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July 4, 2011 - 1:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown.

July 3, 2011 - 12:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, music, entertainment, Ramble Music & Arts Fest.

Here's some pictures from the 2011 Batavia Ramble Music and Arts Fest held in downtown Batavia yesterday.

More pictures after the jump:

July 2, 2011 - 11:55am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, music, entertainment, Ramble Music & Arts Fest.

Kelly Kubala from Go Art! opened the 2011 Ramble Music and Arts Fest in Downtown Batavia shortly after 11 this morning.

The Ghost Riders followed and more musical acts will be performing throughout the day, plus there's food, crafts and arts.

Parking is available off School, Jackson and Center streets.

The event goes until 9 p.m.

UPDATE: Video shot by Steve Ognibene:

June 24, 2011 - 8:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, BID, Jackson Square.

The summer concert series in Jackson Square, Downtown Batavia, sponsored by the Business Improvement District, kicked off this evening with a show by 78 RPM.

June 11, 2011 - 1:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Jackson Street, Valle Jewelers.

Valle Jewelers is celebrating its 60th year in business today with sales, prize drawings and refreshments. There was a good number of people in the store this morning when we stopped by.

Previously: Three generations and 60 years later, Valle family business still sparkles

June 9, 2011 - 11:05pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, music, entertainment, Larry's Steakhouse.

It's always fun to take pictures of musicians playing live and so with Kay McMahon, Jim Catino and Bill MacDonald laying down some countrified grooves on the patio of Larry's Steakhouse this evening, I thought I should stop by.

The trio plays an acoustic set at Larry's each Thursday through the summer.

And Bill wanted me to remind everybody that the Ramble Music and Arts Fest is coming. Mark your calendars for July 2.

June 9, 2011 - 10:59am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, South Beach Restaurant.

Crews have been working yesterday and today to remove the concrete and plants that once made a little park between the HSBC building and South Beach Restaurant.

South Beach owner Ken Mistler acquired the strip of land from the city in order to create a BBQ pit and outdoor dining area for his restaurant.  

The new space will also contain a greenway with a walking path and bricks inlayed as a fundraiser for the Kiwanis Club (the park was formerly known as Kiwanis Park).

June 7, 2011 - 5:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Glass Roots.

Artist Sean Walker stands in front of a mural he's painting inside the new art gallery at Glass Roots on Center Street.

Walker, a fine arts student at GCC, has a show in the gallery of some of his original artwork.

June 7, 2011 - 11:24am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Main St. Pizza Company.

Remember when businesses had painted signs on the sides of their buildings? 

Vic Marchese is going old school with the sign he hired Vinny DelPlato to paint for him on the back of Main St. Pizza Company.

DelPlato is responsible for many of the murals you see around town.

Here's a piece we did on him when he was working on the mural at Next Level Fitness.

June 6, 2011 - 12:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, downtown, BID, gulls.

Last week, we reported an update on the downtown gull situation.

BID Director Don Burkel asked that we share the following information with readers:

If you are having a problem with gulls landing / nesting on your building there are some possible solutions by the USDA Wildlife Services:

  • String 100-pound test fishing line in a grid pattern
  • Use a “BirdX” (sound system)
  • Use inflatable “Scarymen” by Reed Joseph Co.

If you need some advise on your particular gull problem, Carl Cranker, biologist for the USDA Wildlife Services, would be willing to visit your property. There is no fee for consultation and accessing your situation. If you want the Wildlife Services to perform a service, i.e. remove nests or eggs, there would be a fee involved. You can contact him directly by calling (315) 532-4835 (cell) or email: [email protected] .

June 3, 2011 - 12:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, GCC.

A new group of international students from GCC were getting the grand tour of Batavia today, and I happened across them at Main and Center streets.

June 1, 2011 - 7:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, gulls.

It's possible Verizon has conquered the sea gull problem it had on its Center Street building.

The mobile phone and internet company brought in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove birds and eggs two weeks ago, and today, employees spread netting on the roof to discourage the return of the birds.

Meanwhile, gulls continue to menace cars and pedestrians from their roosts atop the old Latina's market building on Ellicott Street, though their numbers seem fewer than last spring and summer.

Owner Vito Gautieri said he's done everything the state Department of Environmental Conservation has told him he can do, but the gulls have not completed vacated the premises. 

