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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.

August 8, 2019 - 11:07am

Press release:

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.

July 9, 2019 - 1:23pm
posted by Lauren Leone in batavia, city council, news, notify, crime, crime task force.

Batavia Police Chief Shawn Heubusch presented City Council with a proposed resolution Monday night for a Memorandum of Understanding among Genesee County law enforcement agencies and the Monroe Crime Analysis Center in Rochester to share information. It received strong support.

Heubusch explained to Council members that over the past few months local law enforcement has coordinated with the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services and MCAC to develop the agreement.

He said becoming a member of MCAC is the best approach to access information databases and facilitate crime response and investigation.

“What this memorandum does is it allows us to share information with Monroe Crime Analysis Center and also reap the benefits of them sharing information with us,” Heubusch said.

This new crime analysis system also comes at no cost to city taxpayers.

“Being a member of the crime analysis center in Rochester costs the city zero," Heubusch said. "It’s really about gaining that information and being able to analyze that information in a way that we can’t now."

The chief said that most of the criminal element in Batavia is connected to individuals from the City of Rochester and the Monroe County region. The MCAC memorandum will allow local police to share records with Monroe County law enforcement in real time.

The memorandum includes resources like crime monitoring and background checking information to alert law enforcement of identifying factors when pursuing suspects.

City Council members reacted favorably to the proposed resolution.

“It seems like, according to this, between the state police, the [Genesee County] Sheriff, Monroe County Sheriff and District Attorney, our District Attorney, DCJS — they’re all signed on to this," Council President Eugene Jankowski said. "It’s good to be sharing information.”

Other agencies participating in the memorandum are the Le Roy and City of Rochester police departments and the Genesee County and Monroe County probation departments.

City Manager Martin Moore wants to reduce crime and restore a sense of safety in Batavia. In June, the first Batavia Crime Task Force meeting was held so law enforcement and city leaders could talk about ways to combat crime.

“I want to thank the police department working together with the other police departments," Moore said. "This is one of the things that was brought up in our initial Crime Task Force meeting, and it’s one of the first actions that our police is working on."

The MCAC memorandum is expected to aid in identifying sources of crime, mapping incidents and arrests and following crime trends. MCAC is one of the task force’s first strides toward securing resources to prevent and deal with crime.

The proposed resolution for the memorandum will be forwarded for consideration by Council. The next City Council Conference and Business meeting at 7 p.m. Aug. 12 at the City Hall Board Room, 2nd Floor, City Centre.

January 22, 2018 - 11:48pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city council, Batavia Muckdogs, dwyer stadium, Batavia Players.

The prospect of keeping professional baseball at Dwyer Stadium is looking brighter after the Batavia City Council unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the assignment of the Dwyer Stadium lease to the New York-Penn League and its wholly owned subsidiary, Batavia Muckdogs Inc.

The NY-P has decided to step in and run the Short Season Class A team, which had been operated by the Rochester Red Wings for the past decade. The league ended the agreement between Rochester and the Genesee County Baseball Club Inc., in November.

“We had several conversations (with NY-P officials) in late fall, and they expressed a desire to stay in Batavia for 2018,” City Attorney George Van Nest said at tonight’s meeting at City Centre Council Chambers.

Van Nest said the issue of extending the lease and sublease is time sensitive since the NY-P hopes to begin assessing Dwyer Stadium later this month. He said the all terms of the current lease will remain the same – removing the GCBC from the lease -- and the extension will be in force through April 2019.

Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian noted that the Red Wings “removed their equipment,” inferring there could be additional City expense above and beyond the $25,000 it contributes to the stadium on an annual basis.

Van Nest said NY-P officials talked about improvements to the facility.

It also is believed that pre-existing agreements for local high schools to use Dwyer Stadium will continue. It is unclear if the NY-P will supply its own staff or use local employees, including longtime groundskeeper Don Rock, who attended tonight’s meeting.

In other action, Council:

-- Agreed to consider leasing three City-owned City Centre Mall parcels (known as the Dent property) to the Batavia Players theater troupe, but expressed concerns about the rent schedule, square footage and the ability to sell the parcels if desired.

