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February 12, 2018 - 11:35pm

To lease or not to lease … that is the question.

Batavia City Council members answered that line with a resounding yes tonight, approving by a 7-1 margin a resolution to enter into a lease agreement with Batavia Players that opens the door for the theatrical troupe to make a new home at the downtown City Centre.

“I cannot wait until they come into the mall,” said Council member Patti Pacino. “It’s just a wonderful way to bring people downtown where they will get into the habit before we open Eli Fish, before we fill the Carr’s department store (so) we’ve already got people down there. It’s just a delightful idea.”

Pacino joined Adam Tabelski, Kathleen Briggs, Al McGinnis, Paul Viele, John Canale and Council President Eugene Jankowski in voting in favor of the agreement to allow Batavia Players to lease space at parcels 2, 35 and 39 Batavia City Centre (sharing space in one of the parcels with Dent Neurologic Institute). Rose Mary Christian was at an out-of-town conference.

Robert Bialkowski cast the “no” vote, contending that the lease contains inaccuracies and loopholes, and that it keeps the City in an unenviable position as a landlord.

“My position is you draw a lease and you draw it properly – you don’t have all these errors in it, and I’ve never heard of a lease saying, ‘We don’t include utilities, you go work it out with the other guy who is paying for it,’” he said. “This is how you end up in court with lawsuits.”

Bialkowski disputed the monthly rent figure in the lease for months seven through 12, stating that it should be $2,243.76 instead of the $1,223.86, based on $3 per square foot for the 8,975 square feet to be rented by Batavia Players.

Interim City Manager Matt Worth acknowledged that the original draft had the wrong amount, but said that it had been corrected.

Bialkowski also questioned whether the City would be responsible for repairs and utilities, and pushed for his colleagues to put the space up for sale.

“I don’t believe in the City sitting on property and being the landlord. It’s not the job of government to be a landlord,” he said afterwards. “It’s the job of government to take repossessed property from taxes or whatever, put them on the auction block and sell them.”

He also said the low rent per square footage ($1 per square foot for the first six months, $3 per square foot in months seven through 12, and $4 per square foot in months 13 through 60) created “an unfair competition” situation.

“There are plenty of places to rent downtown; they cannot rent for $2 a square foot – it’s impossible. So for the City to be renting below cost is ridiculous, and it’s unfair competition, I would say.”

Worth noted that the mall operation user fee charged to tenants is $2 per square foot, so – including property rented by Dent, “the total (rent collected) exceeds that amount (user fees).”

The lease calls for Batavia Players to be responsible for everything except structural repairs. As far as utilities are concerned, Dent is currently footing the bill.

In the end, Council took the view that the Batavia Players organization is a community asset and would be in a stronger position to recieve some of the $10 million in Downtown Revitalization Initiative money by being able to stake its claim downtown.

Pacino said Batavia Players has a solid track record and is a popular family entertainment option – just what is needed downtown.

“Batavia Players has everybody acting from 5 years old to 100 years old,” she said. “Every one of those has a family that comes to see every one of their plays. Every time they come to a rehearsal, every time they have a play, they’re downtown where we’re trying to get people.

“Then they’re going to a place to get something to eat. On their way there, they’re putting gas in their car. They’re (Batavia Players) doing everything positive …They’ve already proven themselves where they are. They’re dependable, and they take responsibility.”

In other action, Council:

-- Voted unanimously to take $17,400 out of the former Vibrant Batavia funds to pay for the engineering and architectural costs to design a flood-compliant home for Genesee County Habitat for Humanity at 116 Swan St., but only after amending the resolution to make sure the City has full use of those plans for future home building in a flood zone.

Bialkowski wondered aloud if the City would take ownership of the documents, or if they would belong to Habitat for Humanity.

“I think that since the City is paying for the engineering, we should own the design. Then it would be public domain,” he said.

After a brief discussion, Council agreed, voting 8-0 on an amendment making the resolution contingent upon Habitat for Humanity sharing the plans (and making copies available to the City) for the public domain. Then the board voted 8-0 in favor of the resolution.

-- Scheduled public hearings for Feb. 26 on the 2018-19 budget, water rates, meter fees, capital improvement fees, and City Centre concourse user fees and to amend the Business Improvement District plan.

The $24.3 million budget comes with a tax rate of $8.99 per thousand of assessed valuation, down from $9.27 a year ago.

Water rates are set to go up by 3.5 percent -- Bialkowski cast the lone “no” vote on water rate increases, citing high poverty rates in the City -- and the capital improvement fee is set to go up by about 5 percent.

The City Centre Concourse user fee is in play due to the recent settlement between the City and the Mall Merchants. The fee is $2 per square foot, effective April 1, 2018 through March 31, 2012, and goes up to $2.04 in 2021-22 and $2.06 in 2022-23.

