Local Matters

Community Sponsors

city of batavia

August 2, 2021 - 12:23pm

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If the number of sponsors is any indication, next Tuesday’s Batavia Police Community Night Out should be quite an event.

Thirty-seven business, organizations and individuals have signed on to support the outreach, which is scheduled for 5:30 to 8 p.m. Aug. 10 at the City Church St. Anthony’s campus at 114 Liberty St.

“We’re excited over the response to this initiative, which is aimed to bring the community and police together to build positive relationships, and to highlight the various services available,” said Detective Matthew Wojtaszczyk, event coordinator.

Wojtaszczyk mentioned that a “secondary goal” is to raise money for the City of Batavia Police K-9 program, specifically K-9 Officer Stephen Quider and his dog, Batu. The duo and Genesee County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Mullen and K-9 Frankie are expected to demonstrate their abilities at the gathering next week.

Batavia Downs Gaming and Western New York Heroes, Inc. (which provides services to veterans) are diamond sponsors of the event that offers entertainment in the forms of a bounce house, balloon artist, games at vendor booths, and pony rides through A Horse’s Friend Trail Riding & Youth Programs based in Rush.

Additionally, Police Chief Shawn Heubusch and Assistant Chief Chris Camp have offered their services at the dunk tank, which will raise money for the K-9 fund.

The Batavia Fire Department will conduct car seat safety checks in the public parking lot next to Wortzman Furniture.

Vendor agencies include Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Genesee County Youth Bureau, Genesee County STOP-DWI, Genesee County Probation, Tobacco Free WNY and Batavia Community Schools.

Wojtaszczyk said a designated bus drop area will be set up at Central and Pringle avenues that night, with handicap parking available in the lot located at 236 Ellicott St. (just south of Borrell’s Gym).

Other sponsors are as follows:

Gold -- City of Batavia, Western New York Association of Chiefs of Police, New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, City of Batavia Fire, Graham Corporation, Chapin International, Extended Sound, Genesee County Sign Shop, Batavia City Church, Target, The Daily News. Eli Fish Brewing Company, Ken Barrett Chevrolet, WBTA, McGinnis Family, Tonawanda Valley Federal Credit Union, Genesee Family YMCA.

Silver -- Batavia Police Benevolent Association, A Horse’s Friend, Tompkins Bank of Castile/ Insurance, Batavia Family Dental, Northside Deli, Ficarella’s Pizzeria, Southside Deli, V.J. Gautieri Constructors, Inc., Genesee County Economic Development Center, Pathstone Corporation, Canisteo Police Club, Cedar Street Sales & Rental.

Bronze -- Tom Benedict and family, Bob Bialkowski, Habitat for Humanity of Genesee County, Notre Dame High School, O’Lacy’s Irish Pub, The Radley Family.

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Photos from 2019 Community Night Out -- dunk tank and officers on horseback.

July 23, 2021 - 11:24am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, disc golf, Williams Park, city of batavia, Centennial Park.

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City of Batavia resident Phillip Boyd on Thursday said he has shelved his idea of a nine-hole disc golf course at Centennial Park in favor of working with city officials to place one at Williams Park on Pearl Street.

“It’s much larger than I originally thought,” Boyd said after taking a walk around the east and south portions of Williams Park with City Maintenance Supervisor Ray Tourt and City Parks Supervisor Brian Metz yesterday afternoon.

“Our talk went very well and there’s definitely a lot of potential for a nine-hole and we talked about possibly clearing out some of the woods in the right (southwest) corner for an 18 (hole course) in the future.”

Boyd said that he planned to return to the park today with a couple friends to map out a nine-hole course that would start near Pearl Street on the east side and proceed south along the east, southeast and south edges of the park.

He said he is hoping to attract sponsors for each hole to cover the expenses for tee pads, signage and baskets, figuring it would cost around $5,000. He also said he will be submitting his plan for Williams Park to City Manager Rachael Tabelski.

“Yes, I’ll have to do the same thing that I did to try to get Centennial Park; send in my course layout and proposal,” he said.

When asked to comment about the stir he caused with those living around Centennial Park, with many residents of that area rising up in opposition, Boyd said he wants to look ahead.

“Look, we all have our passions. Their passion was for Centennial Park’s history and mine is for disc golf,” he said. “I have no problems with leaving that behind now that there are other options available.”

Boyd also said he is willing to help those seeking to put an 18-hole course at Genesee Community College, and already has received quotes for the necessary equipment for that layout.

Photo: Brian Metz, left, Phillip Boyd and Ray Tourt looking at a map of Williams Park as they explore the possibility of placing a disc golf course at the Pearl Street recreational area. Photo by Mike Pettinella.

July 20, 2021 - 7:38am

jill_w.jpgWhile she didn’t grow up in Batavia, Jill Wiedrick nevertheless considers her appointment as assistant city manager as a homecoming since she will be returning to the place where she spent seven years as a senior planner with the Genesee County Planning Department.

“I can’t wait to move back to the community and be part of it again. We’re really excited,” Wiedrick said by telephone Monday -- two days before the Elma native continues her career in government as a key member of the City of Batavia’s administrative staff.

Wiedrick (photo at right) said she came to understand “how great Batavia was" by having lived and worked here from 2006-13.

“Part of the reason (for taking the city position) is that my husband and I have two young kids and I’d like them to grow up a little bit the way I did,” said Wiedrick, who graduated as Jill Babinski in 2000 from Iroquois Central School. “I grew up in a small community – not that there’s anything wrong with the City of Rochester; I think it’s fantastic – but we wanted to try something different.”

She also indicated she decided to leave her job as manager of zoning for the City of Rochester to be closer to her parents, who continue to live in Elma.

“And, professionally, I’ve been really interested in city management and other facets of government. So, this seems like something that perhaps that I would enjoy and be successful at,” she said.

Education Includes Professional Certificate

A graduate of Geneseo State College, Wiedrick received her master’s degree in City/Urban, Community and Regional Planning and, this spring via online distance learning, earned a professional certificate in Municipal Finance from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

She began employment with the City of Rochester as senior city planner in November 2013 before moving up to zoning manager in February 2020. She is credentialed with the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Wiedrick said that she relished her time as a Genesee County planner.

“I learned so very much and became such great friends with everyone. Jim Duval (the former planning director) was my first boss there and I cannot say enough awesome things about him. He continues to be a strong person in my life and a mentor,” she offered.

“And obviously, I worked with (current Planning Director) Felipe (Oltramari), who brings so much to the table in terms of helping the county and its municipalities be successful and how they want to look in the future.”

Oltramari said he was impressed with Wiedrick’s positive attitude and work ethic during her time at the planning department.

“Everyone always had good things to say about her work,” he said. “She was a hard worker -- very passionate about her work -- and I’m really glad that she is back in the area.”

Previously Interacted with City Manager

Wiedrick also interacted with City Manager Rachael Tabelski when the latter was employed as the marketing director with the Genesee County Economic Development Center.

“I got to know Rachael when I worked on projects with the GCEDC,” Wiedrick said. “On occasions we would be at the same meetings and run in the same circles, as far as development.”

Wiedrick said she is keen on economic development, stating that GCEDC officials and others realized that the Western New York Science & Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park project in the Town of Alabama was a long-term venture.

“Going into it, we knew that we weren’t going to see development occur immediately,” she said. “A lot of the things that you do in any sort of development is that you’re making an investment that is intended to be long term and to be developed over a number of years.”

She compared it to the planting of a tree.

“You don’t plant that tree for yourself; you plant it potentially for your children,” she said. “Much of development tends to work that way. In Western New York in particular, we’re planting the seeds now and we’re reaping the benefits maybe five or 10 years out.