Christian questioned Patrick Burk, Batavia Players president, about the number of employees, wages, volunteers and hours invested into their productions. Burk said there are 15 to 20 part-time employees throughout the year at their current location of 56 Harvester Ave., some who receive stipends that pay them “more than minimum wage in some cases.”

But Christian said she had a “problem with leasing any parts of the mall.”

“I want to totally get out of the mall,” she said. “I have a problem with nonprofits not paying property taxes.”

The lease agreement calls for monthly rent charges of $747.92 for months one through six ($1 per square foot), $1,223.86 for months seven through 12 ($3 per square foot), and $2,991.66 for months 13 through 60 ($4 per square foot). It also allows the City to sell the property, with 180 days’ notice. By multiplying the initial rent times 12, that comes to 8,975 square feet that the City would be leasing to the Batavia Players.

Councilman Robert Bialkowski said he found a discrepancy in the square footage, and asked if the City would end up subsidizing part of the maintenance fees.

Van Nest said he and Interim City Manager Matt Worth would look into the fees and square footage and provide that information to Council prior to the Feb. 12 Business meeting.

Council members John Canale and Patti Pacino spoke on behalf of Batavia Players, with Canale calling the organization “a pillar of the community” that would draw much activity to downtown.

“Plus, with the DRI (Downtown Revitalization Initiative award that the City received), part of it is to get the arts to the downtown area,” he said.

Burk said the Batavia Players are seeking more than $500,000 from the City's $10 million DRI award to fund most of the organization's relocation project.

Pacino urged her colleagues to “please put feet on the street downtown” by leasing space to Batavia Players.

In the end, Council voted to move the proposal to the Feb. 12 meeting contingent upon an accurate count of the square footage to be leased.

-- Moved resolutions concerning the 2018-19 budget, water rate changes, Business Improvement District plan and City Centre concourse user fee local law amendments (see preview story below) to the Feb. 12 Business meeting.

-- Agreed to consider a contract with In Site: Architecture LLP, of Perry, to assess the deteriorating condition of the pillars at the north entrance of Redfield Parkway, and conduct design work as required related to lighting, preparation of bid documents, construction specifications, bidding coordination and construction administration at a cost of $4,860.

Worth said In Site: Architecture has an outstanding track record of historic work, and called its bid a “soup to nuts proposal.”

Earlier, Council heard from city resident John Roach, who asked that if it was possible to create a special use taxing district – likely consisting of residents on or near Redfield Parkway -- to pay for the repairs.

“The study will cost $4,800 and it may take $17,000 to fix them (the pillars),” he said. (A special taxing district) would raise money to pay for the pillars without irritating the rest of us.”

Worth and Van Nest said they will look into that.

November 2, 2017 - 10:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, batavia, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and this morning we published their answers verbatim. 

Below are links to each candidate's response:

November 2, 2017 - 10:49am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, news, batavia.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Brad Eddy.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? Our community is my priority, so I plan to always listen to and be the voice of the people in our area. As I have met so many great people across the city, I have heard many times, “No one hears us or cares what we think.”  I want to change that perception by being a true progressive voice for our community and city.

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process? I will be a strong advocate towards continued downtown development, as well as citywide revitalization. To help accelerate the process, I will work collaboratively with the city and other local officials/entities to prioritize the 10 million dollars the city has received from the state. I will ensure that the money is going to projects that increase the appeal and standard of living for current and future city residents.

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? I am committed to reevaluating the amount of resources that are given to services by the city and redistributing them to make the most sense/impact for our community.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience do you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates? I have spent my professional career leading businesses, both large and small, in the area of Human Resources. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Business, Human Resource Management from Western Governors University, and I hold two Human Resource certifications, a project management certification and am a proud graduate of the Leadership Wyoming class of 2014.  I am currently completing my Master of Jurisprudence in Labor and Employment Law from Tulane University Law School.

