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October 13, 2021 - 10:26am

Deer management, disc golf, Otis Street.

Those three subjects became brief topics of discussion at Tuesday night’s Batavia City Council Business Meeting at the City Centre Council Board Room.

Batavia resident John Roach, who regularly seeks to follow up on previous matters concerning the city, asked about the status of the deer management plan that is being coordinated by Assistant Police Chief Christopher Camp and of a fellow citizen’s proposal to have a disc golf course in the city – an idea that prompted fierce opposition when Centennial Park was mentioned as a possible location for the layout.

CITY PROPERTY THE PLACE TO START?

On the deer management plan, City Manager Rachel Tabelski said the city was able to obtain extra deer management permits but “weren’t able to enlist any landowners, especially in the First Ward, to be part of the process with us at this time.”

She said there are city-owned properties that are eligible for hunting as well as candidates who wish to take advantage of the culling program.

“Unfortunately, where most of the complaints that we have in the First, Second and Third Ward – especially about shrubbery and bushes – we don’t have anyone at this point willing to allow the hunting program on their land,” she added.

City Council President suggested starting the program on city property … “and show that it can be done and other landowners might join in.”

The city’s deer management program process began in 2019 with the formation of a citizen committee. The committee met numerous times with then City Manager Martin Moore, but abruptly disbanded at the outset of a meeting on Aug. 13, 2020 – objecting to changes to the plan’s original framework.

Previously: BREAKING: City's deer committee resigns in 33 second meeting this morning

williams_park_1.jpgDISC GOLF UP IN THE AIR?

As far as disc golf is concerned, Tabelski said that she hasn’t heard back from Phillip Boyd, the 27-year-old Hart Street resident who approached City Council in the summer about a disc golf course.

The latest news on that matter came in July when Boyd met with city Department of Public Works personnel (photo at right) to discuss placing a nine-hole course at Williams Park on Pearl Street.

The Batavian reached out to Boyd via phone call and text message this morning.

Previously: Disc golf promoter puts Centennial Park in rear view mirror, now has his sights set on Williams Park

OTIS STREET RESIDENT SAYS THANKS

On Sept. 13, Yantz informed Council members of unruly and disruptive behavior by people living in a house across the street from him on Otis Street.

He returned to City Hall last night to let them know that things have calmed down and thanked city officials for getting involved.

“The efforts of the Council and the police department seem to be making a difference on Otis Street,” he said. “It’s been quiet the last few weeks and months. I’d just like to say keep up the good work and I hope things will stay the way they are.”

Yantz said he believed that some of those neighbors were going to be at the meeting as well, but that turned out not to be the case.

Previously: City of Batavia leaders, police taking steps to help Otis Street couple deal with disruptive neighbors

June 14, 2021 - 10:19pm

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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.

April 13, 2021 - 5:00pm

With a key component of the City of Batavia’s wastewater treatment plant operating at just 20-percent capacity, Maintenance Superintendent Ray Tourt says that it’s imperative to move up the capital project plan timetable to get it fixed.

“We desperately need to get that air back into the pond,” said Tourt at Monday night’s City Council meeting, talking about a faulty air header system at the plant. “We recognize how severe it is becoming.”

Tourt said the city has received about 10 years less than the expected 40-year life of the system, which introduces supplemental air to the three primary wastewater ponds.

In a memo to City Manager Rachael Tabelski dated March 29, Tourt wrote that “this air provides oxygen to the ponds to effectively digest waste.”

“Even though this project is scheduled for (this fiscal year), it was discovered that the system’s rate of decline is higher than originally anticipated,” he wrote. “For this reason, the project is being advanced as quickly as it can be.”

City Council acted favorably to his request, forwarding a resolution to contract with the lowest bidder to its April 26 Business Meeting. Opening of the bids is scheduled for April 19.

Tourt said work will be done in sections, starting with the large 16-inch line and working down to the six-inch line. He noted that the lines will be wrapped to prevent deterioration from the elements.

He said the system is leaking a “significant amount of air” and is creating a distinct odor near and around the ponds. Once that segment of an overall $1 million wastewater treatment plant project is finished – hopefully be the end of summer, he said crews will evaluate the plant’s compressors and diffusers.

In other action related to infrastructure, Council forwarded a resolution to apply for a Northern Border Regional Commission grant in the amount of $328,000 to partially fund a waterline project on Bank Street. The total cost of the project is approximately $410,000 but the city would be responsible for a local match of 20 percent ($82,000).

Tabelski, in a memo to Council dated April 6, wrote that work is needed “to improve water pressure and fire suppression capabilities on Bank Street, as well as enable future development on the City Centre campus and the Alva Place location for the (new) police station.”

She wrote that the Bank Street waterline will be expanded from its current four- and six-inch lines to an eight-inch line.

March 9, 2021 - 2:47pm

It seems as though the City of Batavia is playing somewhat “shorthanded” when it comes to the financial arrangements surrounding the operation of the Batavia Ice Arena on Evans Street.

On Monday night, City Council voted in favor of an extension and modification of its lease agreement with Firland Management, the firm that has managed the rink for more than a decade.

Negotiated changes call for the Virginia-based company to hold off on its lease payment of $25,000 to the city until Jan. 1, 2022, instead of the original due date of March 1 of this year, and also for the reduction of Firland’s contribution to the rink’s capital fund for 2020-21 from $32,958.30 to $5,000.

