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Batavia City Council

October 22, 2021 - 5:11pm

The introduction of new computer software means that it’s time to say good-bye to an old -- and outdated -- permitting and licensing fee schedule for the City of Batavia, according to a memo from City Manager Rachael Tabelski dated Oct. 25 and sent out ahead of Monday’s City Council Conference Meeting.

Council will convene at 7 p.m. for the Conference Meeting, which features a full slate of agenda items. A Special Business Meeting set up to vote on three of those items will follow.

In the memo, Tabelski promotes Energov software, a program that creates digital files for permits and licensing that will make life easier for Inspection Bureau staff. However, some of the current fees are not articulated clearly enough to jive with that software.

Additionally, she reports that a review of the city’s current processes and procedures – along with permit fees – was conducted.

Noting that the fee schedule hasn’t been updated in at least 15 years and has resulted in varying, inaccurate cost calculations, she is proposing a new fee schedule – a revised list of charges for certain projects that was approved by the Inspections Bureau, Plumbing Board and Bureau of Maintenance.

“In order to ensure that permit fees can be calculated in Energov and to create a permit fee schedule that is fair to all, a new fee schedule is proposed,” Tabelski wrote. “Many permits are proposed to be a flat fee. Permits that are not a flat fee have been structured for easy calculation by staff, the public and will easily compute in Energov.”

The memo indicates that work performed by the property owner will be calculated by square foot. If the project is not included on the list of flat fee permits – such as a porch rebuild or removal of a load-bearing wall – then the value of the cost of the project would be multiplied by 1.2 percent to determine the fee. Also, the fee will triple if work is done without a permit.

If approved by Council, changes would take effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

Tabelski put together a chart showing items up for revision and compared the proposed new cost to fees in Canandaigua, Lockport, Rome and Glens Falls.

Items on the list for revision, followed by the current fee, proposed fee (in bold), and fees in the four cities listed above in order:

  • Re-roof all 1-family dwelling (2,200 sq ft - $13,000) -- $52, $65, $100, $59, $75, $50.
  • Re-roof porch only (350 sq ft - $1,800) -- $40, $35, $100, $51, $75, $50.
  • Re-roof commercial (1,200 sq ft - $26,000) -- $113, $312, $100, $150, $200, $150.
  • Six-foot vinyl fence ($15,000) -- $65, $65, $50, $20, $75, $25.
  • Six-foot wood fence ($7,000) -- $43, $65, $50, $20, $75, $25.
  • Entire house vinyl siding (1,600 sq ft - $14,000) -- $53.50, $65, $480, $47, $75, $400.
  • 1-family (375 sq ft - $22,000) -- $115.50, $264, $300, $150, $100, $200.
  • Commercial addition (1,400 sq ft-$105,000) -- $550, $1,260, $500, $350, $200, $350.

Other Conference Meeting agenda items are as follows:

  • Agreements with the Town of Batavia for city personnel to repair and maintain 31 street lights the town is putting up on Park Road in the area of Batavia Downs Gaming and a traffic control device the town is installing at the intersection of Route 98 and Federal Drive, north of the city.

In both cases, the city would invoice the town for labor and material costs.

Currently, city employees maintain the traffic light for the town at Veterans Memorial Drive and the Towne Center.

  • Acceptance of a $500,000 Restore New York Grant that was awarded to the city in 2007 to assist Savarino Companies for demolition, rehabilitation and adaptive re-use of the existing former National Grid electric building in connection with the Ellicott Station project.

As a condition of disbursing the funds to Savarino, the Buffalo developer is required to enter into an “Undertaking Agreement” with the city to assume a portion or all of the obligations of the city under the grant.

  • Mid-fiscal year transfers due to expenses incurred in excess of budgeted amounts set in April.

These include $30,000 from the contingency fund into the legal services budget for increased litigation costs, $12,000 from contingency into the information technology budget for an increase in the number of monitored computer servers, and $25,000 from the public works administrative salary account to the DPW engineering account for expenses owed to LaBella Associates in light of the city’s ongoing search for a DPW director.

Comments
September 28, 2021 - 9:34am

While water and sewer improvements certainly aren’t as intriguing as the construction of a playground designed for children of all levels of ability, they are vital to a municipality's health and well-being.

With that in mind, five of the seven projects that would utilize $1.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding -- as recommended by City of Batavia Manager Rachael Tabelski -- have to do with upgrades of water and wastewater systems or purchases of related equipment.

Tabelski, in a presentation at Monday night's City Council Conference Meeting at the City Hall Council Board Room, provided details of the water/wastewater proposals.

She was supported by Stephen Waldvogel, P.E., technical director with GHD Group of Buffalo, the company in line to contract with the city for water system planning assistance, and wastewater system headworks and capacity analysis.

The one “public facing project,” Tabelski said, is spending $800,000 – equally split between ARPA money and anticipated grant funding – on upgrading Austin Park (which is located behind the current City Police Department) to an "inclusive destination playground."

Tabelski said that residents have told her they don’t feel safe in that park, compared to other city parks.

“But if we have a really nice playground and really nice space, hopefully, we’d have really great families visiting there so everyone could feel safe at that park,” she said, adding that the project would include enhancement of the water splash pad there.

“I think this is a good opportunity,” she said. “Most of these other projects are water and sewer line utilities. This would be something, obviously, the public could see and enjoy, not that they don’t enjoy clean water – you just don’t see it every day. It just comes to your house, right?”

CITY GETS $1.4 MILLION IN ARPA FUNDING

As reported first on The Batavian on Saturday, Tabelski put together the list of priority expenditures that qualify under ARPA’s rules and regulations. The city received $1,474,764.79 from the federal stimulus action (and, as reported last night, already has half of that in its bank account). The remainder is scheduled to be allocated after the first of the year.

Tabelski made a convincing case for engineering studies, analysis and upgrades of the city’s aging wastewater treatment plant and assistance as it moves toward the phasing out of its water plant.

Two of the projects on the list call for contracting with GHD Group – one for engineering services for water system planning ($248,000 in ARPA money) and the other for wastewater treatment plant headworks and capacity analysis ($250,000 in ARPA money).

“(The engineering services contract) is something the city needs to start immediately, whether we decided to use ARPA funding or not,” Tabelski said of an anticipated two- to two and a half-year contract with GHD.

The gist of that project is to address and replace lead services lines throughout the city according to new federal regulations, she said, mentioning the additional requirement of an online map to show residents the location of lead lines or suspected lead lines.

Tabelski also said that engineering expertise is needed as the city prepares to close its water plant in conjunction with Genesee County’s plan to provide Monroe County Water Authority water to city residents.

After outlining the scope of services of the water system planning resolution, Tabelski turned it over to Waldvogel, who said he has worked with the city “in the background” for the past 10 or 15 years.

ENGINEER: GENERATIONAL CHANGES IN STORE

“The revised lead and copper rule is probably one of the most substantial changes to the water regulations in a generation,” he said. “It will have a substantial impact on your water department and that’s one of the reasons why Rachel is looking to tackle some of these big things.”

As far as the wastewater treatment plant headworks and capacity analysis is concerned, Tabelski said the city just completed a $1 million project to replace the main air system that goes along the ponds.

She said analysis is needed of the pipes that go into the ponds to bubble and diffuse air to allow the ponds to digest waste efficiently and to “understand what our capacity is today so we’re able to make future decisions.”

Waldvogel added that the air system at the wastewater treatment plant is aging and deteriorated.

“There needs to be, as requested by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation), a headworks analysis of the facility,” he said. “And what that is, is essentially an analysis to determine the flow and contaminant loading that the plant can properly manage while you still meet your permit.”

He said the plan is to collect data for 12 months – determining the different “loadings” for all four seasons – “and from that you’ll determine how the facility removes a long list of contaminants, and from that you develop your own local permits which you issue to all the local industries that discharge to your system.”

Waldvogel said this will have an effect on the Town of Batavia, which is a minority owner and also discharges to the plant, and positions the city for long-term growth and future investment.

He also indicated that by understanding its capacity, the city would have to renew its wholesale sewer and meter reading agreements with the Town of Batavia “which are predicated on certain flows and certain loadings.”

Three other projects relating to water and sewer are replacement of the Cohocton water transmission line that supplies water to the southwest quadrant of the city ($400,000 in ARPA funds and $400,000 in Water Reserve funds), replacement of an aging sewer camera ($50,000 in ARPA funds and $50,000 in Wastewater Reserve Funds), and replacement of meter reading equipment ($26,764.70 in ARPA funds and $1,718.79 from Water Reserve funds).

AUSTIN PARK: AN OPPORTUNITY ZONE

Tabelski said Austin Park is about 25 years old and that area qualifies as an Opportunity Zone due to 2019 figures that show 12.9 percent poverty and 4.9 percent unemployment.

“This fits into addressing negative economic impacts and public health in a neighborhood,” she said. “We want to continue to provide those outdoor, healthy living, recreation opportunities, but also doing something a little more significant.

“We don’t have anything that is like, ‘Wow, that is a cool playground.”

She called it an inclusive destination playground, one designed for children of all different abilities and for those in wheelchairs, for example.

City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. sought to clarify the meaning of “inclusive” – requesting the term “universal access” be included going forward.

He said that Council passed a resolution several years ago that authorizes the board “to think in that realm whenever we designed anything new.”

The other project (using $100,000 in ARPA funds and $440,000 from the Facility Reserve Fund) would make necessary improvements at the city’s Bureau of Maintenance and Fire Department -- the purchase of a new generator to fully run fire headquarters on Evans Street and to make the facility compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

City Council voted to forward all of the recommendations to the Oct. 12 meeting.

DIVIDE NY, OTHER RESOLUTIONS

On another front, Council, at the request of Sixth Ward Council member Rose Mary Christian, briefly discussed a bill in the New York State Assembly that provides for a referendum on the question “Do you support the division of New York into two separate states?”

Christian was looking for Council’s support of this bill, and seeking guidance on the best way to proceed. City Attorney George Van Nest said that it was a state referendum, not a local one, and, if passed, would be placed on a ballot for statewide voting.

The bill calls for a general election -- posing that question to state voters -- to be held on or before Dec. 31, 2022. The bill is sponsored by Assemblyman Stephen Hawley. The Senate version is S7314. Currently, there are no votes for this bill scheduled in state legislative session.

