The prospect of keeping professional baseball at Dwyer Stadium is looking brighter after the Batavia City Council unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the assignment of the Dwyer Stadium lease to the New York-Penn League and its wholly owned subsidiary, Batavia Muckdogs Inc.
The NY-P has decided to step in and run the Short Season Class A team, which had been operated by the Rochester Red Wings for the past decade. The league ended the agreement between Rochester and the Genesee County Baseball Club Inc., in November.
“We had several conversations (with NY-P officials) in late fall, and they expressed a desire to stay in Batavia for 2018,” City Attorney George Van Nest said at tonight’s meeting at City Centre Council Chambers.
Van Nest said the issue of extending the lease and sublease is time sensitive since the NY-P hopes to begin assessing Dwyer Stadium later this month. He said the all terms of the current lease will remain the same – removing the GCBC from the lease -- and the extension will be in force through April 2019.
Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian noted that the Red Wings “removed their equipment,” inferring there could be additional City expense above and beyond the $25,000 it contributes to the stadium on an annual basis.
Van Nest said NY-P officials talked about improvements to the facility.
It also is believed that pre-existing agreements for local high schools to use Dwyer Stadium will continue. It is unclear if the NY-P will supply its own staff or use local employees, including longtime groundskeeper Don Rock, who attended tonight’s meeting.
In other action, Council:
-- Agreed to consider leasing three City-owned City Centre Mall parcels (known as the Dent property) to the Batavia Players theater troupe, but expressed concerns about the rent schedule, square footage and the ability to sell the parcels if desired.
Christian questioned Patrick Burk, Batavia Players president, about the number of employees, wages, volunteers and hours invested into their productions. Burk said there are 15 to 20 part-time employees throughout the year at their current location of 56 Harvester Ave., some who receive stipends that pay them “more than minimum wage in some cases.”
But Christian said she had a “problem with leasing any parts of the mall.”
“I want to totally get out of the mall,” she said. “I have a problem with nonprofits not paying property taxes.”
The lease agreement calls for monthly rent charges of $747.92 for months one through six ($1 per square foot), $1,223.86 for months seven through 12 ($3 per square foot), and $2,991.66 for months 13 through 60 ($4 per square foot). It also allows the City to sell the property, with 180 days’ notice. By multiplying the initial rent times 12, that comes to 8,975 square feet that the City would be leasing to the Batavia Players.
Councilman Robert Bialkowski said he found a discrepancy in the square footage, and asked if the City would end up subsidizing part of the maintenance fees.
Van Nest said he and Interim City Manager Matt Worth would look into the fees and square footage and provide that information to Council prior to the Feb. 12 Business meeting.
Council members John Canale and Patti Pacino spoke on behalf of Batavia Players, with Canale calling the organization “a pillar of the community” that would draw much activity to downtown.
“Plus, with the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative award that the City received), part of it is to get the arts to the downtown area,” he said.
Burk said the Batavia Players are seeking more than $500,000 from the City's $10 million DRI award to fund most of the organization's relocation project.
Pacino urged her colleagues to “please put feet on the street downtown” by leasing space to Batavia Players.
In the end, Council voted to move the proposal to the Feb. 12 meeting contingent upon an accurate count of the square footage to be leased.
-- Moved resolutions concerning the 2018-19 budget, water rate changes, Business Improvement District plan and City Centre concourse user fee local law amendments (see preview story below) to the Feb. 12 Business meeting.
-- Agreed to consider a contract with In Site: Architecture LLP, of Perry, to assess the deteriorating condition of the pillars at the north entrance of Redfield Parkway, and conduct design work as required related to lighting, preparation of bid documents, construction specifications, bidding coordination and construction administration at a cost of $4,860.
Worth said In Site: Architecture has an outstanding track record of historic work, and called its bid a “soup to nuts proposal.”
Earlier, Council heard from city resident John Roach, who asked that if it was possible to create a special use taxing district – likely consisting of residents on or near Redfield Parkway -- to pay for the repairs.
“The study will cost $4,800 and it may take $17,000 to fix them (the pillars),” he said. (A special taxing district) would raise money to pay for the pillars without irritating the rest of us.”
Worth and Van Nest said they will look into that.