Additionally, the contract will be extended for two years through March 2023; Firland’s lease payments will be $20,000 annually for 2021-22 and 2022-23; and its capital fund contribution will be $5,000 annually for the next two fiscal years.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski said concessions were made because the rink was closed for several months last year, adversely affecting Firland’s bottom line. With the changes, the city has escaped (at least in the near future) the possibility of Firland walking away.

When the resolution came up for a vote toward the end of Council’s Business Meeting, Council Member Rose Mary Christian requested that it be amended to a one-year lease instead of two in order for the city to explore opportunities to find private ownership of the facility.

Her request, however, did not receive a “second” so the original resolution stayed on the table.

Council Member Robert Bialkowski said he understood what Christian was attempting to do, but pointed out that a one-year lease could come back to haunt the city.

“If we have a one-year lease and they have not paid the bulk of the money that was supposed to be paid the second year, we would really come up short on that,” he said. “I think this is the best we can do. We have to support it and that’s it.”

Council Member Paul Viele, a longtime youth hockey enthusiast, said he has observed that “Firland is doing a lot better job than they have in the past.”

“With people like Mr. (Robert) Gray (of the Friends of the Rink organization) helping out and volunteering – good things are coming,” Viele said.

Bialkowski said the only ice rinks making money are the ones backed by wealthy sponsors, and then brought up the naming rights to the rink (formerly known as the Falleti Ice Arena).

“I don’t think $500 should put your name up there for five years. That’s like giving that away,” he said.

Viele said the rink would make money “if you have more than one sheet, and that’s expensive to get another sheet.”

Earlier, during the public comments portion of the session, Gray encouraged Council to vote yes to the amended operating agreement.

The Stafford resident said that under the current lease, Firland had the option to extend the lease for another five years.

“Due to extenuating circumstances caused mainly by the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that the rink was closed from March 17 to September of the last year, both parties agreed to the two-year lease,” he said. “A new section was also added for the first time that dealt with the sale of the facility -- in the event that the city sells the facility or transfers ownership of the facility.”

Gray said that the new lease isn’t perfect, but "it does give requested consideration to Firland for the late payment to someone who has operated the ice rink for the last 14 years. It will allow the rink to be operated for another two years instead of sitting vacant.”

“City Council recently approved the new lease for Dwyer Stadium that was agreeable to both parties. Why wouldn’t you do the same for the Batavia Ice Arena? I think the proposed lease serves both Firland’s interest and the interest of the City of Batavia. The Batavia Ice Arena is a productive community asset.”

He cited a 2018 Creek Park feasibility study that indicated the estimated annual use hours at 1,600, estimated annual attendance at 68,500 and estimated economic output at $2.3 million.

Gray then took a veiled jab at Christian, who previously said the rink (for hockey) was used only by the “elite.”

“These elite people are your neighbors, coworkers and friends, and are found in every ward in the city and almost every village in the county,” Gray said. "Many people also believe that GAHA youth hockey is the only user of the ice rink. This is not true. The Batavia Men’s Hockey League, both high schools, public open skate, figure-skating lessons and pickup hockey all pay to use the ice at the rink. GAHA currently pays $200 for a 50-minute session – that’s four dollars a minute.”

He then commended Council for hiring Tabelski as manager, saying he has met with her twice to implement a program for his organization that would allow volunteers to identify and complete rink improvements at no or low cost to the city.

November 24, 2020 - 9:27am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city council, city of batavia fire department.

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The spirit of Thanksgiving filled the Council Board Room at the City Centre on Monday night when two City of Batavia firefighters were honored upon their retirement and the department received “invaluable” parting gifts from one of them in return.

Council members Robert Bialkowski and Kathleen Briggs read proclamations recognizing the work of Tom Douglas and Tim Stengel, who served the city for 22 and 20 years, respectively.

After each of the men had a chance to briefly express their feelings, Douglas presented – to a standing ovation -- the department with 10 personal thermal imaging cameras for each crew member to have when confronting a fire.

“We’ve always both believed that when you’re done with something, you should give something back,” Douglas said, looking at his wife, Debbie, who stood by his side.

He said he brought his idea to fellow employees, Adam Palumbo (the union president) and to Chief Stefano Napolitano and “we all came to an agreement.”

Douglas said the cameras will help keep firefighters safe.

“If we get a big incident, we’re covering a large warehouse or something, trying to find something, we’ve got two or three cameras,” he said. “Now, each one of the guys on the crew will have a personal camera that can go in to either help them find what they need or else to help them get out or locate a body and things like that.”

Napolitano, acknowledging the generous gift, said that “unless you’re in our line of work, you don’t really realize what an invaluable tool this is.”

“The ability of each firefighter to carry their own personal imaging camera while they’re inside of a structure doing an initial size-up is invaluable. This is an example of Tom and Tim as senior firefighters, even in retirement, they’re still giving and still mentoring.”

The chief said losing their experience hurts the department, but he is proud to know that the younger firefighters have “learned from two of the best.”

“The result is they learned how to become a senior firefighter because they’re going to do things better, they’re going to do things more smartly,” he said. “These 10 tools are going to enhance getting them to where you two guys are.”

Douglas started as part of the city’s ambulance crew before being promoted to firefighter in September 2000. He was respected as the driving force behind the department’s Emergency Medical Services program, being certified in several areas. He retired on Oct. 15.