In other action, Council forwarded to the Oct. 12 Business Meeting resolutions:

  • Spending $38,800 from the Facility Ice Rink Reserves account for purchase and installation of a new compressor that is part of the ice making equipment at the Batavia Ice Rink on Evans Street. Tabelski said one of the two compressors has failed and to rebuild it would not be cost effective.
  • Spending $84,000 from the Water Reserves account as a local match to the $334,000 the city received in a grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission to fully fund the installation of 950 linear feet of 8-inch water main along Bank Street – from Washington Avenue to Main Street. The project will replace 90-plus-year-old pipe, thus increasing water supply and flow in that area, which is designated as the site of the new police headquarters.

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

Comments
September 25, 2021 - 1:35pm

austin_park_resized_1.jpgLabeling 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.

Comments
September 14, 2021 - 5:51pm

A City Council member’s request Monday night to add a “Divide New York” discussion to a future Conference Meeting agenda resulted in an admonition by Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. over her use of a certain word.

Toward the end of the governing body’s Business Meeting at City Hall Council Board Room, Rose Mary Christian brought up a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Steven Hawley that provides for a referendum on the question, Do you support the division of New York into two separate states?

“I think we have a right to bring this forth so people will be able to vote on it next year, and leave it up to every resident in the State of New York …,” Christian said.

The Sixth Ward representative then accused Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. of attempting to prevent it from being discussed.

“I don’t recall telling you that,” Jankowski replied, as Christian said, “Oh, yes you did.”

Jankowski then said he recalled telling her he didn’t think it was appropriate for City Council to weigh in on it.

“It is appropriate; it’s for local governments,” Christian said.

Jankowski agreed to put it on the agenda, adding, “That’s what I think we intended to do, but you never got back to us.”

“No, you didn’t,” Christian replied. “You might be able to bull---- these other people, but you’re not going to do it to me.”

That prompted Jankowski to say, “Will you please watch your language, Rose Mary? We’re on video and there might be some young child watching it.”

Seeking the last word, Christian said, “Oh, please. Give me a break – with the language that’s out there now. Are you serious?”

Jankowski then asked, “Are you done?”

To which Christian responded: “Will you please put that on for the next meeting? I’m done.”

September 14, 2021 - 11:19am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, Batavia Muckdogs, genesee county.

witt_and_nichols_muckdogs.jpg

Robbie Nichols and Marc Witt say they have about 50,000 reasons to support their claim that the first year of the Batavia Muckdogs’ participation in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League was a resounding success.

The team owner and general manager, respectively, took a few minutes at Monday night’s Batavia City Council meeting to report encouraging attendance figures for not only the team’s home games but also for the various other events that took place at Dwyer Stadium.

Nichols said the team averaged 1,778 fans per game over their 27 home games and attracted 501 season ticket holders, compared to 2019, when the team averaged 951 per game and had 79 season ticket holders.

An online check of Minor League Reference, however, lists the Muckdogs’ 2019 attendance at 1,135 per game for 37 home games.

Regardless of the exact numbers, Nichols was justified when he said, “We’re quite pleased at the way our first season turned out.”

When you combine the Muckdogs’ games with the numerous events held at Dwyer Stadium this summer, more than 50,000 people strolled through the gates. Other events included KMS Dance Academy competitions and clinics, PRIDE Festival, Challenger baseball, GLOW Academy Youth Baseball and Battle of Badges.

Collegiate baseball tournaments, an Alzheimer’s Walk and Muckdogs Monster Mash for kids (Oct. 23) are yet to come, Nichols said.

Witt acknowledged the “energy” provided by the Community Dance Team that entertained the crowd on a nightly basis, and pointed out how the players regularly interacted with the fans and community.

Nichols thanked the many sponsors and Council “for entrusting us with this great tradition.”

Council member John Canale, who said he attended several games, commented that the atmosphere “was tremendous.”

“You promised us that and you came through for us,” he said, prompting applause from his colleagues.

In other developments, Council passed the following resolutions:

  • A modified and restated sales tax allocation agreement with Genesee County through Dec. 31, 2059. The new contract does not change the terms and conditions between the city and county, but does include wording that allows the county to distribute $10 million annually in sales tax revenue to its towns and villages, beginning Jan. 1, 2022.

In 2018, the city and county reached a deal giving Batavia 16 percent of the county’s share of the sales tax – with provisions for that amount to grow in future years by a maximum of 2 percent per year. In future years, the city’s share will depend upon sales tax revenue growth, eventually being no less than 14 percent.

  • An amendment of the city’s zoning map to rezone parcels at 211 and 211 ½ East Main Street, just east of the existing Genesee Area Family YMCA, from P-2 (Planned Development) to C-3 (Commercial) to accommodate the construction of the Healthy Living Campus.
  • The installation of a street light on Highland Park due to insufficient lighting on a portion of that street. The resolution authorizes National Grid to install the fixture on an existing pole, which would cost the city about $90 a year for the electricity.
  • A contract with Bailey Electric Motor and Pump Supply of Corfu to replace a high service pump Variable Frequency Drive control at the Water Treatment Plant in the low bid amount of $23,878. Tabelski reported that the current part, which is 20 years old, has failed and the repair would be most costly than replacement. A VFD is a type of motor controller that drives an electric motor by varying the frequency and voltage of its power supply, and normally is a key component at the mechanical treatment stage, biological treatment stage, and chlorination and filtration stage.

Council also forwarded to next month’s Business Meeting a recommendation by City Manager Rachael Tabelski to transfer $711,000 in general fund balance to reserve funds and another $50,000 in the workers’ compensation fund to that fund’s reserves.

The funds earmarked for allocation are Police Reserve, DPW Equipment Reserve, Facilities Reserve, Compensated Absences, Parking Lot Reserve, Health Care Fund Reserve and Workers’ Compensation Fund Reserve.

Looking forward, Tabelski said she will be outlining recommendations for the use of the $1.4 million the city received in American Rescue Plan Act funding at the Conference Meeting on Sept. 27, and reported that bonding financial figures and design phase information for the new city police headquarters will be presented in November or December.

Photo: Marc Witt, left, and Robbie Nichols of the Batavia Muckdogs at Monday night's City Council meeting. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Comments
September 13, 2021 - 10:24pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, Otis Street, city of batavia.

The president of the Batavia City Council tonight said he will utilize all means necessary to rectify a serious situation that has an Otis Street man and woman fearing for their safety and the security of their neighborhood.

“We are working with the assistant city manager (Jill Wiedrick) … she’s going to get code enforcement down there,” said Eugene Jankowski Jr., responding to public comments from Ronald Yantz of Otis Street about the behavior of those living directly across from him.

“We’re going to try to bring all the agencies we can. We already talked to the mortgage agency and they were shocked, but was unable to do anything. They got past their screening … and are kind of confused as to how they made it through and ended up with the house.”

Jankowski said City Council and Police Chief Shawn Heubusch are aware of the problems being caused by residents across the street, noting that 11 people – including six children, unsupervised at times – are living there.

Yantz and Carol Mueller appeared at tonight’s City Council meeting, with the former taking about five minutes to detail how their life has been turned upside down since purchasing their home last August.

Quality of Life Has Diminished

“It was a nice quiet street and a few months later, people bought the house across the street. From there, it has gone downhill as far as my quality of life, our neighbors' qualify of life – our safety,” he said, mentioning the frequent loud parties, large groups of kids, and garbage blowing into his yard from across the street.

He said he was prompted to call police recently after witnessing one of the older kids “pulling out what appeared to be a pistol from one of the cars” and carrying it low into the house.

“If it’s a toy pistol it should have the orange cover on the end of the barrel. It wasn’t a toy as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

Then, last month, he said it was about 11:30 at night when he was shaken by an explosion.

“I was just falling asleep and I heard a huge explosion right near the house. You could hear the shrapnel hit my house. It was no M-80, it was a half-stick of dynamite, at least, on the street. It was only 25 to 30 feet away from the gas main that goes into my house,” he said.

“That would have been the biggest tragedy that ever happened in Batavia … that would have blown all those houses up. And the kids that were standing there would have been killed and me, too.”

He said he ran downstairs and out the door.

Threats Aimed at Couple

“I said, ‘What are you guys doing?’ They’re like, ‘Shut the f--- up’ to us and telling her to shut up. We called the cops and all the neighbors came around; they already had called the cops.”

Yantz said when police arrived, the people verbally abused the couple, and threatened them, saying, ‘Wait until you go to work and see what happens to your house’ and ‘See what happens to your (custom pickup) truck when you’re not around.’”

Unfortunately, the police were unable to do anything at that time as they did not witness any unlawful act.

“This is ridiculous,” Yantz continued. “These people have no regards for their neighbors or nothing. What was a nice, quiet street and now it’s … like some of the other streets that have come down in Batavia. It’s just a shame.”

He said that since he is “stuck” in his home for at least five years before he can sell it, he hopes that the enforcement of ordinances or something else can be done.

“All night long, they play loud music – in the middle of the night, you hear thumping and thumping. It’s very … it’s a situation that I didn’t expect to get into at my age. I just want a nice quiet existence in a residential neighborhood,” he said.

Advice is to Keep Calling the Police

Responding to Yantz’ comments, City Manager Rachael Tabelski said that PathStone assisted the people as first-time homebuyers but noted that they have a mortgage through the United States Department of Agriculture. She also said the city has reached out to the USDA but to no avail.

Jankowski urged the couple to keep calling the police because “when they don’t call for a while, then police resources are directed somewhere else.”

“They (police) think the problem is under control if they don’t hear anything so they move to another location that might need it,” he said, adding that he told police to stay vigilant on this and similar circumstances around the city.

Council member Rose Mary Christian, who represents Otis Street residents in the Sixth Ward, advised that these types of disturbances have been going on for months.

“We’re at the point that it is ridiculous that they have to make a harassment charge against these people when we all know damn well that there are violations of the law – and the fact that the city should do something about it,” she said. “We have more power than these poor people on that street that destroy that beautiful, beautiful street.

Sixth Ward Council Member: It's Outrageous

“As far as social services go, those kids are running in the street and everything else, and throwing items at cars that are going by. The vulgar language and everything else that is going on. They (the children) should be taken away from that family. There’s no if, ands or buts about it. And to have 11 people in that household, and to have all the other friends from Liberty Street coming down into that area, it’s outrageous.”

Jankowski said that filing complaints are the best way to resolve the problem.

