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Genesee 2050

February 23, 2022 - 12:03pm

The first New York State Bike Census has been developed and Genesee County certainly is going along for the ride.

County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari today said the state bicycle census – actually a survey that takes only a couple of minutes to complete – fits in well with the Genesee’s newly-adopted Recreation Plan.

“Our rec plan has a lot to say about this,” Oltramari said. “Community trails are a major recommendation of the plan (and the availability of trails is touched upon in the state census).”

Oltramari said that although the county did its own surveying through the Genesee 2050 project that created the Recreation Plan, the NYS Bike Census “will help bring those initiatives we identified up to the state level which should help when searching for funding opportunities.”

Here is the link to the state bike census:

https://nyserda.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_aaOKnyxZSgkskmi

Created through a partnership between the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and Urban Cycling Solutions, the cycling census represents New York’s first statewide dataset on bicycle integration with mass transit.

The purpose of this short survey is to collect insights from cyclists and transit customers from all over the state to better understand opportunities and barriers for active first/last mile transportation.

Each participant will be entered to win one of three $150 Planet Bike gift cards as long as an email address is provided at the end of the survey.

Oltramari said county plans include expanding Ellicott Trail east and west, creating trailhead (parking/access) locations for this trail and adding connections/new corridors to form a trail network through the county.

Additionally, plans call for identifying appropriate town, county and state roads for paving of shoulders to facilitate recreational and multiuse purposes.

Per the Recreation Plan:

“In the absence of other trail facilities throughout the county, paved shoulders on the edge of certain Genesee County roadways can be enhanced to serve as safe and functional space for bicyclists and pedestrians to travel. Paving of road shoulders would be appropriate in more rural areas where there are few designated trails and expected pedestrian and bicycle activity. Walkable and bikeable shoulders could be provided along both sides of county roads routinely used by pedestrians.”

December 16, 2021 - 10:04pm

eve_1.jpgThe COVID-19 pandemic has sabotaged many projects over the past two years, but it hasn’t been able to stop planners and consultants working with Genesee County from advancing the Genesee 2050 Comprehensive Plan and Recreation Plan.

In fact, the coronavirus paved the way for a new dynamic – the ability to meet via Zoom and other social media outlets to engage members of the focus groups who have contributed to the Comprehensive Plan, said Eve Holberg, planner/project manager with Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect of North Tonawanda.

Speaking at a presentation to the Genesee County Legislature tonight at the Old County Courthouse (and via Zoom), Holberg (photo at right) said that moving the process online has alleviated the challenge of bringing stakeholders together and has been key in communicating the various surveys that helped mold the documents.

“Zoom and other meeting platforms … can boost the efficiency of the focus groups (who) want to see their quality of life preserved,” she said.

About 10 people attended in person and several others viewed and listened remotely to the presentation, which also included an overview of the Recreation Plan and the Genesee 2050 Hub Site (www.Genesee2050.com) by Michael Kane and Jenny Mogavero, respectively, principals at Prospect Hill Consulting in Buffalo.

Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect and Prospect Hill Consulting have been commissioned by the Genesee County Planning Department to draft the updated plans, which carry the overarching goals of enhancing quality of life issues and providing viable places and opportunities that promote healthy living, recreation and the arts.

‘NOT YOUR GRANDFATHER’S PLAN’

Holberg said the economic, cultural and educational landscapes have changed considerably since the county first embarked on comprehensive planning more than 20 years ago.

“This is not your grandfather’s Comprehensive Plan,” she said, noting that she and others have been working on this for 18 months. She also touted the Genesee 2050 interactive website that will "carry the plan forward.”

The vision of the 2050 Comprehensive Plan targets the wishes of the residents of Genesee County and the willingness of county government “to advance budgeting and funding to achieve these ambitions,” she said.

Overall recommendations include maintaining and expanding the focus groups that have set the plans in motion and to sustain Smart Growth, the component that preserves the county’s farmland, promotes sustainable growth and supports economic development strategy.

The Genesee 2050 Comprehensive Plan lists 10 priority elements that are keys to achieving its goals:

  • Land use, environment and place making;
  • Agriculture and food production;
  • Arts, culture, parks and recreation;
  • Housing opportunities;
  • Transportation and mobility;
  • Technology and utilities;
  • Community wellness;
  • Economic and workforce development;
  • Safety, security and justice;
  • Government and education administration.

Holberg provided an example when talking about transportation and mobility, suggesting a pooling of transportation resources (Social Services, Office for the Aging, Veterans Services) “to make it possible to have a better mobility system and to keep people in their communities.”

RECREATION PLAN: AN ALL-IN VENTURE

The first of its kind in Genesee County, the Recreation Plan is a road map for future development – “an ambitious plan” that considers the extensive facilities and parks in the City of Batavia and the county’s towns and villages, Kane said.

