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October 25, 2022 - 8:16am

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An ice rink reserve fund will likely be tapped in the near future due to leaks from the ice chiller.

Water and wastewater Superintendent Michael Ficarella discussed the matter with City Council during its meeting Monday evening.

“We recently had to add emergency refrigerant,” he said to members at City Hall. “The refrigerant creates your ice. In order to get it and keep it up (to operating standards), we needed to add 360 pounds of refrigerant.”

The cost for that emergency measure was $21,950, he said in a memo to City Manager Rachael Tabelski. She suggested holding spending of $170,000 for revamped locker rooms in lieu of rectifying the faulty ice rink chiller.

“We continue to discover issues with the chiller,” Ficarella said.

If there’s no ice, renovated locker rooms wouldn’t be necessary, so the chiller should come first, he said.

Ficarella added that it’s not a matter of asking “can we use it?

“We absolutely need it,” he said.

Improved communication between the city and new management, which includes Carrier Commercial Services, has meant an increased amount of issues brought to light, he said. For example, a compressor replacement installed some time ago hadn't even been turned on and therefore hadn't been working.

"So when Michael and (Public Works Superintendent Brett Frank) talk about the increased communication and relationship between ourselves and Carrier, who we have a contract with, and the rink, we're going to keep running into these things," Tabelski said. "Because we're going to continue to find places that might not have been maintained to the level that they need it to be for operations to continue."

Frank estimated the unit was several decades old — considered to be original equipment with the arena’s construction in the 1970s.

Council member Tammy Schmidt said there was a time when locals weren’t very happy with the condition of the arena, and that is changing with new management led by businessman Matt Gray for the newly dubbed David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena on Evans Street. Her grandson plays hockey there, and "it's not a rink we could have been proud of a couple of years back," she said.

“I know the locker rooms are absolutely in need of repair. They're super bad," Schmidt said. "And I hope we're not just going to spend all the (funding on) refrigerant and not do those locker rooms at all, because we want to be proud of that, right?"

Ficarella asked that the emergency refrigerant cost be taken out of the ice rink reserve, which currently has a balance of $357,000.

The matter, and a related vote, was moved to a future business meeting.

File photo of the McCarthy ice arena in Batavia.

October 25, 2022 - 8:08am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, dwyer stadium, Robbie Nichols, city council, notify.

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Playing host to more than 50,000 people at ball games, plus youth, high school and college baseball games, dance clinics, concerts, a fundraising awareness walk, challenger sports activities, and an epic Halloween trick-or-treat event gave Batavia Muckdogs owner Robbie Nichols plenty to brag about Monday.

But then he saved the best for last, he said. Nichols and General Manager Marc Witt announced that a World Championship ice racing event was just confirmed for early next spring. But no ice skates are involved.

“We're working with the arena with Matty Gray. And I think that he's done a great job from what we've seen. We've been over there a bunch of times, working with him, trying to bring more business and people to the arena,” Nichols said. “And we were gonna announce today that on Friday, March 31, is going to be something Batavia has never seen before. We are bringing the World Championship XIIR, which is Extreme International Ice racing. So we're bringing motorcycles on ice, these motorcyclists go 60 miles per hour, and they'll be in the arena. And they go all around the country to big arenas, and we're gonna bring it here to Batavia on March 31.”

What did it take to get this world event here? As Witt sort of shook his head at the thought, Nichols said it wasn't easy.

“It takes a lot. They're coming from all across the world. So Scotland, England … some of these racers, their Speedway bikes, they go zero to 60 miles per hour with no breaks. They have studded tires. So there'll be Speedway bikes," Nichols said. "There'll be a quad-riding class. So there are people around here that race on ice. They’ll be invited to come out and race too we'll have a go-kart series. So it's going to be really neat.”

There will be more public announcements about the event and “very limited” tickets, he said. There are an estimated 450 to 500 people that can fit into the arena, he said, and he fully expects the venue to be “packed and sold out.” Tickets are likely to go on sale just before Christmas, he said.

Being classified as a world championship, this event next year means more than just a unique happening for Batavia. It also signals a potential uptick for the city’s economy due to people traveling from all points of the globe and staying and eating locally.

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Speaking of numbers, Dwyer Stadium hosted 50,000 people for Muckdogs games this season, which made for a total of 84,000 visitors to the Bank Street park. There were more than 40 high school games, challenger division baseball, 30 youth baseball games, a showdown game between the city police and fire departments, an Alzheimer’s walk kick-off, use of the field in September and October by Geneseo State College, and the Zac Brown and Margaritaville concerts.

Costumed visitors swelled from last year’s 500 trick-or-treaters and 2,000 families to this past Saturday’s 2,100 trick-or-treaters and 5,000 families for the annual spooky fun festivities with vendors and free candy.

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“It was a zoo,” Witt said.

Staffers had to go out and buy more candy — some $500 more — to feed the masses that formed a line all the way down Denio Street and wrapping its way along State Street toward Batavia High School.

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The Dwyer to-do list includes additional netting to ensure that spectators aren’t hit by foul balls and a party deck, and several items have already been completed, such as painting locker rooms, power washing, adding a new bullpen to the vision team area, new cooking appliances, the addition of 30 tables and 100 chairs in the main office, and even the finer details of updating toilet paper rolls and paper holders in the men’s and women’s restrooms.

With a track record of hosting 120 events this season, averaging 20 events per month from April to October, including 22 picnics, Dwyer Stadium “has something going on,” Nichols said. He and the staff have set a goal to have something going on every single day, he said.

Events weren’t just about drawing crowds to the stadium, but also about team participation in parades and Nichols’ favorite event, Challenger Division Baseball. Staff and team players work alongside people with various disabilities to enjoy a real game as participants.

“This is our favorite event. We take a day out when we play with the challenger divisions, we have a real game,” he said. “They're the stars of the show.”

Season ticket holders have risen from 100 to more than 500 since taking over operations as owner in 2021, he said. Nichols, who is also the owner of CAN-USA Sports since 2012, is well prepared for next season with the Muckdogs, having 30 players in place already for a championship next season, he said.

He is looking to extend his lease with the city, after two years down and three to go. He and Witt thanked council members and management for “trusting CAN-USA Sports.”

Councilman Bob Bialkowski encouraged them to “keep up the good work” while member John Canale suggested that the enterprise "is your baby.”

“You’ve created that; we’re very grateful for what you’ve done,” Canale said.

A modest Nichols said it wasn’t about him and Witt.

“It’s the community that makes it possible, “ he said.

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Top Photo: Batavia Muckdogs General Manager Marc Witt, left, and owner Robbie Nichols present a recap of this year at Dwyer Stadium in Batavia (by Joanne Beck); photos of the Halloween trick-or-treat event this past Saturday, including Robbie and wife Nellie, above. Photos by Howard Owens.

September 28, 2022 - 8:08am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, city council, audit.

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Although there were no “reportable findings” from the city’s 2021-22 audit, that doesn’t mean the municipality is out of reach from a dangerous situation, Matt Montalbo says.

Cyber security — or a lack thereof — is a “pretty substantial” item for the city’s checklist, Montalbo said during an audit presentation Monday at City Hall.

The world is rife with Internet scams, and no one is immune, he said.