“A good example is the City of Buffalo. Over the past 20 years, they’ve done a lot of small things and now we’re seeing the resurgence of Buffalo. Now, people are going, ‘Wow, how did this happen?' It has been calculated and people are taking steps knowing that we’re not going to see the benefits of these actions for a number of years.”

Promoting Genesee County

Wiedrick agrees that the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award will go a long way to expanding the city’s appeal and she is eager to have a role in its rejuvenation.

“To be a part of such a tremendous team, I feel that I am going to learn so very much from, and to have an impact on a place that is near and dear to my heart is incredibly exciting,” she said.

“I would tell colleagues from the City of Rochester, 'you’ve got to go to Batavia. You’ve got to check it out. It’s not just farmland. They just laugh at me and say, ‘OK. How did they do that in Genesee County?’ "

As the assistant city manager, Wiedrick will be responsible for various projects, including administrative services, organizational risk management, organizational values, community/neighborhood development, public relations, information technology and implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning software. She also will help draft the annual budget and take part in capital planning initiatives.

Her starting salary has been set at $91,800.

Tabelski said that Wiedrick’s extensive background in land use, planning, community engagement, policy development and budgeting as well as her proficiency with technology mesh well with the requirements of the city position.

Putting Technology to Good Use

“Jill brings a wealth of knowledge and experience gained through her professional roles in government including with the Genesee County Planning Department and City of Rochester Zoning Department,” Tabelski said. “She will make an immediate impact to the city organization -- focusing on supporting the ongoing software implementation projects, neighborhoods, community development initiatives, and administrative needs.

“She is a positive, outgoing professional who will participate with residents and businesses to make improvements. I am glad she choose the City of Batavia to call home, and look forward to working with her.”

Wiedrick said she has an eye on utilizing technology to enhance the quality of living in Batavia and the surrounding area.

“One of the things that I’m excited about working on is community development efforts, and I’m also going to be working a lot with technology – which I am very comfortable with,” she said. “What I’m intrigued about -- and have been for the majority of my career in government – is what forms of technology can be used to make things easier for the public and make things easier for staff.”

Wiedrick is married to Andrew Wiedrick, a quality assurance analyst at Excellus Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Rochester. The couple has a son, Ty, who is turning 6 this month, and daughter Jolene, who turned 3 in May. The family is in the process of moving to the city.

An accomplished violinist, she plans on performing with the Genesee Symphony Orchestra in the near future.

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File photo: Jill Wiedrick performing with the Genesee Symphony Orchestra. Photo by Howard Owens.

July 19, 2021 - 7:12pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Northside Meadows, city of batavia.

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The City of Batavia’s Bureau of Inspections is giving management of the Northside Meadows apartment complex at 335 Bank St. until Sept. 1 to rectify roof and driveway maintenance issues or risk court action.

A violation notice dated July 1 and issued by Doug Randall, city code enforcement officer, to Northside Meadows Association, which is managed by David Renzo of V&V Development Corp., indicates that his investigation found the following items to be in violation of the Property Maintenance Code and Residential Code of New York State:

  • Roofs and drainage. The asphalt roof coverings are deteriorated, missing material, and not maintained in a sound and tight condition on two of the three residential buildings located on this property. You must repair or replace the roof covering using approved materials.
  • Roof covering materials. Two of the residential buildings have been covered with grey plastic tarps. The tarps are not approved roof covering materials.
  • Sidewalks and driveways. The asphalt driveway and parking areas have uneven surfaces with loose and missing materials in various areas throughout the property. You must maintain these areas in a proper state of repair and eliminate hazardous conditions. Immediate action must be taken to ensure safety.

The notice, which was obtained by The Batavian through a Freedom of Information Law request earlier today, also states the following:

That a building and/or plumbing and/or electrical permit may be required to make some or all of these corrections. If a permit is required you must obtain one prior to starting work on the items for which the permit is needed. All corrections not requiring a permit should be commenced immediately.

Contacted about the violation notice along with a tenant’s report of a leaky ceiling in one of the Building B apartments and other issues, Renzo said he has a “workout plan” in place to correct the situation.

It should be noted, that the property manager had a similar reply in a June 22 story by The Batavian on similar problems at Le Roy Meadows, another low-income housing project overseen by V&V Development. (More on that at the end of this story).

“Workers will be here tomorrow at 7 a.m. to put more tarps on the building so we can fix the ceiling in that apartment and we have plans to put new roofs on Buildings B and C this summer,” Renzo said. “We’re in the process of contracting with a roofing company right now.”

Northside Meadows, located just west of Walden Estates, consists of three buildings – A, B and C – with eight apartments (four lower and four upper) in each building.

Renzo said he also is soliciting bids to fix the large potholes in the driveway.

Saturday’s heavy rain caused a build-up of water on the roof of Building B and, eventually, resulted in a leak in the ceiling.

Renzo said he went to the apartment, staying there for three hours to shore up the ceiling – punching additional holes in it to relieve the water pressure.

“We had four inches of rain … and this could have happened even with a new roof; the water accumulated in the valley of the roof,” he said.

He explained that he punched some more holes in the ceiling to prevent it from bubbling and placed plywood on the ceiling, supported by long boards extending to the floor.

Meanwhile, the woman who had just moved in to that apartment was forced to evacuate, and is staying with her mother until it is fixed, Renzo said.

“She’ll be out a couple days … but she was all happy because we’re giving her a month’s free rent,” Renzo said.

Currently, tarps are covering Building B and Building C (which is not in compliance with city code), while the roof was replaced on Building A 10 years ago – only after receiving violation notices from the city.

The tarps on Building B and Building C have been in place for at least eight years.

The mother of the tenant who did not disclose his/her name called the property “a hot mess,” citing evidence of drug use, mold, car repairs in the parking lots and excessive noise.

“Starting from the street, you’ve got craters in the driveway that do not get fixed,” said Connie Porter, a Birchwood Village resident who provides rides for her son/daughter. “For several years – and I don’t mean days and I don’t mean months – these roofs have been covered with tarps. Let’s not fix them. Let’s keep collecting rent and leave them.”

Porter said there is no policing of tenants who are violating the rules.

“There are people that are taking advantage of putting their cars in there and doing work that should be done at a mechanic’s shop,” she said. “And at Building C – the needles There is not one diabetic that I know of who goes outdoors to inject themselves with insulin and throws it on the ground. Something else is going on. Plus, the noise at all hours of the night.”

She asked what it was going to take before something gets done.

“Why should it be that you have to turn somebody in before the landlords … actually do something to keep the place the way it should be? Are they going to wait until somebody gets hurt or dies? That’s a health risk over there … a serious health risk.”

Renzo responded by saying that the police, specifically the drug task force, are “very well aware of the situation.”

“The problem is that if they know someone is doing something, it takes about a year to build a case,” he said. “The next plan of action is that we’re going to be putting video cameras in, probably, which would help. That’s our plan – to put video cameras in each building in the common areas.”

He said the management firm’s accounts receivable are thousands of dollars in arrears because many tenants have not paid rent since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

The federal moratorium on eviction ends on July 31, and the state moratorium concludes a month later.

“I sent a letter last week to all the people who haven’t paid and let them know the eviction moratorium is ending …,” Renzo said.

He said that all prospective tenants are subject to background checks and sex offender checks.

“Back in 1993 when the place was built, things were so much different,” he offered. “Now, all these people from Rochester are moving into town and there is a criminal element we’re dealing with. You rent to a single mother with children and her boyfriend comes in from Rochester …

“If there’s any drugs involved, the police are called and they’re doing their part. It’s no different than any other apartment complex.”

Renzo said he has yet to receive a complaint about mold in the apartments.