The plan’s five goals and objectives – “which remained consistent as the project evolved,” Kane said – are as follows:

  • Develop plans that equitably meet community recreation needs;
  • Promote healthy living;
  • Promote tourism through recreation, arts and cultural attractions;
  • Promote new trails and park development, and local and regional trail connections.
  • Promote/maintain youth recreational services.

Parks in the county for the most part are in excellent shape, Kane said, adding that information on all the parks and recreation areas is attractively displayed in the Recreation Plan.

His team reviewed more than 50 plans, including county, town and village comprehensive plans and New York State’s open space/recreation plans, and assessed the parks’ accessibility by walking and by car to “identify gaps in the county’s recreational inventory.”

Thus far, more than 20 projects have been identified, including expansion and upgrading of Ellicott Trail, creation of a new trail at Genesee Community College, paving of the shoulders of county roads for recreational use, establishing public spaces at Oatka Creek and reuse of the former amusement park at Indian Falls.

Kane said the projects are prioritized by how strongly they hit the five goals mentioned above. He also said these potential projects give Genesee County and other municipal entities a better chance to receive grant funding.

HUB SITE: AN EXTENSION OF THE PLAN

The Genesee 2050 Hub Site is a tool for the county to maintain the Comprehensive Plan and a platform to support community engagement activities, Mogavero said.

“It includes tools, data and documents for the focus groups .. and ensures that the plan will have a long shelf life,” she said, advising that the website will include the ability for public feedback in real time and links to agencies and maps to obtain current information.

In the end, Holberg said both plans reflect the values shared by county residents.

“Everyone wants more trails, and (because of that) the county can look for funding opportunities,” she said.

June 21, 2021 - 11:43am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Genesee County Planning Department, Genesee 2050.

The road to updated Genesee County Comprehensive and Recreation plans is much more demanding than the proverbial “walk in the park” but County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari is hoping an event of that name helps move the municipality closer to its goals.

Oltramari is inviting county residents to come to the DeWitt Recreation Area at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 10 for Walk in the Park!, an interactive gathering featuring a walking tour of the Cedar Street site, workshops, question-and-answer session, and available food and refreshments from Pub Coffee Hub.

Representatives of Prospect Hill Consulting LLC, of Buffalo, the firm coordinating the plan revisions, and Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect, of North Tonawanda, a subcontractor, will be attending.

“We’re trying to come up with a new framework (of plan components), with the main thing that we want to do is see if we can modernize the way that we present it to the public,” Oltramari said. “That is why having this Genesee 2050 website is important. It will be a hub where people can get information and we can share across departments. We want to use technology more instead of having just in-person meetings and PowerPoint presentations.”

He also said a second piece of the puzzle is creating a countywide recreation plan.

“With that, we can look at potential trails, gaps in our park system and recreational activities that we want to have or encourage; sort of set us up for more grant funding in the future,” he said.

Oltramari said planners, legislators, community members and consultants have been updating the comprehensive plan every year since 2000 – utilizing focus groups and steering committees – but now they want to update the entire plan.

A comprehensive plan is a long-range guide for future development and resource protection that considers land use regulation, zoning code revisions and future ordinances. It consists of the following elements:

  • Demographics and Socio-Economics
  • Land Use, Environment, & Place Making
  • Agriculture and Food Production
  • Arts, Culture, Parks & Recreation
  • Housing Opportunities
  • Transportation & Mobility
  • Technology & Utilities
  • Community Wellness
  • Economic & Workforce Development
  • Safety, Security, and Justice
  • Education and Government Administration

“We had some funding set aside for the recreation plan capital project and we didn’t have any luck getting a grant to help pay for it,” Oltramari said. “So, in 2019 we decided to try for a grant for both the comprehensive plan and the recreation plan together, and we were successful in getting that grant.”

On Wednesday, the legislature is expected to vote on a resolution to add a $40,000 grant from New York State Empire State Development to the Comprehensive/Recreation Plan Capital Project.

The grant stipulates that Genesee County provide a cash match of $45,000 and in-kind contribution (personnel, ancillary costs) of $15,000 for a total project cost of $100,000.

Other resolutions on Wednesday’s agenda include:

  • Accepting $157,927 from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to fund improvements and modernization to the infrastructure that directly supports cybersecurity, Public Health, Mental Health and Emergency Management Services departments.
  • Extending two temporary full-time clerk typist positions, three temporary full-time COVID-19 response specialists and one temporary full-time epidemiologist until March 31, 2023 ,with salary and fringe benefits funded by the expanded COVID-19 grant funds ($342,558) and allocated in the 2021, 2022 & 2023 budgets.
  • Contracting with Flynn-Battaglia Architects P.C., of Buffalo, for an amount not to exceed $38,000 to update construction documents to reflect the current condition of the former Genesee County Sheriff’s Office and Jail building at 14 Main St. so it may be repaired. It has been reported previously that the stone work on the front portion of the historic building continues to deteriorate and requires emergency repairs. The consultant services will be paid from the Genesee Justice Stone Work capital project.
  • Reappointing Phillip DiMartino, of Batavia, to the Genesee Community College Board of Trustees effective July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2028. DiMartino has served on the board since July 1, 2019.
February 13, 2021 - 7:09pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Genesee 2050.