“We need a more consistent game plan to deal with this,” he said. “Maybe we’ll keep track of what we do to resolve this so if it pops up in another area … we can use some of these tools and solve it a little faster than the six months that this has been going on.”

He then offered his full support as he also lives on Otis Street.

“If you need support from me, I am right down the street. I’ll walk down and help you guys …,” he said.

Police Chief: Charges are Pending

Heubusch said his officers answered that call for service but noted that there is an open investigation, “so I can’t really get into the details of it but, suffice it to say, there are charges pending.”

“We will be dealing with that. We do have a presence on the street as time permits and our call volume permits … we’re doing our best to split all of our resources and make sure you guys are taken care of,” he said.

Council member John Canale asked Heubusch if he had “past experiences” with any of the people, and he replied, “Some of them are known to us, yes.”

Then, Council member Patti Pacino said, “Are you telling me that if two policemen stand there and somebody threatened my life and my property … they really can’t arrest the person?”

Heubusch replied that he wasn’t there that night, but said that “the legal definition of harassment is much different than the casual definition of harassment.”

Council member Robert Bialkowski urged Yantz to lodge complaints, “even if it’s 2 in the morning, call the police and they’ll be over there in a few minutes.”

Jankowski: Something will Come to Light

Jankowski said the people are playing a “cat and mouse” game with police but eventually “something is going to come to light that is pending over there.”

“There were other things that happened a couple weeks ago. They addressed the situation over there with other agencies interested in people that I can’t discuss – but they removed some people at that point,” he said. “So, that made it a little better for a short period of time. And then other people kind of rose to the occasion and they took over and starting causing problems.”

A former city police officer, Jankowski said victims need to call so law enforcement can address it and document it.

“When those things accumulate, the more time we can show a pattern of constant harassment ... that might fit some of the definition over a period of time,” he offered. “If they don’t have the means to actually physically harm you at the moment, and there’s an officer standing 20 feet away across the street, it’s not harassment at that point. If they’re in your face and they’re making contact with you, you’ve got something there.”

Comments
September 13, 2021 - 11:10am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, Batavia Muckdogs, Freed Maxick.

The Batavia City Council, back in the public eye after a five-week break, is expected to hear a review of the Batavia Muckdogs’ summer baseball season from owner Robbie Nichols and an audit presentation for the 2020-21 fiscal year by Kathryn Barrett, director at Freed Maxick CPAs, P.C.

Those two items, along with City Manager Rachael Tabelski’s recommended transfers of unassigned funds to restricted reserve funds, highlight the agenda of Council’s Special Conference Meeting, which is set for 7 p.m. at the City Hall Council Board Room.

A Business Meeting, featuring five resolutions to be voted upon, will follow. One of those resolutions is to approve the modified and restated sales tax allocation agreement with Genesee County – action that paves the way for the county to distribute sales tax revenue on an annual basis to its towns and villages for the next 38 years.

Muckdogs Make Winning Debut

The Batavia club enjoyed a successful first season in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League after the city and CAN-USA Sports LLC, owned by Nichols and his wife, Nellie, came to a lease agreement over the winter to operate a team here – ultimately deciding to keep the popular nickname, Muckdogs.

The team posted a 22-19 record, finishing one game back of Geneva for a playoff berth in the league’s Western Division, but beyond that, fans flocked to Dwyer Stadium in large numbers. The Nichols and their players also supported numerous community events and causes.

In an interview with The Batavian at the end of July, Nichols said fans will see an even better team in 2022, stating that this year’s players will go back to their schools and tell the best players on their teams that “you want to go to Batavia."

“I think the team is really going to improve next year," he said.

Audit: City at ‘Healthy, Stable Position’

Barrett will present the key findings of the accounting firm’s audit of the city, which, per the document’s financial highlights section, continued to maintain a healthy and stable financial position for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021.

“The city continues to maintain a positive unassigned fund balance. Despite the challenges such as a slow property tax base growth and state mandates (i.e. the property tax cap), the city continues to diligently commit one-time surplus funds to fund balance reserves for future capital investments,” the report reads.

Achievements over the past year, per the report, include:

-- Strong assigned and unassigned fund balances in the general fund and strong balances in the water and sewer funds, along with “healthy” operations in general, water and sewer funds;

-- Committing surplus to reserve funds for one-time equipment purchases and infrastructure and facility improvements;

-- Implementation of fiscal policies such as a fund balance policy, investment policy, revised purchasing manual and monthly financial monitoring.

Tabelski: Move $761,000 to Reserve Funds

The city manager, in a memo to the city’s Audit Advisory Committee dated Aug. 25, writes that after the 2021 fiscal year, the city is in “a good position to increase the percentage of unassigned fund balance … to 15 percent of current year general fund expenses.”

She recommends transferring $711,000 in general fund balance to reserve funds and another $50,000 in the workers’ compensation fund to that fund’s reserves.  Even with these transfers, she said there will be about $2,527,600 left in unassigned fund balance.

Tabelski noted that the city’s capital plan calls for “multiple” expenditures over the next two to five years, including public works equipment, sidewalk replacement and facility improvements – “without negatively affecting the city’s financial position or tax rate.”

The recommended transfers are as follows:

  • Police Reserve, $50,000, primarily to replace patrol and detective vehicles on an annual basis, with two vehicles to be replaced next year.
  • DPW Equipment Reserve, $100,000, raising the fund to $437,225, with the goal to replace three dump trucks/plows, six sedans, four pickup trucks with plows and a one-ton dump truck by the end of 2025.
  • Facilities Reserve, $136,000, considering work on multiple proposed projects, such as the new police station, improvements at the fire station, Bureau of Maintenance, City Centre and other buildings.
  • Compensated Absences, $75,000, noting the city’s liability in this area is $1.94 million, with nearly $200,000 due within a year, and also that three pending retirements will affect the general fund by nearly $100,000.
  • Parking Lot, $100,000, with an eye on repaving, by 2025, lots on Williams Street, Court Street Plaza and Bureau of Maintenance
  • Health Care Fund Reserve, $250,000, to build back funds spent over the last two years. As of March 31, the fund had $10,155.47 in restricted reserves and $13,863.08 in assigned fund balance.
  • Workers’ Compensation Fund Reserve, $50,000, with the goal of reaching $1 million in the fund’s restricted reserve. As of March 31, the WC fund had $580,424.34 of restricted reserves and $485,111.13 in assigned fund balance.
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September 11, 2021 - 11:27am

“Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.” – President George W. Bush.

As those words by a president seeking to calm a nation shocked by the events of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, resound to this day, officials of VFW Veness-Strollo Post 1602 this morning conducted a moving and fitting tribute to the nearly 3,000 lives lost as a result of that horrific terrorist attack on American soil.

The Batavian, as a community service to those unable to attend today's remembrance event, is publishing the text of the speeches given by Assemblyman Steven Hawley, VFW member Max Sernoffsky (who acted as master of ceremonies), Post 1602 Junior Vice Commander John Woodworth Jr. and City Councilman-At-Large Robert Bialkowski.

Another story, featuring Batavia Police Det. Sgt. Matt Lutey and Batavia Fire Lt. Dave Green, will follow.

Assemblyman Steven Hawley

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It’s hard to believe that it has been 20 years since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. Most, if not all of us, remember exactly what we were doing that day … almost as if it were yesterday. Where we were; who we were with and how we felt. Watching the twin towers (of the World Trade Center in New York City) fall changed our lives and our nation forever.

As New Yorkers, we were all particularly affected by the attack close to our own homes. We are forever grateful to our first responders, many of whom still live with the physical and psychological effects of their service during that tragic time.

Their courage can not be understated. Thousands of firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and police officers rushed into danger at that scene to save others during the attack – and we will never forget the hundreds of responders who died so that others might live.

After the tragedy of the terrorist attacks of 9-11-01, a sense of unity spread throughout the entire country. American flags blossomed everywhere – on homes and on businesses. Bumper stickers and magnets declaring support for our military were a common sight on highways. And we came together to support those within our communities and beyond.

The American spirit of resilience was on full display, just as it was during our Revolution and during the World Wars. We must always remember that resiliency and never forget that regardless of our personal or political differences, we are united freely and equally as one people under our Constitution.

It is that commitment to our common ideals and the respect for one another that has empowered us to be as strong as we are. The events of the past few weeks have thrust us into a new period, and reminds us – home or abroad – the strength, bravery and skill of our military service members are what stand between freedom and tyranny.

The men and women who fought in Afghanistan should be welcomed home as heroes, and those we lost should be remembered and honored for all history. They fought bravely for a righteous cause. As soldiers return to their families, we must ensure they’re given every resource to make a successful transition back into life at home.

Most of all, they deserve our gratitude and respect.

Max Sernoffsky, VFW Post 1602 member

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Three major questions have got my attention while planning this event: who, how and, most importantly, why.

Well, 911 has always been known as a sign of distress. If there is trouble, just call the number and you get help from first responders. So, the question of who. Who are we honoring? Definitely, first responders.

Sept. 11, 2001 was very different. This was a very vicious and malicious attack on all of America through which our World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked. In essence, the heartbeat of America.

On this day all of America responded. America became proud, ready and united. On this day, we honor all Americans who made themselves ready for the call to protect our way of life.

The question of how? It has been said that how we should act is sad and somber. I totally agree what happened 20 years ago was anything but a celebration. Well, America did not die on that day. America came together. Angry and upset, maybe, but definitely united.

As one may say, let a sleeping dog lie, because after this tragedy America did become alive. Every patriotic American volunteered to support the cause of freedom.

The most important question is why? Why are we gathered here today? This is a remembrance event. Remember there are some out there that try to take our freedoms, rights and way of life from us … as American we must always be prepared to protect and defend as we did on that day.

Heroes on Flight 93 were the first to respond. They were American citizens who were very heroic. They stopped the terrorists from reaching their mark in an attempt to destroy America. To those brave American citizens, we just always remember and never forget. Let us honor them by doing what it takes to keep our country free.

Among us today, we have many veterans and first responders. We also have many citizens whose help was instrumental. Several are part of the many organizations that are here to serve. Why? Because they believe in what you're doing for our country.

To our young citizens, I realize you were too little or not even born when this tragic event took place. To you I realize that you are about to embark on a path – whatever you become – doctors, firemen, policemen or even a member of the armed forces. There will be times you feel alone along the way, alienated, tested or even overwhelmed.