“I want to highlight some pretty substantial challenges that governments are seeing right now, one being related to cyber security risks and the risks of being subjected to a cyber attack,” he said. "So A lot of the associations related to government entities … they partnered together and put out a cybersecurity primer back in February of 2022, just to highlight how significant government entities are being targeted in cyber attacks. They put out a lot of statistics just to educate those charged with governance.

“So we have that in our management letter, as it’s just an additional precaution to look at cyber security risks, and almost kind of do a mock scenario where, if you were subjected to a cyber attack, what processes do you have in place? You know, how prepared are we because, really, the statistics are pretty staggering,” he said. “It’s not a matter of if it's going to happen, it's a matter of when, so be as prepared as possible is what we would recommend.”

That is perhaps no startling news, as cyber attacks have been fairly ubiquitous to our high-tech times.

Still, Montalbo, a certified public accountant with the city’s new auditing company Drescher & Malecki, strongly suggested that the city needs to assess its own cyber risks, related processes, and what measures may need to be taken to bolster the cyber fence to keep predators out.

Batavia may be a small city, but according to governing.com, the amount of data that municipalities deal with has grown exponentially, but smaller entities often operate on a shoestring budget, meaning they rarely have dedicated cybersecurity experts and instead rely on their IT team to ensure security. Not having and investing the required funds to prevent cyber attacks can often leave local municipalities more vulnerable, the site states.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski was not surprised by the warning and auditor’s findings, she said. The city has an ongoing process that includes a system in place for safeguards against cyber crimes, she said.

“The City has NYS training in place for cyber security for employees, and works hard to remain diligent to constant email threats of phishing and other scams,” she said to The Batavian Tuesday. “We work with our independent IT consultant, Alternative Information Systems, for a variety of security functions and monitoring to help keep city assets safe. We are always looking to add new security measures to our IT systems to better protect the city.”

A second area for caution was the influx of pandemic-related monies being given to municipalities, especially “a lot through the stimulus plans out there,” he said.

“So the American Rescue Plan, the Cares Act, there are a lot of new opportunities, but with that comes a lot of challenges, in not only understanding the compliance requirements for these funds, but also tracking and monitoring the statements,” he said. “Just looking at how you're set up to do that, whether you have a grant administration function or the ability to monitor those new fundings as well as the current funding going on.”

City Council previously agreed to add the position of a grant administrator, and the city is in progress with seeking candidates for the job.

Montalbo, who was with senior accountant Erica Handley, shared the city’s financial picture, which included a $1.3 million fund balance increase. For once, the word COVID carried a positive connotation.

“Your fund balance went from about $808 million at this point in 2021 to $9.4 million at the end of 2022. You did have, and we've been seeing these trends across the state, your sales tax come in a little bit higher than anticipated. We saw a little bit of the economic recovery after the COVID years,” he said. “So that bump is pretty consistent with the trends we're seeing statewide. You also were able to have some budgetary savings within your public safety and transportation areas … So that was the main reason for the increase, and your total fund balance being that $9.4 million.”

Photo: New city auditors Matt Montalbo and Erica Handley of Drescher & Malecki present the city's 2021-22 audit report during Monday's conference session at City Hall. Photo by Joanne Beck.

September 27, 2022 - 8:05am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, city council, Wing Ding, picnic in the park, notify.

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Sometimes remarks have to be said even though they might upset people.

City Councilwoman Patti Pacino gave that warning during Monday’s conference session as the council discussed using leftover event money for a proposed Wing Ding. What she was going to say would probably anger her colleagues, Pacino said.

“While I think the Wing Ding is fabulous and it is an event open to everyone, we used to fund the Picnic in the Park, which is also for everyone,” she said in the Council Board Room of City Hall. “GO Art! had to cancel the picnic.”

Proposed by Assistant Manager Erik Fix, the amount of $9,188 remaining from the city’s Centennial Celebration in 2015 could be transferred into a Wing Ding account if council approved the move. Former Centennial Committee members Krysia Mager and Chairman Paul Battaglia had agreed to the use of funds in addition to others Fix had spoken to, he said, and some members of the resurrected air show had said they would help with the city’s event.

The city used to contribute money — about $2,500 — to the annual Picnic in the Park, but began to cut back over the last few years, and did not fund it in 2019, 2021 or 2022. The Original Red Osier Landmark restaurant presented the event in 2019, and a virtual picnic -- sponsored by several entities including the city --  was shown on YouTube in 2020. The picnic was canceled in 2021 due to COVID protocols and lack of sponsorship, and canceled again in 2022 due to lack of sponsorships.

Pacino said she would vote for the Wing Ding and transfer of money, but expected support when a request for Picnic in the Park funding came around again.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski explained that “we realized that if we were ever to use those funds, it had to be run by the city,” she said.

The $9,000 and change came from corporate donations for the Centennial shindig on Dec. 31, 2014. Although some council members suggested getting the Business Improvement District involved, those unexpended funds need to be spent by the city during an event under the city’s authorization, Tabelski said.

Why not do it? said Councilman John Canale. He saw no reason not to move forward with a Wing Ding to coincide with the air show next fall.

“People loved it,” Canale said.

Councilman Bob Bialkowski questioned the input from a couple of former committee members as being a major reason for moving forward. Canale rebutted that it’s “only common courtesy” to include them since they worked on the former event. Both Battaglia and Mager gave their blessings to the Wing Ding receiving $9,188.

Council members discussed how future Wing Dings would be paid for, and agreed with Tabelski’s assessment that this would be a “one-time” transfer and that nearly $10,000 for the Wing Ding wasn’t going to be a yearly budget item.

After reiterating her stance that she is looking for future support on the Fourth of July picnic, Pacino summarized how important it is to her.

“I’ve been waiting four years to say that,” she said.

Council members agreed to move the matter to a vote during a future business meeting.

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Top Photo: City Councilwoman Patti Pacino expresses concerns Monday evening about the city not funding Picnic in the Park while considering an infusion of $9,188 of leftover centennial event money into a future Wing Ding event. Above, Council President Eugene Jankowski, Paul Viele and Patti Pacino discuss the issue with remaining council members not pictured during a conference session at City Hall. Photos by Joanne Beck.

September 26, 2022 - 8:10am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, city council, Wing Ding, Restore NY, notify.

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Market rate housing, the resurrection of Wing Ding, a craft beer festival and Alzheimer’s awareness walk, the Jackson Square redesign and a public hearing are all on tap for City Council’s conference meeting this week.

And that is to be followed by a special business meeting for several votes and an executive session to discuss “employment matters and real estate.”

The conference meeting is set for 7 p.m. Monday in the Council Board Room, second floor of City Hall.

Assistant City Manager Erik Fix is expected to outline a plan to create single-family homes and market-rate rentals to help supply Genesee County’s future housing needs of more than 4,800 units, according to a memo from Fix to City Council. The demand for housing is anticipated in correlation with the WNY STAMP project in the western part of the county.

“With low vacancy rates and free houses available for sale, if a surge of development attracted employment into the region, workers would need to look outside of the county for housing,” Fix said.

He is proposing that the Batavia Home Fund be established to capitalize Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) payments from project investors and land sales to plump up the fund.