-- Voted to accept a low bid of $721,566 from Roman Construction Development Corp. of North Tonawanda to complete construction of 12,300 linear feet of sidewalk as part of the Healthy Schools Corridor Project.

-- Heard from Jankowski that the city manager search committee will be meeting Wednesday afternoon to look at proposals from seven search firms and is prepared to share its recommendation at the next Council meeting (Feb. 26).

January 22, 2018 - 10:49pm

Batavia City Council members voiced their support of Habitat for Humanity of Genesee County tonight as they agreed to consider a proposal to back to a building project in the flood zone on the City’s south side.

“Habitat for Humanity does an outstanding job, and the best thing about this project is that it’s going to be in the Sixth Ward,” said Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian, who represents residents of that district.

Habitat for Humanity leaders are seeking a $17,395 grant from the City to cover engineering and architectural costs to design a flood-compliant home at 116 Swan St.

Mike Fahey, Habitat for Humanity board president, said the funds are needed because the property is in the 100-year flood zone – and a complete demolition of the existing home is the only way the organization can make the project work.

“Habitat, about a year ago, acquired the property and we were not aware at that time that it was actually in the flood plain,” Fahey said following the Council meeting. “Because of that, we are required to meet FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) requirements to have the property acceptable to everyone, and to make sure that flood insurance can be obtained on the property at a reasonable cost to the homeowner.”

Calling it a “unique challenge” (as it is the first Habitat project in the City’s floodplain), Fahey said it also presents an opportunity “because we’ve always been concerned that the south side of the City of Batavia has not been usable for Habitat or allowed us to go in there and look at home sites because of the floodplain problem.”

The proposal before Council calls for the City to take money from the former Vibrant Batavia fund (there is $48,000 left) – paying half to Habitat when the building permit is obtained and half when there is a certificate of occupancy.

Matt Worth, interim city manager, said that the engineering and architectural design study would become “a blueprint for future (Habitat) homes.”

Fahey said that the design work would be the “property” of Habitat for Humanity, but the group would be willing “to use those plans on any property in the City needing FEMA requirement.”

The total cost of the project is $104,000, an amount that “would be too much for a homeowner,” Fahey said.

“It would exceed any mortgage that they could comfortably handle. So we’re asking for some money to offset the cost to Habitat for the engineering,” he said.

Fahey said the property is in terrible condition and has to be demolished.

“We attempted to see if we could elevate the property, but it’s structurally unsound so that is an additional cost that Habitat, itself, is going to accrue,” he said. “That will not be handed off to the homeowner.”

He said that the structure is only about two-tenths of a foot below the floodplain, but still has to come down in order to meet FEMA regulations.

“The concrete slab has to be engineered in such a way so that if there is a flood, the water can escape from the building and not cause any future damage,” he said.

“Once we bring the building – the new build – to FEMA compliant, that reduces the cost of the flood insurance by two-thirds. Flood insurance will still have to be obtained for the property, but at a much more reasonable cost.”

City Council moved the resolution to its Business meeting on Feb. 12.

May 6, 2015 - 6:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Genesee County Habitat for Humanity.

Press release:

National Women Build Week is a weeklong event created by Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program that challenges women to devote at least one day to help build affordable housing in their local communities. Across the nation, more than 15,000 women are expected to volunteer at Habitat construction sites this week to spotlight the homeownership challenges faced by women.

Lowe’s helped launch National Women Build Week in 2008 and each year provides the support of Lowe’s Heroes and conducts how-to clinics at stores to teach volunteers construction skills.

This is Habitat for Humanity of Genesee County’s 5th year participating. This year’s event will be our biggest yet! More than 50 women have signed up to volunteer for the day. The event will take place at 27 Oak St. on May 9th, as we build for prospective homeowner Sheila Rolle and her daughter Jada.

"We are so excited for this event! Our community has really stepped up to the plate in their effort to impact poverty housing in our neighborhoods. We cannot thank them enough," said CEO of Habitat for Humanity Jessica Maguire-Tomidy.

“National Women Build Week has made a difference in the lives of thousands of families since its inception,” said Joan Higginbotham, Lowe’s director of community relations. “We’re grateful to all the women in Genesee County who got involved this week and were part of something bigger with Lowe’s and Habitat.”

Lowe’s donated nearly $2 million to this year’s National Women Build Week, including a $5,000 store gift card to Habitat for Humanity of Genesee County. National Women Build Week is one of the major initiatives supported through Lowe’s national partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Since 2003, Lowe’s has committed more than $63 million to Habitat and helped more than 4,000 families improve their living conditions.