Just remember … we always have your back. I encourage you all to stay around after the ceremony and engage first hand with our fellow veterans, supporting organizations and first responders. Ask the questions, gain knowledge, insight and wisdom from them.

(He also thanked the businesses who supported the ceremony).

Today, we remember our firefighters, police force, armed forces and citizens who all stepped forward when they first got the news. These people ran toward the danger – not away from it. Why? Because there were American citizens in those towers.

It is because of that bravery that many lives were saved. They did this knowing full well of the risk that they themselves may never make it back alive. I can’t say this enough. It is Americans like you that make me so proud to be an American.

Please God, always give me the same strength that they had to be ready to face danger and to never turn my back to it. Whenever I think of the many Americans selflessly doing their part, protecting our way of life, it just makes me so thankful and patriotic.

Why do Americans do this? It is because Americans are resilient. They do this because America is worth protecting. As long as we continue to have our brave young Americans protecting our way of life, we will forever be and always will be the greatest nation ever.

Councilmember-At-Large Robert Bialkowski

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We certainly live in very troubled times. 20 years (ago), it seems like just an hour ago, the mainland of our country was attacked by our enemies. Please, let’s never, ever forget this day.

Four airliners were hijacked and used for these attacks of terror. American Airlines Flight 11 was crashed into the World Trade Center north tower at 8:46 a.m. United Airlines Flight 175 was crashed 17 minutes later into the south tower at 9:03 a.m. American Airlines Flight 77 was crashed into the west side of the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m. United Airlines Flight 93, heading for target White House or the Capitol building was overtaken by some very brave passengers and crashed in Shanksville, Pa., at 10:03 a.m.

Many of us have had friends, relatives and associates working in these buildings. I, personally, had a relative and other military people I knew that were working in the Pentagon at that time. By the grace of God, they escaped.

The aftermath of this attack was 2,977 fatalities. Over 25,000 people were also injured. Three hundred and forty firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers paid the ultimate sacrifice performing their heroic rescue attempts, and to this day there are thousands of people suffering health issues.

This was a major attack and it all occurred in minutes, and it was well laid out and well planned. These people – al-Qaeda, Taliban, ISIS and all the other terrorist groups – are our enemies and must be treated as such. They will never be our friends and we must never forget.

It’s an honor to be here today to recognize our local post 1602 and the entire VFW organization for all your unselfish work supporting all our veterans. Since your beginning in 1899 … that’s a long time to be providing services. You provide a home, and when I say home, I’m talking about a community – a community where all veterans are welcome with honor and dignity.

He then was joined by City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. in presenting a proclamation from the City of Batavia recognizing today as “911 Day of Remembrance in the City of Batavia” and encourage citizens to honor the lives of those lost to participation in community service and remembrance ceremonies on this day and throughout this year.

VFW Post 1602 Junior Vice Commander John Woodworth Jr.

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I encourage our recruits to understand that the VFW and American Legion is our voice in Washington, D.C. We have to depend on each other, so I highly recommend that you join these organizations to support not just ourselves but our community as well.

My name is John Woodworth Jr. I'm a U.S. Air Force retiree and I continue to serve our great nation as of now, for 31 years.

I would like to speak about September 11th, 2001, as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the events ... and remember all those who lost their lives on that tragic day. To me, September 11th has been the worst attack on the American people and the second worst attack on America’s resolve.

The first, as many may know already, is December 7th, 1941, at the Pearl Harbor Naval Stations. However, but instead of another country waging war on our nation using military force against military force, 19 Islamic extremists committed an unthinkable act of cowardliness against the American people and tested our resolve. These 19 terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners – American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 77 and United Airlines Flight 93.

They used them as weapons of mass destruction on American citizens and citizens from 77 different countries. These weren’t the only victims of 911. We lost 412 of America’s heroes, and I’m referring to our firefighters, police officers and medical personnel who answered the call and gave all save tens of thousands of lives during rescue operations at the World Trade Center.

Which leads me to the other heroes of September 11th – Chief Master Sgt. Troy McIntosh from the Pentagon who rushed into flames three times to help evacuate wounded personnel and Master Sgt. Noel Sepulveda, a career medical technician, who pulled six injured people through windows and set up a triage in the parking lot. And finally, the passengers of Flight 93.

The passengers of Flight 93, after learning the intentions of their hijackers, established a plan to retake their aircraft from these assailants – transforming themselves from victims to heroes. Their sacrifice resulted in safeguarding an unknown number lives at the hijackers’ unknown target – cementing themselves as the first ones to fight terrorism on September 11th, and in my eyes, the biggest heroes of the day.

The actions of our first responders and Flight 93 passengers inspired and strengthened America’s resolve.

I often wonder if Osama Bin Laden felt the same pressure as Japanese World War II Admiral Yamamoto by awakening a sleeping giant. Did Bin Laden recognize true might of America or did he misjudge America’s pursuit of peace as a weakness?

On Sept. 18, 2001, President Bush signed a bill to authorize use of military force. Then on Oct. 7, 2001, U.S. forces began air campaigns against the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces. For nearly 20 years, the U.S. armed forces kept the fight on enemy soil.

However, the war on terrorism isn’t truly over as we discovered on August 26th, 2021, when 13 American service members lost their lives to a suicide bombing as the United States was withdrawing from Afghanistan to officially end the longest war in American history. (He then mentioned a display inside the VFW set up to honor those 13 service members).

My final words for September 11th are this:

We should never forget the men, women and children whose lives were so tragically on the ground and in the air. We should never forget the sacrifice our first responders and the passengers of Flight 93. As Americans, we need to remain ever vigilant and continue to stand together to stand together against terrorism.

As Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer quoted, “Let’s roll.”

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Photos at bottom: U.S. Army personnel observing a moment of silence; Tom Cecere rings the bell at 8:46 a.m. to mark the first strike into the World Trade Center (other bell ringings took place at 9:03, 9:37 and 10:03); playing of taps as VFW honor guard stands at attention. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

August 10, 2021 - 4:42pm

As expected, the Batavia City Council on Monday night voted to pursue a 2021 Transportation Alternative Program grant that, if awarded, could spur city maintenance crews to address the inadequate crosswalk setup from the Genesee County Office of the Aging to the parking lot on the west side of Bank Street.

“It’s really not a highway project … (but) is focused on non-vehicle enhancements, which would be traffic calming and more pedestrian elements,” said City Maintenance Supervisor Ray Tourt during the board’s Conference Meeting. “And we would finally go ahead and try to configure a crosswalk out there.”

Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. jumped at the chance to comment further on the crosswalk situation.

(See below -- Previously: Video: Crosswalk awareness event on Bank Street)

“Is that going to solve the problem that we’ve had where people are in the crosswalk and cars are whizzing by not noticing them?” he asked. “It’s kind of a situation that has been like that for a long time.”

Tourt said a goal is to narrow that corridor “which tends to slow vehicles down.”

“So, with the use of bump-outs and vertical elements in the way of replacing trees … and actually formalizing a crosswalk where it could make sense,” he said. “There’s a chance that there could be a change to the driveway access points to a couple of the properties and try to get those in line and then include a crosswalk at the intersection of Alva Place.”

City Manager Rachael Tabelski reported that these federal TAP grants administered by the Genesee Transportation Council and New York State Department of Transportation range from $500,000 to $5 million, depending upon the project’s price tag.

Tourt said an estimate provided by LaBella Associates of Rochester about 18 months ago pegged the Bank Street project at $1.5 million, but that price could go up by 20 or 30 percent due to rising material costs. The city would be asking for the amount of the project and would be on the hook for 20 percent of the final cost.

The proposal includes adding streetscape elements, pavement markings, signs, accessible ramps, more crosswalks, pedestrian corner “bump-outs” and/or center median refuge.

“And there certainly could be more road improvements that could go on there,” Tabelski said. “If we do receive a grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission as well, this would play nicely to do the waterline (on Bank Street) and the road at the same time.

Following the meeting, Tabelski answered additional questions about the section of Bank Street between Main Street and Washington Avenue.

  • On the chances of getting the grant:

We always like to try our best to pursue grant opportunities, and we have LaBella Associates (of Rochester) helping us write the grant. We’ve gotten this grant before and we’ve been successful with it.

“There’s definitely a lot of positive attributes to the project – not only the pedestrian safety and the streetscape, but also the studies we’ve done previously where it was identified as a need in the community. The DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative) had a Bank Street project component and so did the Mall Feasibility Study. So, it has been identified multiple times as an area to be enhanced with streetscape and pedestrian safety.

  • On attracting a developer to put up a mixed-use building:

“Any enhancements we make in infrastructure can be an incentive for developers to look at an area. A proposal to have apartments and possibly commercial at Bank and Alva Place is one of the long-term concepts in the BOA (Brownfield Opportunity Area) plan. So, it would be directly across from the police station. It has always been envisioned to have more downtown living near the mall campus.

  • On slowing down traffic with a new police station on the block:

“I don’t know the traffic flow patterns of where they (patrol cars) will go; it will probably be call dependent on how they will leave the station. Even now, they have to get out of the parking lot that they’re in (behind the old City Hall, next to Austin Park).

“But, typically, they don’t leave the station to go out on a call because they’re already out in the community when calls come out.  A lot of times they’re already on a call when another call comes in.”

  • On the status of the new police station on the Alva Place parking lot?

Right now, we’re drawing up the documents to put out an RFP (Request for Proposal) for a design and engineering firm that we hope to release at the beginning of September.

“The stages of the project start with the RFP for design and engineering, score and rank those firms internally and then bring that proposal to Council at the same you bring all of the funding information to them so they can decide to move forward.”

In other action last night, Council:

  • Approved a resolution authorizing the city to act as lead agency for the State Environmental Quality Review for the renovation of Jackson Square, the concert area located between Jackson and Center Streets, next to Center Street Smoke House.\
  • Moved resolutions to the Sept. 13 Business Meeting pertaining to the rezoning of two parcels on East Main Street to C-3 (Commercial) and to conduct a SEQR for the Healthy Living Campus project of United Memorial Medical Center and the Genesee Family Area YMCA.
  • Approved a resolution for the receipt of a Police Traffic Services grant for $12,936 for details dedicated to increasing seat belt usage and reduce dangerous driving behaviors, and another to reflect the receipt of $3,000 for the fire department to continue its child safety seat program through the NYS Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.
  • Agreed to not lock the Little League and Minor League fields on State Street and Denio Street, respectively, despite communication from youth baseball officials who expressed concerns about dogs leaving a mess on the diamonds.