He advised that he is working with the United States Department of Agriculture on a plan to get the roofing replace before fall and also to pay off $60,000 in back taxes owed to Genesee County.

Renzo said the facility is owned by Northside Meadows Associates, a limited partnership.

He said that 95 percent of it has been syndicated to a company called Sterling, which utilizes National Tax Credit Fund No. 37, a real estate investment trust based in Manhasset. Renzo said he has only a 2 1/2 percent stake in the complex, with the remaining 2 1/2 percent owned by a local rural preservation company.

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LE ROY MEADOWS UPDATE

Renzo said the investment group from California is submitting a workout plan to the USDA and “we expect funds to come in within a week or two.”

“Back taxes are being taken care of by the vouchering of HUD (Housing & Urban Development) money,” he said. “HUD and the USDA have agreed to the plan.”

The county is owed more than $600,000 in back taxes at the 10-building, 80-unit complex at 18 Genesee St., which also is in immediate need of roof and driveway repairs.

Previously: Le Roy Meadows manager says plan will address $600,000 in back taxes, needed repairs

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Photo at top: Driveway at Northside Meadows apartment complex. Photos at bottom: Tarps covering Building B; sign along Bank Street. Photos by Howard Owens.

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.

July 8, 2021 - 3:30pm

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Photo: 400 Towers at 400 E. Main St.

It can be said that housing authorities such as those under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provide safe and affordable dwelling places for millions of low-income people in need.

But it also is true that these quasi-nonprofit enterprises benefit from their tax-exempt status, giving private landlords cause to question the fairness of the framework by which they exist.

You can draw a line from the preceding statements to the Batavia Housing Authority, a four-location government agency that offers HUD-subsidized apartments for senior (62 and older) and disabled tenants.

The BHA, which by New York State law is exempt from paying property taxes, receives subsidies from HUD to bring the monthly rent closer to the market rate and also receives periodic federal grants to help with renovations and maintenance across its buildings.

Executive Director Nathan Varland, during an interview with The Batavian last week at his office at 400 Towers, said he sees the Batavia Housing Authority as a much-needed public housing option considering the increasing number of senior citizens and permanently disabled residents who are struggling financially, especially as costs increase in a high-tax state such as New York.

AVERAGE RENT COLLECTED: $358

“The Batavia Housing Authority exists to provide safe, healthy and affordable housing for people who cannot realistically afford market rent,” he said. “The average rent collected is around $358 right now, and the federal subsidy is about $182 per apartment. Those amounts cover our monthly expenses, but our aging infrastructure requires some capital investment for the organization to be viable long-term.”

Recently, the BHA received a federal capital grant for $377,000 for renovations, including electrical systems and elevators, Varland said.

“Our margins are very low and it’s hard to stay efficient,” he said. “The capital grants that we apply for and (periodically) receive are vital. We wouldn’t be able to stay in business without them as half of our people can’t use the stairs.”

Varland describes the BHA as a “standalone government entity” that has entered into a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement with the City of Batavia that enables the housing authority to pay about 75 percent less in property taxes than what a nonexempt organization would pay.

He said the PILOT has been in force for many years, likely back to when the buildings were finished in the early 1970s.

FOUR LOCATIONS IN THE CITY

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Photo: The Terraces at 193 S. Main St.

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Photo: Edward Court at 15 Edward St.

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Photo: The Pines at 4 MacArthur Drive.

The buildings of the Batavia Housing Authority are as follows:

  • 400 Towers at 400 E. Main St., (photo at top), a high-rise facility with 148 apartments over eight floors for senior citizens and people with permanent disabilities. Most of these are studio and one-bedroom apartments.
  • The Terraces at 193 S. Main St., 26 apartments.
  • Edward Court at 15 Edward St., 13 apartments.
  • The Pines at 4 MacArthur Drive, 10 apartments.

The apartment complexes on South Main, Edward and MacArthur are three- and four-bedroom townhouse-style units for households of three or more people and, currently, all are full, Varland said.

Varland said the BHA owns its own properties with HUD having a controlling interest. Monthly rent is based on 30 percent of a tenant’s adjusted annual income (or 10 percent of the gross income), with maximum income limits depending upon household size.

Current rents for studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments include cable and utilities, and range from $490 to $675. He said that some people with little or no income pay as low as $50 per month in rent.

Three- and four-bedroom apartments are priced at $593 and $611, respectively, with a utility allowance deducted for those on subsidized rent.

PILOT AGREEMENT IN FORCE

According to the New York State law, municipal housing authorities that are project financed or aided by the federal government or municipality, not by the state, are exempt from property taxes but can be subject to special assessments, levies or PILOT agreements.

The law reads as follows:

Payments in lieu of taxes -- None required. However, if payments in lieu of taxes are fixed or agreed upon by the municipality, such payments may not exceed the taxes last levied on the property prior to its acquisition by the MHA unless such project is federally financed or aided and the federal government has consented to a greater amount.

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In the case of the BHA (actually classified as the City of Batavia Housing Authority by the Genesee County treasurer’s office), the PILOT paid to the City – and then disbursed to the county and Batavia City School District – is approximately one-fourth of the amount paid by a nonexempt organization.

Photo at right: BHA Case Manager Heather Klein, left, with 400 Towers resident Brenda Boyce.

For the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 2020, the BHA sent a check for $64,879.74 to the City clerk-treasurer -- $14,638.65 to the city, $15,409.33 to the county and $34,831.76 to the school district. That’s 23.5 percent of the full amount of $276,539 based on the assessed value of the properties ($6.5 million) and the total tax rate of $42.54 per thousand of assessed valuation.

“We pay a PILOT every year and that’s an agreement when the housing authority was formed,” Varland said, noting that the buildings were finished in 1970 and 1971. “The formula is based on what we take in and some of our utility expenses that come off. It’s not insignificant – about 5 percent of our annual budget -- but it’s also not based on the full value of the properties.”

Genesee County Manager Matt Landers said he looks at it as a “glass half full” proposition.

“The pay a PILOT but, at the same time, they are a quasi-governmental nonprofit-type agency. So, if you think about it, other nonprofits might not pay any property taxes – churches, GCASA, Cornell Cooperative Extension,” Landers said. “I’m glad they’re paying something rather than nothing at all.”

BOARD OF DIRECTOR OVERSIGHT

While the BHA properties are not owned by the city, the city manager does appoint citizens to a board of directors that provides oversight.

“We advise Nate in the direction we think is best for the housing authority,” said BHA Board Chair Brooks Hawley, who has been part of the committee for about 10 years. “At our monthly meetings, we look at the budget, address resident concerns and come up with solutions to any issues as a team.”

A current county legislator and former City Council member, Hawley said that since the rents are less than market rate – even with the subsidies, the grants from HUD “help us out with things like elevators and big projects that (private) landlords usually don’t have in a residential home.”

“We have four properties and we try to keep them up and not have them depreciate to where we’re putting huge money into it.”

The current board consists of a chairperson (Hawley), vice chair (Roger Hume), treasurer (Tammy Hathaway), secretary (Teresa Van Son), City Council liaison (Al McGinnis) and two residents (Don Hart and Jason Reese).

Varland said that the board frequently deals with compliance and regulatory matters, and sets policy that aligns with regulations at all levels of government.

“Public housing authorities are some of the most regulated agencies around,” he said. “Regulations are in place for a reason, but it does require a lot of work to keep up – especially with a small staff like ours.”

PRIVATE LANDLORDS: IS IT FAIR?

The Batavian contacted two property owners with numerous houses and apartments in Genesee County, and both agree that the Batavia Housing Authority, with its subsidies and improvement grants, have the upper hand when it comes to finding qualified tenants.

