Local Matters

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DeWitt Recreation Area

November 10, 2020 - 12:15pm

Batavia City Councilperson-at-Large Robert Bialkowski and Interim City Manager Rachael Tabelski engaged in several minutes of Q & A on Monday night over the particulars of the city’s acceptance of a Batavia Rotary Club/Rotary Foundation grant. It would be used purchase kayaks and related equipment, which then would be “gifted” to Genesee County for use as a youth outdoor recreation activity.

Council, at its Business Meeting at the City Centre Council Board Room, was preparing to vote on the resolution to receive the $6,000 in what Tabelski termed “a pass-through” transaction since the Rotary Club wished to donate the funds directly to the City Youth Bureau.

When Paul Viele, who was running the meeting in place of City Council President Eugene Jankowski Jr., asked for discussion, Bialkowski was ready with a series of questions.

Bialkowski said he was concerned by recent discussions with a couple of county legislators who said they knew nothing about owning anything, stating that “they will just store it for us.”

City Council learned about the resolution at its Oct. 26 Conference Meeting.

At that time, Jocelyn Sikorski, City and Genesee County Youth Bureau executive director, advised Council that the city would “gift” all equipment from the grant – kayaks, kayak launch, paddles and vests – to Genesee County, which will maintain and store it at the DeWitt Recreation Area on Cedar Street.

She also said that county workers will build a trailer for hauling the equipment back and forth.

The resolution stipulates that the city would accept the grant from Rotary for the period of Oct. 1, 2020 through April 30, 2021 “to provide assistance to expand outdoor recreation and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education.”

Fast forwarding to last night, following is the back-and-forth between Bialkowski and Tabelski -- with Viele interjecting his thoughts toward the end of the mini-debate:

Q. Who will be purchasing the kayaks?

A. It will be purchased through the city and then it will be gifted to the county, so we have no liability for the kayaks or the docking.

Q. Why are we giving the county money?

A. When Mrs. Sikorski was here at the last meeting, she discussed that because it is the city Rotary, they wanted to do the grant with the city. But after myself and the county manager looked at it, it will be housed in a county park.

Q. Why are we … transferring the actual funds to the county if we’re buying the kayaks?

A. We’re not transferring the funds, we’re transferring the material after purchase – the kayaks and the docking.

Q. Because the resolution implies we are transferring the funds.

A. No, it will be purchased through the city’s procurement policy. The city will gift the equipment from this grant to Genesee County Parks who will assist with the maintenance and the storage of program equipment once purchased, and they will be responsible for the insurance for that as well.

Q. Then who will own the kayaks?

A. Genesee County. We will not own them.

Q. There seems to be some gray areas here. Who will be instructing in the use of the kayaks?

A. I know the YMCA was a partner in it and when we have youth programming, again through whatever means we do, I think it would be incumbent upon that person to have an instructor there when they bring children out there.

Viele jumped in at that point, stating that “we’re going to buy the kayaks and gift them to the county, very simple.”

Bialkowski pressed on, however, saying that “the county doesn’t know anything about us donating kayaks, and they’ll probably be plastic throwaway kayaks … the inexpensive ones, and the longer they’re in the sun, the shorter the shelf life.”

To which Tabelski replied that Paul Osborn, county parks supervisor/forester, was building a shed and a place to store them.

Q. Who will be responsible to replace them?

A. The city would not be responsible moving forward. We’re basically acting as a pass-through … (for the kayaks) to be housed at the county park, along with the docking system that we discussed at the last meeting that has the handicap accessibility.

Bialkowski said he was surprised the county doesn’t know about this, and Tabelski reemphasized that the vote on the table was to accept the grant, purchase the equipment and give it to the county.

Viele said he was sure the county knows about it.

“They have to know about it, if we’re doing this. They have to know about it, if we’re voting on it,” he said. “Maybe the legislator hasn’t read his email to see what is going on.”

Bialkowski said he didn’t think a couple of legislators would do this, but Viele said since the city is not liable, “don’t worry about it.”

After Bialkowski signified his concern about the status of an instructional program for youth, Viele remarked, “It would be a good job for you. You could teach them.”

In the end, Council voted in favor of the resolution, with Bialkowski casting the lone "no" vote.

Legislature Chair Weighs In

The Batavian contacted County Legislature Chair Rochelle Stein today about this matter and although she wasn’t aware of the details, she indicated that it was likely to come up at the next Human Services meeting, which is scheduled for Nov. 30.

