Local Matters

Recent comments

Community Sponsors

Harvester Avenue

December 13, 2022 - 8:05am

rob_at_pub.jpeg

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.

October 19, 2022 - 2:01pm
posted by Press Release in news, Harvester Avenue, batavia, road construction.

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.

October 17, 2022 - 2:08pm
posted by Press Release in Harvester Avenue, infrastructure, batavia, news.

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.

October 1, 2022 - 8:05am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, The Harvester Center, Harvester Avenue, notify.

rob_at_pub.jpg

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.”

harvester_lot.jpg
c99a3f9f-ab75-4a59-90c0-f396df4bdc2b.jpeg

24ad717a-c302-4fdd-af73-fb8ca9707d7e.jpeg
643e5db6-d75b-4598-ad1b-76f17e583884.jpeg

3b5e4072-8c6f-40f8-82f1-79082ac7892e.jpeg


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.

August 18, 2022 - 12:49pm
posted by Press Release in Harvester Avenue, batavia, infrastructure, news.

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.

 

August 11, 2021 - 11:50am

pub_coffee_hub_ribbon_cutting_picture_8.10.21.jpg

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.

August 1, 2018 - 12:06am
posted by Howard B. Owens in The Harvester, Harvester Avenue, batavia, news.

theharvesterjuly312108.jpg

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.

February 7, 2018 - 6:30pm


Check out these budget pleasers. Please click here to view our listing on 29 Cherry Street in Batavia.
Please click here to view our listing on 14 Harvester Avenue in Batavia.

June 7, 2017 - 12:09am
posted by Billie Owens in crime, batavia, Harvester Avenue, news.

A person is reportedly riding a lawn mower southbound on Harvester Avenue in the city while drinking a beer. Batavia police are responding.

April 28, 2014 - 7:25am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire, Harvester Avenue.

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.

February 22, 2014 - 7:02pm
posted by Alecia Kaus in batavia, Habitat for Humanity, Harvester Avenue.

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 11, 2013 - 8:48pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Habitat for Humanity, Harvester Avenue.

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.

August 7, 2012 - 9:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, Harvester Avenue.

For any residents looking to donate money to help Paul Konieczny save his multi-generational house on Harvester Avenue, which was badly damaged by recent storms, a donation page has been set up with a Web site that helps enable such efforts.

The page is located at "Paul's House" on Indiegogo.com.

The page was set up by Amy D'Amico.

To learn more about Indiegogo.com, click here.

August 6, 2012 - 8:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Harvester Avenue.

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.

August 1, 2012 - 12:21pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in weather, Harvester Avenue.

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.

August 1, 2012 - 12:29am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, photos, weather, The Harvester Center, Harvester Avenue.

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.

November 1, 2011 - 1:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Batavia Cemetery, photos, Harvester Avenue.

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.

November 1, 2011 - 12:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, fire, Harvester Avenue.

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.

November 1, 2011 - 8:43am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Harvester Avenue.

Harvester Avenue is being closed for the time being for a building to be torn down.

That could mean the house involved in a fire on Sunday or another house on the street that is boarded up, or ... 

February 11, 2011 - 3:13pm
posted by Gretel Kauffman in Batavia Players, theater, Harvester Avenue, love lines.

With mere days until Cupid shoots his arrow, it's only natural that love is in the air in even the most unlikely places -- including Harvester Avenue. "Love Lines," an original Batavia Players' production written and directed by Patrick Burk, will honor St. Valentine through a series of monologues about romantic correspondence before cell phones. 

Although love is a familiar theme for a show, the venue is anything but old.  "Love Lines" will mark the debut of the Batavia Players' new black box theater on Harvester Avenue.  Burk says that the actors have found the small, intimate setting to be very comfortable: 

"It's been wonderful. It's great having our own theater space, and having all of our costumes right here. People are getting very excited. It feels like home."

Rather than having a plot, the show is made up of monologues by 15 different characters. Most of the monologues -- with the exception of one, which is about love through modern technology -- consist of, you guessed it, love lines.

A few classic love songs are mixed in throughout the show, as well as ongoing piano accompaniment by Jeffrey Fischer (pictured above). The show doesn't need a plot to convey its message, which is that love can take on many different forms, and can affect everyone.

Burk gives the example of a friend's parents who shared their first names with Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Like the presidential couple, the other Ronald and Nancy had a relationship in which letters played a role.

"It shows the juxtaposition of how an unknown subway conductor and the most powerful man in the world can experience the same thing," he says.

Although all of the monologues are about love, not all of them center around traditional infatuation. The objects of affection featured range from Jane Austen to the aforementioned Reagans to the novel "Wuthering Heights."

A large part of the show is autobiographical: Burk's parents only met twice before marrying, resulting in over 150 love letters exchanged throughout their six-month engagement. These letters were the inspiration for the show, which Burk has been piecing together over the past several years. 

The actual rehearsals took no time, compared to the effort of putting the material together. The actors first saw their scripts less than three weeks ago. They rehearsed through a workshop-style format, a style that Burk says he would like to try again.

"It's been an interesting experience," he says. "I've enjoyed it immensely."

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 11 and 12 at the Harvester 56 Theater on Harvester Avenue. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors, and can be purchased at the door or at www.showtix4u.com.

Subscribe to The Batavian - Local Matters

Copyright © 2008-2022 The Batavian. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
 

blue button

News Break