Grants – acceptance of, consideration of and application for – were the order of the day (actually, night) at Batavia City Council’s joint Conference and Business meeting on Monday at City Hall.
Resolutions pertaining to various grants, including a $750,000 Downtown Revitalization Initiative award to make the Jackson Square entertainment spot more attractive, as well as those dealing with the repair of the Redfield Parkway pillars and the filling of vacancies on the police department kept things moving during the 90-minute session.
Department of Public Works Director Matt Worth reported that the City is required to enter into a detailed contract with the Department of State in order to release the three quarters of a million dollars from the $10 million DRI award bestowed on the City.
Plans call for the funds to be used to “enhance the enjoyment of the area (by) improving the street surface, lighting and other amenities during events,” Worth wrote in his Aug. 3 memo to City Manager Martin Moore.
Worth said the project has a “five-year window” for completion and added that he hoped that the design phase could take place next summer with construction completed sometime in 2021. This will be the first in what should be a long list of DRI projects in the City.
Council voted unanimously to move forward with the Department of State contract.
The board also approved acceptance of a National Grid Urban Center/Commercial District Revitalization Program grant of $165,000 to improve the City Centre Campus.
According to Rachael Tabelski, who is transitioning from economic development director to assistant city manager, the project will consist of a feasibility study, architectural services, roof replacement in separate areas, energy-efficient indoor lighting, painting and other repairs.
The award is a 3:1 matching grant, Tabelski said, that will be matched with committed City money along with funds from New York State Empire State Development Feasibility Grant, ESD DRI City Center Grant and Department of State DRI Grant for Harvester Theater 56.
In other action, Council:
-- Approved Police Chief Shawn Heubusch’s request to add two more officers to the staff, authorizing the recruits’ training ahead of a pair of anticipated retirements in order to shorten the time period between the retirements and their replacements.
Heubusch (in his memo to Moore) proposed hiring two officers this fall and sending them to the police academy next month.
“This way, the officers will be near completion in their field training process during the spring/summer of 2020,” he wrote.
He said currently three recruits are at the police academy and four are in field training, which leaves a shortage on the streets.
Considering the two impending retirements, Moore advised that there would be no additional cost to the city but could result in a savings of up to $13,000.
-- Accepted a $10,500 grant from the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles for police traffic services, specifically to increase seat belt usage; agreed to Heubusch applying for a federal grant supporting an additional detective position for four years to address narcotics issues, and voted in favor of establishing a police K-9 program with support from business and individual donations.
-- Received an update from Worth on the rehabilitation of the pillars on the south end of Redfield Parkway. The City’s budget includes $70,000 out of the facilties reserve to repair the structures.
Wroth said bids went out on Aug. 1 and will be opened on Aug. 27. He expects Council to act on the matter at its Sept. 9 Business meeting, and said construction could start either this fall or next spring.
At least one Council member said she may vote against it.
“If it’s over $70,000, I’ll disapprove of it,” Rose Mary Christian said. “I disapproved of it from the beginning because it is taxpayer money.”
-- Moved to the next business meeting a pair of $20,000 grant requests from the City’s Revolving Loan Fund by Guy Clark, owner of Cedar Street Sales & Rentals, and by Stephen Valle and Carrie and John Lawrence, owners of a hair salon/apartment building at 242 Ellicott St. (at the corner of Liberty Street).
Clark is expanding with a building across the street from his existing business and the grant money would be used to add “an attractive and functional front porch façade to this new building,” Tabelski said.
She reported that Clark has received tax incentives ($37,000) from the Genesee County Economic Development Center, including Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT), which will result in Clark paying $28,000 into the Batavia Pathway to Prosperity (BP2) fund over the next 10 years and another $28,000 to the three taxing jurisdictions (City of Batavia, Batavia City School District and Genesee County).
Tabelski said the project will retain 10 employees and add one or two employees while generating an estimated $16,000 in additional sales tax revenue.
The Valle/Lawrence projects centers on renovation of the 3,400-square-foot building, with the City grant earmarked for completion of the entire façade and renovation of one of the two upstairs apartments.
Previously, the trio received $22,050, about a third of the project cost, in grant funds from the Batavia DRI-Building Improvement Fund.
Tabelski noted that the property is in the flood plain, where it is “difficult to reinvest” and the project “encourages downtown living.”
While Council members Kathleen Briggs and Paul Viele stated their support for this plan, Christian disagreed.
“There are a couple apartments in that building … why can’t they take care of their own?” she asked. “We have to take care of our houses.”
Tabelski responded that the City is advancing its homeowner assistance program and that about 70 residents have expressed interest in it, to which Christian nodded affirmatively.
Photo at top -- Police Chief Shawn Heubusch congratulates Joshua Girvin after the recruit's swearing in at Monday night's City Council meeting. Girvin, an Albion resident, starts the second phase of the police academy today and is expected to join the police force in a few months. Photo by Mike Pettinella.