“Basically, this is an opportunity that Rotary wanted to focus onto the city youth recreational program, and it has been working on for well over a year,” she said. “The fact that those kayaks could be donated to the DeWitt park area, it just enhances what we already have going on there and it gives opportunity for the city youth at the same time.”

Stein acknowledged the “fluid situation right now with youth services, (so) we are following our process and our procedure because we certainly want to be a good partner.”

“Everybody has a job to do and we all have steps to take to get to where we need to be,” she said.

When asked about instruction for the youth, she said the county has a kayak program that is run by the Interpretative Center staff.

October 13, 2020 - 10:33am
posted by Howard B. Owens in DeWitt Recreation Area, batavia, outdoors, news.

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Brandon Payne caught another large pike at DeWitt Recreation Area yesterday.

Submitted photo.

September 27, 2020 - 3:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in DeWitt Recreation Area, batavia, outdoors, news.

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Justin Gugel shared this photo of himself and a 34-inch, 11-pound pike he caught yesterday at the DeWitt Recreation Area.

August 26, 2020 - 7:18pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in tai chi, DeWitt Recreation Area, batavia, video.
Video Sponsor

Nancy Wee's Tai Chi class at DeWitt Recreation Area. The classes are at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday and Sunday. They are free and open to everybody. Masks and social distancing required.

August 14, 2020 - 2:46pm

From Shannon Lyaski, Conservation Education program coordinator, Genesee County Park & Forest:

A new experience awaits visitors at the Richmond Memorial Library and at DeWitt Recreation Area in Batavia!

The Richmond Memorial Library is excited to provide one Storywalk for the library grounds and two Storywalks for the DeWitt Recreation Area through the NIOGA Library System.

"Storywalks" are books that have been enlarged and placed onto lawn signs to be used outdoors. They encourage young readers to read for fun while getting active and enjoying a walk!

Storywalks also help children keep reading during the summer and provide a fun alternative to storytime readings at local libraries, which are difficult to conduct while social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Storywalks set up along the quarter-mile walking track at DeWitt Recreation Area currently feature “Crunch, the Shy Dinosaur” by Cirocco Dunlap and “A Chair for My Mother” by Vera B. Williams.

The Storywalk at the Richmond Memorial Library currently features “All Are Welcome” by Alexandra Penfold.

Each Storywalk sign at DeWitt Recreation Area has pages of one book mounted on one side, and pages of the other book mounted on the other side. Readers can walk clockwise around the walking track and read one story, then reverse direction and read the other story as they walk around counterclockwise.

These two titles will be on loan at DeWitt Recreation Area through the NIOGA Library System starting today, Aug.14th, through Monday, Sept. 6th.

After Labor Day weekend, the stories will change every two weeks and highlight seasonal events, happenings in nature, and more. An information box located on the title page sign for each story provides an author summary, a list of similar titles, and fun activities for kids.

We are excited about this opportunity for outdoor exercise and great reading for kids! Special thanks to the Richmond Memorial Library and the NIOGA Library System for making this new recreational experience possible.

For more information visit our website, or contact Shannon Lyaski at [email protected] or (585) 344-1122.

July 22, 2020 - 1:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in DeWitt Recreation Area, batavia, news.

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Stacey Foose shared this photo of geese roaming around DeWitt Recreation Area yesterday. She said they were getting close to the playground. She said, "I thought maybe they wanted to go for a slide or try to climb the monkey bars. LOL."

February 11, 2020 - 10:26pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in fire services, batavia, DeWitt Recreation Area, video.
Video Sponsor

Firefighters from four counties were in Batavia over the weekend to learn from NYS instructors how to handle cold water/ice rescues. On Sunday they put into practice the previous day's classroom training at DeWitt Recreation Area.

UPDATE: Press release from Genesee County Emergency Management:

Eighteen fire personnel endured the weekend’s cold temperature to complete 16-hour advanced level ice rescue training. The Ice/Cold Water Rescue Technician Level course included instruction in self-rescue, shore-based ice rescue techniques and on ice rescue techniques.

Effects of cold water on victims, ice rescue techniques, offshore techniques, and ice rescue equipment were also addressed. Students participated in a significant amount of hands-on ice time for skill practice.