Jankowski urged residents to respect the fields and clean up after their pets, but stated that it would be best to keep the parks accessible for all to use.

“We don’t want (people) climbing the fence to use a city park,” he said.

Previously: Video: Crosswalk awareness event on Bank Street.

August 9, 2021 - 9:01pm

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Photo: Shannon Plath, second from left, president of the Batavia Business and Professional Women's Club, accepts a proclamation from the Batavia City Council tonight in recognition of the local organization's 100th anniversary. Plath said the club could have disbanded when COVID-19 hit last year but the ladies "stepped up" with fundraising and Zoom calls. "We just made it happen," she said, and now the group is on solid ground. From left are Council members Rose Mary Christian, Patti Pacino and Kathleen Briggs. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

August 9, 2021 - 8:41pm

At least one City of Batavia resident is fed up with the traffic jams at the Dunkin Donuts at 405 West Main St. and ambulance sirens in the vicinity of Oak and Union streets.

Speaking during the public comments portion of tonight’s City Council Conference Meeting at the City Hall Council Board Room, Michael Barrett urged council members to look into a way to alleviate both situations.

The owner of Barrett’s Batavia Marine Sporting Goods reported that vehicles lined up for coffee and donuts are infringing upon his property and, moreover, said he is afraid that a major accident is just waiting to happen.

“They’re blocking my east entrance to come into the store and they’re backing up onto the (West Main) street and forming a line,” he said after the meeting. “So, they’re taking one lane of the street and blocking it off just so they can go into Dunkin Donuts.”

He noted that there is a sign there that indicates no left hand turns, but it isn’t being heeded.

“I’ve put signs out; I’ve put pylons out, and I see that Arby’s has got a little bit of that and downtown Tim Hortons had that until they had that extension put on the back part of their lot,” he continued. “If the police would just park out front for a couple days and just keep the people from turning and keep the traffic flowing, it wouldn’t be so bad.

“There’s going to be one heck of an accident coming one of these days. They’re going to come barreling down the street and ram right into somebody that’s parked in front of my store.”

During the meeting, he expressed his frustration to Council, stating he doesn’t know what to do next.

As far as the sirens are concerned, Barrett, who lives on nearby Richmond Avenue, said it seems to be constant as ambulances speed south on Oak Street before exiting onto Union Street to get to West Main.

Council members agreed with Barrett’s observations, with Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. asking City Manager Rachael Tabelski to see if the ambulances could sometimes use a different route that could be just as fast and to study traffic patterns at Dunkin Donuts during its peak times.

“I can hear them from where I live (on Otis Street),” Jankowski said about the sirens. “Maybe they could vary their routes a little bit … but we will let them know there has been a complaint.”

Council member John Canale said he checked into the siren issue in the past, and acknowledged that “it’s almost constant and very unsettling.”

It was asked if the ambulances could turn on the sirens only when they approached intersections, but Canale and Tabelski said that they have to have them on for insurance purposes.

August 6, 2021 - 4:36pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, SEQR.

City of Batavia Manager Rachael Tabelski and Maintenance Superintendent Ray Tourt are seeking to “tap” into a funding source that has benefited the community in the past.

Tourt, in a memo to Tabelski dated July 22, advised that the Genesee Transportation Council and New York State Department of Transportation put out a call to municipalities wishing to apply for 2021 TAP (Transportation Alternative Program) grants.

Ranging from $500,000 to $5 million, these grants are earmarked for planning, design and construction projects that “address improvements to non-driver safety, access to public transit and enhance mobility,” Tourt wrote.

TAP initiatives are eligible for up to 80 percent federal funding with a 20 percent local share match.

According to the memo, the city has received TAP grants before, including one for its Pedestrian Way and Healthy Routes to Schools projects. This year’s funding, if received, would be used for improvements on Bank Street between Main Street and Washington Avenue.

Per the memo, that area has been identified in both the Downtown Revitalization Initiative proposals and City Centre Feasibility study “to promote economic prosperity corridor to promote accessibility to downtown.”

The project would include streetscape elements, pavement markings, signs, accessible ramps, additional crosswalks, pedestrian corner “bump-outs” and/or center median refuge.

The city has contracted with LaBella Associates of Rochester to prepare the grant application.

Tabelski has drafted a resolution for Monday night’s City Council Conference Meeting and (if approved) for voting at the Business Meeting afterwards. The Conference Meeting is scheduled for 7 o’clock at City Hall Council Board Room.

In other developments, Council:

  • Will consider a resolution authorizing the city to act as lead agency for the State Environmental Quality Review for the renovation of Jackson Square – one of the city’s several DRI projects. Jackson Square is located between Jackson and Center Streets, next to Center Street Smoke House.

In a memo dated Aug. 3, Tabelski wrote that the city looks to complete the SEQR process and then notify “involved interested agencies” of the city’s intent to act as lead agency.

She is recommending that Council move the resolution from the Conference to the Business Meeting on Monday, approve it, and then for Council to move a resolution to issue a declaration at the Sept. 13 Business Meeting.

Tabelski wrote that design drawings from Architectural Resources of Buffalo are almost done, and construction is expected to begin at the end of October.

  • Will consider several event requests, as follows:

Batavia Players/Main St. 56 Theater Holiday Craft & Gift Sale – Dec. 3-4, 10-11, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at the City Centre concourse.

Great Lakes & Attica Central Model Railroad Club Picnic – Aug. 19 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Farrall Park.

Batavia Police Community Night Out – Oct. 10 at City Church St. Anthony’s Campus on Liberty Street.

Batavia Players/Main St. 56 Theater Summer Youth Theater – Aug. 27-29, from 7 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 27-28, and 2-4 p.m. on Aug. 29, at the City Centre stage.

GO ART! Art Festival – Sept. 11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the City Centre parking lot along Bank Street, featuring music, food trucks, beer tent, art vendors and demonstrations, dancing, theater and art walk.

Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District Wine Walk – Oct. 2 from 4-8 p.m. with 20 to 24 stops; a 21-and-over event for wine and cider tasting.

  • Will hold a public hearing Monday night on the rezoning of 211 and 211 ½ East Main St. from P-2 (Planned Development) to C-3 (Commercial) in connection with the Healthy Living Campus project.

The city also is seeking lead agency status for the SEQR for this venture.

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July 17, 2021 - 3:26pm

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Learning that Batavia lawmakers apparently have squashed his vision of placing a disc golf course at Centennial Park is not sitting well with 27-year-old Phillip Boyd, the Hart Street resident who pitched the idea at a City Council meeting in late May.

This past Monday, Council members – responding to complaints from homeowners living near the tree-dominated park in the northwest quadrant of the community – agreed that Centennial Park is “off the table” as a potential location for a nine-hole layout for a sport that has gained in popularity in recent years.


SIDEBAR: Western New York: A Hotbed for Disc Golf


Boyd is an avid disc golfer who competes in a league at courses in the Buffalo/Niagara region and has played at courses closer to home, including one at Hartland Park in Bergen. He said he’s not giving up on his push to have a disc golf course in Batavia and sees the 14-acre parcel across from the New York State School for the Blind as the perfect place.

“I’m definitely going to still try to get it there,” he said on Friday. “The main thing that I’m disappointed in is that the argument that they have is ‘keep it a green park’ when it has never truly been a green park. And, also the idea of the traffic being around there.It’s a park. It’s not busy now and parks are typically busy.”

Boyd said numerous people have told him that Centennial Park is rarely used.

“That’s the thing that should be changed -- to actually use a giant open space, and actually use it in Batavia. We have no activities around here. There’s nothing to do; everyone has to go to Buffalo and Rochester,” he said.

“These smaller towns like Bergen, Pembroke; they can do these, but Batavia can’t. That’s why we’re so far behind and why Batavia is a declining city. We aren’t the true hub of Genesee County. Everyone’s leaving Batavia because there is nothing to do here.”

JANKOWSKI: FOLLOW THE PROCESS

City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said he and his colleagues do support events and activities, regularly approving requests from community organizations that are submitted to city management and staff.

“There’s a procedure and a process for these types of things and putting in a disc golf course at a city park is no exception,” Jankowski said. “Mr. Boyd was requested by Council to hand over his plans and documents to the city manager (Rachael Tabelski) for review and to get that process started, but he has yet to do so.”

Jankowski said Boyd appeared at two Council meetings, stating his case for disc golf during the public comments session.

“He was asked twice to submit the paperwork to the city manager, but instead he showed up at two City Council meetings and has yet to submit his written plans,” he said.

When this was mentioned to Boyd, he said he intends to hand in the information (sketches and a detailed course layout at Centennial Park) on Monday – July 19th, the deadline that he says he was given by Tabelski.

The Council president said his main issues with Centennial Park are that it has no facilities -- specifically bathrooms and amenities that are available at other city parks -- and that the only parking is along city streets.

“We’re willing to work with Mr. Boyd to find a better place, including working with our partners at neighboring towns and with Genesee County to try to make this happen,” Jankowski offered. “We’re not against disc golf, and are willing to look at other alternatives.”

BOYD: ‘SOME AREN’T OPEN TO CHANGE’

Boyd said he has walked the other parks in the city and finds that none of them, except maybe Williams Park (depending upon how much land the city owns at that location), would be acceptable.

“The Council president said that Centennial is off the table,” Boyd said. “If he is going to do that for 150 signatures and 12 people who showed up at the (July 12) meeting, that’s a problem. If I come with as much support as I have – a lot more than 150 signatures -- and he is still going to stand with that, then you’re not really being open to the idea of change in Batavia.”

“If Batavia is the hub of Genesee County, the lone city, we should be the one to lead the way for all the towns. Why do so many towns in our area have more activities than the city? There’s no reason for that.”

Boyd said he “feels comfortable with the amount of support he has and it’s building,” noting that he has reached hundreds of people through various social media platforms.

Jankowski questioned Boyd’s petition, which he said is on change.org.

“That’s open to anyone in the country,” he said. “How would that have anything to do with people who live here?”

DIFFERENCES OF OPINION

Residents of Ellicott Avenue and Park Place, two of the streets that border Centennial Park, came to last Monday’s meeting and urged Council to keep the park as it is – without any permanent structures other than trees – now and into the future.