The city will also be exploring a Core Housing Owner Incentive Exemption program based on a similar program in Rochester that provides exemptions for multi-family homes to convert to single-family homes, and for construction of new housing stock, Fix said.

As Genesee County, via a related committee, pursues hosting an air show once again, the city is considering resurrecting the Wing Ding that ran in conjunction with the former Wings of Eagles air show at Genesee County Airport. Fix is also expected to review the potential for a Wing Ding weekend, and transfer a leftover amount of $9,188 from the Centennial Celebration and move it into a Wing Ding account.

Air show committee leader and county highway superintendent Tim Hens has said that several people have asked that the air show be brought back, and many folks have shared fond memories from each event on opposite sides of the county -- at Genesee County Airport on Saile Drive and in downtown Batavia.

After years of committee meetings, investigation and talk about the potential for Creek Park, situated behind the ice arena, city officials are also expected to discuss the option of performing an environmental review for it to house a future business operation.

Eli Fish apparently doesn't want the fun to stop and has applied for a craft beer festival in Jackson Square later next month. That event, and an Alzheimer's awareness walk on Oct. 1 are up for review by council during its conference session. 

File photo of a previous air show. 

September 26, 2022 - 8:05am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, city council, Healthy Living, Carr's Reborn, notify.

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There are to be public hearings in each the city and county this week on the application and use of a $2 million Restore NY grant.

The city's hearing is during a conference session at 7 p.m. Monday in the Council Board Room, second floor, City Hall.

City Council's intended use for the grant is for the Carrs Reborn project in downtown Batavia. Cities with a population less than 40,000 can apply for up to $2 million, and it is available for projects to “demolish/deconstruct and/or rehabilitate/reconstruct vacant, abandoned, surplus and/or condemned residential, commercial and/or mixed-use buildings.”

The former C.L. Carr's site, with an expansive footprint within Main and Jackson streets and is owned by Ken Mistler, is expected to accommodate several upper-floor apartments and business/office use on the ground floor.

City Council is expected to vote on the grant submission during its business meeting to follow. The group is also to vote for support of a county-led Restore NY grant application to offset the $33.5 million Healthy Living campus project on Main Street, downtown Batavia. Work has begun to construct a new Healthy Living campus alongside GLOW YMCA, and the fitness facility at 207-209 East Main St. will eventually be demolished to make way for green and parking spaces.

It will take much investment for the entire plan to unfold, and Genesee County’s Ways & Means Committee has agreed to proceed with an application for a $2 million Restore NY grant to help with the costs.

Before anything else can happen, a public hearing must be conducted about the project to demolish 207-209 and 211 1/2 (rear) on East Main Street. Led by the county, the grant is available for “projects to demolish/deconstruct and/or rehabilitation/reconstruct vacant, abandoned, surplus and/or condemned residential, commercial, and/or mixed-use buildings.”

The county has set two public hearings for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Old Courthouse, 7 Main St., Batavia. In addition to one about the Restore NY grant, there is a hearing about a local law to expand the residency limit beyond Genesee County to open the pool of candidates for Genesee County Sheriff's Office correction officer vacancies.

Rendering of future Healthy Living campus in downtown Batavia, submitted by Rochester Regional Health.

September 13, 2022 - 10:27pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, vehicle damaged, city police, city council, notify, batavia.

Another piece of property downtown — this time an automobile — has apparently suffered some damage while its owner was at a meeting Monday at City Hall.

The owner of the defiled vehicle — who has not officially been identified by city police — apparently filed a claim that someone had poured nail polish on her vehicle while she was at a City Council meeting and public hearing Monday evening. The hearing about a farm animal law drew some 30 people to the second floor council chambers.

Detective Eric Hill confirmed that there is “an open investigation into the matter right now,” after The Batavian inquired about the damaged vehicle.

“I’m not sure on the level and location of polish and we don't have an estimate (of the value of the damage) at this time,” Hill said in an email to The Batavian.

Just last month, in early August, a vandal drew at least a dozen chalk figures on the brick pillars outside of Batavia City Centre as a City Council meeting was going on inside. The artwork was said to be anti-ReAwaken America Tour graffiti.

Police were investigating the incident and said the person responsible would face a charge of criminal tampering, a class B misdemeanor. There are no updates about that case at this time, Hill said.

September 13, 2022 - 8:10am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, feral cats, farm animals, city council, notify.

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A group of about 30 people attended Monday's City Council meeting, and half of them spoke about the proposed farm animals law to ban most farm animals from city limits and the feeding and care of feral cats. Volunteers For Animals member Robin Lewis, second row, in blue, waits to take her turn at the podium and dispute that a feeding ban does any good for feral cats

Forbidding people to care for homeless cats will not take care of the feral cat problem, Robin Lewis says.

She was one of about 15 people to share their thoughts during a public hearing Monday at City Hall.

“It is a cruel, inhumane, and ineffective way to solve a complex problem,” Lewis said to City Council.

In an audience of 30 or so spectators, half of them were there to voice support or opposition for a proposed farm animal law expected to go up for a vote later in the evening. The law would ban “owning, bringing into, possessing, keeping, harboring, or feeding” most farm animals and feral cats in the city, and limit chickens to six as long as they’re penned properly and don’t create an accumulated mess and odor.

Lewis and other speakers nailed one issue right on its head: it’s a complex issue when dealing with cats. She was with a group of fellow Volunteers For Animals members who stressed that the ban was not only unfair to homeless cats but that it doesn’t work for eliminating them. Spoiler alert: volunteers were happy in the end.

One point of contention was that feral cats and “community cats” are hard to tell apart; one group is often being well cared for by good samaritans while the ferals are cats born outside that are often unsocialized and therefore less friendly and seemingly wild.

Judy Sikora, who has lived in the city for 40 years, is one of those good samaritans who has been caring for stray cats. She has worked with Kathy Schwenk of Spay Our Strays to ensure the cats are spayed or neutered so as not to reproduce, and that they are healthy. There are some ferals that “occasionally do remain very wild,” she said, however, many others are redeemable to go up for adoption.

She has appreciated the work of Spay Our Strays and asked that council remove the cat ban from the proposed resolution.

“The work they do is incredible,” she said.

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Kathy Schwenk, coordinator of Spay Our Strays, appeals to council that "these community cats should not be punished for one person."

Schwenk has been with Volunteers For Animals for the last 18 years and is coordinator for Spay Our Strays, which is a low-cost spay and neuter program for feral and outdoor cats. The group humanely sterilizes and vaccinates cats throughout Genesee County, including in the city of Batavia, she said.

“The caregivers did not ask for these cats. They're compassionate, caring, humans who cannot bear to see animals suffering. Some of them are in the audience right now,” Schwenk said. “These community cats should not be punished for the deeds of one citizen who irresponsibly harbors farm animals on their city property and infringes on their neighbor's rights.

“By including feral cats in the same category as farm animals, this is going to ensure undue suffering and spread of disease among our own community cats. So because of this proposed amendment, I've had several people, several upstanding city residents, contact me fearing that they will not be able to legally care for their outdoor cats anymore,” she said. “Some of these cats are strays, some are semi-socialized. Others have just been thoughtlessly left behind with a piece of trash and these compassionate people are caring for them.”