Participants included:

ALABAMA

  • Michael Pfendler
  • Ryan M. Thompson
  • Joseph Uhrinek

TOWN OF BATAVIA

  • Joshua K. Boyle
  • Dwane J. Fonda Jr.
  • Clayton A. Gorski
  • Conor P. Wilkes

CORFU

  • Mitchell D.Bates
  • Jayden D. Eck
  • Tyler G. Lang
  • Matthew P. Lenhard

EAST PEMBROKE

  • David A. Martin

ELBA

  • Nicole M. Boldt
  • Michael J. Schad

HENRIETTA (Monroe County)

  • Patrick R. Kelly

SOUTH BYRON

  • Vito J. Muoio

TWIN DISTRICTS (Erie County)

  • Andrew R. Poreda

WRIGHT’S CORNERS (Niagara County)

  • Zachary W. Wodo

Visit your local fire department to find out more about volunteer opportunities.

September 27, 2019 - 2:32pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, sand wash, DeWitt Recreation Area, batavia, news.

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Photographer Ray Williams shared these photos with us that he took today at the sand wash at DeWitt Recreation Area in Batavia.

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September 26, 2019 - 12:39pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, fire, news, DeWitt Recreation Area.

City firefighters are called to investigate a possible controlled burn by the nature trail at DeWitt Recreation Area off Cedar Street.

UPDATE 12:47 a.m.: Firefighters are in the area investigating. The caller reported two bicycles in the vicinity of the blaze.

August 25, 2019 - 1:21pm

There are several adventures offered next month at Genesee County Park & Forest and DeWitt Recreation Area. These September recreational opportunities include: a Full Moon Hike; Orienteering with the Rochester Orienteering Club; Geocaching at DeWitt; and Learning About Wild Turkeys.

Here are the details:

Orienteering at the Genesee County Park & Forest with Rochester Orienteering Club

Come explore the active and adventurous sport of Orienteering at the Genesee County Park & Forest with Rochester Orienteering Club from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14th. Beginner class and basic training takes place from 9 to 10 a.m. Orienteering start is open 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. All courses close at 1:30 pm.

Learn how to find your way without batteries or a cell phone signal – by using a map and compass. All material provided no experience necessary.

Orienteering is a family friendly sport for people of all ages and ability levels. Perfect for individuals and families who love the outdoors. Please preregister online here; or by calling 585-344-8508, ext. 3701, and leaving your name, phone number, and number of participants.

Harvest Moon Night Hike at the Genesee County Park & Forest

Come join us on a night hike through a moonlit forest with our Harvest Moon Night Hike at the Genesee County Park & Forest from 7:30 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14th.

Look and listen for nocturnal animals that can’t be seen or heard during the day! Hear tales of the full moon that comes at the beginning of fall, and learn the origins of its name.

Cost is $5/person, $10/family. Preregistration required, call 585-344-8508, ext. 3701, and leave your name, phone number, and number of participants to reserve your spot.

Geocaching at DeWitt Recreation Area

Get out and try a high-tech scavenger hunt with our Geocaching at DeWitt Recreation Area program from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21st.

Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunt game that can be played anytime and anywhere. Create a personal alias or team name to let others know you were here. Sign up as a group or by yourself. No prior geocaching experience is necessary, a lesson and GPS unit is provided.

Dress for the weather and be ready for adventure! Meet at Pavilion 3 at DeWitt Recreation Area.

Cost is $5/person, $10/family. Preregistration is required. Call 585-344-8508, ext. 3701, and leave your name, phone number, and number of participants to register.

Wild Turkeys at the Genesee County Park & Forest

Did you know that wild turkeys can swim? Or that they can fly 55 miles per hour? Join the National Wild Turkey Federation and Women in the Outdoors for Wild Turkeys at the Genesee County Park & Forest Interpretive Nature Center from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28th to learn more cool facts and find out how turkeys survive in the wild.

Then head out to the forest and fields to practice turkey calls and see where they can live! This program is FREE! Recommended for ages 8 and up. Preregistration required. Reserve your spot by calling 585-344-8508, ext. 3701, and leaving your name, phone number, and number of participants.

For more information visit the park & forest website here, or contact the park office at 585-344-8508.

Genesee County Park and Forest is located at 11095 Bethany Center Road, East Bethany.

DeWitt Recreation Area is located at 115 Cedar St. in the City of Batavia.

August 7, 2019 - 11:52am
posted by Billie Owens in kayaking, sports, recreation, DeWitt Recreation Area, batavia.

Kayaking at the pond at DeWitt Recreation Area, which was cancelled last month due to the heat wave, will be offered this Saturday.