Some brought up the “negatives” associated with disc park, but most were there to profess their affection for the park in its current state.

Before they had a chance to voice their opinions, however, Jankowski said that he had received information that Boyd had backed off on having the course at Centennial Park due to the neighbors’ concerns and was open to other locations.

When that was conveyed to Boyd yesterday, he said that he never agreed “with just dropping this.”

“I said if there was a good enough reason why they didn’t want it here other than it is a green natural park, which technically it is not, (then I would listen),” he said. “But it hasn’t been that at all.

"They say traffic. If you put anything in any public space, that public space will be used more. Therefore, there will be more traffic. If they have a better opposition except just those small things, I’ll leave it alone.”

He then said that a nine-hole pitch and putt golf course used to be at Centennial Park in the 1960s.

“No one wants to bring up that golf balls do way more damage than a disc could ever do,” he said. “The park used to have a fountain and a pond before things got changed over. Then, in time it was stopped and taken care of by New York State and then they gave it over to the city.”

CITY IS WAITING FOR INFORMATION

Tabelski said that an email from Maintenance Supervisor Ray Tourt indicated that he spoke with Boyd, who said he was willing to look at Kibbe and Williams parks if Centennial wasn’t available.

“The confusion stems from the fact that Phil has yet to submit the information that the Council president and staff has requested,” she said. “Even taking Centennial Park out of the mix, if you look to work with the city, there is a process to follow.”

She said that process includes review of any requests by the city manager, department heads and city attorney, considering financial and insurance implications. Once the review is complete, it then is brought forward to City Council for discussion and potentially to a vote.

“We’ve engaged with him and we’re waiting for his plans and documents,” she said, reiterating Council’s decision. “City Council will not consider Centennial due to its historic use and importance to the community.

“It was clear that it was the strong sense of Council that it is inappropriate. Phil has not reached out to myself or the Parks Department to further discuss an alternative location.”

DISC GOLFERS: A RESPONSIBLE GROUP

Boyd defended the disc golf community, one that he says is “very big on being as respectful as possible” and provided examples where disc golfers have won over those who initially were against them. He said disc golfers police each other and prioritize keeping the courses in top shape and free of debris.

“If somebody notices that someone does something not typical of our community, they’ll speak up to them and say, ‘Hey, that’s not what we do. Don’t make us look bad. Please refrain from doing that, and do it this way,’ ” he said.

He said disc golfers carry out the trash they carry in where no garbage cans are provided, and some disc golfers walk the courses to pick up trash left behind by other park goers.

“There’s plenty of room at Centennial Park,” said Boyd, comparing it to Pine Woods Park in North Tonawanda. “When they first started to put a course at Pine Woods, the residents in the neighborhood were so against it. They had picket signs in their front lawns that read, ‘No to disc golf.’”

“But eventually they got the course approved and they put in a nine-hole course. Two years after that, even after they had continued pushback from the neighborhood, the city approved an increase to an 18-hole course because the city realized how many people were coming to play. It was huge; the park was actually being used again.”

He said he mirrored his course layout after Pine Woods because it is similar to Centennial Park.

“The way I’ve set it up is that there will be room for other activities and still have disc golf,” he said, adding that it would take up about two-thirds of the park, stopping short of the hill used for winter sledding.

He said that he told Tourt that he walked all of the other parks and “there’s no other true park in Batavia other than Centennial that will give you a disc golf course that will bring anyone to it.”

CENTENNIAL? PAR FOR THE COURSE

Boyd said his nine-hole course works so well at Centennial Park because of the abundance of trees.

“You can set trees up in a fairway to make it more difficult hole. You can make holes so much shorter as long as the trees make it more difficult,” he explained, showing a printed Google map of the proposed course. “A few friends and I have placed portable baskets at the park and played the course a few times, and it works out great.”

He said the first hole starts at the corner of Park and Ellicott and is angled inward toward the park to avoid the road – a par 3, 300-foot shot. He said he tried keep everything away from the roads to avoid any possible danger.

“It works down Park Avenue for two of the holes and the third hole comes back toward the center of the park. The fourth hole goes about 50 feet short of the walkway and hole five brings you back down to the middle of the park,” he said.

“Six and seven are in the middle of the park, eight brings you to the outside and hole nine is up at the corner of Richmond and Ellicott and brings you down to where you first started.”

He said the average hole length is about 225 feet.

Hartland Park in Bergen has a nine-hole course that is similar to the one Boyd has drawn up. There, he said, disc golfers coexist with those walking their dogs and using the park for other purposes.

“There was opposition at first from people saying they didn’t want discs thrown in their backyards,” he offered. “That’s not the case anymore because people realize that the disc golf community is a good community, and there’s really no true harm in it. And people still walk their dogs there; I see them while I’m playing.”

COUNCILPERSON-AT-LARGE WEIGHS IN

Councilperson-at-Large Robert Bialkowski said he has been trying to educate himself about disc golf, talking to managers and officials at Darien State Park, Beaver Island State Park on Grand Island, and Lincoln Park in Buffalo – places that offer the activity.

He said the consensus is to have these courses away from the general public.

“The manager at Darien Lakes State Park said they have it on trails that aren’t used much,” Bialkowski said. “And the discs aren’t Frisbees; they’re special discs for different uses – short range, long range. If you get hit by one, it’s going to sting.”

He also said courses should be equipped with trash cans and some need additional landscaping to make them work.

“The manager at Lincoln Park said they have an 18-hole course that used 16 to 20 acres and it works out pretty well, except for one part that is near a picnic area,” he said.

Bialkowski explained that Batavia’s smaller neighborhood parks may be able to support a disc golf course, but noted that baseball and other athletic fields have taken space that previously was used for walking and hiking.

GCC COULD BE A POSSIBLE SITE

As far as Centennial Park is concerned, he said citizens have spoken, they enjoy the park as it is and Council has rendered its decision.

“Being an at-large councilman, I represent all of the citizens of the city,” he said. “We have to do our homework. I’m disappointed that Mr. Boyd isn’t satisfied with our process, but that’s the way it is.”

Jankowski said that he heard there was movement toward putting a disc golf course at Genesee Community College and encouraged Boyd to look into that as well as other possibilities.

“There might be better options out there and I find it interesting that he is so focused on one area and not any other opportunities that might be even better,” he said. “Let’s look into it.”

Boyd, in response, said he is aware of a course proposed for GCC and is assisting those who are spearheading that effort as well.

"They were having problems with finding funding and I’m now working with them to get the funding and quotes for the baskets, tee pads and signs with the people I have connections with," Boyd said, adding that it opens up the prospect of having disc golf courses in both the town and city. 

Previously: Residents speak out against disc golf at Centennial Park

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Photo at top: Phillip Boyd, wearing his disc golf jersey, displays his plans for a course that he hopes will find its way to the City of Batavia. Photo at bottom: The course that he designed for his preferred destination -- Centennial Park, which has been removed from consideration by City Council. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

Comments
July 13, 2021 - 8:23am

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A frequent contributor to the Batavia City Council scene is suggesting that a package deal combining the current Batavia Police Department headquarters and Genesee County Jail parcels may be the ticket to attracting a potential developer in light of the city’s intention to build a new police station at Alva Place and Bank Street.

City resident John Roach, during the public comments portion of the board’s Conference Meeting on Monday night at the City Centre, asked if anyone was talking to Genesee County leaders about their plan for the jail at the corner of West Main Street and Porter Avenue.

The county is exploring its options as it faces a state mandate to build a new jail, with a site near County Building 2 on West Main Street Road as the proposed location.

“You might get a better deal as a combined parcel,” Roach said. “Find out what they’re going to do and it could have an impact on what to do with the Brisbane building.”

The Brisbane building that he referred to is the former Brisbane Mansion at 10 W. Main St. that sits next door to the county jail. That building -- which may be eligible for classification as a historic landmark -- has housed city police for many years but has deteriorated considerably.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski, responding to Roach’s inquiry, said she thought it was a “great idea to speak with the county and understand their plans.”

“The front of the jail is certainly an amazing historic building that I hope would be preserved by the county through their transition, but I believe it hosts Genesee Justice and I don’t want to speak for the county and I’m not sure what they’re actually planning,” she said.

Tabelski also said she wasn’t sure if the timelines for a new county jail and new city police station would line up, but it was something worth looking into.

She pointed out the drawbacks with the Brisbane Mansion, notably that there is no American with Disabilities Act accessibility and there are problems with the layout that hinder the ability of the force to conduct day-to-day business.

“We went over the presentation two meetings ago and we looked at the timeline. The city has been wanting to address this for over 20 years,” she said. “We’ve come forward with a proposal and a feasibility study to use the parking lot at Alva and Bank Street.”

The city manager underscored the importance of finding a “reuse” for the building, adding that the city has no intention of moving staff into that structure.

“So, we’d like to pursue a path where we put it out for RFP to a developer to take that on and bring that on to the tax rolls,” she advised. “To do that in the best manner possible, you want to make your property attractive to the marketplace and by understanding all of the historical elements inside the building, and having technical assistance reports done of the structure itself and the historical elements …”

For those reasons, she forwarded a resolution – which was later passed by Council – to allow the Batavia Development Corp. to apply for a 2021 Consolidated Funding grant under the New York Main Street technical assistance program.

“I think it is City Council’s wish and I know it is the certainly the wish of many in our community to preserve that building as a historical element in our downtown,” she said. “… if (the grant is) awarded, we would go ahead and do that study. We had a plan to reuse the building at the time we move the police department.”

Tabelski said that the grant-funded study would uncover whether the building would qualify as a historic landmark.

If so, that could open the door for a NY Main Street grant, which the city has been successful in obtaining for the Eli Fish Brewing Co. building on Main Street and Theater 56 at the City Centre.

On another topic, Roach asked about the status of a road project to rehabilitate Harvester and Richmond avenues, which is scheduled for the summer of 2022.

Maintenance Supervisor Ray Tourt said it is currently in the design phase.

In May 2020, City Council appointed the engineering firm of T.Y. Lin International Group of Rochester to provide preliminary and advanced designs with the expectation that they would be completed by the summer of this year.

T.Y. Lin International Group was involved in the city’s Walnut Street Reconstruction Project, the Ellicott Street streetscape project and all of the Batavia Downtown Business Improvement District streetscape initiatives.

Batavian Robert Radley, PE, is the company’s senior vice president and U.S. East Region director.