Her group worked with City Council seven years ago, after a presentation from SUNY Buffalo Law School recommended the trap/spay/neuter/vaccinate and release method for best controlling the stray cat population. Working with former Assistant City Manager Gretchen Difante and a task force, Spay Our Strays experienced “big success” by trapping 42 cats in one neighborhood, treating them per the program and releasing them.  That was in 2016.

While the issue of feral cats has come up since then, it isn’t what triggered the farm animal ordinance. Complaints from neighbors about one resident, in particular, got the ball rolling. The resident owns four goats, plus chickens, a dog and a cat. Her Burke Drive neighbors have come to council previously and complained to their ward councilman John Canale. They were fed up with loose goats charging them, eating their foliage, and the animals creating a mess and foul odor.

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Who'd want farm animals in the city? resident John Ladd asks during his time at the podium Monday evening.

City resident John Ladd wanted to clarify for council what his stance was. That was after he rattled off several dates of when he’d documented seeing loose goats or chickens “roaming freely out of their enclosures.” One day he found a goat standing on his front porch eating bushes. It might seem humorous, he said, but it makes him angry.

“We don’t want a limit on farm animals, we want no such animals allowed in the city limits,” he said.

Another speaker against the ban asked council to consider the aspect of people with disabilities having a right to a support animal. What if someone wants to have an emotional support cow or giraffe, Ladd said.

“Is that possible? Is it legal?” he said.

Some folks cited state and federal laws and statements from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to support their positions on the proposed law. The resident at issue, who has said that her animals were therapeutic service animals for her daughter, was not present. Her father, Randy Turner, was present and vocal.

He estimated that although 75 percent of the city residents owned a dog or cat, “that has nothing to do with this,” he said.

“There’s no reason to have farm animals in the city,” he said.

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I'm not against any animals, resident Shannon Maute says to council. These goats, these chickens, these ducks are not service animals. 

Fellow residents John Roach and Shannon Maute also supported the ban on farm animals. Roach didn’t move to the city to be near them, he said. Maute, who lives on Burke Drive, isn’t against animals, and in fact, “I love animals,” she said. But the goats, the chickens, the ducks are not service animals, and one’s pets should be properly contained, she said.

“So far I’ve had to chase one goat, three chickens and a dog out of my yard,” she said.

After everyone had a chance to speak, Council President Eugene Jankowski asked for comments before a vote. Councilman John Canale first responded to the cat comments.

“I certainly did not expect to see this turnout,” he said. “I certainly recognize that we gave our blessing to that organization (SOS). I don’t know if it’s working or not, we haven’t heard from them in years.”

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Councilman Bob Bialkowski removes his support for the proposed farm animals law, and Councilman John Canale shares that when he was a kid, a neighbor tried to raise a pig next door on Bank Street.

Canale would like to continue the trap-release program, he said, but to also have more communication between SOS and the city. He suggested that people who wish to be caregivers for homeless cats should contact the nonprofit and make sure those cats are properly spayed or neutered and vaccinated.

Councilman Bob Bialkowski questioned the legitimacy of the ordinance: “All of this because of one home,” he said.

He also wondered how, if farm animals are banned, it will go if a child wants a rabbit but can’t, while her neighbor has six chickens. He suggested that when people have issues on their streets, to “talk to your neighbor … it’s called addressing the problem.”

“I’m not supporting any of this,” he said.

Jankowski explained that the city police and code enforcement departments are aware of the one issue, but with no law, not much could be done to solve it. He also pointed to the fact that Turner owns the house where his daughter Judy lives with all of those animals, and he’s against farm animals in the city. That should tell you something, Jankowski said.

“There are other issues going on that we can’t talk about,” he said.

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He then proposed removing the feral cats from the entire law or stipulating that the spay/neutering program must be part of it.

“It will delay us, but I’d rather get it right,” he said. “I think we lumped it in, it was an afterthought. We made a mistake.”

Council needs more time to thoroughly review the issue of feral cats, Councilwoman Patti Pacino said.

“I definitely think we need more time to think about it,” she said.

Fellow council members Al McGinnis, Kathy Briggs, Paul Viele and Tammy Schmidt agreed.

Council unanimously voted to move forward with the farm animals ban and remove cats from the entire equation. The pared-down law will move to the Sept. 26 business meeting for a vote.

Lewis paused for a second before reacting to that news. 

"I'm ecstatic," she said. "We work to educate people and to educate them about feral and community cats. Feeding bans do not work."

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Wendy Castleman of Volunteers For Animals cites that state law acknowledges the effectiveness of trap/spay/neuter/vaccinate/release programs as a way to stop cats from reproducing and the spread of disease. A feeding ban would be inhumane management of cats, she says, and it's a complex issue. 

"We are very pleased that feral cats have been removed from the proposal," she said after the meeting. "The area volunteers will continue in their efforts to spay and neuter community cats in the city of Batavia as well as the surrounding area." 

Photos by Joanne Beck.

August 7, 2022 - 8:16am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, city council, notify.

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Fall may be coming, but not before a plethora of events take place later this month.

Event applications are on City Council’s conference meeting agenda next week. It’s set for 7 p.m. Monday in Council Chambers, City Hall.

Take your pick: an Italian Fest, a bike rally, a rummage sale, an awareness event, a chicken barbecue, and backpack giveaway, or a block party (for neighbors in the block).

EverPresent Church has planned a rummage sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 20 in the parking lot outside of its Batavia City Centre property. Look for the pop-up tents. A private neighborhood block party has also been set for noon to 3 p.m. on Aug. 20 on Fordham Drive.

Also on Aug. 20, across the street from the Centre, the vibe is to get European — specifically Italian — with a festival from 1 to 9 p.m. Music, food, games and crafts will be offered on Jackson, Center and School streets. Hosted by Batavia Business Improvement District, the event, it has been said, will bring a little bit of Italy to Downtown Batavia.

After all of those pizza slices and cannolis, you might want to check out the bike rally fundraiser for Batavia Notre Dame’s United youth hockey team. Bikers will take off for the 10K course at Batavia High School parking lot at 5 p.m. Aug. 21.

This is a first-time event to raise money and offset costs of travel and uniforms, Varsity Hockey Coach Marc Staley said. He would also like to donate some of the proceeds to the Genesee Amateur Hockey Association, he said.

“Last year we did a meat raffle, and it was successful. But, we're trying to think this year about things that we could do to involve more of the youth hockey players, and involve the community and have sort of a healthy thing,” Staley said to The Batavian Friday. “And so it's not a race or anything like that. We’re gonna ride together. I think we have over 50 people, and we’re hoping to get to 100.”

There will be a limited number of T-shirts, and anyone who registers by Tuesday is guaranteed one, he said. Organizers will take registrations right up to event day. The cost is $25 for kids and $40 for adults. The course is in the northeastern quadrant of the city, he said, similar to where local 5K races are.

“Then we're going to have a few fun things at the end of the rally, a little cookout, and we're going to raffle off a few things,” Staley said. “But really what it is, it's a bike ride. It's a bike ride for hockey players and for people in the community who support the program and want to do something healthy, and have fun and ride with the kids.”