“It’s tough. I understand that there is a need for supportive housing for a lot of tenants, based on income and need, but for us, there’s no PILOT or anything else on our properties,” said Duane Preston of Preston Apartments LLC.

“We pay the full tax amount and what hurts the smaller guy is when they (BHA) get $200,000 per apartment for renovations – cabinets, bathrooms. We would love to come into that kind of money for our properties, but we can’t as we’re based on market rate rent.”

Preston said that he does have tenants that get reduced rent based on their Section 8 status (where they submit a voucher for about a 10 percent discount off the average rental market rate for the area).

“The maximum for a one bedroom in that case is $710 with everything included, $850 for a two-bedroom and $1,050 for a three bedroom,” he said. “They just raised the rates on all of those.”

He said that it takes about four months of operations for the average landlord to cover taxes on the property – “and that’s before you figure in your mortgage interest, water bills, utilities and other things that you have to cover.”

When told that the BHA is a standalone entity that owns its properties, Preston asked, “Then why are they getting a tax break? Why doesn’t everybody get a tax break then? I thought it was owned by the City of Batavia, and if that isn’t the case, that’s definitely not fair.”

Preston also questioned why those BHA apartments couldn’t be offered at market rate and be subject to the Section 8 guidelines.

“And it’s kind of a suck on city taxes,” he said. “The city is paying fire department, police department, whatever, and it used to be garbage pickup. Luckily, we’re out of that business now. Still, it’s a suck on the city and we’re not getting the full taxes out of it. It’s a double whammy.”

BHA IMMUNE FROM RISING COSTS?

Jeremy Yasses of JP Properties said he feels that the BHA is immune from rising taxes and property assessments.

“In today’s day and age when budgets are tight for municipalities and taxes and assessments are being raised, it’s not affecting the Batavia Housing Authority. How fair is that to the common folks who work every day and their assessment goes up, their taxes go up and their cost of living goes up?” he said.

Yasses said he finds it hard to believe that the Batavia Housing Authority isn’t making a profit.

“You can’t tell me that they break even every year,” he said. “Why are we allowing them to be subsidized? Why did they just get all of those grants to update all their apartments, and society wants us to update ours, and we do it one at a time when we can. They can do all of them, all at once. And that’s not fair.”

He also said that if the BHA is indeed a federal government-run entity, the City of Batavia should have nothing to do with it.

“Why does the city have any say about what’s going on there?” he asked. “No one checks in with me to see how Jeremy Yasses and JP Properties is doing.”

VARLAND EXPANDS UPON GUIDELINES

Varland explained that the BHA is under Section 9, which he called a separate funding stream from Section 8 with separate rules.

“The way Section 8 works is that low income individuals apply for Section 8 and they get a voucher for rent. They can take that to a private landlord,” he said. “With Section 9, we’re responsible for all the compliance and have a high level of oversight.”

He said the oversight comes from the city’s board of directors, but the major player is HUD.

“We’re not city employees, it’s just that the city is the jurisdiction because we’re located within the city limits,” he said. “There’s two ways to look at it: If HUD says jump, we jump; if the city says jump, we’ll have a conversation about jumping. Still, we want to make sure that partnership is strong.”

When asked what would happen if the BHA were to dispose of its properties to an unrelated entity, Varland said the transaction would have to be approved by HUD and for the fair market value.

“It would also have to be used for affordable housing,” he said. “Basically, the mission of the organization (and its property) needs to be preserved.”

400 TOWERS: A SOCIAL EXPERIENCE

Varland said just about all of the 148 apartments at 400 Towers are rented, but two are coming open soon.

“Our wait list is pretty short, so now’s a good time to apply,” he advised.

He said the facility at the corner of Swan and East Main provides a “social experience with everything in one spot.”

“You move in and you’re ready to go. Those studios are here at 400 Towers, where we have trash chutes, the mail comes inside, a snack shop, some meals that resident volunteers provide at low cost, activities, and a case manager on site to connect to resources,” he said. “And we just opened a fitness center and a library."

vickie_and_residents.jpgThe executive director said BHA is “stable” at this time, but there have been times when the HUD allowance has not been enough.

“It allows us to continue operations but we haven’t been able to keep the properties up,” he said. “Currently, we are able to maintain, but there are capital projects that need to happen in the next five years that we don’t currently have money for. But we’ve been able to keep the elevators working and keep roofs over the buildings – the basics – so we’re doing OK there.”

(Photo at right, Vicki Johnson, center, with 400 Towers residents Don Hart and Pauline Hensel).

He credited his staff for keeping things in order.

The administrative team consists of Vicki Johnson, housing manager in charge of recertification and property inspections; Abby Ball, leasing coordinator; Michelle Johnson, bookkeeper, and Heather Klein, case manager.

The maintenance staff lists four full-time employees and one part-time employee who are responsible for repairs and upkeep of all four properties. Varland said that he is looking to hire an entry-level full-time maintenance person.

COUNTING ON CITY PUBLIC SAFETY

Without its own security team, the BHA relies on municipal public safety agencies, Varland said.

“As far as security goes, we count heavily on the Batavia Police Department and Batavia Fire Department. They have been awesome,” Varland said. “They have been incredible supports and I don’t think that we could do this without them. We’re in a much better spot because of their support; it would be a struggle without them, plus our Genesee County EMS."

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He said that 400 Towers has secure doors while the family units at the other locations each have separate entrances. A camera system also is utilized.

“I’ll put our maintenance staff up against any other anywhere,” he said. “They work really hard to make sure that doors, locks, windows are safe and secure. We make sure that everything is in good condition, and to the extent that we have money, we keep things durable and fresh.”

(Photo at right: Maintenance Supervisor Jim Green).

When asked about the frequency of evictions, Varland said that has not been an issue.

“There are a number of our residents who have had financial issues due directly to COVID – both here at 400 Towers and at the family units. We have been able to work with them directly to come up with repayment agreements. As long as we stay in communication we try to help these people manage their financial situations and we want to keep them safe,” he said.

Varland said management has worked out repayment agreements with tenants, working with partner agencies such as Independent Living of the Genesee Region, which offers an emergency rental assistance program.

“The federal government is very interested in making sure people stay safe in their apartments, especially during COVID,” he added.

MORE HOUSING IS NEEDED

Varland said he is well aware of the “definite need for housing” and said that need has changed over the years.

“We could probably do a separate article on that, bringing in the Genesee County Planning Department as we meet quarterly with the Housing Needs Committee,” he said, mentioning the significance of the Ellicott Station, Ellicott Place, Eli Fish and Main Street Pizza downtown apartment projects.

When informed that an 80-unit senior complex is proposed for Pearl Street Road, he said, that is the population that needs housing the most.

“The data that is out there, our population is aging and our family size – our household size – is declining. So, people need accessible, affordable, safe and smaller apartments,” he said.

Varland said he writes letters of support for those type of projects.

“I think they’re good for the city and the county, and don’t really think of them as competition for us,” he said. “We may lose people, and people come and go, however, if it’s good for the city and good for the county, it’s good for us, too. It makes it a better place to be and live.”

June 25, 2021 - 1:54pm
posted by Press Release in news, infrastructure, street maintenance, city of batavia.

From the city's Bureau of Maintenance:

To all Residents/Property Owners:

Please, be aware the roadwork scheduled for Monday, June 28th has been rescheduled to Tuesday, June 29th. This work is weather dependent and if the work is delayed due to rain it will be scheduled for the next workday.

As a reminder that North Spruce Street (East Avenue to North Street), Fisher Park and Chase Park will be closed to all through traffic.

Residents living within the work area will have limited access to their driveway and may experience delays while the paving operations are ongoing. All efforts will be made to minimize delays. There will be no roadside parking.