Stengel, who retired on May 26, was recognized for being a mentor to new employees by sharing his knowledge and his professionalism.

Both expressed their love for the community and thanked city leaders, coworkers and family for their support.

Top photo: City Council Member Robert Bialkowski and retired firefighter Tom Douglas; bottom photo, City Council Member Kathleen Briggs and retired firefighter Tim Stengel. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

November 20, 2020 - 4:19pm
posted by Press Release in news, city of batavia, city council.

Press release:

Please be advised there will be a City Council Conference Meeting scheduled for Monday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. in the Council Board Room on the second floor of the Batavia City Centre. This meeting is open to the public. Face masks and social distancing will be required

Options for viewing the meeting:

  • Video News Service YouTube Channel and City’s Facebook (later in the evening):
  • Spectrum Cable TV Channel 1301 – Wednesday, Nov. 25th at 9 a.m. and Friday, Nov. 27th at 8 p.m.

The agenda is posted on the City website.

June 23, 2020 - 10:49am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city council, Batavia PD, batavia.

Update 1:30 p.m.
The time for the media session on Thursday for K-9 Hank wlll be 3:30 p.m. at the rear of the City of Batavia police station.

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Community residents have stepped up in thousands of ways to support the City of Batavia Police Department's K-9 program.

Actually, the number is $11,228.53, which is the total amount of the donations sent into the City after the program was established last August, with the stipulation that donatons would be accepted.

At Monday night's City Council meeting, lawmakers voted to place the contributions into a committed fund just to be used for K-9-related expenses.

Police Chief Shawn Heubusch told The Batavian that a press conference is being arranged for this Thursday at police headquarters to introduce Hank, a 1-year-old Belgian Malinois (pronounced MAL-in-wah), and his handler, Officer Stephen Quider, and to provide details about the program.

The Belgian Malinois is known as a hard-working, protective and smart breed with an ability to detect explosives, accelerants and narcotics. The name is derived from Malines, the French name for the breed's Flemish city of origin, Mechelen.

The male Malinois, which can weigh up to 75 pounds, is sometimes classified as a variety of the Belgian Shepherd.

Hank and Officer Stephen Quider attended last weekend's Juneteenth event at the YWCA of Genesee County.

“I jumped at the chance (to partner with the dog),” Quider said.

So, it looks as though the department's newest trainee is almost ready to em-“bark” on his journey to serve and protect.

In other action, Council:

-- Moved the bid process and determination for the Franklin Street-Richmond Avenue sewer rehabilitation project to its July 13th Business Meeting.

According to Public Works Director Matt Worth, the City will see significant cost savings by changing the focus from a complete sewer line replacement on Franklin Street to an excavated repair of one section and relining of the rest of the line, and then to include relining of the Richmond Avenue sewer ahead of its rehabilitation project in 2022.

“The original budget for this project was $1,048,596, including engineering costs,” Worth said, “but with the changes, the cost will be significantly lower even with the addition of the Richmond Avenue lining.”

Worth said engineering fees will drop from around $240,000 to $57,800 “due to the reduced effort required to design and inspect a lining project compared to full open construction with new sewer.”

He also said he expects the construction cost to be “well under” the original estimate of $806,000 when the bids are opened on July 2.

-- Voted to authorize Council President Eugene Jankowski to facilitate the acceptance of $16,000 from the Genesee County Youth Bureau to support the Liberty Center for Youth and City Summer Recreation Program.

-- Voted to appoint three City residents – Nicholas Harris, Marc Staley and David Leone – and two Council members – Robert Bialkowski and Jeremy Karas – to the Audit Advisory Board for a term ending Dec. 31.

CORRECTION: We previously published a picture taken June 6 of Officer Stephen Quider with a K9. It turns out that dog was returned and "Hank" is a different dog so we've removed the photo.

May 4, 2020 - 11:22am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, city council, City Centre roof, mall.

City of Batavia Public Works Director Matt Worth is hopeful that the City Centre roof alternations and replacement project will resume sooner rather than later.

“We’re just waiting for a little bit of clearance (from New York State regarding work guidelines) and a little bit of good weather for that to move forward,” Worth said, talking about a $664,080 contract the City forged with Grove Roofing Services Inc. of Buffalo.

Close to a year ago, City Council selected Grove Roofing to replace several sections of concourse roof and the skylights, a project that will encompass about 80 percent of the roof, Worth said.

The roofers had delivered some materials and we’re just about to start the tear-off when the COVID-19 shutdown came.

“They tried to do some things that they could do safely – like putting up safety barriers and things like that, but held off getting into the project, in accordance with the (state) directives,” Worth said.

The project entails removing the existing insulation and roof material, installing new insulation and a new rubber membrane roof.

Worth said about 5 percent of the job will deal with replacing the metal roof deck beneath the roof “that we know is deteriorated – an area down by Sunny’s (Restaurant) and a wing down off of City Hall by Dr. Yaeger’s (office).”

The project is being paid for by funds taken from the City’s Facility Reserve.

In mid-April, Council voted to take $30,000 from the Facility Reserve (which was at $238,000) to cover unexpected construction costs.

A recent design change with the skylight roof covering resulted in an additional expense of $13,040. The remaining nearly $17,000 will be available in case of a condition change that needs to be addressed right away once the main roof construction work starts, Worth said.