Habitat’s Women Build program recruits, educates and inspires women to build and advocate for simple, decent and affordable homes in their communities. Since the program was created in 1998, more than 2,300 homes have been built in partnership with low-income families using Women Build crews.

For more information on Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program and to learn about Women Build events in communities across the U.S. year-round, visit Habitat.org/wb or the Women Build tab onhttp://www.facebook.com/habitat.

June 18, 2014 - 1:07pm

Press release:

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced a $125,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Community Development Initiative Grant Program for Habitat for Humanity New York State, Inc. (HFH-NYS). The organization’s nine local affiliates throughout Upstate New York will use the funding to get training and technical assistance on board development, family selection and mortgage compliance, finance management, fundraising and resource development as well as energy efficient construction and improvements.

“Access to stable housing is essential for the health of our families and the economic strength of our communities,” Senator Gillibrand said. “Funding for Habitat for Humanity of New York will provide their Upstate New York affiliates with training and technical assistance to better serve those in need of quality housing.”

Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1976 and has built quality housing throughout 70 countries for those in need. The New York chapter was chartered in 2007 and works through 53 affiliates throughout New York who have produced more than 1,700 homes and created more than 300 jobs. Habitat for Humanity New York State will use the funding to provide technical assistance and training to nine Habitat affiliates in Upstate New York to help eliminate substandard housing.

The federal funding will be used by the Chautauqua Area Habitat for Humanity in the Chautauqua-Allegheny region; the Columbia County Habitat for Humanity in the Capital region; the Raquette Valley Habitat for Humanity in Watertown; the Habitat for Humanity of Otsego County in Central New York; the Ulster County Habitat for Humanity in the Hudson Valley; as well as the Habitat for Humanity of Genesee County, Habitat for Humanity Livingston, Orleans County Habitat for Humanity, and Southeastern Steuben Habitat for Humanity, which are located in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region.

USDA Rural Community Development Initiative grants were developed to assist community-based organizations and low-income rural communities in improving housing, community facilities and economic development projects in rural areas.

February 22, 2014 - 7:02pm

A large crowd filled the newest Habitat for Humanity home for a dedication at 11 Harvester Ave. in Batavia this morning.

The home will be occupied by Herb Neal, his mother, Barbara, and his two sons, Christopher, 13, and Matthew, 10. 

Neal says, "Moving in here will give my family the fresh start that we need."

Jessica Maguire Tomidy, CEO of Habitat for Humanity in Genesee County, says the home is the 11th project for Habitat for Humanity in the county, the 7th home in the City of Batavia.

Work on the Harvester Avenue house started in May of 2013. Hundreds of volunteers from all over WNY put in over 10,000 volunteer hours to make the renovations happen. The Neals will move into their new home March 16th.

Maguire Tomidy says the home was in very bad shape when they purchased it from the city. There were dead cats and dead squirrels inside and the remains of a dog in the backyard. The last time it was occupied was in 2007.

In under 10 months, Habitat for Humanity was able to identify a family with a need and put the property back on the city's tax rolls.

"It was not without a lot of resources, volunteer hours, energy and a lot of love, Maguire Tomidy said. "People have to have it in their hearts to help, and they do it again and again for us."

Habitat for Humanity paid the city about $2,000 for the Harvester Avenue parcel, according to City Manager Jason Molino, who says the renovation has increased its assessed value by about 35-38 percent.

"A renovated home and a new family add many benefits to a neighborhood and they contribute to the City's revitalization effort," Molino said.

Habitat for Humanity is currently rehabilitating another home at 2 McKinley Ave. and it will be completed and ready for another family by the end of the year.

Father James Fugle blesses the Neal home on Harvester Avenue.

May 29, 2013 - 11:44am
Event Date and Time: 
June 4, 2013 - 5:00pm to July 30, 2013 - 8:00pm

We have a new Tuesday evening build for those who are unable to help out during the day and for those who have Saturdays full!!

We meet every Tuesday evening from 5p.m.- 8 p.m. right now at the Habitat Center 230 Ellicott St.  We need people to paint, tile, and organize and price items.( The old Christinas Building). This will be the home to our new RESTORE ( which will be open to the public soon!) 

 

December 10, 2009 - 1:31am

           12-10-2009 1;21;04 AMDec.12,2009.JPG

 

                                                            Santa and Mrs Claus.jpg

September 20, 2009 - 8:59pm
posted by Ronald Burroughs in Announcements, ReStore, Genesee County Habitat for Humanity.

 

                            9-3-2009 11;24;37 PMReStore Flyer.JPG

We are in the process of re- working  our web site. We will also include the ReStore  We will announce when the ReStore will be open . You can check out the web site for happenings with the local Genesee County Habitat. For questions, you can use this link:       [email protected]    and for our web site:  www.geneseehabitat.com

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