This rally will also hopefully give United a little exposure, he said, while raising money for team uniforms and travel expenses, such a bus upgrade when the team goes to Albany for a couple of games with Albany Academy and Bethlehem.

During summer work-outs, Staley noticed a large number of kids in seventh and eighth grade joining in with the jayvee and Varsity players. He would like to organize a modified team with those younger players, which would happen in March after the other games have finished.

The bike rally is just another physical event to get people outside, he said, and early Sunday evening seemed like a good time when there might be less traffic and it still allows people to partake of other Sunday activities beforehand.

Click here for an application. Note that the deadline states Sunday; however, Staley said that it's by Tuesday for a guaranteed T-shirt.

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Genesee-Orleans Council on Alcohol and Substance Abuse will be hosting an Overdose Awareness Day from 4 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 24 at Austin Park, Batavia. There are to be speakers, resource tables, and the band Groove, with danceable rock, in the pavilion. Although this event is geared toward substance abuse and overdose awareness, everyone is welcome to attend, GCASA staffer Sue Gagne said.

The event's debut was in 2019, and then it didn't return for two years due to the pandemic, Gagne said. Organizers are excited to bring it back as an educational tool and for some fun with the local band that includes Neil and Joe Gagne and Peter Gomez.

Also visiting Austin Park from 1 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 27, Just Kings will be hosting a backpack giveaway and chicken barbecue fundraiser.

Other event applications for the fall include Ascension Parish with an Oktoberfest fundraiser on October 1, and All Babies Cherished with a vendor fair on October 22.

File photos of a Just Kings chicken barbecue and GCASA's Overdose Awareness Day.

August 7, 2022 - 8:10am

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2018 File Photo: Eli Fish Brewing Company shows a definite sign during its initial phase of development, and now owners are planning a two-level back patio adjacent to Jackson Square. Photo by Howard Owens.

Recession? What recession?

Despite global doomsday predictions to go along with inflationary prices, there appear to be signs of definite life in downtown Batavia. Three Main Street businesses have each applied for a $20,000 grant for planned site expansions.

City Council is expected to discuss the applications during its conference meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in Council Chambers, City Hall.

Matt Gray, as AGRV Properties, Inc., is looking backward for his project — a patio adjacent to Jackson Square. With an investment of $140,000, the additional grant would support the cost of building an outdoor patio for Eli Fish Brewing Company at 109 Main St. Aid from grant funding will allow the applicant to replace the rear, exterior stairs and doors and assist in the cost of adding a large two-level patio attached to the rear of the building, according to the application to Batavia Development Corporation.

BDC’s board approved the request, according to a memo from Director Tammy Hathaway, and has forwarded it to council for final approval. The money is from BDC’s Revolving Loan Fund, which has a total of $120,097, Hathaway said. Specifically, the City of Batavia Revolving Loan Fund Grant Policy seeks to have private building owners make lasting building, public and/or façade improvements within the City.

Down the street are two more projects to be reviewed by council. Applicant Peter Casey, as 73 on rotary, LLC, has asked for $20,000 grants each, for 73 Main St., and an adjacent site at 79-81 Main St.

That block of the building apparently has some growing pains as well, with upgrades for YNGodess — by increasing usable space in the shop, and updating a breakroom and bathroom facility. An investment of $80,000 would be augmented with the grant money for the upgrades. The BDC Board approved the request and it now rests with the council for final approval.

Casey’s other project is to renovate the former Alberty’s Drug Store property at 79-81 and move the law office of DelPlato Casey into that space. Capital investment for this project is pegged at $820,000. Work includes handicap access to the firm's office and provides more room for the growing legal practice, according to the application.

Growth is expected immediately, with the addition of one staff member and the potential for two more hired soon afterward.

Council is also expected to discuss funding for the purchase of a new fire engine. A final funding pack includes a 20-year loan for $665,000 at 2.5 percent, and a $100,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant, with an upfront contribution of $36,681 from the city’s fire reserves.

This fire engine is to replace Engine 12, which, at 20 years old, is showing signs of “extreme corrosion,” City Manager Rachael Tabelski said in a memo to council. The new vehicle would include a custom cab with seating for six fire personnel, a 1,500 per minute fire pump with foam capacity, a 750-gallon water tank, latest safety features, and full LED emergency and scene lights for maximum safety for personnel, and she recommends the purchase.

August 7, 2022 - 8:05am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, animals, city council, batavia, notify.

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A suggestion from City Planning and Development Committee members may have seemed like a good idea for better controlling farm animals, but it’s on a proposed chopping block for City Council’s Monday meeting.

The planning committee was tasked last month to review city code for the keeping of farm animals within city property and make some recommendations for how to deal with specific issues on a city-wide scale.

Neighbor complaints about goats running loose on Burke Drive were, in large part, what drove council to take another look at the animal ordinance. The group wanted the planning committee also to review it since committee members -- including Code Enforcement Officer Doug Randall -- were more versed with city code details.

The committee recommended a limit of six chickens on any one property, and implementing a system — to create a paper trail and more tracking — to document what types of animal species, how many, and where they are located, for city residents.

It seemed like a good idea, and one that would let city officials know who had what at their properties, committee members had agreed.

However, after reviewing the recommendations with city staff and the attorney, “we respectfully disagree with the addition of section E,” City Manager Rachael Tabelski said in a memo to council.

“The intent of the new law was to restrict animal and fowl in the city and provide code enforcement clear and concise guidelines for citing violations,” Tabelski said. “The city does not have the staff or resources to create an animal registry, to tag, and track pre-existing animals. Therefore, and with respect to the PDC’s deliberation, I recommend that the City Council strike section E from the proposed code revision.”

If approved by council, the code revisions will revert back to City Council for consideration and to set a public heading to receive public feedback before considering a local law adoption.

That public hearing is to be set for 7 p.m. Sept. 12. Council's conference session is at 7 p.m. Monday in Council Chambers, City Hall.

File photo of Jill Turner of Batavia with some of her goats at a summer event. Neighbors have complained about the goats getting loose, and the smell of goats and chickens, prompting a City Council review of a farm animal ordinance in the city code. Photo by Joanne Beck.

July 13, 2022 - 10:32am
posted by Press Release in Bob Bialkowski, batavia, news, city council.

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Press release:

Councilmember at Large Bob Bialkowski, who serves as an Aircraft Commander in the USCG Auxiliary, completed an extensive course on aviation survival.

This two-day course was conducted at the FAA’s Mike Mulroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on June 27 and 28.

CG Auxiliary pilots from the United States convened on Sunday, June 26 in preparation for the course which began the next morning.

The course was an intense two days and covered many aspects of emergency egress from aircraft and survival.

  • The topics covered and practiced included:
  • Flight Physiology, Spatial Disorientation, and Flight Simulator.
  • Emergency egress which was taught in a smoke-filled airliner fuselage
  • Water survival skills (significant time in pool) including emergency raft, rescue hoist, survival and emergency equipment training.
  • Cold room, Cold weather survival skills.
  • High altitude chamber with reduced oxygen levels to teach the debilitating effects of hypoxia which leads to unconsciousness.

Many classroom hours were spent with FAA instructors teaching the above subjects.

All the attendees successfully completed the training and returned home on Tuesday evening.

July 13, 2022 - 8:05am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, city council, notify.

