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Harvester Avenue

City resident raises issues of street sign, council size and future housing at Creek Park

By Joanne Beck
Sammy DiSalvo Jr.
Batavia resident Sammy DiSalvo Jr. speaks to City Council about his concerns during a business meeting Monday at City Hall.
Photo by Howard Owens

Batavia has had its share of local crusaders over the years — local citizens willing to pack up topics of concern and carry them into City Council meetings to address at the podium in the hope that city leaders will listen and respond. 

Folks have been frustrated about unplowed streets, unshoveled sidewalks, property tax increases, a lack of specific businesses, city staff salaries, and various other concerns depending on the season, the year, and the week.

Sammy DiSalvo Jr., who has previously attempted to run for City Council and has been outspoken at meetings and online, is no stranger to this tradition. This week he brought in three concerns and related requests.

His first issue was about a former yield sign on Harvester Avenue that has been changed to a stop sign. He’d like to see that reverted back, he said.

“Many people don't really stop there, and it's kind of a safety hazard,” he said during Monday's council meeting at City Hall. “And I don't understand why that's a stop sign, but the corner of Jackson has a yield sign. So that's my first request.

“My second request is kind of commenting on the City Charter, and if there's an explanation as to why our City Council's as large as it is,” DiSalvo said. “We have about 15,000 people and we have nine members on our council that we pay to do a job, and places like North Tonawanda that have double our population have half of our council members, and I'm just wondering why we require so many, and if we can make our council reflect the population of Batavia and maybe reduce the size to an appropriate number.” 

His third item was about the city’s intention to put Creek Park property on Evans Street out for future housing development.

DiSalvo pointed to some 10 or so comments on a social media post as to what he believes is proof — an accurate “barometer” of local sentiment — that the majority seemed to agree that developing the plot of green space along the Tonawanda Creek and behind McCarthy ice arena was not a good idea. 

“I would like council to think about not selling that plot of land and turning it and developing it into something that more of the community can use. We live on a creek town, and there's really no public place along the creek that is safe to go on, except for behind the courthouse where there's a nice little park,” he said. “We all saw what just happened. And unfortunately, we could not complete the market rate housing across the street here, and that was a warning sign that we had for two years. The first warning sign that was going to be for low-income housing came with the Batavian article on Sept. 16, 2022, when Savarino announced that there was going to be low-income housing. And then, two years later, it seemed like a shock. So I would like you to reconsider selling that plot of land. Or if you do sell it, restrict it somehow the sale, the use of that for any kind of housing whatsoever, turn it back to something that the community can use.”

Council members John Canale and Eugene Jankowski Jr. were curious about the yield sign on Harvester as well, and they asked for more information from the police and/or public works departments about when and why it was changed.

Canale also addressed the number of council members issue. Nine members have been established for several years, with one each for six designated ward territories, plus at-large positions and a council president. 

Per Section 3-4 from the City Charter, the council member “shall receive compensation,” and ward members are paid $5,000 each, and council president is paid $7,000. Those salaries were increased in 2022, with council voting itself a raise from $3,500 and the president position up from $4,900.

Canale not only defended that pay but said he’d like to see it increased again, reminding everyone that he won’t be on council next year. As for the nine members, “more people is better representation with the amount of awards and districts that we have here in the city,” he said. 

“I would imagine this goes back to when we split the city up into wards, and we split it up into districts. At some point in time, our forefathers split it up into a council person per ward kind of thing. And then three large positions, I don't know who's responsible for that. As far as the public's concern about pay, I would be interested to see how these other council people are paid, because I know these councils here, don't get paid very much to do this, at one time this was a completely volunteer position,” Canale said. “Way back in my dad's day when he was a council person, I think is when they initiated a small stipend to give some incentive for good people to serve. We don't even think about it, because it doesn't affect our income, we don't do this to live on, obviously. I don't think we have to worry about the amount of money that we're spending to represent the entire population of the city.”