Thank you for your cooperation in advance.

June 18, 2021 - 11:29am
posted by Press Release in news, city of batavia, assistant city manager.

Press release:

The City of Batavia Manager Rachael J. Tabelski announces the appointment of Jill M. Wiedrick, member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, to the position of assistant city manager. Wiedrick was selected following an extensive search for candidates.

A lifelong resident of Western New York, Wiedrick holds a master's degree in Urban Planning from the University at Buffalo and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. She has served in local government for the last 15 years, including senior county planner for Genesee County. She currently holds the position of manager of zoning for the City of Rochester.

Wiedrick has extensive background in land use, planning, community engagement, as well as policy development. She has experience in municipal budgeting, permitting, and the use of technology to create efficiencies for local government.

“I believe that Jill has the unique skills and leadership qualities we need in the City of Batavia to advance our mission and strategic priorities. She will be responsible for different projects in the City including: administrative services, organizational risk management, organizational values, community & neighborhood development, public relations, information technology and the continued implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. Jill will also work directly on the City’s annual budget, capital planning and other initiatives on behalf of the City,” said Rachael J. Tabelski, City of Batavia City manager.

A member of the Genesee Symphony, Wiedrick currently lives in the City of Rochester with her husband, Andrew, and their two children, Ty and Jolene. As a former resident of the City of Batavia, Wiedrick is excited to return to the area and put her experience to work for the residents of Batavia.

June 14, 2021 - 10:19pm

police_1.jpg

After years and years of studies, citizen task force recommendations and broken promises to City of Batavia police officers, the Batavia City Council may be ready to pull the trigger on construction of a new $10.8 million police headquarters on the parking lot at Alva Place and Bank Street.

Lawmakers, during a Special Conference Meeting tonight at City Hall Council Board Room, listened to a presentation of a City of Batavia Police Station Feasibility Study – hearing from Kenneth Pearl, president of Architecture Unlimited LLC, of Williamsville; City Manager Rachael Tabelski, and Police Chief Shawn Heubusch on what it would take to finally move its law enforcement personnel out of the 160-year-old Brisbane Mansion at 10 W. Main St.

“This has been going on so long that now we’re spending $10 million for a building that if we would have built this six, eight, 10 years ago when we were talking about it, it would have been a few million – three, maybe four (million),” said City Council President Eugene Jankowski, a retired city police officer who is well aware of the poor conditions at the current station.

“Every time they (apparently referring to past City Councils) wanted to come up with a price, they would decide to spend tens of thousands of dollars on another study, and they would turn right around and try to say let’s merge, let’s eliminate, let’s become one police department. There wasn’t public support for that; there wasn’t availability to make that happen. It wasn’t feasible and it wasn’t cost-effective to do that.”

Jankowski said that the city abandoning its police force – putting that responsibility on Genesee County – would be unwise.

“I’ve lived in the city and I expect to have a policeman and a fireman nearby when I need one, if my house is on fire or if I’m in trouble … we need our police department,” he added.

Pearl reported that If City Council is indeed serious about building a new home for its police department, it is going to cost $10 million or more, depending on when they build due to the unstable construction climate.

His analysis indicates that the $10.8 million cost of a 19,000-square-foot building, complete with enclosed parking for more than 30 cars, would break down as follows:

  • Batavia Police Department Building -- $6,270,000;
  • Site Work – Building Project, $570,000;
  • Site Work – Public Parking Modification, $660,000;
  • Site Environmental Contingency -- $500,000;
  • Contingency at 10 percent -- $800,000;
  • Professional Fees – A/E/Survey/Geotech -- $880,000;
  • Furniture, Fixtures, Equipment -- $650,000;
  • Professional Fees -- $390,000;
  • Project Expenses -- $80,000.

Should City Council decide to add a secure parking roof structure – a steel roof with no walls or heat -- that would add another $2.65 million to the price tag. Pearl’s report listed that feature as an alternative, along with the installment of an eight-inch water main to replace the current four-inch water main, and a Bank Street improvement public infrastructure program to include traffic calming and pedestrian safety enhancements.

As far as paying for the facility, Tabelski proposed a $10 million improvement serial bond with a 30-year term, noting that annual payments would range from $425,000 to $507,000 for principal and interest.

She said the city, by 2025, could absorb debt payments of $570,000, adding that in the next three years, debt from an energy lease, tandem axle municipal lease and the Enterprise Resource Planning software system will be off the books.

“While there will not be room for other borrowing in the general fund, by 2033, City Hall principal and interest payments will be reduced by $164,000 and by 2036, the entire debt will be paid on City Hall,” she said.

Tabelski said she will be looking for grants in an attempt to drop the amount needed to borrow under $10 million.

Heubusch advised Council of the conditions at the current police station, mentioning a 50-year-old boiler system, deteriorating walls, leaky roof, cramped quarters, lack of air conditioning and inconsistent heating.

In fact, the roof is in such disrepair that Council tonight passed a resolution to spend $100,000 from the municipality’s facility reserve fund to replace the flat portion of the 30-year old roof.

An analysis of that building showed that the flat roof portions above the rear vestibule and the rear addition require a full replacement. Currently, the roof is leaking into the conference room, locker rooms, detective offices and women’s and men’s bathrooms.

Pearl said he considered “four basic criteria” as he evaluated the possibility of a police station at Alva and Bank:

  1. “Could we save an adequate amount of public parking that could still be used by its neighboring businesses?”
  2. “Could we create enough secure parking within the wall or fence system for the police department itself?”
  3. “How much underground public infrastructure are we going to have to deal with (pipes, utilities under the parking lot)?”
  4. “And if we leave ourselves enough options after all that to go through a design and engineering process, would a viable project come out of it for the building itself?

Later on, he answered those questions affirmatively, stating that through substantial reconstruction about 115 public parking spots will remain in the lot with plenty of street parking available as well, and that there will be ample parking for police and other vehicles within the compound, next to the one-story facility.

He reported that basic elements of the project are a secure wall and gates, secure infrastructure (including an outdoor generator), storage space, open or covered parking and K-9 accommodation.

“Picture an L-shaped roof … what that allows us to do is create a public entry right here at Alva and Bank, which maximizes the public roadways,” he said. “Something that makes sense. You have the dedicated, primary entrance … you do not have that now.”

He said that police interaction with the community would be at the front of the building while operations and security would be placed toward the back.

Pearl’s report reveals the interior of the building will have a dedicated public entry space, front desk space, administrative offices, detective bureau, patrol offices and training rooms, emergency response team room, technical services areas (firearms, evidence storage, laboratory), accessory functions (locker rooms, break room, garage), interior infrastructure and community space.

Exterior spaces will include a public entry approach, flagpole, memorial area, landscaping, parking spots, generator, transformer, storage barn and K-9 lawn area.

Although he said the architectural and engineering process to get to this point has been complicated, the end result is that placing a building in the public parking lot “is a good option.”

“From a technical perspective, I’m very confident in saying that,” he said.

Pearl said construction could be complete by the end of 2023, but the current pricing would hold only if it went to bid within a year. He called the construction industry topsy-turvy right now, making it difficult to estimate costs.

To illustrate, he said the $8.8 million cost of just a 19,000-square-foot building (without fees and expenses) would have cost $5.7 million just three and a half years ago.

Going forward, Tabelski said the next steps would be putting out a request for proposal to architecture and engineering firms in September for design and surveying work, and then going back to City Council for contract approval/execution and a vote on final bond resolution around December.

City Council Member Al McGinnis was part of the City Police Task Force that worked on finding suitable locations for a new police headquarters about six years ago. He said that a lot of time and effort was spent by the committee and to see that nothing has changed is beyond disappointment.