Plans call for renovation of Richmond Avenue from State Street to Oak Street and for the entire length of Harvester Avenue (from East Main Street to Ellicott Street). City officials previously reported that 95 percent of the $2 million project will be covered by CHIPS (Consolidated Local Street and Highway Improvement Program) and Marchiselli Funding* streams.

Tabelski also reported that Jill Wiedrick, the new assistant city manager, will be starting on July 21, and the city is advertising for a permanent Department of Public Works director.

*Given the significant backlog of preservation, rehabilitation and replacement of transportation infrastructure needs that exist at the local level, NYSDOT has initiated a process with metropolitan planning areas and municipalities to revise and align local transportation planning and project selection processes with engineering and economic-based preservation strategies. As part of this initiative, NYSDOT will provide priority consideration for State matching funds, under the Marchiselli program, to federal-aid projects that embrace the Department’s asset management based preservation strategy. Municipally sponsored federal-aid projects considered to be beyond preservation treatments may be considered for Marchiselli funding on a case by case basis. Municipal requests for projects that are considered beyond preservation will be reviewed by NYSDOT’s Comprehensive Program Team (CPT).

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Photo at top: Batavia Police Department station (former Brisbane Mansion); Photo at bottom: Front of Genesee County Jail, which currently houses Genesee Justice.

Comments
July 12, 2021 - 9:09pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, Centennial Park, disc golf.

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Despite receiving prior assurances from several Batavia City Council members that Centennial Park was off the table as a possible location for a disc golf course in the city, representatives of the “Save the Park” committee weren’t taking any chances.

About 16 of them made their way to tonight’s City Council Conference Meeting at the City Hall Council Board Room, with five of those people urging the board to maintain the aesthetics of the 14-acre natural setting by finding another place to put a nine-hole disc golf layout proposed by Batavia resident Phillip Boyd.

On May 24, Boyd attended a City Council meeting, hoping to persuade local lawmakers to let him and other enthusiasts of the sport set up a course at a city park. At that time, he stated that his group preferred Centennial Park, which is surrounded by Ellicott Avenue, Park Avenue, Richmond Avenue and State Street.

In recent days, residents in that area inundated Council members with emails and phone calls – and had “Letters to the Editor,” signs and other forms of communication ready to publicize their views.

Fast forward to tonight, even before they had a chance to protest, Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. informed them that Centennial Park is “off the list … and not even a consideration.”

Council Member Rose Mary Christian quickly remarked, “I’ll second it.”

Jankowski explained that the process of attempting to accommodate Boyd had just begun and required the “vetting process” involving police, fire and the Department of Public Works to see if it was a good fit for the city.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski added that she had spoken to Boyd, who said he understood residents’ concerns about having it at Centennial Park and agreed not to pursue that location.

“We may not have a park big enough” for a disc golf course, Jankowski said, but added that they will work with Genesee County officials to see if it could be situated somewhere else.

Council Member John Canale acknowledged that his phone and email “were on fire,” and appreciated the feedback, and also commended Boyd for “realizing it wasn’t a popular choice.”

“I hope we can find a spot for him,” Canale said.

Still, the Centennial Park supporters had come there prepared to speak and five weren’t leaving until they had their say.

Communicating that Centennial Park was established about 150 years ago in conjunction with the New York State School for the Blind, Ellicott Avenue resident Carl DeLuca emphasized that putting a disc golf course would occupy about two-thirds of the park.

“Those who have the freedom to choose an activity would be restricted to use of just one-third of the park’s area,” he said. “The proposed installation of disc golf would be a permanent impediment to the freedom of use for the general community.”

DeLuca, a retired teacher, mentioned several “negative impacts” of disc golf, including safety issues from the hurling of hardened plastic discs, excessive car parking, noise and large crowds.

“Also of importance are city budget constraints,” he contended. “This could mean that taxpayers would be unfairly burdened by paying for potential damages caused by a few.”

He cited articles that spoke of the unintended consequences of disc golf courses in inappropriate settings, with the demographics of those who participate in the sport mostly unconcerned of its environmental impacts.

Linda Daviau, who lives on Park Avenue, thanked Council for responding to her emails – “I really didn’t expect to hear from so many of you,” she said – but added that she wasn’t convinced that the board would have taken Centennial Park out of play “without hearing from so many citizens.”

She then shared a bit of history of the park, mentioning the NYSSB and the influence of Dean Richmond, and pointed out that for “over 40 years … we still enjoy seeing people enjoy the park.”

“The face of the park is great the way it is,” she concluded.

Judy Sikora, another Park Avenue resident, also thanked Council members and Tabelski for responding to the residents.

Stating that she had a petition with 150 signatures, Sikora spoke of Centennial Park’s grass and trees and “lovely flowing terrain” and called it a “lifesaver for many of us during COVID.”

“It really is a treasure,” she said. “Many cities would be envious.”

Sikora urged Council to not change the nature of what makes the park unique, and to continue the freedom of its use by all citizens.

She suggested finding a nonresidential area with adequate parking for the disc golf course.

“We’re not here to oppose disc golf but to support a park that we love,” she said.

Judy DeLuca, Carl’s wife, spoke of the health benefits of the park’s green space.

She referred to a National Institute of Health report that indicated that the use of urban green space was important to community health during times of stress, and asked Council members to take green space into account when they consider policy issues.

Finally, Karen Vasser of Lincoln Avenue said that her family has been part of that neighborhood for 67 years and that she has participated in the seasonal activities, including Picnic in the Park.

“We love this park,” she said, “and it deserves to be as pristine as it is today.”

Photo: Word that a disc golf course could be placed at Centennial Park prompted about 16 residents of that area in the northeast section of the city to find their way to tonight's City Council meeting. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

Comments
July 11, 2021 - 6:38pm

With it looking more and more as though a new City of Batavia Police Department headquarters will be constructed on the parking lot at Alva Place and Bank Street, city leaders are trying to figure out the best course of action for the current station at 10 W. Main St.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski, in a memo dated July 2, is recommending that City Council pass a resolution to support the Batavia Development Corp.’s submission for a 2021 Consolidate Funding Application under the New York Main Street technical assistance program.

The item is part of the agenda for Monday night’s City Council Conference and Business Meetings at the City Hall Council Board Room, starting at 7 o’clock.

Tabelski wrote that the grant, if received, would be used to hire a design firm “to prepare building reuse analysis, renderings and cost estimates for the reuse and rehabilitation of the historic former Brisbane Mansion.” That report would set the stage for the application of a future NY Main Street building renovation grant.

Per the memo, the BDC is interested in helping ensure proper historical renovation and restoration of the building,

CLICK HERE for a history of the Brisbane Mansion written in 2015 by Larry Barnes, city historian. Relocating the police force has been a topic of discussion even before that year.

Tabelski wrote that the goal is to find a private developer to purchase the property, rehabilitate it and eventually return it to the tax rolls.

Deadline for the CFA grant submission is the end of this month.

Phone calls to Sharon Burkel, chair of the City Historic Preservation Committee, for comment were not returned by the time of the posting of this story.

In a related development, replacement of the current police station’s flat roof is moving forward in the form of a resolution that, although not complete, provides City Council with an update on the project.

According to a memo from Maintenance Superintendent Ray Tourt to Tabelski dated July 1, the roof sections over the 1960s addition and over the rear vestibule have deteriorated to the point that the roof is no longer waterproof and the insulation has become saturated.

Last month, Council approved the use of $100,000 from the facility reserve fund to replace these sections.

Tourt advised that the Department of Public Works is in the bidding process and will recommend a contractor in the near future.

The resolution would authorize Council to award the contract to the responsible low bidder.

Other agenda items:

  • Resolutions accepting a pair of awards from Genesee County STOP-DWI to the Batavia Police Department – one for $32,981 to fund enforcement nights, training, equipment/supplies and calibration/repairs related to driving while intoxicated enforcement and the other for $2,400 to fund high visibility checkpoints during the July 4 (which has passed) and Labor Day (Aug. 20 through Sept. 6) holiday periods.
  • A public hearing concerning the application of a Community Development Block Grant to help fund an estimated $1.36 million project to replace 4- and 6-inch water lines on Jackson Street with 2,250 linear feet of 8-inch water main. Tabelski previously indicated that the grant, if received, could fund up to 90 percent of the project cost. Council is expected to vote on the resolution during the Business Meeting.
  • A resolution to set a public hearing for Aug. 9 to formally (and finally) approve the rezoning of the 211 and 211 ½ E. Main St. parcels from P-2 (Planned Development) to C-3 (Commercial) to accommodate the Healthy Living campus project of the GLOW YMCA and United Memorial Medical Center. The City Planning & Development Committee recommended the rezoning for both properties on May 18 and June 15, respectively, stating that the C-3 designation is consistent with the city’s Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2017.
  • A request from Batavia Brewing Co./Eli Fish Brewing Co. for an Oktoberfest celebration on Sept. 18, starting at 4 p.m., at Jackson Square. A 20- by 20-foot tent with a dozen picnic tables will be set up for the event, which will feature food, beverages and the sounds of The Frankfurters, (photo below), a German music band out of Buffalo that also is known as “The Best of the Wurst."

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Comments
June 29, 2021 - 11:31am

With Assemblyman Steve Hawley already weighing in on her push to get New York State lawmakers to change the current bail rules and regulations, City Council Member Rose Mary Christian is hopeful that other municipalities will act as well.

Hawley penned a letter dated June 24 in response to hearing Christian’s concerns about what he writes, “the disastrous and dangerous 2019 Bail Reform” (that puts strict limits on the use of cash bail and pretrial detention).

The assemblyman’s letter points to a plan introduced by the Minority Conference to help combat the recent rise in violent crime across the state, and outlines seven areas of proposed legislation to counteract the 2019 Bail Reform act. The letter was entered into Monday night’s City Council meeting proceedings with City Clerk Heidi Parker reading the 14-paragraph statement aloud.

At Council’s meeting on June 14, Christian requested that the city draft a letter requesting a change in the bail reform laws – and her colleagues agreed – and sending it to state representatives in Albany.

Last night, the board reviewed a letter written by City Manager Rachael Tabelski, accepting a revision of the third paragraph to read:

“We commend the Legislature’s efforts to roll back some of the original reforms that were passed last year, such as allowing judges to set bail for more criminal charges that had eliminated bail. We respectfully request that the Legislature consider adding more crimes in which judges have discretion to set bail, including crimes against police officers, firemen and sexual assaults and burglary. We also support restoring bail for any crime involving the use of a gun.”