It’s a topic that has come up before: maintain a residency requirement or not for a new hire?

City Council has discussed the topic over the years — usually when a qualified candidate has everything city officials are looking for, except for living in Batavia. The City Code has required that the city manager and assistant manager, plus other department head positions, maintain their residence in the city.

Former City Manager Jason Molino raised the issue when seeking an assistant manager and police and fire chief. He pointed to the fact that sometimes qualified candidates walk through the door but don’t meet that one requirement. It becomes a question of filling the vacancy with someone perceived as the right candidate or with someone less qualified but who lives in the city.

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City Council members again had that scenario before them Monday. City Manager Rachael Tabelski had hired Erik Fix as her assistant and was seeking a waiver for the residency requirement.

It really didn’t make for much discussion; most everyone was fully on board with the idea. There isn’t a danger of setting a precedent, Council President Eugene Jankowski said, because a former council agreed how to handle the situation.

“Several years ago, when Jason Molino was still here, he talked about the difficulty of finding talented people to work here because of the residency requirements. So at the time, the discussion was, let's take it on a case by case basis, where certain lines will not be crossed,” Jankowski said to The Batavian after Monday’s meeting. “Like, as far as city manager, that person will have to live in the city.”

At other times, though, there are “certain circumstances that are beyond people's control,” and when they are good and talented people, council will try to make an exception if that's appropriate, he said.

“In this particular case tonight, that was one of those cases. We have a talented individual, very actively involved in our community, from the community, and he just happens to live a few miles outside the city,” Jankowski said. “I mean, he's definitely one of the residents, just visually not in the city. But he spends a lot of time here. So taking all that into consideration. from my perspective, I thought it was a wise move, to keep that talent here and bring it out into the city. And maybe hopefully, over time, when his kids get through school, he'll want to live in the city, he'll move back.”

bob_b.jpgCouncil approved the move unanimously 9-0. Councilman Bob Bialkowski was the only one to share the ideal he’d like to see happen.

“Personally, I like to see anybody getting a paycheck from the city living in the city,” he said.

Tabelski explained that it was only after an extensive search that she made an offer to Fix, who is the current president of Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

She understands that the residency requirement is in the city Charter, but on the other hand, “we have a really qualified person who really wants to come in and do the job,” she said.

“And I recruited him after showing him my neighborhood revitalization thoughts. And that's what piqued his interest, because I had recruited Eric the first time around for assistant city manager, and he declined me graciously, but we've kept a relationship ever since. And then this time around, we had a lot more conversations and I recruited him again. And the sticking point was that his family is established in Le Roy, and the residency requirement goes with the position,” she said. So I think, not speaking for council, but I do think they felt comfortable after understanding that this is, you know, Eric said, ‘it's just where I lay my head. I'm in the city of Batavia every single day. And my parents are here. My family is here, other siblings are here.’”

rachael_in_chambers.jpgOne of Tabelski’s objectives for the assistant role is to focus on neighborhood development to build up each pocket of Batavia to become a strong, safe and sustainable area on its own. Fix gravitated toward her objectives, stating that he wants to do something that will make a difference and be a tangible change he could see, she said.

“Not that he wasn't doing that with the chamber, but he doesn't want to see the city's neighborhoods get in any more way or shape of decline,” she said. “So I'm excited, absolutely excited to work with him. He is a very thoughtful leader and he catches on to things very quickly, and I think he'll hit the ground running.”

If, at some, point Fix was to become the city manager, that waiver would not automatically go with him, she and Jankowski said. The manager position’s residency requirement to live in the city of Batavia will remain, they said.

“So this way, it gives us some control. When we're able to keep it as if it was a blanket no residency requirement, I think it would be more difficult to get somebody maybe to live here in the beginning of their career,” Jankowski said. “This way it gives them something to draw them in. And most of the ones that have moved here, there's been no complaints.”

Fix was hired at a salary of about $103,000.

File photos: Erik Fix, City Councilman Bob Bialkowski, and City Manager Rachael Tabelski. 

July 12, 2022 - 8:10am

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Matt Gray and his folks, Bob Gray and Sharon Valyear-Gray, sat in the audience during City Council’s conference meeting Monday evening. Matt was waiting to hear what came soon in the business meeting that followed: a unanimous 9-0 vote to approve his pitch as Batavia Sports Facility Management to fully embrace operations at the David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena.

"I'm very proud of him," Valyear-Gray said.

City officials’ reactions ranged from happiness to nostalgia.

“This is fantastic,” councilman Paul Viele said. “It’s good to see local people interested in the ice rink.”

Councilman Bob Bialkowski and President Eugene Jankoski were excited about the prospects of having a local Batavian on board.

“It’s great, just great to see community involvement,” Bialkowski said.

The contract is with Matt as owner of Batavia Sports Facility. It’s a five-year contract, with up to three five-year renewals. Matt, who has partnerships with Eli Fish Brewery and Matty’s Pizza, has an eye toward the snack bar with thoughts that perhaps some of that familiar food and drink would be served there.

"We do plan, in the very near future, some upgrades to the existing snack shop. We do have a five-year plan with quite a bit of capital improvements to it … so we do hope that we can extend the snack bar into more of a sit-down area inside the rink,” he said.

Since he was in kindergarten, Matt played ice hockey at the Evans Street arena, all through high school and even when he attended college locally, he said. So it’s fair to say that he’s been actively involved with the ice rink and Ramparts hockey team for more than a decade.

“But even more than that, I’ve been active for the last five years or so with development of that area,” he said during a quick interview with The Batavian after the meeting. “So not only am I interested in doing the necessary improvements to the rink  - it is aging, it’s over 40 years old — but it also could be an economic catalyst for the entire downtown area. My goal was to see it used to its fullest, not only for more of the residents of the city and town of Batavia but also drawing more people in from (outside of the local area).”

Matt’s proposal is “super exciting,” City Manager Rachael Tabelski said to The Batavian after the meeting. She was a teen in the early 90s and remembers Batavia as “really a fun place to come to.” The city had amenities such as an arcade of games, a swimming and wading pool and a fairly active ice rink.

“I think we’re bringing the 80s and 90s back,” she said.

Matt clarified that he doesn’t have an official partnership with Robbie Nichols, owner of Batavia Muckdogs and CAN-USA Sports and operator of Dwyer Stadium. But because of Nichols’ extensive background in the business of sports, he and Matt have been discussing various ideas for the rink.

“He did reach out to me with his expertise and his experience in order to be part of this, both for marketing and someone I can go to for just knowledge on risk management,” Matt said.

Activities planned for the rink include special events, dog shows, rollerskating, youth and adult floor/roller hockey, gym classes, home shows, indoor basketball and soccer, gun shows, all in addition to open skates and ice hockey leagues.

Batavia Sports Facility is taking over for former operations company Firland Management, which did not renew a contract in July.

Previously: From beer and pizza to ice, Batavia entrepreneur proposes his next venture

Photo: Batavia entrepreneur Matt Gray walks out of a City Council meeting Monday evening with the approval from all nine council members for his proposal to operate and manage the ice rink as Batavia Sports Facility Management.

June 28, 2022 - 8:05am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, city council, Jackson Square, dri, notify.