"The fact that we have put our police through this for the past 20 years, 30 years is amazing," he said. "It violates just about every code you have for a police station. ... We talk, we talk, we talk and when we get done, we talk again. We kicked this can down the road. There's no more road and there's no more can. We have to do something."

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Architectural sketches -- Top, the proposed City of Batavia Police Department headquarters at Alva Place and Bank Street (building in red with parking lot in purple); Bottom, parking lot showing 34 spaces for vehicles plus room for cars next to the building. A storage shed (orange) and K-9 area (green) are at left.

June 7, 2021 - 8:51am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Genesee Country Farmers' Market, city of batavia.

A favorite in the quest for a permanent site for the Genesee Country Farmers’ Market has emerged, according to the treasurer of Downtown Batavia’s three-days-a-week venture.

Sharon Brent on Sunday said that market officials have been working with City Manager Rachael Tabelski to find a fixed location after having to move to the other side Alva Place to the former JC Penney parking lot this year.

“It looks as though the Angotti Beverage parking lot (south of School Street) is a possibility,” Brent said. “We’ve discussed other sites but for one reason or another, they’re not big enough or just won’t work.”

Brent said Austin Park also was considered but the parking lot isn’t suitable.

The market opened for the season last Friday and will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays through Oct. 29.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays, and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays. The market offers fresh produce, baked goods, flowers and crafts, as well as beer and wine tastings, and food vending trucks.

Brent said 30 vendors are participating on Friday and that she is no longer taking applications for that day.

“We’re sold out on Friday,” she said. “Space is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

Currently, three vendors are signed up for Tuesday, eight from 9-4 p.m. on Thursday, and 11 from 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, she said.

Food trucks will be on site from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. on all three days, and picnic tables are available.

NEW MANAGER IS ON BOARD

congoli_2.jpg“Eat fresh, buy local.”

That’s the mantra of Kathryn Cringoli, (photo at right), a resident of Batavia for the past 18 months, who was hired last month as the market’s new manager.

The Hilton native said she is eager to promote and expand the market to attract as many vendors and customers as possible, noting her passion for all things agriculture and fresh, locally grown products.

Cringoli has extensive education and experience in agriculture as she has a bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Sociology from San Diego State University and has worked as a caterer, bed & breakfast operator and at a hydroponic greenhouse in Hilton.

She also worked many years for the Rochester Red Wings at Frontier Field, and currently works part time at Tops Friendly Market in Batavia.

Cringoli said she moved to Batavia because her boyfriend is a student at the University of Buffalo Law School.

She said that 2020 was a very tough year for everyone, especially for farmers.

“A lot of them couldn’t unload their produce to the wholesalers or to the restaurants … so a lot of produce went to waste,” she said.

Cringoli said she hopes to get 4-H members and culinary students at Genesee Valley BOCES to participate at the market this summer, and emphasized that people getting SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits are eligible to buy fruits and vegetables there.

“I'm delighted for this new opportunity,” she said. “Eat fresh, buy local is what I am striving to instill into this community.”

June 3, 2021 - 1:30pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city of batavia, State Supreme Court.

Failure to report an injury in a timely fashion is the basis for a decision by the Appellate Division of a State Supreme Court to disallow a claim by City of Batavia Fire Chief Stefano Napolitano for workers’ compensation stemming from a work-related slip and fall in December 2018.

In a four-page ruling handed down last week, the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department agreed with the Workers’ Compensation Board that since Napolitano waited until after 30 days had elapsed to report the injury, his claim for benefits was invalid.

According to the ruling, the chief waited until April 2019 to file his claim as he contended the injury to his right knee became “progressively worse” as time went on.

Workers' Compensation Law §18 requires that a claimant seeking workers' compensation benefits must provide written notice of an injury within 30 days after the accident causing such injury. 

The Appellate Court’s decision indicates that Napolitano “admittedly neither reported the incident to the employer nor sought medical treatment for approximately four months – opting instead to just ‘muscle through’ it by self-diagnosing and self-medicating his injury … until he reached the point where ‘the pain just would not subside.’ ”

Napolitano declined to comment on the matter.

May 28, 2021 - 5:13pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city of batavia, Memorial Day Parade.

The city’s Memorial Day parade coordinator is promising a couple of surprises for Monday morning’s march from Eastown Plaza to Bank Street.

“We’ve been getting a lot of responses now, including a call from the Batavia Muckdogs, who said they will surprise us with something,” City Council member Robert Bialkowski said today.

When asked if some of the players will be participating, he said, “That would be nice, and it would be a first.”

Bialkowski also said that Dan Di Laura, owner of Dan’s Tire & Auto Service Center, agreed to park his new recovery truck at the corner of Main and Bank and fly a huge American flag from the vehicle’s 50-foot boom.

Additionally, 400 U.S. flags will be given to children along the route, he said.

“We welcome our veterans to join us,” he said. “Some will be riding and some will be walking, but all of them will be in front – right behind the color guard – where they belong.”

The parade is scheduled to start at 9:45 a.m. from the plaza.

Previously, Bialkowski said that the Batavia High School band will perform and he was hoping that other musical groups would as well. Marchers will include law enforcement and fire personnel.

To contact Bialkowski, call (585) 409-3624.

May 19, 2021 - 5:09pm
posted by Press Release in city of batavia, news, department services and contacts.

Press release:

The City of Batavia wants to remind residents how to access the various City departments for service requests or questions. Below is a listing of departments and what different services they perform throughout the City.  

“The City of Batavia employs 150 professionals, working different shifts and schedules, on behalf of the residents of the City to maintain public safety, provide fire protection, maintain streets, water, sewer, enforce local codes/ordinances, issue building permits, marriage certificates, hunting and fishing licenses, as well as many other services," said Rachael Tabelski, city manager.

"Access to these services are important and the guide below is a quick index of the main services each department performs, and how to contact the department."

If you are experiencing an emergency, always call 9-1-1.  

Department/Office / Contact / Services Provided

Dispatch Police and Fire Services

Call 9-1-1

Response for Emergency Situations (Fire, Crimes in Progress, etc.)

***********

Police Department

Phone: (585) 345-6350

Contact form:  https://www.batavianewyork.com/home/webforms/contact-form

Website:  https://www.batavianewyork.com/police-department

Address: 10 W. Main St.

  • Police records and reports
  • Accident reports
  • Police records check
  • Tenant background check
  • Community policing
  • Crime prevention education
  • School Resource Officer
  • Property owner FOIL request (Freedom Of Infomation (Act) Letter)
  • Vacation home check
  • Traffic complaints
  • Camera registry
  • Alarm registry
  • Safe trade location
  • Sex offender registration/house check

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Fire Department

Phone: (585) 345-6375

Contact form:  https://www.batavianewyork.com/home/webforms/contact-form

Website:  https://www.batavianewyork.com/fire-department

Address: 18 Evans St.

  • Fire protection
  • Fire investigation
  • Fire prevention education
  • Fire safety inspections
  • CRS flood information
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Child passenger safety inspection/installation
  • Smoke detector service
  • Open burning questions

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Bureau of Inspection

Phone: (585) 345-6345

Contact form:  https://www.batavianewyork.com/home/webforms/contact-form

Website:  https://www.batavianewyork.com/bureau-of-inspection-0

Address: One Batavia City Centre

  • Reporting tall grass
  • Reporting trash left on property
  • Reporting cars parked in grass
  • Reporting cars parked across sidewalk
  • Street opening permits
  • Vacant property issues
  • Exterior code issues/violations on homes
  • Junk cars
  • Permits
  • Inspections
  • Information on flood plain and flood insurance

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Bureau of Maintenance

Phone: (585) 345-6400, option #1

Contact form:  https://www.batavianewyork.com/home/webforms/contact-form

Website:  https://www.batavianewyork.com/bureau-of-maintenance

Address: 147 Walnut St.