April 13, 2020 - 7:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, covid-19, coronavirus, news, batavia.
Video Sponsor
February 10, 2020 - 3:58pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city council, Batavia Downs Gaming, VLT money.

Faced with the possibility of losing out on more than $400,000 annually from Video Lottery Terminal revenue generated by Batavia Downs Gaming, the Batavia City Council has called a Special Conference Meeting at 7 tonight to consider an additional property tax increase in its 2020-21 budget.

A memo dated Feb. 5, 2020 from City Manager Martin Moore to City Council undoubtedly will trigger strong debate among Council members during their meeting at City Hall.

The regular Business Meeting that includes the setting of public hearings on Feb. 24 for the budget ordinance as well as water rates, meter fees and capital improvement fees is scheduled after the Conference Meeting.

Moore’s memo suggests that Council needs to “come up with a combination of $700,000 in cost savings and revenues to pass a sustainable budget” by reducing expenses by $350,000 and increasing the property tax levy by $350,000 from the currently proposed levels.

Doing this would require an override of the state-imposed property tax cap, which also is subject to a public hearing (that would be slated for Feb. 24).

Moore’s original proposed budget lists a tax rate increase of 0.97 percent (below the property tax cap) -- $8.92 per thousand of assessed valuation last fiscal year to $9.01 per thousand.

The revised proposal would raise the tax rate to $9.60 per $1,000 of taxable assessed value – a jump of 7.5 percent.

Originally, Moore recommended, along with the 0.97 tax levy increase, the following:

-- Using $259,100 in General unassigned funds;
-- Using $225,000 in Water unassigned funds:
-- Transferring $257,400 in unassigned funds from workers’ compensation into the General fund;
-- Reducing funding requests by $500,000 (vehicles, new positions to cover bail and discovery law requirements, capital project and equipment reserves, travel costs, etc.).

With Gov. Cuomo’s proposed budget calling for the elimination of VLT money to municipalities, the outlook has changed dramatically, Moore contends.

Moore’s memo states that after an extensive review of past City budgets, his original recommendation for the use of $257,540 unallocated cash from workers’ comp is “unsustainable.”

Toward that end, he writes that his new proposal of balancing the $700,000 burden equally between expenses and revenues “retains our ability to accomplish the following”:

-- Maintain a high credit rating and keeping the tax rate below $10;
-- Cover unexpected budget cost overruns and emergency purchases;
-- Maintain room in the budget to provide for a school resource officer, salary and benefits for all employees, and increases in repeated criminal offense due to bail reform;
-- Cover insurance-related deductibles and potential claims;
-- Assign fund to capital, retirement and/or insurance reserves;
-- Maintain lower levels of “fiscal stress” by maintaining the total General fund balance and assigned and unassigned General fund balances as a percent of gross expenditures, the cash position of the combined funds, and reducing the likelihood of operating deficits.

November 22, 2019 - 2:40pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city council, Liberty Street, notify.

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Batavia City Council President Eugene Jankowski has reached out to David Zanghi and his sister and advocate, Mary Ellen Wilber, in an attempt to get them in touch with emergency relief agencies after Zanghi’s life was disrupted earlier in the week.

Jankowski said today that he has met with Zanghi and talked on the phone to Wilber, and pledged the City’s support in finding the assistance Zanghi needs as a result of the 20-hour standoff at his Liberty Street residence on Monday and Tuesday.

“I’ve spoken to the City (management) and to Mr. Zanghi and they definitely want to put him in touch with agencies that can provide assistance,” Jankowski said. “It’s the same as with a major fire … we need to provide that connection.”

On Thursday, Zanghi informed The Batavian that his downstairs apartment at 209 Liberty St. and his personal belongings were extensively damaged from tear gas canisters fired by police. Subsequently, he has been displaced from his apartment and currently is staying with a relative.

A dialysis patient, Zanghi also said his medications were compromised during the ordeal, which saw Daniel Wolfe hold police at bay throughout the night as he barricaded himself inside his upstairs apartment with a pellet (BB) gun and a sword.

The situation ended around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday when Wolfe surrendered to City Police.

Jankowski noted that Zanghi is “obviously in poor health and needs some help.”

“Let’s help him get the help he needs and help Mary Ellen navigate the system,” he said. “She is coming into town this weekend and we’ve set up an appointment for her to meet with the City Manager (Martin Moore) and Assistant City Manager (Rachael Tabelski)."

Jankowski said that Wilber was “very receptive” to his call.

“She is a longtime civil servant and is acquainted with the system,” he said. “We will give her all the help we can as we would do anybody else in this situation.”

The council president said that agencies such as Genesee Justice, Veterans Services and Social Services are out there to assist victims of incidents such as this, and noted that law enforcement could provide the names of other organizations that could help out.

He also said that City Police did provide Zanghi with some phone numbers of agencies that could provide assistance, but said communication broke down after that.

“It was confusing to us since he never contacted us directly,” he said. “We were taken back a bit by the published report (in The Batavian).

Earlier today, Council Member Rose Mary Christian, who represents the Sixth Ward (which includes Liberty Street), weighed in on the matter – saying that she sympathized with Zanghi’s plight while also opining that contemporary society has made it difficult for the police.

“It’s very unfortunate what happened to him – he is a good person for that area -- but it could happen to anybody,” she said. “Any place, any time. That’s why it’s extremely important to have renter’s insurance.”