North Tonawanda’s five council members are each paid $8,000, and its president’s salary is $8,500, according to a Niagara Gazette article about the council’s failed attempt to get a salary increase vote to the floor. 

Jankowski addressed an online comment that DiSalvo mentioned about the city’s previous plan to have a second ice rink. 

“The second sheet of ice was tabled because it was a $25 million project. We just don’t have that kind of money. If a private industry wants to come in and build a sheet of ice there, contact us, and we’ll talk to you about it,” Jankowski said. “But as far as the city is concerned, there are other things that we’re spending our money on at this point. We can’t do everything we’d like to do. As far as Creek Park … we have a need for housing, especially middle-income housing. That seems to be the idea that keeps coming back for that project, and it’s still under review. So when that time comes, you can come and speak and give your opinion on it, but at this point, it’s really, nothing really moving on it, it’s a very slow process, we’re still looking into it.” 

Multiple poles 'taken down' on Harvester Avenue

By Howard B. Owens
Wires on Main Street, Batavia
Photo by Howard Owens.

Dispatchers have received a report of "multiple poles" taken down on Harvester Avenue.

A pole is reportedly down at Main and Harvester.

The cause of the accident is not stated.

City Fire responding.

UPDATED 3 p.m. by Joanne Beck: No poles are down on Harvester Avenue, and city fire is inspecting the poles on Harvester.

A tree-trimming truck seems to have caught some wires across Main Street and pulled them down. There are no poles down on Main Street, and the wires have been removed. Traffic is moving again along Main Street.

Wires on truck at Main Street, Batavia
Photo by Howard Owens.
Wires on Main St., Batavia, with police officer
Photo by Howard Owens.

Harvester Avenue businessman presses city for answers, communication

By Joanne Beck


Rob Credi doesn’t really want to be that guy. You know, the relentlessly squeaky wheel who continuously complains about issues, in this case issues he believes have been created by city officials.

After sending emails to management and City Council previously during the Harvester Avenue road construction project, Credi tried again recently with another issue related to parking.

“My problem isn’t that we don’t have a lot of parking on Harvester, I know we don’t have a lot of parking,” he said Monday night. “It’s that they gave us more parking and then took it away.”

Only one councilman replied to Credi’s latest email, and suggested that he attend a council meeting.

On Monday evening, Credi addressed all city leaders explaining his and other business owners’ plight.

After more than two months of trying to operate a business while beholden to construction crews, torn up pavement and road closures that happened without any forewarning, Credi thought he saw a reprieve. After finally getting a new smooth road, he also noticed that the no parking signs had been taken down on the east side of Harvester Avenue, providing more parking spots for customers.

“I thought it was a nice little consolation prize,” he said during the conference session at City Hall. “The issue at hand is that we’re back to no parking. It’s the inconsistency of what’s being afforded my customers. Two times in the past three months the damage has already been done. My ask is what can we do to implement a structure beforehand so we can prepare for it and our customers can prepare for it?”

Credi, owner of The Pub Coffee Hub, sought answers when portions of Harvester were closed off to traffic, and his primary complaint was that he and other Harvester Center merchants weren’t informed of what was going to happen ahead of time so they could make alternative options to still serve their customers.

Now, with having extra parking and then seeing that yanked away, he again is frustrated that no one communicated it before putting no parking signs back up.

Not only does having two-sided parking serve customers better, but it helps to slow down traffic, he said.

Having owned a business in downtown Batavia, Credi compared his experience: there were no communication issues when in the heart of the city versus on the southeast side, he said.

He went to the police station to talk about the issue and was referred to City Council. Council President Eugene Jankowski on Monday pointed him back to the police.

"I think we need to refer you back to the police chief. Maybe we can revisit that," Jankowski said. 

Credi is to meet with Chief Shawn Heubusch, who said he needed to look into the road width and local law for allowing parking on both sides of a city street.

