the process will require 16 or 17 small municipalities to renegotiate their water contracts (with the county)," Jankowski said. "That could be a major holdup. Just to be safe, we're extending it so we don't run out of time."

Calling it a "complicated process," Jankowski said the city is at the "fact-finding stage" and can't go further until the municipalities reach their agreements. He said the Genesee County is on board with the extension and likely will be passing a similar resolution.

Currently, the terms of the sales tax agreement provide the city with 16 percent of the sales tax generated in Genesee County, with the towns and villages splitting 34 percent (based on assessed valuation) and the county receiving 50 percent.

The contract is tied in to the city/county water treatment agreements as well, which leads to the complications cited by Jankowski.

-- Approved a resolution to transfer $35,000 from reserve funds to replace the message board at Dwyer Stadium, hopefully prior to the start of the New York-Penn League season later this month.

Originally, that money was earmarked to replace seats at the Denio Street ballpark, but Council deemed that the scoreboard was a more immediate need.

-- Commended Doug Cecere for his exemplary performance as a city firefighter for 24 years. Cecere recently retired.

Candlelight vigil in Austin Park memorializes infant whose cause of death is undetermined

By Howard B. Owens


Unnamed, unknown for months, and whose death is shrouded in mystery, an infant who may never have drawn a breath in this mortal world, was memorialized Wednesday night in a candlelight vigil in Austin Park.

There were words of compassion for Christina M. Colantonio, the 28-year-old Liberty Street woman charged with murder in the second degree even as the District Attorney's Office hedges on its claim of sufficient evidence to proceed with a criminal complaint, and greater compassion expressed for the female infant who may have been stillborn, or may have been killed by her own mother, but either way, whose birth was reportedly kept secret, her body hidden in her mother's apartment for about three months.

"Tonight, we're not just out here to remember a life that really didn't have that chance (to make a decision for Christ)," said Pastor Jason Norton. "We're not going to see her pretty face run and skip in this world, and we're not going to hear her pretty voice, and we're not going to experience her here.

"But people, I tell you, she has been received into the heavenlies. I tell you, if you want to know her, then just accept Jesus and believe in him and one day you also will be there and you'll be able to embrace her."

After Norton spoke -- the last of several speakers -- the 40 or 50 people gathered carried their lit candles over to Norton's church in City Center for a reception.

Norton said their candles represented a light in this world to battle the darkness.

"I believe with all of my heart that what we're doing tonight is just not to remember her precious life, and that's why we're here primarily, but we're also here to make a bold statement to our city. We're here to make a bold statement to this region, to this community, that darkness and evil shall not prevail and have its way in this area. Amen. (Amen.) We are making a bold declaration tonight."

Earlier, Pastor Tim Young called on those assembled to pray for Colantonio and her family.

"We're here today to encourage each other," Young said. "We're here to help the family, to give them comfort in this time of need, to help them in whatever we can, to love them, as Christ loves us.

"I encouage each and every one of you in whatever way you can to reach out to this family, to Christina, also, because this lady, woman, needs lots of prayer," Young added. "She needs lots of prayer. The family needs lots of prayer. We need to help and support them in any way we can."

Tammy Arneth, of All Babies Cherished, expressed concern that an expectant mother in the community might not know of the free resources her agency provides.

The agency can help new mothers with emotional support as well as material needs, all for free, but new parents are expected to take some classes through the program.

"It breaks my heart that maybe Christina didn't know to come to see us," Arneth said, adding later, "We had more than 900 visits last year alone and obviously that wasn't enough, because if somebody in this community doesn't know to come to us for services, then we're not doing the job."



The donated stuffed toys will be given to Batavia PD so officers can hand them out to children who might need the tender care they represent in times of crisis.


Attendees had a chance to sign cards for the baby's family.


Pastor Tim Young


Pastor Jason Norton


Tammy Arneth speaking.



Stephanie Armstrong with a closing song.


Batavia Neighborhood Watch Game Night

By Bea McManis

Only two weeks left.  Join us at Austin Park's soft ball field for a fun night.  If you wish to help supervise the games, please meet at the red Care-A-Van truck at 5pm.  Those coming for the games (adults and children), please check in with Frank Schaivi or Sarah Christopher.  

Event Date and Time

Batavia Neighborhood Watch Game Night

By Bea McManis

Meet us at the softball field at Austin Park for a rousing game of kickball.  Bring yourself, your kids, your grandma, or a team to challenge others.  Check in with Frank Schiavi or Sarah Christopher when you arrive.  If you would like to be an adult game supervisor, meet us at the red Care A Van truck at 5pm. Thursday night.  Go to the Care a Van picnic then meander over to the ball field to run off the calories.  

Event Date and Time

Authentically Local