Christian went on to say that today’s “politically correct” climate has tied law enforcement’s hands.

“Our society has done this. In years past, maybe even 10 years ago, if there was a problem like that, (police) would knock down that door, grab him and have him arrested,” she said. “Today, the liberals would just question what happened here and (say), ‘Oh, the poor guy.’ ”

“That’s nonsense. The legal system doesn’t have a shot in hell.”

As far as 45-year-old Wolfe is concerned, he currently is in Genesee County Jail without bail, facing five charges, including three felonies. His case has been adjourned until Dec. 12.

November 21, 2019 - 4:23pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, Batavia PD, city council, batavia, notify.

davezlibertynov2019.jpg

A longtime Batavia resident is calling upon the City of Batavia to take responsibility for “destroying my home and hindering me mentally and physically” in the aftermath of Monday’s 20-hour standoff at his Liberty Street residence.

“I am a victim of this,” said David Zanghi, 66, who lives in the downstairs apartment at 209 Liberty St. “The only ones who caused damage to my house were the police. They were very non-caring.”

Zanghi was forced to evacuate his downstairs apartment when City Police responded to a domestic disturbance call around 1:18 p.m. Monday.

According to dispatch reports, the caller said an intoxicated male hit a female and was in possession of a sword.

When police arrived, they saw that the male, later identified as Daniel Wolfe, 45, had barricaded himself inside his apartment upstairs and began shooting at officers with a pellet (BB) rifle.

The standoff continued until around 9:30 in the morning on Tuesday, finally coming to an end when Wolfe exited the residence and surrendered to City Police Det. Sgt. Kevin Czora.

During the standoff, City Police were assisted by several other agencies, including the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office; Orleans County SWAT; State Police troopers; negotiators; drone unit; K-9 unit; and SORT teams; the NYS DEC K-9 Unit; Monroe County Crisis Negotiating Team; Genesee County Emergency Management; Genesee County Dispatch Center; City Fire Department; and Mercy EMS.

Wolfe sustained self-inflicted injuries and was transported for treatment to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. Currently, he is in Genesee County Jail.

While the suspect faces multiple charges, Zanghi, who is on dialysis waiting a kidney transplant and suffers from emotional and physical ailments, now is staying with a relative in the City due to the damage done to his residence.

“They destroyed my house … busted all the windows, my clothes are shot because of the tear gas. I may be able to get the couch fixed. It’s ridiculous what they did to me,” he said.

Zanghi reported that his landlord, Duane Preston, has promised him another apartment in mid-December.

“Duane has been good to me,” he said. “He even gave me my rent check back for the month.”

Zanghi also said that he is upset that no one from the City has contacted him about the possibility of receiving some victim assistance support, and plans to confront City Council and management at the next City Council meeting on Monday (Nov. 25).

City officials, however, did respond to a request from The Batavian for a comment in light of Zanghi’s grievances.

“While the City sympathizes with Mr. Zanghi as an innocent bystander to the events that unfolded Tuesday, November 18th, there is no specific assistance that the City can offer,” Assistant City Manager Rachael J. Tabelski said.

“In any type of emergency response situation there will be unintended consequences, however the city is not liable for the damage. There are many organizations and individuals that volunteer to help residents in need, and I am hopeful Mr. Zanghi will find relief through these individuals and organizations.”

Zanghi said that his sister, Mary Ellen Wilber, who splits her time between New Jersey and Batavia, will represent him at the meeting.

Contacted by phone this afternoon, Wilber said she is “disgusted” over the City’s lack of action despite being contacted numerous times about Wolfe’s violent behavior.

“I will be there to advocate for my brother, who has called police at least seven times over the past year, year and a half, about this guy,” she said. “He’s an alcoholic who has harmed the woman (girlfriend). All those times David called and it’s all for naught.”

Wilber said law enforcement’s actions have “traumatized” her brother, who is on a fixed income and under the care of the VA Medical Center. 

“He had to go to the hospital to get his medicine because all of his pills, along with his clothes and bedding, were contaminated.

“They shot tear gas canisters into David’s downstairs apartment, knowing the guy was upstairs,” she said. “They destroyed his apartment.”

Wilber said she also questions the way the situation was handled and the cost to the City.

“I was told that the police said they were using this as a tactical exercise,” she said. “It should have never gone on this long. They could have used a Taser instead of attacking him with a dog. The cost to the City is going to be very high. They could have done things in a much better way.”

Photos by Howard Owens.

davezlibertynov2019-2.jpg

David Zanghi points to a window broken by police actions.

davezlibertynov2019-3.jpg

David Zanghi said a CS gas canister apparently exploded in his bedroom. He's pointing to all the medicine on his dresser that the VA had to replace for him. He said he has expensive suits, including a $1,500 tux, that now reek of tear gas and he's not sure they can be properly cleaned.

November 2, 2019 - 1:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Kathy Briggs, news, city council, batavia.

Kathleen Briggs is a candidate for City Council, Ward 5. Her opponent is Sam DiSalvo.

What do you like about the City of Batavia?
I have lived here most of my life. It's the right mix of country and city. People are friendly. We have great people who are willing to volunteer to help others. For a small city like ours, we have a nice balance of cultural activities like Go Art and the Batavia Players.