City Code lists all city roadways and their parking limitations if any. Harvester is cited as having “no parking from the west curb line of Harvester Avenue to a point 100 feet westerly therefrom,” and on the “east curb line to a point 50 feet easterly therefrom.”

For what it’s worth, there’s also a line about no parking allowed 25 feet east and west of both driveways in front of Carrols (from the 70s) restaurant, so it may warrant some updating.

Councilman John Canale, who owns a drum studio at Harvester Center, said he had concerns as well.

“I have experienced all the turmoil there, and one and a half weeks ago, before the no parking signs, it really opened things up, and doubled parking,” Canale said. “And then all of a sudden, the signs went back up. I would like to visit the idea of allowing parking on that side.

“I plead with you to do whatever you can to open up parking,” he said.

Councilman Bob Bialkowski, who had suggested that Credi attend the meeting, agreed. Batavia strays from many other small cities that don’t have locally owned businesses, he said, and it's important to preserve any locally owned small businesses that exist.

“I just think it’s vital that we do whatever we can,” he said.

Credi feels that he was heard and supported about the parking situation.

“I am now waiting on hearing back from the police chief for more detail on why things happened the way they did, ideally with some clarity on why it was open to parking for six weeks and then removed without notice,” he said. “Additionally, getting a definitive answer on enforcing the parking laws on our side of the street would be great.

“I do feel like my main point of improving communication between the city and business owners in the future before a major disruption occurs — for example, roadwork and the parking situation — was kind of pushed aside by council president Jankowski with no real answer as to what can be done to improve it,” Credi said.

File Photo of Rob Credi, owner of The Pub Coffee Hub on Harvester Avenue, Batavia, by Howard Owens.

Traffic delays expected on Harvester Ave. beginning Friday

By Press Release

Press Release

All motorists please be aware that Harvester Avenue will experience traffic delays on Friday, Monday and Tuesday (October 21st, 24th, 25th) from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for paving operations. While work is being performed in this area, local traffic will be permitted to and from their residence/property but should plan accordingly for delays.

All residents/businesses within the work area are asked not to park on the roadway during the operation.

Thank you for your cooperation.

City shuts off water at Harvester and Ellicott for emergency repairs

By Press Release

Press release:

The City of Batavia Water Department along with Zoladz Construction will be replacing a broken water valve on Harvester Ave and fire hydrant on the corner of Harvester Ave and Ellicott Street.  The water will be shut down on Harvester Ave from Colorado Ave to Ellicott Street, all of Colorado Ave, and on Ellicott Street from Ellicott Place to Clifton Ave.

The length of time the water will be off is unknown.

As always, when the water is restored, it may be discolored.  Please refrain from doing any laundry until the water runs clear.

We apologize for any inconvenience and the public’s patience is greatly appreciated.

Harvester Avenue road construction a slow-moving hindrance to business owners

By Joanne Beck


On Aug. 10, business owner Rob Credi was happy and thankful to be celebrating the two-year anniversary of Pub Coffee Hub at Harvester Center.

That is, until he saw a road crew tearing up the street alongside of his thriving coffee shop. That date now marks the beginning of an agonizing blow to the clientele and successful business that Credi had built up those last two years. While other road projects have seemed to move along swiftly, Harvester Avenue has lagged behind as a bumpy, torn up hindrance to motorists and the businesses they're trying to visit, he says.

“Look at the other streets; they’re milled and ready to be paved. Our street is a graveyard of a street; it’s not drivable, there are potholes, lots of cement. On Aug. 10 they started digging, and three to four weeks later they never touched anything," Credi said during an interview with The Batavian. "I spoke to the contractors who dug it up, and they were going to come back. I’ve seen a significant drop in business. It’s the planning, execution and the quality of work that’s got my blood boiling.”

Slow work zone
It pains him to think about the lost revenue -- "you know, money that should have been coming in." 

"I'm gonna write that off, I'm never gonna see those dollars, it's just a lost cause. So really, my focus is just, however long this is gonna take, can we clean up the road and make it more serviceable for customers ... and maybe put a little fire under their butts to make it more of an urgent project to try to finish, kind of minimize the danger of moving forward."