Being in Human Resources, I am charged with balancing what is right for a business with the needs of their employees. This position has prepared me for the role on City Council. I have the expertise and skills of listening to both sides of an argument while maintaining objectivity and providing unbiased proposals for the best outcome.

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government? When it comes to holding an elected position in government, the community’s residents often look to their officials to represent their best interests and act as a leader. I have read many leadership books throughout my career, and The 360 Degree Leader by John Maxwell is one that I feel has influenced me the most.

In Maxwell’s work, he teaches that most often the best place to lead is from the middle.  Leadership is not as much about the position you hold as it is about your disposition. I have learned the importance of approaching every situation the right attitude, building strategic relationships, envisioning long-term goals, and dedicating myself to see those goals through to completion. Maxwell’s writing has shaped my perception of what a leader should embody and how I as a leader can have a positive influence on our community.

November 2, 2017 - 10:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, news, batavia.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Mark Potwora.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? My first priority, if elected, would educate myself on the protocol for being a member of city council.
I am running on a platform of replacing the city manager. In my opinion, he has presented budgets with higher tax levies year after year.
All this as council cut trash and ambulance services and privatized them. Which I did agree with. We were told that they were big budget items. The incumbents at large have also been on board with these increases in the tax rate. Also, I feel that his solution to the mall is just doubling down on ownership as the answer to all the mall problems. All the city did was agree to do what they were expected to do in the beginning and that maintain the concourse which he didn't do and now ten years later the problem is going to cost more then if the city had been doing it in the first place. Also, it cost the taxpayers more in court and lawyer fees. We need a new manager with skills and vision to not allow in this case the mall, to go to this extreme to be solved. We need a manager responsible to the people. He works for us. As I walked many streets going door to door talking to hundreds of residents getting signatures and introducing myself for the most part the underlying theme I heard was it is was time for a new manager and that we should be out of the mall business and our tax rate should be lowered. No one said we need more brewery/restaurants. In the end, it is all about change at the top and that would be replacing the city manager

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process? First off I don't know what core businesses you mean. When I look at Main I see a bar/restaurant trying to open for the last couple of years with the help of taxpayer dollars. I see empty storefronts (Carrs building, hair salon and another empty building on the corner. On Jackson, there are a few others. Across the street, I see a mall with many empty storefronts. In fact, the city owns nine of them. No revitalization there. Just a statement that someday they will be filled. I would rather see lower tax rate for all businesses, not just a select few that get abatements or grants. The BID should be part of the solution but that is just another tax on a business which some would say with little results. BDC seems to function as an extended arm of the GCEDC. Seems they need the involvement the GCEDC to move forward on a project. Ex is Arby's. So I would say why are we funding the BDC? Eliminate it and save the taxpayer some money. 

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? What is the role of city government? Those that live here decide what services they need and can afford. I can only ask for more efficiency in all city departments (DPW, police, fire) after all those who work in those departments are more apt to know where the process can be done better. I don't mean managers I mean those who fight the fires, patrol the streets and maintain the infrastructure. They should be rewarded or compensated for saving taxpayers money.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience to you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates? I have worked for a major corporate-owned business, been a member of a union for 30 years, held office statewide for a political party. But I would say what is most important is the many years I have lived in this city. Paid property taxes. Raised a family. Balance my budget every year. Learn how to live with in my means. So I do understand what is takes to maintain a home here in Batavia. I have no conflict of interests.
I do see how many are struggling to pay the taxes that the city imposes on them. but too many are on fixed incomes and are having a hard time making ends meet to stay in those homes that they raised families in for many years.

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government? 
Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut It is a story essay that in reading it I can see where government can take us. That to get equality you need government control. Which IMO is dangerous.

Don't Hurt People And Don't Take Their Stuff, by Matt Kibbie. Title says it all.

November 2, 2017 - 10:32am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, batavia, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Bob Bialkowski.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? My #1 priority is to continue to represent the interest of the citizens of Batavia.

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process? I will work to build the infrastructure that is needed to revitalize all of the community, not just downtown. The best thing government can do for business is to not interfere but to simplify overcomplicated rules and regulations. Our new comprehensive plan should be a step in that direction.