  • Issues with City trees
  • Reporting potholes
  • Reporting street sign damage
  • Snowplowing questions
  • Sidewalk issues
  • City parks
  • Street opening/closing permits
  • Yard waste station

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DPW Administration

Bureau of Water and Wastewater

Phone: (585) 345-6325

Contact form:  https://www.batavianewyork.com/home/webforms/contact-form

Website:  https://www.batavianewyork.com/bureau-of-water-wastewater

Address: One Batavia City Centre

  • Street light issues
  • Traffic signal problems
  • Community Garden
  • Crosswalk issues
  • Fire hydrant issues
  • Water or sewer issues
  • Sanitary and stormwater issues

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City Clerk’s Office

Phone: (585) 345-6305

Contact form:  https://www.batavianewyork.com/home/webforms/contact-form

Website:  https://www.batavianewyork.com/bureau-of-clerk-treasurer

Address: One Batavia City Centre

  • Birth, death and marriage certificates
  • Marriage licenses
  • Dog licenses
  • Handicap parking tags
  • Payment of tax, water and other bills
  • Hunting and fishing licenses
  • FOIL requests (Freedom Of Infomation (Act) Letter)
  • Event applications
  • Overnight parking permits
  • Pavilion rentals

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Assessor’s Office

Phone: (585) 345-6301

Contact form:  https://www.batavianewyork.com/home/webforms/contact-form

Website:  https://www.batavianewyork.com/bureau-of-assessment

Address: One Batavia City Centre

  • Assessment questions
  • Grievance
  • Property records
  • Tax rolls
  • Property tax exemptions

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City Manager’s Office

Phone: (585) 345-6330

Contact form:  https://www.batavianewyork.com/office-of-the-city-manager

Website:  https://www.batavianewyork.com/office-of-the-city-manager

Address: One Batavia City Centre

  • General legislative requests
  • Budget questions
  • Contract questions
  • Community engagement opportunities
  • Assistance forming Neighborhood Action committees
  • Finance
  • Human resources
  • Media requests
  • Youth programs
  • Comprehensive plan questions
May 17, 2021 - 4:22pm
posted by Billie Owens in city of batavia, graffiti, news, crime, vandalism.

From City of Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch:

The City of Batavia Police Department is investigating multiple incidents of vandalism in which various City parks were defaced with graffiti.

Lambert and Farrall parks were the scene of the most recent incidents, which included the use of paint to deface City property, some using vulgarities.

City Parks crews cleaned up both parks prior to the weekend, but the parks were again discovered to be vandalized by City crews today (May 17) with new graffiti.

Anyone with information about these incidents are asked to contact the City Police Department at (585) 345-6350 or use the submit a tip feature at www.bataviapolice.org.

If you witness someone vandalizing public property, please call 9-1-1.

May 13, 2021 - 11:49am

The managers of Genesee County’s three largest municipalities are exploring the best ways to spend a windfall of federal dollars via the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Also called the COVID-19 Stimulus Package or American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden on March 11. It is intended to help the United States recover from the adverse economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession.

While the exact amounts to be allocated to towns and villages have yet to be determined, it has been reported that Genesee County will receive slightly more than $11 million, the City of Batavia will receive between $1.57 and $2.5 million, and the Town of Batavia will receive about $750,000.

Formal guidance on how the money may be used was released earlier this week in the form of a 151-page document.

According to published reports, half of the money is available now and the other half will come 12 months from now. Among the qualifying uses are public health, assistance to businesses and families, replenishment of public sector revenue and enhanced compensation for essential employees.

Funds also can be utilized for water and sewer system infrastructure and increasing access to broadband internet – items that local governmental leaders seem to be focusing upon.

GENESEE COUNTY

“We will be having a discussion with the legislature later on this month at a meeting to give some rough suggestions,” Genesee County Manager Matt Landers said. “I haven’t come up with dollar amounts for each bucket but I already have been looking at areas to put this money towards – water infrastructure, broadband infrastructure, jail infrastructure and some possible economic development initiatives as well.”

Landers called it a “one-time allocation of revenues,” emphasizing that the money can’t be used to reduce property taxes.

He said the county needs to upgrade the infrastructure in both the Phase 2 and Phase 3 Water Project, and is looking at ways to assist towns with a countywide broadband solution.

“We still have a lot of pockets within our county that don’t have access to high speed internet,” he said. “Possibly, we can utilize some of this money to help fill those gaps.”

CITY OF BATAVIA

In Batavia, City Manager Rachael Tabelski said she will be presenting a plan to City Council to allocate the CARES funds to specific projects that could include water, sewer, downtown parking rehabilitation and equipment purchases.

She, too, said these are one-time revenues and, as such, will be recommending “that they should be used for one-time purchases, not continuing operations.”

Tabelski noted that the city just ended its 2020-21 fiscal year (on March 31) and is starting an audit next week.

“So, unlike the county and town, with fiscal years that run from January through December, we need to finish the audit to evaluate the 2020-21 fiscal year final revenue,” she said.

TOWN OF BATAVIA

At the Town of Batavia, Supervisor Gregory Post said the money will offset lost revenue, enabling the town board "to allocate the balance to specific needs, which we are identifying right now to see what qualifies.”

Post indicated that expanding broadband and high-speed internet is at the top of the list.

He also said the money can help the town recover from the lack of upgrades to its comprehensive, solar, land use and agricultural protection plans.

“Furthermore, we would like to develop the scale and scope of how we can maintain all of the services to the community through a virtual town hall, and not having to expend any tax dollars in brick and mortar facilities that are not able to be used in the event of another pandemic or other similar circumstance,” he offered.

Post acknowledged the recent increase in property assessments, pledging to find ways “to best serve the community and keep taxes flat or attenuate any of the expenses incurred during COVID.”

On a national level, it has been reported that some states with Republican governors or legislative majorities have filed lawsuits in an effort to strike down the provision that the funds can’t be used for tax relief – on grounds that the stipulation violates the rights of individual states.

May 5, 2021 - 6:42pm

jackson_sq_2.jpg

The redesigned Jackson Square looks great, but is it functional?

That’s a question that promoters of The Batavia Ramble Music & Arts Festival are hoping City of Batavia officials and representatives of Architectural Resources consider before breaking ground on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative project later this year.

“They’re putting too much emphasis on the artistic aspect of the design and they’re forgetting about the practicality of what it is used for,” said Stephen Kowalczyk, who has been involved in sound, lighting and (recently) administration of The Ramble since its inception 13 years ago.

Kowalczyk expressed his opinion this afternoon – a day after community residents made their way to the venue between Jackson and Center streets near Center Street Smoke House for an informational meeting set up by city leaders and the Buffalo design firm hired to bring new life to the property.

Enhancing Jackson Square is being funded by a strategic investment grant of $750,000 from the New York State DRI program.

Kowalczyk and co-promoter Paul Draper said their main issues are with components of the proposed stage – its configuration, roofing material, its height and placement of a handicap ramp. He said they gave suggestions to the architect previously, but believe their input was disregarded.

City Manager Rachel Tabelski, in an email message this afternoon, did report that The Ramble musicians requested officials to re-examine the sound acoustics, specifically the “current canopy design of the stage and the materiality of the canopy as well as the stage height and the ramp access point to the stage.”

She said the city will work with Architectural Resources to modify the design to accommodate the commentary, including the canopy and stage.

“We want the citizens of Batavia to utilize Jackson Square for a multitude of events and will continue to work through design to get it correct,” she said.