After being patient for more than a month, Credi finally reached out to City Council and management.

“The purpose of this e-mail is to bring to your attention the devastating effect the current Harvester Ave. roadwork project is having on businesses, specifically Pub Coffee Hub. It is my understanding that this has been a project in the works for a couple of years. I have been a tenant in The Harvester Center since August of 2020 and from that date until August 10th of this year was not once invited into a conversation regarding the project and the inevitable consequences my business would suffer because of it,” Credi wrote in an email to council members and City Manager Rachael Tabelski. “If not for the good fortune of having a direct line to the new Director of Public Works, we would have been 100 percent in the dark about everything at that point. Let's not forget the 2-3 days where Harvester Ave. was completely blocked off at Main Street. How do you think businesses on our street did that day? Does anyone care? Yes, there was a surprise pipe issue needing immediate attention. What wasn't a surprise was, yet again, zero communication from the city and zero plan to address those that depend on the availability of traffic down the road while it was being repaired.”

When talking to The Batavian, Credi shared concerns about the business he has lost so far — a 42 percent dip in revenues, and that was after experiencing growth of nearly 35 percent this last year. A big sticking point for him is the seeming lack of thought about the actual entities on Harvester Avenue as plans were made for the road project itself. This week alone, contractors dug a ditch directly in front of a parking lot across the street, and posted a sign announcing the road was closed to all except local traffic.

“And at no point did anyone reach out to any of the businesses in the harvester center, or even a building manager to address 'hey, here's what's gonna be happening, here's what's happening.' Obviously, this is going to affect your businesses,” he said. “It would have been nice of them to be proactive and say, here's what we propose we can do to help alleviate some of that stress, or solicit feedback from us on ‘what we can do to make it less debilitating to businesses while it's going on.’ So that's the one issue that they had plenty of time to address. They never did.”

Untimely timelines
His plea reaped some sympathizers, as council members John Canale, who owns a drum studio at Harvester Center, Patti Pacino and Tammy Schmidt, who represents that area’s Sixth Ward, agreed that it wasn’t a good situation. Tabelski responded with an outline of work to be done in the city, including Harvester Avenue.

Tabelski had spoken to Department of Public Works Director Brett Frank, and “learned that he has been communicating with you and the owners of the Harvester Centre on a regular basis to keep you updated on the construction project,” she said in an email to Credi, adding that Frank will continue to provide updates and “we are hopeful that we can get the street project completed as soon as possible.”

She and others walked along Harvester recently and found deteriorated concrete base pavement that has turned to rubble, and the area will need to be replaced with concrete base pavement prior to any paving being done, she said to Credi.

The Batavian also reached out to council members and Tabelski. The city manager replied with a timeline and scope of the Harvester project. “The project continues to progress and the City is hopeful that the Harvester Ave. project will be finished by December 14th or sooner,” she said.

So that means it could be done anywhere from one to three months from now. Credi had not been given that date, however, he was told that contractors had up to six months to do the necessary work. But he certainly didn’t think it would take that long, he said.

“The City is not looking to put any undue burden on businesses or residents along Harvester Ave. and we are very optimistic that the new street will be a tremendous improvement,” Tabelski said. “We appreciate the patience across the city as we have been able to resurface many streets during this construction season.”

Schmidt responded to The Batavian's call for comment texting that she would send an email when she was able. Bialkowski's reply referred the matter to the city manager since it's "a contractual" issue. No other council members responded. As part of city protocol, council members approve resolutions, contracts and projects related to city business.

Undue burden
Credi and fellow Harvest Center business owner Sarah Jones understand that road work has to be done. But they both question the length of time it has taken so far, and especially the condition of the road while they wait for completion.