"We've spent a ton of money," Gautieri said.

He said he's deployed fake owls and pelicans, installed noise makers and sends employees up to the top of the roof at least twice a week.

"Two days later they get used it (the decoys and noise) and they're back," Gautieri said.

Both Gautieri and Verizon received code violations for alleged failure to maintain their properties, according to City Manager Jason Molino.  

The owners were advised to keep the premises clean in order to comply with city code.

Local business owners say the problem was unusually acute on School Street this summer, largely because of the migration of the birds to the Verizon building. One store owner said the problem has seemed to lessen in the past two weeks.

Michael DeFelice, owner of Michael Anthony's Salon, said last summer he could safely park his car in the lot off School Street, but this summer, there has been no safe place to park.

Gautieri said the gull problem is an entire city problem and city officials need to address it as a citywide problem.

"They (the gulls) are going to continue to be a problem for all of us unless the city gets involved and the agency that protects them gets involved," Gautieri said.

Molino said it's not that simple. It's not like the city can go around cleaning up properties for landowners. The gull problem is a basic maintenance issue, he said. 

"It's like mowing your lawn," Molino said. "It's easy, but you've still got to do it."

Molino said the city hasn't had problems with gulls on City Centre for three years, since it started getting the permits necessary to take care of the problem (removing the eggs) and keeping the roof properly maintained.

As for the old Latina's building, Gautieri said he remains hopeful he could have new tenants soon. He said he's also been discussing the idea of turning the building into an office complex and recruiting firms with offices in Rochester and Buffalo to consolidate their offices in Batavia.

"That would be great for downtown," Gautieri said.

Another option for the building is to add another six or eight feet of height (which is possible because the building was originally constructed to have warehouse space on the second floor), which would make it possible to turn the second floor into apartments. If he did that, Gautieri said, he would add a steeple roof, which would keep the gulls from nesting on the roof.

May 26, 2011 - 7:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Tim Walton.

Remember the pink gorilla we saw wandering on Main Street on May 25? It was a marketing ploy of local entrepreneur Tim Walton.

Walton has relaunched his T-shirt and clothing business, former Topline Shirt Company, as Pink Gorilla Tees and Graphics.

The location remains 214 E. Main St. in the City of Batavia.

Joe Canzoneri has been named store manager.

Just because the new store has opened doesn't mean the mascot will be retired, Canzoneri said.

"We will continue to send the mascot to events," Canzoneri said. "It's something that we hope the community will enjoy as well. We want to have fun with what we do and Pink Gorilla is just that -- fun and creative just like our shirts"

Pink Gorilla will be open from noon to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

May 24, 2011 - 8:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Jackson Street.

Derek Geib, left, and Michael Highland, will officially open their new downtown bar and eatery Wednesday and have spent the past two evenings preparing by serving speciality hamburgers to a limited number of guests.

With the kinks mostly worked out during the "soft launch," the duo is excited to finally be doing business as Bourbon & Burger Co. at 9 Jackson St., Batavia.

There are about two dozen different types of hamburgers on the menu, and the restaurant is aiming to be known as the best place for a burger in the county.

The menu also includes a variety of sandwiches and appetizers, an extensive beer list plus a full bar.

May 24, 2011 - 1:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, South Beach.

Some time this summer, downtown will have another outdoor dining venue.

On Monday, the Batavia City Council approved the sale of a small downtown parcel to South Beach Restaurant owner Ken Mistler.

The 1,900-square-foot lot is adjacent the restaurant. Mistler intends to convert a portion of it to a seating area and an outdoor grill.

The lot, currently known as Kiwanis Memorial Park, will be divided so that a portion will remain green space with a six-foot-wide walkway dedicated to the Kiwanis Club. 

The purchase price is $1,000, which Mistler said is exactly the appraised value for the lot. He said in order to make the purchase, the city required him to pay for a professional appraisal, which cost $700.

"I think it's going to enhance downtown, and bring more people to downtown," said Fifth Ward Councilwoman Kathy Briggs. "I'm excited about it."

Mistler said that's exactly his goal. He hopes the new place will help promote downtown, generate more revenue for his employees and allow him to add three more staff members.

"This is for downtown," Mistler said. "Batavia is a small community and I like what goes on here."