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? This is for the community to decide. As of this time I have had zero requests to cut any services.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience to you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates? I have owned two corporations and have over 40 years of business experience. I retired as an Army officer with 30 years of service and have taken many leadership courses through the years. As an Army Master Aviator and a civilian Commercial pilot with over fifty years experience, I am accustomed to making vital decisions. I still serve as a Coast Guard Auxiliary “Aircraft Commander”.

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and Government? 

1. His Finest Hours by Graham Stewart. (The War Speeches of Winston Churchill).  

2. Benedict Arnold’s Navy by James L Nelson. (The Rag Tag Fleet that won the American Revolution).

3. Hit the Target by Bill Yenne. (8 Men who let the Eighth Air Force to Victory over the Luftwaffe).

These books were all written about great men in history that accomplished huge deeds for their countries. These three books verify that government as a whole does very little for the people but the people themselves with great resolve can accomplish monumental achievements. In the case of Winston Churchill, one man that was a great Statesman rallied not only his own country but the United States to stand up against tyranny. It is unfortunate that today there are few if any Statesmen in the world. The people should remember that it is their government and it must always be held in check and accountable at all levels.

November 2, 2017 - 10:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, batavia, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Lisa Whitehead.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? Undoubtedly, it must be to move Batavia in a new direction.  For years, small business in the city has been struggling.  We have a couple of businesses coming into Batavia through tax abatement programs that are seen as our future.  We will need to see how they impact the city’s tax revenue and that won’t be for years down the road.  Too often you see businesses that move into an area because of a tax abatement incentive, leave when that incentive is gone.  Meanwhile, existing businesses that have been struggling for years will continue to struggle because they are not deemed worthy of the city’s financial help.  Having the taxpayers and existing businesses subsidize other businesses through tax abatement has to stop.  Further, it is critically important to identify and remove obstacles that small business owner’s face here in the city.  We need to reduce the number of regulations that prevent the growth and revitalization of our business district. 

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you [do] to accelerate the revitalization process? I don’t see “great” progress.  Receiving the DRI grant money may be viewed as a boon to the city but it won’t be used to get rid of the greatest eyesore in Batavia.  We need to get out of property ownership and this means the Mall.  To do this, we need a new manager.  This is nothing personal against our current manager.  However, under his guidance, our city’s comprehensive plan has us doubling down on this money pit—including the proposal of the second story for apartments.  Do we really think this is going to improve the “look” of the city?  We need a manager that will get us out of the Mall business - not reinvest taxpayer money year after year, into this failing structure. 

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? No one ever likes to hear that services are going to be cut or eliminated, and I am not sure that we have to eliminate any, but it is clear that these services need to be closely managed.  One way to manage these is to look for creative ways to reduce expenditures.  Reduced spending by sharing services may be one way to slow growth in the city budget.  For example, department heads are currently performing the duties that would normally be the responsibility of the Assistant City Manager and in so doing, have demonstrated that the city does not necessarily need this position.  The City Charter may require this post but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the task of a single individual. 

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience to you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates? My qualifications are many and varied.  Besides the fact that I have lived in the city for 20 years and regularly attend City Council meetings, I am also an active member of the Genesee County Libertarian Party, the DAR, and my local union chapter.  Over my lifetime, I have worked for both small and large businesses and in both public and private sectors.  I have experience managing people at the department level in private industry as well as experience working in committees.  I currently manage a budget as the elected treasurer of my union as well as manage a household budget.  All of these skills developed over the last 30+ years, and a degree in political science has prepared me for this opportunity to serve the people of Batavia.

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government? I like history, so my answer would be anything written around the time of the Revolutionary War.  Since learning in high school that a member of my family fought in the Revolution, I have been interested in the writings of that period.  In particular, I am interested in the philosophy behind documents like the Bill of Rights.  To me, this document represents the clearest attempt of any group of people to define individual freedom.  I respect that and feel it’s time that we get back to our roots and commit ourselves to protecting the rights enumerated by this historic and timeless document.  