What is the number one problem facing the City of Batavia and what is your plan to address it?
In the 5th Ward, the overriding concern I hear when going door to door is crime. Nothing else comes close. I have been working closely with our police to increase their presence in the ward. I also fought to get more surveillance cameras for the Police Department and have them placed around the ward.

Describe your vision for Downtown Batavia in 10 years?
I hope to see the Downtown revitalization project completed. That would include the Health Campus that our local hospital and the YMCA are planning, the "Mall" repaired and fully occupied, and the Carr's building restored and occupied.

Do you support building a new police station?
Yes, I support a new police station. I fully support having our own Police Department and if we are going to do that, then we need a new building. While I will have to study where to locate it, the need is clear. We can no longer continue to try and pretend that a house over 150 years old can continue to serve our police force.

What book first published in English since the Enlightenment has influenced your outlook on life the most?
The voters in my ward do not care what books, if any, I have read. They have their own concerns.

November 2, 2019 - 1:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Samuel DiSalvo, news, city council, batavia.

Samuel DiSalvo is a candidate for City Council, Ward 5. His opponent is Kathleen Briggs.

What do you like about the City of Batavia?
When I'm at the local coffee shop the owner and employees know customer's names and have conversations about their lives; when I walk down the sidewalk people say hi; City officials know the names of citizens: Batavia feels like home because of the people who have chosen to live here and strive every day to make Batavia wonderful. Living in a community with good people and having a personalized community where you feel part of the city is why I like Batavia. I was born and raised here and have family roots intertwined with Batavia from relatives who were Fire Chiefs to grandparents who owned a store on Main Street. The community all of this has brought has been wonderful, making Batavia having always felt like home, a feeling I want to help everyone feel while living in Batavia.

What is the number one problem facing the City of Batavia and what is your plan to address it?
The largest challenge I see facing Batavia is the exponential growth of rental properties (now over 55% of homes).

This stems from the following reasons:
1) Closing costs on houses are astronomical. Closing costs on a $100,000 home hover around $13,000. Most single young people cannot afford that. A year of renting is cheaper.
2) With fewer career opportunities here than in large cities, many people require temporary housing, not homeownership. Renting circumvents the hassle/cost of closing and owning a home if they plan to move to one of the cities where they work.

Having so many rental properties has the potential to bring issues:
1) If landlords do not keep their properties maintained for any number of reasons, neighboring property values can decrease. I have met several citizens whose property values have decreased for this reason.
2) Tenants are put at risk of having a landlord that will break leases, keep security deposits for illegitimate reasons, or their landlord doesn't fulfill their landlord obligations. Similarly, landlords are at risk of having bad tenants that may destroy the apartment and cause unnecessary problems for landlords.
3) More people today are transient and may not care about Batavia and may not care to invest in the community, creating a city of people who may not care to keep Batavia beautiful.

To address these problems, I would like to see the City take these steps:
1) Develop a workshop-similar to what Buffalo already does-to educate landlords on how to write a lease, how to follow that contract, how to contact the police for background checks, legal statutes for rent collection, eviction timelines, etc. Tenants and landlords need to be protected and landlords should be fully educated on how to be a landlord. Every job has training.
2) Push for enforcement of codes and for police to follow up with citations (many citizens say that after citations are given, there is no follow-up if the citation is ignored).
3) Explore the possibility with the City Manager of developing something to make Batavia attractive for businesses to come to so there are careers here for people to pursue.
4) With the City Manager, explore the creation of a program to help first-time homebuyers buy and settle in the City (similar to Rochester's).

The number one problem I hear from my neighbors and citizens is the mall. Many people are fed up with it and want it torn down. The problem with the mall is that nothing innovative is being done with the it. Instead money from the $10 million grant Batavia was awarded from the state is going to be used to fix the roof while simultaneously Batavia will spend money to do a "study" on the mall to see what should be done with it. Innovation doesn't exist in regards to the mall and that needs to change if we want anything useful to be done with it. Selling a group of parcels at a lower rate to a private investor who can turn them into a large event center or lowering the price of parcels so business owners can afford the parcels or choose to do a rent-to-buy situation with parcels are three options that could help reinvigorate the crumbling mall.

Describe your vision for Downtown Batavia in 10 years?
Once thriving, Batavia's downtown has been burdened with a mall not innovating for today's Batavia and by privately-owned buildings that have sat empty for decades.

I would like to see the roof of the mall concourse removed to make it an open design with trees planted, benches/picnic tables erected, speakers to play music, lights strung between buildings, etc., and make it easier and cheaper for small business to rent-to-own or outright buy mall parcels from the City, invigorating business and giving citizens a place downtown to have lunch outside during summer, host small concerts similar to Jackson Square, give people a place downtown to relax, etc. I would also like to see more collaboration between downtown businesses, similar to how Brockport's downtown businesses participate in a "Where's Waldo" summer-long activity to increase foot traffic and engage people in walking downtown. In 10 years I hope to see all empty buildings filled and all of our incredible existing businesses going strong. Downtown should also be more handicap friendly, which includes beeping crosswalks.

Do you support building a new police station?
I support creating the most cost-effective and useful station, whether that is building a new police station (not in the Alva Place parking lot) or modifying/updating the current station. The City should be strategic and logical with where they decide to build a new police station, but most of all the City should listen to the input of its citizens. A citizen's group organized by the city chose a parcel on Swan Street as the top location for a new police station with the Alva Place parking lot as a second choice, but the City is looking at Alva Place rather than the citizen's first choice. Too often citizen opinions are ignored by the City. This must change.