Kowalczyk provided his “blueprint” for making the area not only attractive but practical:

  • Changing the stage's proposed glass roof to wood with 50-year metal roofing over it.

He said a see-through roof idea is not appropriate for the setting.

“Maybe in an open park it might work but it does not work in a concrete jungle that is Jackson Square,” he said. “It’s already an acoustical nightmare because of all the concrete walls, and they’re just going to make it worse by adding more reflective surfaces that are angled inappropriately to the way a band would be on stage.”

  • Changing the stage from the proposed oblong shape to a rectangle.

“There are no right angles on the stage. Every single cut that they’re going to have to make in building this is going to be an odd angle that will take more resources and time to build,” he said. “We’re just asking for a simple rectangle stage with a normal roof on it so the band can have its gear protected and have some shade from the sun.”

  • Keeping the height of the stage at 30 inches instead of the proposed 16 and moving a new handicap ramp from the front of the stage to behind it to avoid having to go over any cables and wires.

“The height of the stage is the biggest thing that’s killing me,” he said. “They’re cutting the stage almost in half, which means anyone further back is not going to be able to see anything.”

Kowalczyk said the proposed design “is not functional or practical for any live event out there except maybe a poetry slam.”

“They kept talking about a poetry slam. For someone who has done acoustic shows there, with the motorcycles and trucks going by, you can’t get away with doing anything with the spoken word. It’s too noisy.”

He said he was hoping to attract band recitals and start movie nights, but the stage reconfiguration would make it difficult to hang banners or a projector screen.

Draper said he thinks the architect had “good intentions but they were considering the design more than the utility of the event space.”

“It seems like they could have done a better job if they would have listened to people who actually utilize the space,” he added.

Tabelski said that the pavement and lighting element feedback was “all positive.”

“The concept integrates many historical layers of Batavia including the Great Bend -- changing the trajectory of the Tonawanda Creek -- the Ancient Seneca Footpaths and the history of ‘old’ downtown Batavia,” she said.

Following approval of the final design concept, the project will move to the construction bidding phase. Groundbreaking is expected this fall, with completion anticipated next spring.

A call to Justina Dziama of Architectural Design this morning was not returned.

jackson_sq_1.jpg

jackson_sq_3.jpg

Architect renderings of the proposed Enhanced Jackson Square project.

May 4, 2021 - 2:15pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city of batavia, The Novak Consulting Group.

City Council Member John Canale was correct in his belief that expenses incurred during the search for a new city manager earlier this year would be minimal.

According to information released by the manager’s office today, it cost the city $3,644.74 for the professional search/interview process that resulted in the hiring of Rachael Tabelski in early March.

Expenses were for advertising in national publications and websites ($1,239), background checks ($1,005.74) and psychological examinations ($1,400) for the potential candidates.

As it turned out, the city was not billed by The Novak Consulting Group of Cincinnati, Ohio – the firm that assisted City Council in this and the previous manager search that brought former manager Martin Moore to Batavia. The contract with Novak stipulated that it Moore left within two years (which he did), then the next search would be free.

In late February, Canale, in response to an inquiry from a Batavia resident, said he would make sure the numbers are provided, and added that he thought they will be “very, very minimal.”

Tabelski moved up from the assistant city manager position to take the lead role upon Moore’s departure last June.

During that time, the city has been functioning without an assistant to Tabelski. This is a considerable cost savings in light of the position’s $82,946 to $100,604 salary range. Furthermore, Tabelski was earning less during the interim as she is now -- more savings for the city.

Meanwhile, Tabelski said that in-person interviews of assistant manager candidates will take place in the near future.

The city also is seeking someone to fill the vacant director of Public Works position.

May 3, 2021 - 2:35pm
posted by Press Release in Memorial Day Parade, city of batavia, news.

Press release

This is an invitation to all members of the community to participate in this year’s Batavia Memorial Day parade on Memorial Day -- Monday, May 31st.

The City of Batavia is sponsoring the parade and we are looking forward to a great turnout. The parade will kick off at 9:45 a.m. from the Eastown Plaza and end at the Alva Place parking lot.  

Any veterans wishing to participate in the parade can just show up at 9:15. Veterans needing a ride in the parade please contact me.

Any groups wishing to participate please let us know as all are welcome. Please keep the theme of respect to all our veterans and first responders.

We will be handing out small American flags to the children.

Let’s show our support to our veterans and first responders! Bring your lawn chairs and enjoy our annual parade!

Thank you,

Bob Bialkowski

City of Batavia

Councilmember at Large

 (585) 409-3624

May 3, 2021 - 11:39am

Press release:

The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) Board of Directors will consider approving incentives for projects proposing $13.5 million of new investments at its May 6 board meeting.  

Forefront Power LLC (Elba Solar) is proposing to invest $9.7 million to build a 5 megawatt community solar project on Norton Road in the Town of Elba. The project would generate approximately $518,803 in new revenue to Genesee County, the Town of Elba, and the Elba Central School District over the proposed 15-year agreement.  

The project also would fund a community benefit agreement for workforce development and economic development projects in Genesee County. Forefront Power LLC is seeking approximately $1.416 million in sales and property tax exemptions. A public hearing on the project incentives was held March 22.

Batavia Special Needs Apartments LP is proposing to invest $3.75 million to add 20 living units to an existing special needs housing campus on East Main Street in the City of Batavia. The project would increase the existing annual PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) payment by approximately $6,000 per year for the remainder of the current PILOT.  Batavia Special Needs Apartments LP is seeking approximately $772,000 in sales and property tax exemptions. A public hearing on the proposed incentives was held April 14.

The GCEDC will also consider initial review of an application by NY CDG Genesee 1 LLC (BW Solar). The proposed project would invest $7.326 million to build a 5 megawatt community solar project on Oak Orchard Road in the Town of Elba. The project would generate approximately $518,803 in new revenue to Genesee County, the Town of Elba, and the Elba Central School District over the proposed 15-year agreement.

If the initial application is accepted, a public hearing on the project will be scheduled, as the project is requesting incentives in excess of $100,000.

The GCEDC Board meeting will at 4 p.m. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic the meeting will be conducted via conference and online at www.gcedc.com.

April 29, 2021 - 1:39pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city of batavia, Batavia City Council.

The City of Batavia offers nine parks for citizens to enjoy, starting at 7 a.m. until dusk each day.

All city officials are asking in return – at least for this recreation and picnic season – is for users to take out any and all trash that they take in.

“We are not accepting pavilion rentals this year, which means that the park is open to the public and anyone is free to use it,” City Manager Rachael Tabelski said. “If residents use the pavilions we are asking them to ‘carry in and carry out’ (their trash) at this time.”

Tabelski added that trash receptacles will be placed in high use areas for patrons to use, especially around the playgrounds.

At Monday night’s City Council meeting, she emphasized that trash containers will continue to be available on Main Street as well.

Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr. said that he wasn’t sure why comments found on social media sites indicated that the city would not be placing trash cans along Main Street.

“It wasn’t a city official spokesperson that even mentioned Main Street,” he said.

Tabelski said that Council, during budget discussions, decided to reduce overtime for the parks department “and one of those ways was to ask citizens who use the pavilions to carry in and carry out.”

The city’s nine parks are as follows:

  • Austin Park, 15 Jefferson Ave.;
  • Centennial Park, 151 State St.;
  • Farrall Park, 101-111 Otis St.;
  • Kibbe Park, 105-111 Kibbe Ave.;
  • Lambert Park, 100 Verona Ave.;
  • Lions Park, 108 Cedar St, and 8 Wallace St.;
  • MacArthur Park, 252B State St.;
  • Pringle Park, 14 Pringle Ave.;
  • Williams Park, 101 Pearl St.

More information about the parks can be found by clicking HERE.

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