November 2, 2017 - 10:15am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, batavia, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with William Fava.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? My # 1 priority is to represent ALL the taxpayers in the City of Batavia to ensure that our City government is providing a high level of service in a “Customer Orientated” efficient and effective manner.  Whether it is a small problem or a big problem, all concerns from the taxpayers of the City need timely action and response.

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process? Yes…the City and Downtown representatives have initiated great steps in the revitalization process.  But we cannot become satisfied with where we are; we have to keep moving forward and invite more discussion with business and potential business owners.  The City needs a more aggressive and innovative approach to incorporate more business into the center of the City.  It would be great to not have any vacant storefronts, vacant property for development, or empty parcels in the mall.  We have to engage City, County, State, financial/banking institutions, and our Chamber of Commerce to provide a financial process to give potential owners a short period of financial assistance to provide a “startup” period.   The assistance could be in lower property rental cost for a period of time or assistance in purchasing a piece of land or building.  We have many people who wish they could start a business but have a problem in the initial start-up costs.  Historically, if a business can survive the first two or three years of their business plan, the percentage of continued success and growth will be on their side. The process is simple, we all need to work together to improve the core of downtown Batavia.  Many people have ideas for improvement.   Let’s listen and give them the opportunity to work together.

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? The Assistant City Manager has announced her departure a few months back.  I would not replace.  I think the City should either employ two or three part-time experienced individuals with Public Administration backgrounds.   We are a City with many qualified citizens being retired; they just might want to be involved.  They could be tasked to work on special projects and backfill the City Manager with assistance. Another suggestion would be to open the position to local universities for an internship experience in Public Administration.  Either method would eliminate the position cost and provide extra hands for the busy City Manager.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience do you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates? I believe that with my educational background (BA degree in Finance/Business and a Masters degree in Health Administration/MHA), I have a solid background supporting my 40 years of business experience in Human Resources, Accounting, and Supervision.  My military experience has provided me many opportunities to successfully complete assigned missions and to lead subordinate personnel in peacetime or in a war zone.  In addition, I previously held a Batavia City at Large Councilman position from 1991 thru 1994.  With my experience from Business, Military, Education and previous experience as a past Councilman, I feel uniquely qualified for a position on City Council.

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government? The first book influencing my thinking is by Robert D. Putnam entitled BOWLING ALONE—THE COLLAPSE AND REVIVAL OF AMERICAN COMMUNITY.  The book explains the civic engagement decline in the United States in political, civic, religious, and connections in the workplace participation providing a suggestive path toward change and not forgetting our usage of technology and mass media in a modern society.  The next book is by W. Edwards Deming entitled OUT OF THE CRISIS.  The book explains the needed transformation of various business sectors in the United States to once again compete in the global business world through drastic “Quality and Productivity” improvements.  The transformation includes improvement in government operations and a warning about politicians concerned with the next election and not doing the right thing for the people they represent for the sake of a successful future election.  Finally, the book that had a large impact on my thinking was written by John F. Kennedy entitled PROFILES IN COURAGE.   Kennedy provided a collection of actions represented by people that disregarded negative consequences to their public and private lives to do the one thing that seemed right in itself.  The decision made was not always the most popular or demanded by a superior, but it was the right thing to do.  All these books have provided something to my thinking and personality in dealing with today’s society.  

November 2, 2017 - 10:08am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, batavia, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Jim Rosenbeck.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? My first priority will be to observe and learn.  My next priority will be to replace the current City Manager.  This is not personal. It is strictly business.  If the city were a private business, the city manager would have already been replaced based on performance. The incumbent council members at large rate the manager’s performance highly and have lobbied to raise his salary. I disagree. Here are the facts; In 2005 the property tax levy in the city was 3.4 million dollars.  In 2017, that levy is 5.2 million dollars. This represents a 52% increase in the property tax levy on property owners.  During this time, we lost trash services and saw more vacant storefronts appear on Main Street.  Taxpayers spent untold dollars on mall litigation and assumed ownership of several parcels within the mall due to delinquent taxes.  We have failed to maintain that infrastructure and have no plan to exit the mall business.  Indeed the City’s agreement with the Mall merchants calls for doubling down on the taxpayer’s investment.  A new Comprehensive Plan (available on the City website) calls for adding a second story on the mall. Batavians are best served by council hiring a new city manager who better understands the needs of the community. 