“People have been complaining, bigger groups that come in, they're just like ‘I couldn't find a place to park, I couldn't even get down the road at some point.’ It's impossible to get through,” said Jones, co-owner of Game of Throws. “And we came in one time, and we couldn't even figure out where to turn around and go back the other way to go on the back roads to the back of the building. It's really frustrating. And they said they have six months to do it in. Why can't  they do it in one month, or this is going to take up to six months? Our whole busiest season is the winter.”

Jones has observed work crews doing something one day, followed by three weeks of nothing. And when they have returned they “make it worse,” she said, and “dig a big hole.”

Paving the way
While Credi doesn’t want to be “that angry guy” who raises a fuss over this situation, he has felt pangs of anxiety and worry about how long he can sustain his business. He employs four people who only work for him. He doesn’t want to lay them off until conditions improve, and definitely doesn’t want to close his shop. He suspects that other areas of Batavia wouldn’t be dealing with this.

“Because I do often feel like, over on Harvester Avenue, we don't really get much attention. Obviously, we're off Main Street, so we don't get the main attraction,” Credi said. “But also in terms of the city's outlook, they really only seem to be concerned with the downtown district, understanding that's where the majority of the businesses are, that's where they get, you know, grants and funding for to improve.”

Credi appreciated the words of support from the three council members, and Schmidt’s comment that all businesses in the city should have equal importance, he said. He looks forward to the future development of Harvester Center and hopes that “we’ll still be around” when it gets going.

Tammy Hathaway, director of Batavia Development Corporation, enjoys spending time at the Center and drinking a Monica coffee at the Pub. She has tried to draw attention to the city’s eastern site through online postings, she said, and raise awareness of all that’s over there. The Center houses 75 businesses, including One World Projects, Vintage antiques, House of Bounce, The Brick Enrichment Center, Hodgin's Printing, Hitter's Hideaway, plus artists, a dental lab, environmental testing and several other ventures.

“I’ve been trying to really focus on the business piece of it; it’s one of my favorite spots,” she said Friday. “I’m trying to be a good steward for the businesses … giving every little bit of extra attention I can give. My biggest goal is to make people aware, and to say brave the storm and continue to visit those businesses.”

The Batavian asked if there was any type of financial recovery funding for the commerce lost so far, and didn’t believe there was anything available. Meanwhile, Credi will be playing “the numbers game,” he said, remaining open as long as he can cover payroll. When those numbers dip even lower, however, he’s not sure what he will do.

“I’m not the person who tries to complain, to make a big deal out of everything. But this project needs to be done,” he said, reflecting on how things had gone up to this summer. “It’s finally paying off, all the hard work, the business is thriving, we’re absolutely crushing it. I couldn't be happier. And I didn't expect the drop-off, obviously, once the construction came. We have established ourselves to what I believe is, you know, the pre-eminent independent shop in a town that's flooded with Dunkin Donuts, and Tim Hortons, and just another Starbucks coming, it's not easy. And I get why we're suffering because it's so much easier for all these customers to just hit up one of the other 10 coffee shops versus trying to navigate down Harvester Avenue.

“Traffic itself is almost nonexistent. We are getting primarily people from the building and our hardcore regulars. But honestly, what's carrying this right now, it’s just delivery. We do it through DoorDash … even before it was about 20 percent of our sales. Now, it's probably like closer to 25 to 30, which is great because it's bringing in revenue, but it also costs me a lot to pay their commissions to operate our delivery service,” he said. “Because we had such an amazing year up until that point, we've been able to kind of carry it through now. Right now we're not operating at a loss on a daily basis. If, in the next couple of weeks, we start to dip into the negatives, we're losing money … I’ll probably have to revisit what my plan is.”






Top Photo: Rob Credi, owner of Pub Coffee Hub at The Harvester Center in Batavia, would like contractors to speed up progress on Harvester Avenue, as construction so far has damaged his sales and related revenue; and above, a ditch in front of the auxiliary parking lot, rendering it useless for potential customers; and ongoing construction. Photos by Howard Owens.