Preregistration is required on or before Thursday Aug. 8th, call 585-344-1122.

A maximum of 20 participants will be allowed.

Seize the day with a guided kayak tour of DeWitt Pond! Explore the pond by water and discover a new world.

  • Session 1 takes place from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Session 2 takes place from 1 to 3 p.m.

Meet at the boat launch at DeWitt Recreation Area. No experience needed, a beginner kayaking lesson is provided! Rent a kayak or bring your own. Kayak rentals with life vests are provided by Adventures in Fitness Inc. Solo kayak rentals are available for ages 12 and up, tandem kayak rentals are available for kids under 12 and must be piloted by an adult.

Guided tour fee is $20/person without rental or $25/person with kayak rental per session. Fee for children under 12 is $12 per session. Maximum 20 participants per session.

For more information visit the website here, or contact Kayla Edmunds [email protected] or (585) 344-1122.

July 19, 2019 - 12:15pm
posted by Billie Owens in kayaking, batavia, DeWitt Recreation Area, news.

Press release:

Kayaking at DeWitt Recreation Area has been cancelled for Saturday, July 20th, due to inclement weather.

It has been rescheduled to Saturday, Aug. 10th. Preregistration is required on or before Thursday Aug. 8th, call 585-344- 1122.

Seize the day with a guided kayak tour of DeWitt Pond! Explore the pond by water and discover a new world.

  • Session 1 takes place from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
  • Session 2 takes place from 1 to 3 p.m.

Meet at the boat launch at DeWitt Recreation Area. No experience needed, a beginner kayaking lesson is provided! Rent a kayak or bring your own. Kayak rentals with life vests are provided by Adventures in Fitness Inc. Solo kayak rentals are available for ages 12 and up, tandem kayak rentals are available for kids under 12 and must be piloted by an adult.

Guided tour fee is $20/person without rental or $25/person with kayak rental per session. Fee for children under 12 is $12 per session. Maximum 20 participants per session.

For more information visit our website at http://www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/parks/, or contact Shannon Lyaski at [email protected] or (585) 344-1122.

July 14, 2019 - 2:19pm
posted by Billie Owens in batavia, DeWitt Recreation Area, kayaking, sports.

Seize the day with a guided kayak tour of DeWitt Pond on Saturday July 20th!

Explore the pond by water and discover a new world.

Session 1 takes place from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.; Session 2 takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. Meet at the boat launch at DeWitt Recreation Area, located off Cedar Street in the City of Batavia.

No experience needed, a beginner kayaking lesson is provided! Rent a kayak or bring your own.

Kayak rentals with life vests are provided by Adventures in Fitness Inc. Solo kayak rentals are available for ages 12 and up, tandem kayak rentals are available for kids under 12 and must be piloted by an adult.

Guided tour fee is $20/person without rental or $25/person with kayak rental per session. Fee for children under 12 is $12 per session. Preregistration is required by Wednesday July 17th, call 585-344-1122!

For more information visit our website at http://www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/parks/, or contact Shannon Lyaski at [email protected] or (585) 344-1122.

June 6, 2019 - 10:32am

Press release:

East Bethany – Join the Genesee County Parks along with the Oakfield-Alabama Lions Club and try out fishing at DeWitt Recreation Area from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 29th.

Kids up to age 16 can join the fun and get the chance to win a prize with the Kendra Haacke Memorial Fishing Derby, sponsored by the Oakfield-Alabama Lions Club. Prize includes fishing gear donated by Cabela’s of Cheektowaga.

No fishing license required, this is part of the NYSDEC’s Free Fishing Weekend. Perfect for beginners!

Program meets at Pavilion 3. Friendly guides will be on hand to assist you.

Fishing gear provided or bring your own. Bait provided through a generous donation by Walmart of Batavia.

Call 585-344-1122 register or walk-ins also welcome.

For more information visit the parks' website here, or contact Shannon Lyaski at [email protected] or (585) 344-1122.

May 11, 2019 - 12:52pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in DeWitt Recreation Area, batavia, news, animals, outdoors, wildlife.

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Photo submitted by Dylan Brew.

April 20, 2019 - 1:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Cedar Street, DeWitt Recreation Area, batavia, news.

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Guy Clark, owner of Cedar Street Sales and Rental, shared this photo from earlier this week of a sunrise over DeWitt Recreation Area.