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process? I question this premise.  There is an old saying.  It goes like this; “In God we trust. Everyone else should bring data.”  Where is the data? There has been great promise of progress…most of that is unrealized.  Economic Development programs have been a failure locally and statewide. The city now owns nine properties inside the Genesee Country Mall in addition to the concourse that we have failed to maintain.  We have embraced bad economic policies which shuffle taxpayer money from one hand to another in a zero-sum game.  The devil is in the details with this smoke and mirrors economics.  

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? l will start with this basic premise; People know how to spend their hard earned money better than government.  What are the basic functions of a city government? Better yet, what do the people who pay the bills want from city government?  I have been knocking on doors in the city since mid-July.  Not a single person has told me they want an electric car charging station.  The current leadership is out of touch with the people of Batavia.  They are too busy trying to remake Batavia into a city like Saratoga. Real people want our infrastructure maintained and public safety provided at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers.  Given that government has proven over and over again that it doesn’t understand basic supply and demand economics, it should refrain from anymore shameless meddling.   Avoid unnecessary entanglements with Albany.  Reward efficiency and look for ways to share services.  Ask where we can utilize a volunteer component to help offset costs.  I am not on a mission to eliminate any services.  I am committed to delivering services more effectively and efficiently.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience do you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates?  One of my first economic lessons was as a paperboy delivering the Buffalo evening news.  There I learned that if a customer paid for the month in advance I couldn’t spend that money without consequences later on in the month. I had to learn to live within my means.  City government should similarly learn to live within it means. But it doesn’t.  it just keeps on returning to the customer and asking for more money.   I could roll out a simpler answer here citing a handful of college degrees and my career accomplishments.  But why pander to a handful of elitists who think that only a privileged few are qualified to represent the people?   I run for office as a friend of the common man and woman.   I am not beholden to any special interests or political parties. My promise is to exercise common sense and serve the interests of the people of Batavia. 

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government?  Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson.” has been a big influence on my economic thought.  I wish this book was required reading for those serving in public office.  Here is a quote from Hazlitt that summarizes the one lesson that public officials should humbly understand; 
“The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.” -Henry Hazlitt

Hazlitt states this perfectly. Government fails to get the big picture. Our representatives often fail to understand that they can’t use the people’s money to do one thing without there be a corresponding disincentive for someone else. Let's elect leadership that gets the big picture.

November 2, 2017 - 10:03am
posted by Howard B. Owens in city council, batavia, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Adam Tabelski.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority?  The #1 priority for next year is to address the expiring sales tax and water agreements with the County.  Sales tax sharing from the County is the City’s largest revenue source, even greater than property taxes.  A consensus must be reached because the City’s fate is central to the County’s fate.  We will also begin to implement Batavia’s new comprehensive plan, which lays out a number of objectives to move our City forward.   

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process?  Winning the $10,000,000 Downtown Revitalization Initiative, a historic settlement with the Mall Merchants, substantial commitments of private investment (e.g. Eli Fish Brewing, Ellicott Station), new and growing small businesses, and a dynamic BID is all signs pointing to the fact that Batavia’s downtown is on the right track.  Day by day, we are making strides to reverse the physical and economic destruction caused by ‘urban renewal’ and create a true rejuvenation.  The immediate task for me and my colleagues on Council is to make sure the $10,000,000 prize is invested wisely in order to trigger additional private sector investment.  We also need to maintain our relationship with the Batavia Development Corporation, the GCEDC, and other partners who are poised to make economic development projects happen.  The recently created the Pathway to Prosperity is a great example of how we can creatively drive resources to make downtown more ‘development-ready.’ 