Crews repairing water main break on Harvester Avenue

By Press Release

Press release:

The City of Batavia Water Department along with Zoladz Construction will be repairing an emergency water main break on Harvester Ave.  The water will be shut down on Harvester Ave from Colorado Ave to Ellicott Street.

The length of time the water will be off is unknown.

As always, when the water is restored, it may be discolored.  Please refrain from doing any laundry until the water runs clear.

We apologize for any inconvenience and the public’s patience is greatly appreciated.


Photo: Pub Coffee Hub finally gets its ribbon-cutting

By Howard B. Owens


Rob Credi did something unusual last summer -- he opened a physical location for his business -- Pub Coffee Hub, which up to that time had been purely mobile -- in the middle of a pandemic.

It hasn't hurt business at all. In fact, Credi said yesterday the business is doing well.

But it did mean there was no ribbon-cutting with the Chamber of Commerce.

That item on the business-opening checkbox was ticked off yesterday.  

Previously: Moon Java to become new location for Pub Coffee Hub under ownership of Rob Credi

Photo courtesy the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.

A sad evening at The Harvester after former owner Ken Merrick passes

By Howard B. Owens


It was an evening of mourning at The Harvester Hotel on Harvester Avenue on Tuesday evening as longtime customers gathered in the wake of learning earlier in the day that longtime owner Ken Merrick had died at the age of 74.

Merrick sold the bar after owning it for 44 years at the end of May to Melissa Kibbler and Kibbler's mother, Donna Russell, said Tuesday that bar patrons -- whom she said were like family, that the Harvester is like Cheers where "everybody knows your name" -- were also mourning the death on Friday of Casey Cook.

"It’s not just a bar," Russell said. "It’s family. We gather here when we hear this kind of news."

Kibbler wasn't at the bar Tuesday night, Russell said because she was too upset by the news of Merrick's death.

"He was her mentor," she said. "He was like a grandfather to her. She bought the bar in May and Kenny helped every step of the way."

Kibbler started working at the bar for 14 years at age 19 as a substitute bartender.

Casey Cook was part of the family at the neighborhood bar. She was diagnosed with cancer in January and the Harvester family held a fundraiser for her at the Polish Falcons Nest.

"This was very much known as the 'Bitches Bar' because the women in the bar were bartenders and the girls were always here so it was called the Bitches Bar and Casey was one of the Bitches," Russell said.

Just then a patron in a red T-shirt and blue jeans and a bit of gray hair walked out and Russell said, "This is the Bitches' boy" and quickly added, "that's not a bad thing."

Steve, she said, was called the Bitches' Boy because he would do anything for the women at the bar, help them with any problem, and a young man in a pink T-shirt with a construction company name on it added that Steve would help anybody, not just the women.

While talking about Cook, Russell and Steve began ticking off the names of several other patrons who have been taken from the world by cancer.

"This was a bad day," Russell said.

Click here for Ken Merrick's full obituary.

CIty fire responds to smell of smoke in the residence on Harvester Avenue

By Howard B. Owens

City fire is on scene at 116 Harvester Ave. for the smell of smoke in the residence.

A commander reports smoke in the residence and firefighters are investigating.

UPDATE 7:34 a.m.: The smoke has been traced to a burned-out motor in the refrigerator.

UPDATE 7:48 a.m.: City fire back in service.

Habitat for Humanity home dedicated on Harvester Avenue

By Alecia Kaus

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.

Photos: Women Build Day at Habitat for Humanity house on Harvester Avenue

By Howard B. Owens

Today was Women Build Day at the Habitant for Humanity project house on Harvester Avenue. More than 75 percent of the workers at the job site were women, part of a national week that recognizes women in the construction trades.

Work on the house began Wednesday with the Day of Caring.

Above, Kelly McCaffery, of Rochester, removes from debris from the house. Also pictured below, Charlotte Dickson (carrying wood out of the house) and Marsha (no last name given) from Wyoming, who was prying wood from the walls of the kitchen.