March 26, 2019 - 2:02pm

Press release:

Earth Day is your chance to give back to your community and take care of the Earth! Join us at DeWitt Recreation Area in Batavia for the 19th annual Earth Day Celebration and help with park cleanup from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 20.

Let's celebrate Earth Day early (it's actually Monday, April 22) and help keep the park beautiful and the habitat safe and healthy for wildlife.

Leanr to make cool things from recycled materials and enjoy a naturalist-guided hike to discover the natural wonders in the park.

Enjot wild ganes, free fun and more.

Service groups, students, 4-H'ers and Scouts can earn community service hours and meet badge requirements.

Don't miss a special presentation by theBuffalo Zoomobile from 2 to 3 p.m., weather permitting!

Special thanks to the Genesee Finger Lakes Cahpter of the Air & Waste Management Association for their generous support of this Earth Day celebration.

Meet at Pavilion 2 for all activities. DeWitt Recreation Area is located at 115 Cedar St. in the City of Batavia.

This event and all activities are free and open to all. Please preregister for activities by calling (585) 344-1122.

Here's the day's schedule of activities:

  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. -- Park Cleanup Projects
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. -- Recycled Crafts
  • 12 to 1 p.m. -- Wild Planet Games
  • 1 to 2 p.m. -- Wild Planet Guided Hike
  • 2 to 3 p.m. (weather permitting) -- Special Guest: World Safari by the Buffalo Zoomobile -- Meet fascinating animals from all different places on planet Earth!
September 18, 2018 - 11:23am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, DeWitt Recreation Area, news.

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John Michaels took this picture at DeWitt Recreation Area yesterday morning.

June 29, 2018 - 7:27pm
posted by Billie Owens in sports, news, kayaking, DeWitt Recreation Area, batavia.

Press release:

Seize the day with a guided kayak tour of DeWitt Pond on Saturday, July 21st! It is rescheduled to Aug. 10 due to inclement weather. Pregister on or before Aug. 8 by calling 584-344-1122.

Explore the pond by water and discover a new world.

Session 1 takes place from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., Session 2 takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. Meet at the boat launch at DeWitt Recreation Area off Cedar Street in Batavia.

No experience needed, a beginner kayaking lesson is provided!

Rent a kayak or bring your own. Kayak rentals with life vests are provided by Adventures in Fitness Inc. Solo kayak rentals are available for ages 12 and up, tandem kayak rentals are available for kids under 12 and must be piloted by an adult.

Guided tour fee is $20/person without rental or $25/person with kayak rental per session. Fee for children under 12 is $10 per session. Pre-registration is required by Saturday July 14th, call 344-1122!

For more information visit the website here, or contact Shannon Lyaski at [email protected] or (585) 344-1122.

To learn more about the 38-acre pond, a former sand and gravel quarry donated to the county in 1992, click here.

June 26, 2018 - 3:26pm

Above photo: Derby winners Chloe Lutrell, age 8, who caught a 13” bass, and Jose Vanegas, age 16, who caught a 9 1⁄4” sunfish.

Submitted photos and press release:

Free Fishing Day and the Kendra Haacke Memorial Fishing Derby took place at DeWitt Recreation Area on Saturday, June 23rd.

A total of 44 kids ages 16 and under participated in the fishing derby, catching a variety of panfish and bass.

Prizes were awarded for the largest fish caught each by a boy and a girl.

This was the fifth annual Kendra Haacke Memorial Fishing Derby held at DeWitt Recreation Area. Each year the derby is sponsored by the Oakfield-Alabama Lions Club.

Friendly fishing guides were on hand to assist newbies with baiting a hook and learning how to fish. This event was the result of collaboration between Genesee County Parks, Recreation & Forestry, the Oakfield-Alabama Lions Club, and ACORNS.

Fishing tackle and bait were provided by a generous donation from Smith’s Great Outdoors, formerly Hunters Landing. Fishing poles were provided through a grant awarded by Cabela’s of Cheektowaga.

As part of the NYSDEC’s Free Fishing Weekend, no fishing license was required to participate.

Families from 10 local cities and towns including Rochester and Lancaster, joined in the free outdoor fun.

All participants received fishing tackle prizes, while each derby winner took home a new rod and reel and tackle box.

Derby winners: Chloe Lutrell, age 8, who caught a 13” bass; and Jose Vanegas, age 16, who caught a 9 1⁄4” sunfish.

Special thanks to the Oakfield-Alabama Lions Club, ACORNS, Cabela’s, and Smith’s Great Outdoors for making this event possible!

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