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A deeper dive may be needed for a Jackson Square project that's already gone out two times for bids, City Manager Rachael Tabelski says.

She had recommended Monday that City Council vote to rescind a bid from Mark Cerrone Inc. due to the company’s last-minute revision of its original low bid of $654,000. After all, bids were received and council agreed to award Cerrone with a contract, the Niagara Falls-based company hiked its bid up to $847,950.

That move didn’t exactly seem kosher to Council President Eugene Jankowski.

“Is that even legal,” he said, addressing City Attorney George Van Nest. “We certainly have a lot of concerns with the communication that took place … there was some back and forth between the architects and the city, and contractor. At this point, we have a new contract. I’m just trying to get educated here for the future. It almost appeared that once they brought out their bids, then they mysteriously appear to be just under the next bid. Once someone bids, that’s it.”

Van Nest agreed.

“In general, I’d say that’s accurate,” he said. “There are some other nuances with this. Just to be clear, you’re not rejecting Mark Cerrone Inc’s bid; you’re rescinding that bid and rejecting the other two bids.”

Council agreed to move the item to the business meeting that would follow. The council later unanimously voted to rescind Mark Cerrone Inc’s bid due to "failing to honor" the original bid of $654,000 and reject the other two from Scott Lawn Yard, with a bid of $870,000, and Whitney East with a $1,002,800 bid.

An architect had originally recommended that council approve a contract award to Mark Cerrone Inc. for construction enhancement of Jackson Square. That bid would have included an alternative plan that would add about $31,000 for a total bid of $685,500.

However, once the city agreed, the contractor “refused to proceed with the project as bid, claiming significant mistakes and the need to adjust the contract price,” according to Director of Public Works Brett Frank.

The Batavian reached out to Senior Project Manager Jeff Salvatore of Mark Cerrone, Inc. earlier Monday for comment about the revised bid and council’s impending decision to rescind it. Salvatore offered “no comment.”

The project is to be primarily funded with a $750,000 Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant, plus $225,000 from National Grid, Tabelski said.

“When we go out for bid, they look at the scope of work, and they put a price to that with the materials and the labor … so it necessarily doesn't always line up with the budget we have,” she said to The Batavian. “So we will be re-examining our bid specifications to make sure we think that pricing can come in within that.”

She was hopeful that a contractor with an acceptable bid can be approved within the “next few months.” That leaves the door still open for a construction start date this fall or winter, she said.

“But we do want to take a deeper dive at the design of it. Because this is the second time it's been bid out,” she said. “So yeah, we have some review work to do internally. Construction projects can certainly start in the fall. But again, we'll have to analyze when; it could technically happen in 2022.”

Illustration: File photo. One of the architectural renderings for the proposed redesign of Jackson Square.

June 28, 2022 - 7:15am

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A new management company for the city’s ice arena is expected to come before City Council for vote at its meeting next month.

A number of submissions had been received during the city’s request for proposals process, and it’s likely that one company will be selected, City Manager Rachael Tabelski says.

“We received responses back. And we have worked on scoring them and we're looking to get under contract with one management company by the July 11 meeting,” she said during an interview Monday evening with The Batavian. “That would be a full lease agreement with a new management company for the rink.”

She couldn’t name the company due to being in progress with finalizing a contract, Tabelski said. The new prospective company, if approved by council next month, will take over management operations of the David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena on Evans Street. Former company Firland Management did not renew its contract, which is to expire on June 30.

2022 File Photo of a dedication ceremony of the David M. McCarthy Memorial Ice Arena in Batavia. Photo by Howard Owens.

June 14, 2022 - 8:15am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, city council, batavia, animals, code enforcement, notify.

Chickens in your backyard. Goats in the front. And donkeys? Who knows where they are.

Pretty much every living creature made it into City Council’s discussion about a restriction on certain animals and fowl during the group’s Monday meeting.

A proposed local law stems from a council meeting in January, and a request to research potential restrictions on animals and fowl in the city. Apparently some types of these creatures — chickens and goats in particular — have raised a bit of a ruckus in their neighborhoods.

“One of the issues that recently came up was, one of our neighbors has goats … and they're literally running around our neighborhood. They’ve been able to escape a number of times and might go across the street,” Councilman John Canale said during the meeting at City Hall. “Now, any animal is capable of charging someone at any time. But now we have horned animals running loose in the neighborhood. Animal control said ‘my hands are tied, there’s nothing I can do.’  A number of my neighbors are very concerned about their safety … we could have some neighbors that might possibly get hurt. That was my concern. Now it becomes kind of a safety issue.”

He asked about a clause in the law requiring that animals are properly housed. That means the animals must be penned appropriately, do not accumulate feces, cause odor or live in an unsightly or unsafe condition, Council President Eugene Jankowski said. If goats are running loose, then they are not being properly housed, Jankowski said.

Some council members wondered why anyone wants to keep goats in the city anyway. Canale said that, for example, he knows a young girl who is in 4-H and raises animals including goats.

There are rules for dogs, but not for goats, Jankowski said. Although it might be easy to come up with a laundry list of restrictions for these situations, Jankowski didn’t want to see that happen.

“I’m not for making a plethora of codes for every little thing,” he said. “But, unfortunately, it might be something we have to do … if they start to encroach on other people’s property.”

As for the goat that got loose, the animal control officer did some quick thinking on his feet. He cornered the animal at the front porch, got ahold of it and brought it back to its rightful home over a fence.

As for donkeys, and other cloven-hoofed animals, equine or fowl, those are restricted from being kept within the city limits. City Manager Rachael Tabelski’s research reviewed other cities, including Geneva, Canandaigua, Jamestown, Elmira, and Lockport. All of those areas have code restrictions “on animals in a variety of forms,” her memo to council said.

“With help from the code enforcement office and the city attorney, attached are the proposed restrictions to animals for City Council to consider,” the memo stated, including cattle, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, llamas, alpacas, ducks, turkeys, geese, feral cats, donkeys, ponies, mules and any other farm or wild animal within city limits.

Exceptions would be chickens in appropriate housing, transporting animals to and from race tracks, special events with an approved event application, and animals in transit through the city.

Council agreed to pass the law on to the City Planning Board for further discussion. Council members also hope that the public will provide feedback about the issue of atypical city occupants — primarily farm animals — living right next door.

“That’s what the planning board is for,” Jankowski said. “I think most people will see this as reasonable. I think it’s great that we have these healthy discussions.”

May 25, 2022 - 8:15am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, city council, notify.

Tammy Schmidt has heard them. And so has Kathy Briggs. Resident complaints about torn up sidewalks and roads have been consistent for both City Councilwomen, they say.

“I’m getting complaints about roads in general,” Briggs said during this week’s council meeting. “Do they have some type of process (for selecting neighborhoods to repair)?”

Any citizens with concerns about potholes in the roadways can contact the city by phone, in writing or online to request a repair, City Manager Rachael Tabelski said. Work has been ongoing as weather permits, she said.

“As everyone knows, living in Western New York, we have two seasons: we have snow, and then we have construction. And right now, they're trying to get out and rehab the roads to the best of their ability,” she said. “They just finished Walnut, they just put the striping down. And they're looking to take on an extra project this year with those state touring route funds. So as soon as I have more details on that, I will bring them forward.”