Friends, family pitching in to help Harvester homeowner get house on better foundation

By Howard B. Owens

Friends and family have come through for Paul Konieczny, at least when it comes to the work of repairing the shattered foundation on his home at 144 Harvester Ave., Batavia, which collapsed in a storm July 31.

The work is getting done thanks to the volunteer effort of long-time friends, Konieczny teen-age children and other family members, but Konieczny said he still might not have enough money to meet all of the financial needs that go with making the repairs.

The materials for the new foundation alone costs more than $1,000.

"We're just day-by-day," said Konieczny.

And day-by-day met a bit of a set back yesterday when nearly an inch of rainfall in an hour caused more of the damaged foundation to collapse.

Don Johnson, a friend of Konieczny for 30 years, and a contractor, is working as fast as he can during his off hours to get the new foundation wall in place, knowing that any more rain before the work is done could mean more damage.

"He's willing to fight because he knows I don't want to leave," said Konieczny, who previously said he isn't going to leave the house that's been in his family for 130 years.

Johnson (top photo) said is effort is "just what friends do." He said, "We help as best we can at the things we can do."

Konieczny said he would welcome any financial assistance anybody might be able to provide.

"I'm grasping for hope," Konieczny said. "I pray to God we can get this done."

Bottom photos: Ron Gibble, another long-time friend of Konieczny's, pitches in with the help of Konieczny's son Andy. Daughter Kayla was also helping today. Gibble said he will do the plumbing work once the project gets to that point. The very bottom photo, one of Paul's sunflowers. Kayla said they used to have a neighbor who grew sunflowers and the neighbor and Paul would compete every year over who could grow the tallest sunflower.

Foundation of multi-generation family home on Harvester collapsed in storm

By Howard B. Owens

Paul Konieczny wanted to get his home at 144 Harvester Ave., Batavia, insured again, so yesterday morning he bought the material to re-roof the 130-year-old house. Then the rains came.

The water came so fast that it overwhelmed the foundation on the south side of the residence and the stone wall collapsed into the basement. Konieczny said he heard it come down with a big thud.

Without insurance, he isn't sure how he will repair the structure.

"I need a blessing, is what I need," he said.

A few minutes later, he did get some small bit of good news from code inspector Doug Randell. The house is temporarily condemned, but if he can install temporary bracing in the basement today, he can move back in.

Pending repairs, the gas is shut off, but he can continue electrical service.

A friend was there to help Konieczny and they are looking for any kind of assistance, government, charitable or private, they might be able to find to make permanent repairs.

Konieczny's family has owned the home continuously since it was built in the 1870s, he said. In fact, the man who built it, he said, was Anthony Horch, the city's first fire chief.

He said he has a copy of the original deed in a cabinet in his house.

"I don't care what the house looks like, I'm not leaving," Konieczny said. "There are too many memories. Too many memories."

Inset photo, Konieczny with Director of Public Works Sally Kuzon.

Photo: Sunset after the storm off Harvester Avenue

By Howard B. Owens

With things winding down from the storm this evening, I drove down Harvester Avenue and spotted this long puddle next to the railroad tracks and thought "that might be pretty interesting come sunset time." So at dusk, I drove back and made this photo.

Photo: A fall day in the Batavia Cemetery

By Howard B. Owens

While on Harvester Avenue this morning, I took a short walk through the Batavia Cemetery, because it's always possible to find a picture in the Batavia Cemetery on a clear fall day.

Photos: Fire-damaged house on Harvester knocked down

By Howard B. Owens

What was once the home to a father, mother and their six children on Harvester Avenue was reduced to rubble Tuesday morning.

The house was badly damaged in a fire Sunday afternoon that started after one of the children was reportedly playing with a lighter in a back bedroom.

The family lost almost all of their belongings.

Owner and landlord Andy Young said the structure was insured. He doesn't have plans to rebuild on the property at 23 Harvester Ave.

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