What book first published in English since the Enlightenment has influenced your outlook on life the most?
When I was 6 I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and since I have been a Harry Potter fan. The series has shaped my outlook on life and my beliefs and has taught me invaluable lessons: the value of friendship, the power we all have inside of us to help others, and the ability young people - and all of us - have to make an impact.

As an adult, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown has most influenced my outlook on life. Though I'm an avid reader (I recently finished The Lightest Object in the Universe and am currently reading Buffalo Soldiers), Brene's TED Talks titled "The Power of Vulnerability" and "Listening to Shame" reshaped how I approach life, leading me to Daring Greatly. Brene cites Teddy Roosevelt's "The Man in the Arena" quote that describes how we must live in the arena. His quote goes on to say that even when we fail, as long as we were in the arena, we failed to dare greatly. When I first heard Brene discuss this quote, I began to live by the philosophy that in order to be a full, active participant in life and make a change and be wholehearted, I had to be vulnerable and put myself fully into the arena, daring greatly to make an impact and to help people. This is partly what inspired me to run for local office and be in the arena to help people.

November 2, 2019 - 12:56pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Deborah Kerr Rosenbeck, batavia, news, city council.

Deborah Kerr Rosenbeck is a candidate for City Council in the 3rd Ward. Her opponents are Nicholas Russo and John Canale.

What do you like about the City of Batavia?
Batavia has coined the phrase "the hub of WNY" and to me it truly is. Uniquely situated between two larger urban areas, Batavia affords residents the benefits of a small town with cohesive and friendly neighborhoods. There is much to do right here that meets a variety of tastes and interests with minor league baseball, harness racing, symphony, theatre, concerts in the park and in the square, car racing and a variety of unique dining opportunities. And if that’s not enough, I can easily make my way to Rochester or Buffalo, knowing that my beloved Batavia is home. My whole family lives in the area and until just recently all three of my adult children lived on the block. Batavia is my home.

What is the number one problem facing the City of Batavia and what is your plan to address it?
I’ve walked neighborhoods throughout the city and most recently every street in my ward. It has made me acutely aware of our aging population, aging housing and aging infrastructure (sewers, water, streets and sidewalks). The ratio of owner-occupied to rental properties is of concern. Making the city of Batavia affordable and desirable for individuals to stay and providing incentives for people to buy and improve housing will be a priority.

Describe your vision for Downtown Batavia in 10 years?
I envision a downtown that is conducive to the fair and ethical operation of business without the current practice of government choosing winners and losers. I’d like it to be the center and location of community gatherings and events including theatre and music. Downtown storefronts will be occupied with thriving small businesses and a variety of dining choices. This will begin with the revitalization and transformation of the Batavia City Center as a mixed-use retail, services, and entertainment complex.

Do you support building a new police station?
You don’t need to be an expert on what is required to operate an effective local law enforcement operation to realize that a historic Victorian home is not the ideal location for our police department. That being said, I do worry about saddling our citizens with debt for a police station and a new county jail on our about the same time frame. Decision-makers need to proceed with careful consideration. Genesee County and the City of Batavia work closely on planning and development for our community. These two major initiatives should be no different as our elected officials and administration plan for efficient and cost-effective law enforcement services to ensure public safety.

What book first published in English since the Enlightenment has influenced your outlook on life the most?
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz (1997) instantly came to mind as I read this question. It most influenced my outlook on life as I was not holding true to the first three agreements at all. The fourth agreement, always do your best, has pretty much always been my strong suit as no matter what happens I continually strive to do my best, or at least to do the next right thing. The others are a bit more of a challenge for me.

The first agreement of always being impeccable with your word and this references your comments about others as well as yourself. It’s difficult to hold to this standard, especially when it relates to being kind and impeccable about ourselves. The second agreement advises not to take anything personally. Someone’s response to you is much more about what is going on with them and has little or nothing to do with you. Don’t make assumptions is the third agreement. How easy it is to assume what others are thinking and feeling. Instead of focusing your interactions on being kind, complimentary, aka impeccable while honestly communicating your thoughts and feelings is a script for success and well-being. Fortunately, this book is a quick and easy read, allowing for frequent revisits to the four agreements and abiding by their guidance and the peace it can provide in your daily life.

In conclusion, I would tag on a fifth agreement, and that would be to listen. If elected, I will abide by this and carefully listen to my fellow councilmen, city administration department heads and staff, but most importantly to the public, my constituents, my neighbors.

November 2, 2019 - 12:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in news, John Canale, batavia, city council.

John Canale is a candidate for City Council in Ward 3. His opponents are Nicholas Russo and Deborah Kerr Rosenbeck.

What do you like about the City of Batavia?
The question should be what do I love about the City of Batavia. It's my home...born and raised here, worked my entire career here, and have raised my family here. What's not to love? It's a wonderful, warm community, with residents who care about each other and their neighborhoods. Although we are a city, we are still "Small Town America," with all the ideals that come with that. I can't imagine living anywhere else.