Results of the early stages of Genesee 2050 survey indicates that a majority of Genesee County residents purchase local farm products, are satisfied with many aspects of public parks, and have not experienced serious health issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

County Planning Director Felipe Oltramari forwarded preliminary findings of the survey -- which can be found at www.genesee2050.com – to The Batavian earlier this week, emphasizing, however, that his department continues to seek the input of citizens to help determine the best course of action going forward.

The survey, thus far, showed that 134 people responded – about half from the City and Town of Batavia, 13 from the Town of Pembroke and the rest from the county’s other towns and villages, except the Village of Alexander. Five respondents said they do not live in Genesee County.

“This exercise has really just started,” Oltramari said. “We are hoping for a significant number of responses and, as such, will be making this available for some time.”

The survey touches upon a number of topics, including respondents’ views on public safety, housing, schools, transportation and government; parks, trails and recreation areas; the pandemic’s effects on their well-being; renewable energy; and agriculture and food production.

On the latter, 85 percent of those who responded signaled that they purchase local farm products at a farmers market, while 71 percent said they buy local farm products at stores and shops other than the supermarket, and 51 percent said they buy local farm products in the supermarket.

All told, the survey indicates that local farm food production is extremely important.

Concerning the pandemic, a “mini-survey” revealed so far that 57 percent reported that their families have not experienced negative health or health care impacts due to COVID-19, while between 15 and 20 percent stated that surgery or treatment was postponed because of the pandemic.

Furthermore, of the 18 respondents who had to close a family business or a business they own, four are open again, six have not or will not reopen, and eight are still unsure. Of the 56 who answered the question about seeking assistance from the county, 48 did not seek assistance, four were able and four were unable to access assistance.

County planners are very interested in public opinion regarding recreation, especially parks and trails now that Ellicott Trail is complete.

To the question, How often have you or members of your household visited any park or trail in Genesee County in the past year?, 42 percent indicated less than once a month but at least a couple times a year; 29 percent said less than once a week but a couple times a month, and 21 percent stated at least once a week.

More than 90 percent of respondents regard the following characteristics as very/somewhat important -- support facilities such as washrooms, drinking fountains; trails and greenway connectivity, and year-round use.

Other aspects deemed very/somewhat important were landscaping and appearance, park and playground safety, and water accessibility.

On a question concerning level of satisfaction with recreation facilities, the top very satisfied/satisfied amenities were natural areas; nature interpretive areas, and nature trails, snowmobiling trails and walking/hiking trails. A higher level of dissatisfaction was revealed for swimming pools, beaches and off-leash areas.

Other survey questions and responses are as follows:

  • Why do you choose to live in your Genesee County community?

The top answers here were to be close to family/friends, nearly 60 percent; always lived here, 43 percent; close to school/work, 42 percent, and feel safe, quality of life, rural character, all at over 30 percent. Interestingly, only 20 percent checked “quality of schools.”

  • Please indicate how important each of the following is to you.

Four categories drew 90 percent of the respondents -- taxes, government efficiency, public safety and fire protection, and availability of jobs. On the other end, only 45 percent indicated that transportation choices were very/somewhat important.

  • Please indicate your level of satisfaction with each of the following.

Public safety and fire protection led the way at 77 percent who are very/somewhat satisfied, following by parks and trails, 60 percent. Taxes was the number one choice for somewhat/very dissatisfied at 45 percent.

  • Who should be responsible for issuing guidelines or standards in siting these projects and/or mitigating their impacts?

Forty-two percent indicated that local municipalities should be responsible, and only 9 percent felt that New York State should have oversight, interesting in light of the fact that more and more large-scale solar projects are being pushed by the state.

February 11, 2021 - 12:58pm

Press release:

As part of the efforts to update Genesee County’s Comprehensive Plan – "Genesee 2050" – the Department of Planning recently reached out to superintendents at school districts countywide to get students involved in a contest to create and design a new flag.

“It’s important that we solicit input from the youth of our community as they will be the leaders of government and business in 2050,” said Felipe Oltramari, director of the Genesee County Department of Planning. “We hope their input in creating and designing a new county flag will reflect their vision for Genesee County 30 years from now.”

Competition guidelines for the design of a new county flag are available online here.

Submissions are due by Feb. 28.

The Genesee 2050 Committee will select the top finalists and then have an online vote where county residents will choose one winner.  

“This is an exciting activity to get our youth involved in an important lesson in civic duty and responsibility,” said Genesee County Legislature Chair Shelley Stein. “The youth of our county are our future and I am excited to see that vision reflected in a contest in the creation of a new county flag.”

The Genesee County Department of Planning also is continuing to ask for input from the public through a series of online surveys.  

The surveys seek public comment on various subject matters including recreation, recreation facilities, agriculture, food supply, the coronavirus pandemic and renewable energy siting.

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