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why?  Notwithstanding the uncertainty of the sales tax and water questions, the City is in a strong financial position.  I sense no widespread need or desire to put services on the chopping block.  Actually, what I hear most from residents is a desire for more services—more street and sidewalk repairs, more park improvements, more policing, more code enforcement, etc.  These are the things that contribute to our quality of life.  So we try to drive as many financial resources to these services as possible while avoiding overburdening taxpayers.  It’s a balance.  Still, I am always in favor of exploring new and efficient ways to deliver these services, particularly through leveraging new technologies and focusing on shared services with neighboring municipalities or the County.  The County, with the participation of the City and other municipalities, will be developing a shared services plan over the next year to further help identify and implement opportunities for more sharing of services.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience to you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates?  Life is the best teacher.  I have worked in the public sector, in the office of a state legislator, trying to help constituents and influence public policy.  I have served in local government, as a trustee and mayor (in Medina) and as a Councilman (in Batavia), finding common-sense ways to improve a community.  I now work in the private sector, helping to grow an established firm.  I have served in the military and learned lessons about teamwork, integrity, and sacrifice.  These experiences give me a broad frame of reference when considering issues before the City of Batavia. 

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government?  Walden by Henry David Thoreau; John Adams by David McCullough; Our Town by Thornton Wilder.

November 2, 2017 - 9:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council, news.

Three at-large City Council seats are up for election Tuesday. There are eight candidates. We asked each candidate to answer five questions and we are publishing the answers verbatim.

Here is the Q&A with Eugene Jankowski.

If elected, what’s your #1 priority? My number one priority is to maintain fiscal responsibility with proper budgeting while providing essential services and continued support of Downtown development.  

There has been great progress in the city toward revitalizing the core downtown business community. What will you do to accelerate the revitalization process? I will work to ensure the Downtown Revitalization Grant is properly fulfilled to maximum effectiveness and continue the City Council mission. “Our mission is to create and sustain a vibrant, affordable, safe community where people choose to live and work and where, through a supportive environment, businesses continuously flourish.”

What services currently provided by the city should be cut or eliminated, if any? How and why? Each year during the budget process council members go through the draft budget line by line with Department heads and every expense must be justified.  This is an efficient process that in past years has identified areas of duplication that needed to be trimmed. Budgets the last 3 years have maintained essential services with healthy reserves, along with a reasonable amount of unassigned fund balance.  The City of Batavia has also received the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for its budget presentation for the third consecutive year. This year we were able to use some of those reserve funds to purchase a new fire truck and avoid thousands of dollars in additional finance costs.  At this time I believe services are right where they need to be and I support continued fiscal responsibility.

What business, leadership, or economic training and experience to you have that make you more qualified for a job on the City Council over other candidates? I’ve patrolled the streets of Batavia as a police officer / Lieutenant/ Emergency Response Team (ERT) Commander for over 33 years. ERT required 100’s of hours of additional specialized training along with advanced decision-making skills and critical thinking under pressure.  I’m a college graduate and a graduate of the 198th session of the FBI National Academy. The FBI academy included advanced leadership and management courses. 

What one, two, or three books first published within the past 250 years has most influenced your thinking about society and government? I haven’t read any books that have influenced my thinking on government or society. However “Lincoln on Leadership. Executive Strategies for tough times.” Has had an influence, as well as aided my leadership skill development. It has proved useful in my role as Council President and serving our community.

June 12, 2017 - 8:15pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, city council.

reardon.jpg

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City Council Recognition: Proclamations were the order of the day (or night) Monday as City Council honored several Batavians with City Recognition Awards.

From top photo to bottom, Councilman John Canale recognizes Jennifer Reardon as Homeowner of the Year for her "little library" and outstanding flower gardens at her Washington Avenue home; Councilman Robert Bialkowski congratulates Anthony Condello as Community Volunteer of the Year for his work with the Farmer's Market, Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District and Holland Land Office; Bialkowski honors Mike Barrett of Batavia Marine & Sporting Supplies as owner of the Business of the Year; and Councilwoman Kathleen Briggs reads a proclamation extolling the achievements of Eagle Scout Christopher James Neal.

Photos by Mike Pettinella.

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