Tabelski reviewed a 2021-22 sidewalk program that will mean pavement improvement for Miller, Columbia and Seneca avenues. Part of this program includes pairing sidewalks with their adjacent streets, so that an entire section is repaired at the same time, she said. It’s called the “Complete Streets” approach. These avenues are in addition to Chase and Fisher parks. The work will be funded through the city’s Consolidated Highway Improvement Program funded by New York State.

“So whenever we are able to repave or resurface a roadway, we also look at the sidewalks to make sure they are now (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. They have appropriate widths for wheelchairs and passing lanes,” Tabelski said. “And we'd like to move this project forward. And when the bids come in, we'll bring that back at a business meeting.”

Schmidt, who represents the Sixth Ward, said that she’s also been getting complaints about sidewalks and wondered how Miller and those other avenues were chosen first. She heard some strong concerns during a meeting she had with some residents, she said.

“The gentleman was so upset. The sidewalks and the streets in my neighborhood are worse than what I saw of the streets that I drove down on Seneca, Columbia and Miller,” Schmidt said. “So I guess what I'm wondering, what's the process of picking the streets? Because should we start with the worst ones first and work our way up? Or do we leave the worst ones the way they are?”

There is a capital street plan included in the budget book, Tabelski said. That plan has been followed for many years, she said, and city officials try to identify the streets that need immediate repair and pairing sidewalks with them for work.

“There is a rotation throughout the city. And if you want to sit down, we can look through that,” Tabelski said.

“So, yes, we do have a capital plan, and we do go through the streets. And they do with the Bureau of Maintenance and DPW every year and update that plan and bring more streets on. Unfortunately, we only get so much revenue for CHIPs every year, roughly $320,000. So we try to extend it as far as we possibly can between streets and sidewalks.”

There is a map (handed out during council’s last budget talks)  that illustrates where repairs have been made to streets and sidewalks in the last few years, she said.

“So you can have that to show constituents,” she said. “And it always comes up. We do have. I would say, some of the best sidewalks in Western New York. And if you've gone to other cities, I won't name them, but you can barely push a baby carriage down them. So we do try very, very hard to continue to get out there.”

City Council is expected to vote on bids at the next business meeting in June. Scope of work includes the replacement of approximately 6,400 linear feet of sidewalks and handicap accessible ramps on portions of Chase Park, Fisher Park and Seneca, Miller and Columbia avenues.

May 24, 2022 - 8:30am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, city council, proclamations.

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City Council President Eugene Jankowski expressed appreciattion for the "awesome ceremony" earlier Monday that honored retired police officers and placed flags at the graves of officers who have died. He read a proclamation in honor and memory of those Batavia City Police officers who have "committed to the preservation of life and property," he said, risking their lives to provide protection while serving the cause of justice. 

"The officers of the City Police Department accept the profound responsibility and work to uphold our laws, safeguard our rights and freedoms and serve on the frontlines in the fight against crime in an effort to keep our neighborhoods safe. Many of the officers dedicated several years serving the residents of the city of Batavia, most serving longer than 20 years.," Jankowski said. "Their service to the city meant time away from their families and loved ones in order to protect the community; that's a token of safeguard. Each year the city of Batavia will recognize the dedicated brave officers who have been named ever  since retiring from the police department by placing flags at each officer's graveside in remembrance of their service with the city. "

There weren't enough words he could say to show his gratitude for how "they provide a safe place for us to live, work and play," Jankowski said.

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart," he said.

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Helen Ada Smith was honored Monday for her lifelong residency and contributions to the City of Batavia. City Councilwoman Tammy Schmidt read the proclamation that acknowledged Smith's years as a devoted wife, wonderful mother, active church member, award recipient and much more. 

"She has demonstrated in countless ways her dedication to the welfare of others and respect for people from all walks of life and all ages," Schmidt said. "She is uplifting the most eventful century in this world's history ... and has been a force for good."

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Nick Zinni found it difficult to complete some of his remarks during a proclamation event Monday at City Hall.

Batavia City Council presented Zinni -- a lifelong resident of Batavia and an "exemplary community and neighborhood volunteer" -- the honor as a Redfield Parkway Association member. It wasn't the honor itself that got him choked up, but the woman he felt deserved so much praise: a fellow Redfield Parkway neighbor who died three years ago to the day, May 24.

Zinni's community service has been "an integral part of the overall spirit of the city," City Councilman Bob Bialkowski said, reading the proclamation.

"We don't see much of that anymore," he said. "We honor those who generously give their time and talents to improve their conditions.

The recipient was selected for the scripted plaque due to his self-appointed responsibilities for the holiday tree displays on Redfield beginning in the mid-2000s, from collecting the money, purchasing the trees, and organizing pickup and drop off to each resident to arrive at the festive finale of a decorated and lit tree on every front lawn. 

He humbly accepted the plaque, but not without some shared credit.

"There's two points I'd like to make. One is battling to an agreement that 'things that you've done on the street,' and I did not do them alone. It is a community. Kathy used to say you can only say very often this community has made short work. So the holiday launch for us the flags that go up every holiday throughout the year, and our freedoms, our loved ones that aren't with us any longer. The flowers and the colors and the term circles and medians, all those kinds of things are done by green, many people in the in this recognition really belongs to them," he said. "The second point is, if there's a single individual that this belongs to, it's Kathy Owen. It's hard. It's ironic that we lost Kathy three years ago today. And I miss my friend badly. But she she was my mentor. And she provided me a perfect role model. If I've done anything successful it is because of Kathy, and I'd like you to remember that." 

Photos by Joanne Beck

May 24, 2022 - 8:15am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, city council, notify, City Fire.

A new fire engine — at a total cost of about $700,000 — is on the horizon for the city of Batavia after City Council approved a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development funding offer Monday.

Council approved Rural Development’s proposed funding of a $630,000 loan at 2.5 percent interest for 20 years; an estimated grant of $50,000; and the city’s own contribution of $20,000 to come from fire department reserves, City Manager Rachael Tabelski said.

“We need to replace engine 12. This is in the capital plan for vehicle replacement. It is a 20-year-old fire apparatus pumper. The estimated costs a month or two ago was $700,000, and whether that holds true today, we'll see,” Tabelski said during a special business meeting at City Hall. “I recommend that we accept this funding offer from USDA Rural Development. If we do so by the end of June, it's basically an informal letter from myself to them to move forward in the process. We'll be able to lock in the interest rate at 2.5. Interest rates are supposed to go up again at the end of June.”

The current engine 12 has been showing “extreme corrosion,” she said in a memo to council members. Excessive road salting during winter months has caused corrosion and decay on the engine body, chassis and wiring, and the fire engine has had many repairs in the last few years — repairs that are becoming more costly, she said.

The new engine will be a 2023 National Fire Protection Association compliant rescue-style fire engine with a custom cab, seating for six fire personnel, 1,500 gallons per minute fire pump with foam capability, a 750-gallon water tank, the latest safety features, full LED emergency and scene lights and aluminum or stainless steel construction for longevity.

City Council unanimously approved the resolution to accept Rural Development’s funding offer and to transfer $20,000 out of fire reserves to be used for the deal.

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