Christian was pleased with the changes, noting that the letter “has got some teeth in it now.”

“By us passing this – and not just by one person, not by just me but this whole board – is very important and it will show some credence to the fact that we really mean business and maybe other councils, maybe other towns, will follow and we might be able to change this law now,” she said.

It also was suggested to send the letter to Genesee Association of Municipalities in anticipation of it being sent to all Genesee County towns and villages.

Previously: City manager drafts letter from Council asking New York State lawmakers to 'revisit' bail reform laws

June 29, 2021 - 10:41am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, Batavia FIre Department.

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As is his style, City of Batavia Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano humbly took a bow Monday night as he prepares to move on to a New York State-level position next month, while giving all the credit for his success to his employees and thanking city management and staff for the opportunity to serve over the past four years.

“It has been amazing times and tough times, but through it all I was successful because of my team over there,” Napolitano said, pointing to the 10 firefighters who came to the City Council meeting in honor of their chief. “I’m just the guy that signs the payroll -- I point a little bit and throw an idea out -- but it’s the staff here in the City of Batavia Fire Department that makes everything happen.”

Napolitano quickly endeared himself to city leaders and residents after accepting the position in April 2017, relocating after a productive career as deputy fire chief for the Village of Herkimer.

City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. called Napolitano, a Queens native, a great leader and said he will be missed.

“Hopefully, we’ll be seeing you back and helping out in our area, and I wish you all the best,” Jankowski said.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski thanked Napolitano for his work.

“I’ve only had the pleasure of working with you for about two years, but they’ve been great years,” she said. “You really are a true leader to your staff – and everyone here is a testament (to that).”

LEAVING IS ‘VERY BITTERSWEET’

Moved by a standing ovation from all in attendance, Napolitano quickly deflected any credit away from himself.

“They (his staff) allowed me to come in here four years ago; didn’t know anything about me, a transplant from 175 miles away,” he said. “They immediately accepted me and it’s been a great partnership – relationship. I’m fortunate to say that I know pretty much all of their family members.”

Napolitano said the situation is “very bittersweet.”

“This job is an opportunity to serve more firefighters at the state level, but it’s very bittersweet leaving my new home,” he said.

On July 19, he begins his new job as deputy state fire administrator, working out of an office in a building on the State University of Albany campus. The state position is affiliated with the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. His final day in Batavia is July 9.

He said he expects to do a fair amount of traveling in his new position and likely will be back at some point. He then thanked city management and staff.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure and honor, and I thank everyone.”

HERBERGER TO STEP IN

Tabelski then announced the appointment of Capt. Dan Herberger as interim fire chief – a position that Herberger held for 16 months before Napolitano was hired.

Herberger has climbed up the ranks, joining the department as a paramedic in 2002 before being promoted to firefighter in 2005, lieutenant in 2012 and captain in 2013.

Contacted this morning, Herberger said he’s prepared to take the reins on an interim basis, but is in an exploration stage as far as the permanent position is concerned.

“There were two other captains that were interested and we did a lot of talking amongst ourselves … so, at this point I’m really exploring – again – the position,” he said. “You know, a lot has changed with me in four years but a lot hasn’t changed with me in four years, with family situation and the like.”

He said he’s looking at the full-time chief position “very critically and taking all points of interest in.”

Married with three children, ages 17, 13 and 11, the Lancaster resident said he’s coming in to the interim role objectively and was willing to “take another crack at it.”

Speaking of the two other captains, Herberger, 47, said they decided to talk to Tabelski individually and let the process play out. He said no timetable has been set as far as when the permanent position is filled.

“We have some meetings coming up with Chief Napolitano during the transition, but we haven’t got into anything much past that,” he said. “I’m sure that eventually Rachael and I will sit down and discuss the details (of the chief’s position).”

Herberger said he has always desired to be a part of the community he serves, never wanting his place of residence to interfere with his responsibilities in Batavia.

KEY IS TREATING PEOPLE RIGHT

“I always try to treat people like they’re my neighbors,” he said. “Just because I live in Lancaster … I treat people like I want my mother to be treated, and that has always served me well and people accepted that.”

Napolitano said he backed Herberger, stating that he’s “a strong captain supported by a strong group. The city is very well served.”

And Herberger had nothing but good things to say about Napolitano.

“I always said that coming into a department from a different part of the state has to be difficult because you don’t know all of the inner workings … but he – I think it’s his personality – came in and really took the bull by the horns and made a conscious effort of forging relationships and putting the fire department in a positive light,” he said.

“He was open and honest with us, and even though we might not have agreed with him every time, we always appreciated that.”

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Photo at top: Batavia Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano thanks city officials and staff for supporting him throughout his four-year tenure. Photo at bottom: Staff members, including Capt. Dan Herberger, second from right, attended the City Council meeting. Herberger has been appointed as interim fire chief. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

June 29, 2021 - 9:01am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, Thomas Rocket Car.

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What’s going on with the “Rocket Car?”

City resident John Roach posed that question about the 1938 invention of former Batavia resident Charles D. Thomas to Batavia City Council members at their meeting Monday night.

The vehicle, with innovations such as a rearview periscope and independent suspension, is officially called the Thomas Rocket Car. It was designed by Thomas and put together by a friend and welder, Norman Richardson, in a rented garage near Main Street and Ellicott Avenue.

It has been in the hands of Dick McClurg of Old World Collision for more than five years. The plan is to have the car, once fully restored, placed on display somewhere in the city.

Council Member Robert Bialkowski said the car was in the Memorial Day parade – on a trailer hauled by McClurg.

“Ninety-nine and a half percent of the exterior body work is done, the headliners in the interior panels are done, and I think they are waiting now to get a windshield and some other odds and ends, and it will be complete,” Bialkowski said.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski reported that, pre-COVID, there was a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce; Howard Owens, publisher of The Batavian, and McClurg, “and there was still a bit of fundraising to do – the last few parts and pieces of it – and we have not established the permanent home or location.”

She said people want to move it around to different shows, so she isn’t sure if the City Centre would be suitable in that case.

Bialkowski spoke of the independent suspension and unique periscope in responding to Roach’s query.

“It had a periscope, because back then if anybody remembers the older cars they were torpedo shaped in the back – you couldn’t see anything backing up – so a slow periscope went up and you looked in a mirror and you could see where you were backing up,” he said.

He said auto companies weren’t ready for something like that and that the car was way ahead of its time.

The car was cut up into pieces and almost scrapped, he said, before finding its way to Old World Collision for restoration.

“People from all over the country that aren’t from around here seem to know about it,” Bialkowski added.

Previously: Thomas Rocket Car nearly restored but another $4k needed to complete project

Photo at top: Picture of the original Thomas Rocket Car.

June 28, 2021 - 9:26pm

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There’s some serious stuff going on around Washington Avenue, Willow Street and State Street -- and at least one resident is imploring City Council to do something about it.

“I’m just here tonight because I’m concerned about the neighborhood,” said Lynne Geissler, (in photo at top), noting that she has lived at Washington and Willow for four years. “I understand that it’s a different neighborhood.”

Geissler, speaking during the public comments portion of tonight’s Conference Meeting at City Centre Council Board Room, mentioned the increase in “criminal action,” adding that it is “horrible” and is taking place at all hours of the night, causing her to lose sleep.

“There’s got to be some way that … I don’t know,” she said. “I was going to go to the police department to talk to the police chief but they’re not letting anybody in (or so she believed). So, I figured I’d come down here to talk, to see, because there’s a lot of things going on and it has to be taken care of.”

She brought up that she has health issues and understands that drugs and mental disorders are real problems.

“But when you’re having the police at your house 20 times in a four-day period, and our landlord can’t do anything (and) we as tenants can’t do anything,” she said. “There’s got to be some way – CPS (Child Protective Services), there’s mental health, everybody’s involved but nothing’s getting fixed.”

Jankowski advised her to talk with Police Chief Shawn Heubusch directly after the meeting and set up an appointment.

Council Member Kathleen Briggs said that she has received calls from people living on State Street “and they’re telling me that they do call police and police are responding.”

“I also told them that they should contact their landlords and they said the landlords aren’t doing anything,” she added. “Police are doing what they can but don’t you think we have to hold these landlords accountable?”

It was mentioned that these instigators should be evicted, but current laws against eviction have tied landlords’ hands.

Geissler said her landlord is sympathetic but indicated that “if he went to evict someone right now – if it was one of his houses – it would be nine to 12 months before that person would be out.”

Afterward, Heubusch acknowledged that officers are dealing with "some serious things" and, without getting into details, said that investigations are ongoing.

“We will look into this further,” he said.

BOYD RESUMES DISC GOLF PITCH

Last month, city resident Phillip Boyd came to a City Council meeting to promote the placement of a disc golf course at a city park.

He reappeared tonight, flanked by six other disc golf enthusiasts, and said he has mapped out a course that would take up about two-thirds of Centennial Park, the 14-acre natural setting located in the north-central part of the city.

Boyd said he also has prices for how much sponsorship would cost.

“Now, I’m just looking for it to be actually brought up as an agenda item,” he said.

With that, City Council President Eugene Jankowski advised him to turn all his documents over to City Manager Rachael Tabelski and work with her going forward.

Two of his friends, Doug Forsyth and Louis Ortiz, also went up to the podium, speaking briefly while indicating that they backed Boyd’s efforts.

Forsyth said he heard about the matter from reading The Batavian and wanted to let Council know that his group has secured some funding for the initiative.

Tabelski said Centennial Park is the preferred location. She added that she will review Boyd’s proposal with department heads with the expectation of providing a recommendation to Council at the July 12 meeting.

In legislative matters, Council approved:

  • A resolution to apply for a Community Development Block Grant to help fund an estimated $1.36 million project to replace 4- and 6-inch water lines on Jackson Street with 2,250 linear feet of 8-inch water main, and another setting a public hearing on the matter for 7 p.m. July 12. Tabelski said she thinks the grant, if received, could fund up to 90 percent of the project cost.
  • A resolution to award V.J. Gautieri Constructors $18,800 from the city’s Revolving Loan Fund Grant to help replace sidewalks at the Ellicott Place project at 45-47 Ellicott St. (Save-A-Lot building).
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