When completed, the grill will serve customers both inside and outside the dining area. It will also be a place where people can drive to, park at the curb, and get a quick hamburger or hot dog. Walk-up customers will also be welcome.

Still undecided is what alcohol service will be available. If Mistler wants a cash bar outside, he needs to get another liquor license. Or he could knock a hole in the wall behind his current bar and service customers through a window. Or customers could buy liquor inside and bring it out to the patio.

As for the Kiwanis, Mistler said he is offering them the walkway as a place to sell bricks as a fund raiser every five years. He said he will supply the labor to lay the bricks and if the Kiwanis don't sell them, he will, and donate the money to the Kiwanis.

May 4, 2011 - 2:53pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown.

Did you see the guy in the pink gorilla suit on East Main Street, Batavia? It's apparently a publicity stunt. First thing I said to the guy was, "What, lose a bet?" He said he was only allowed to answer, "Coming soon." He said he was hired to walk up and down Main Street in the suit.

May 1, 2011 - 11:09am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown.

The annual Downtown Carnival is taking place on Jackson Street this weekend. It continues this afternoon.

More pictures after the jump:

April 30, 2011 - 8:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, BID, crickler business.

Members of the Batavia Downtown Business Improvement District gathered Friday for a luncheon and awards presentation to a few of the people who supported downtown in 2010.

Charles Men's Shop received the “Spirit of Downtown” award. Above Don Brown, left, and Dave Howe, second from left, accept the award from Victor Gautieri, outgoing president of the BID board, and Don Burkel, BID director.

Jeffrey Gillard, who could not be at the luncheon, was honored as BID member Volunteer of the Year.

Krysia Mager and Leanna DiRisio, pictured below, received Community Volunteer awards.

Victor Gautieri, above, finished his term as president and by BID rules must take a break from serving on the board. Paul Marchese, below, finished his term as vice president and is also termed out of the board.  

April 26, 2011 - 11:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown.

The proposal is in the city budget, it's in the strategic plan, it's on the drawing board, but officially, the Batavia City Council has yet to approve the creation of an economic development director.

The vote will take place at the council's next business meeting, but on Monday council members got a chance to learn more about the proposal, ask questions and state their opinions.

There were no strong objections, and Councilman Bill Cox called on his fellow council members to approve the proposal.

"It’s a great opportunity for the city and it’s the most important thing we’ve done in a long time," Cox said. "I don’ think you’re going to see any results for 18 months, because no matter what you decided, you’re going to have to apply for grants, you’re going to have to wait for replies, you have to be selective, so I think we’ll see the first fruits of our labor in 18 to 24 months."

Under the proposal, the city would chip in $10,000 per year for each of the first two years (funded by cutting $15,000 from the grant writing budget of the city), with the balance of the eventual hire's salary being covered by money from the revolving loan fund and the micro-enterprise fund (both funds filled years ago by state grants).

The Batavia Development Corporation, which in the past has overseen the revolving loan fund, would hire and supervise the economic development position.

Councilman Bob Bialkowski wondered if, within the two years allotted for the new position to start paying off, whether new grants would start funding the position.

Ray Chaya, president of the BDC board of directors, said, "that would be the hope. Even though the state is in dire straits, there is still money out there for economic development. We want to be able to capture whatever is out there as soon as it’s available."

Council members asked questions about benefits -- the new hire will not receive benefits through the city as an employee of the BDC -- and what the person will actually do.

The job description specifies that the economic developer will be required to recruit and retain small businesses in the city and help businesses find ways to expand and grow.

If the council approves the proposal, the BDC can get to work on recruiting the right person and hopefully getting him or her in place on or before Aug. 1.

"We really need three-to-four months to get that person in here and really have benchmarks set up," Chaya said. "Two years is really a short amount of time, so this person needs to have strong communications skills, small business sense and a really good understanding of economic development."

April 25, 2011 - 2:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, urban renewal.

A young C.M. Barons -- regular contributor to The Batavian and former State Assembly candidate -- was a journalism student at GCC when the north side of Main Street, Batavia, was demolished to make way for the Genesee Country Mall.

Over the weekend, Barons found his old photos for a story he did in college.

The bottom photo is of David J. Gordon, who was the urban renewal planner in charge of the project. Barons sent it along in case anybody needed new dart board material.

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