What is the number one problem facing the City of Batavia and what is your plan to address it?
The number one problem we face as a city at the moment is the rise we are experiencing in crime. The majority of the criminal activity has been identified as coming in from Monroe County. We as a government body have already taken action. We have approved the City police department to work with and share information with Monroe County law enforcement through one of Monroe County's crime initiatives. We have also approved the City manager forming a local crime taskforce committee to study and implement actions to deter future criminal activity in the city. In addition, we continue to invest in mobile street cameras to help our local law enforcement with additional needed information and evidence. Another very important initiative we are taking, is the building of our new police station, to give our law enforcement the tools they need to protect us and provide the utmost safe community. It's imperative that not only our residents feel safe in their own neighborhoods, but also that future prospective families, businesses, and corporations view our community as one they would like to be a part of.

Describe your vision for Downtown Batavia in 10 years?
My vision for downtown Batavia in 10 years is one of vibrancy. A central focal point for not only the city but also for the county. A useful mixture of retail, professional offices, a healthy living campus, food and entertainment venues, and downtown living spaces for residents that are looking to live, work and play there. A place where all residents can meet, and enjoy our community, in a safe environment.

Do you support building a new police station?
I support a new police station. As mentioned in one of the other questions, in order to protect our residents, and provide us with a safe community, our police department needs the necessary tools to do the job. For them to have done the tremendous job they have thus far, is nothing short of a miracle, with the facility they are currently working in. Although no one likes to spend that amount of money, we are well overdue for a proper law enforcement facility. I also have said from the very beginning of discussions of a new facility, that I will only support a new facility that includes a plan for what we do with the old facility.

What book first published in English since the Enlightenment has influenced your outlook on life the most?
"90 Minutes In Heaven"...by Don Piper. After reading this book, my faith and belief in eternal life was re-enforced and more importantly, I became convinced that God has a distinct purpose for every one of us here on Earth. Only until our purpose has been fulfilled, will he take us home for eternal life with Him. Look for that purpose in everything you do, and do your best to fulfill it.

November 2, 2019 - 12:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Nicholas Russo, batavia, city council, news.

 

Nicholas Russo is a candidate for City Council in Ward 3. His opponents are John Canale and Deborah Kerr Rosenbeck.

What do you like about the City of Batavia?
I love so much about the city it's hard to narrow, the fact it's a bigger city but still has a strong community feel to it. The welcoming feeling the city and its residents share and how it supports businesses and each other.

What is the number one problem facing the City of Batavia and what is your plan to address it?
Continued growth and development and a clear plan from our leaders and making sure the voices of our residents are heard and taken into consideration. Main Street has so much potential that the current council hadn't capitalized on. In my opinion, the key to Main Street is providing incentives for members of our community to open and grow businesses downtown. Let's make Main Street a haven for people to pursue their dreams of owning their own business.

Describe your vision for Downtown Batavia in 10 years?
If we look 10 years in the future, my vision for the City of Batavia is for Main Street to be the model for all others cities as far as local growth and development while continuing to build upon our strengths in the community like entertainment venues, family activities and a wide variety of resources to help members of our community continue to thrive. Simply put, make Batavia a destination.

Do you support building a new police station?
I absolutely support a new police station. Making sure the incredible men and women who keep our city safe have the best resources they can .... shouldn't even be something that should be considered or even need to be discussed for that matter.

What book first published in English since the Enlightenment has influenced your outlook on life the most?
The book to the musical RENT I would say has had the greatest influence on me as a person. It shows you that no matter your background, circumstances or outlook. If you support each other and come together as a community there's no issue you can't face.

October 16, 2019 - 4:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council, news, Deer, animals, outdoors.

There's been enough talk about the deer problem in Batavia, Councilman John Canale said during Tuesday's Batavia City Council meeting after a local resident said he's been chased by a buck in his own yard during public comments.

"Forming another committee isn't going to do anything," Canale said. "We've done this before. We form a committee and the committee studies the issue and makes a recommendation and then there's no action."

It's time for action, he said.

Councilman Paul Viele's suggestion: A controlled kill. It's time, he said, to start thinning the herds that encroach on the city.

Russell Nephew, a Bank Street resident, said there's a large herd that hangs out at that end of town, in the farm fields between Genesee Community College and the city line and enter on residential property, destroying landscaping and leaving their droppings in local yards, and perhaps carrying tics that are a danger to dogs and humans.

"Those things are disheartening and I’ve put up with them but now I’ve got chased through my backyard by a deer," Nephew said. "It reared up and I got away from it luckily. A couple of days later, my 70-year-old neighbor got ran into her apartment from a parking lot. At any one time, there can be from six to 10 deer that run through there."

A resident from Avon spoke up during the council discussion and said that in Avon they've instituted a bait-and-shoot program that has rules, is regulated, and is helping reduce the herd size.

Council President Eugene Jankowski pointed out that any deer killed would have the meat from the animal donated to a food pantry in the region to help feed low-income residents.

He also blamed the growing herd sizes on fewer hunters in New York. He said more people are giving up hunting as a protest against New York's increasingly restrictive gun laws.

While council members seemed to favor some culling effort, no specific plan was approved at Tuesday's meeting.

August 22, 2019 - 2:16pm

The City of Batavia Republican Committee is seeking City Republicans who are interested in being considered for the Committee’s recommendation for Council-At-Large.

This position is for the seat soon to be vacated by Adam Tabelski.

The City of Batavia Republican Committee will make a recommendation to City Council with the appointment being made by City Council for the unexpired term.

Letters of interest can be emailed to City Republican Chairman David Saleh at [email protected] by Aug. 24th.

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