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May 26, 2020 - 10:12pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, Batavia City Council, covid-19, Jackson Square.

Batavia City Council tonight took a step toward changing the municipality’s fund balance policy to give it more muscle and flexibility in dealing with financially stressful circumstances.

Council members agreed to forward a resolution to their June 8 Business Meeting that increases the unassigned fund balance level from 10 percent to a range of 15 to 25 percent of the City’s general fund operating expenditures.

Tonight’s meeting was conducted via Zoom videoconferencing; the June 8 meeting is scheduled to return to the City Hall Council boardroom.

Deputy Director of Finance Lisa Neary, in a memo dated May 18 to City Manager Martin Moore, wrote that she is recommending the revision “in consideration of the current economic situation the City is facing and, in an effort, to create a healthier financial outlook.”

The proposal triggered a 24-minute discussion that touched upon fund balances and reserves as well as restrictions that come with the different types of accounts.

MOORE: TIME HAS COME TO MAKE A CHANGE

“Last August, when we had our financial report we were at approximately 11.3 percent,” Moore said. “Well, we think that it’s time, particularly because of the challenges we’re facing and the impact on the unassigned fund balance, that we need to have an additional amount of unassigned in there to be able to face significant situations.”

Moore said the change is being requested to give the City a lower target to shoot for at 15 percent in unassigned funds but also to have a goal of up to 25 percent in case revenues dried up for several months or if the City faced a “significant challenge” such as a large health insurance claim.

In effect, the move could buy the City some time, with Moore stating that the 10-percent level equates to about five weeks’ worth of unassigned fund balance and that 25 percent moves the bar to three full months.

Neary said the fund balance policy “needs to be a policy that meets our best interests.”

“It seems as though coming into this COVID issue, that 10 percent really doesn’t suit our purposes," she said. "That’s not to say that we’re going to get to 15 or 25 (percent) overnight. We’re going to need a number of good years in order to hit those kind of percentages. But we need at least a policy to do that."

JANKOWSKI: GIVES US A CUSHION

Council President Eugene Jankowski said he thought it was a reasonable request, adding that bumping up the percentage would give the City a cushion if the “market drops or something wild happens like this experience.”

Jankowski mentioned that Council previously budgeted to put money into reserves, but, in light of what has transpired with the coronavirus, it would act differently now.

“Maybe we didn’t want to put that money into reserves because we needed it for everyday operating expenses,” he said. “There really is no mechanism for us to pull money out of reserve and say, ‘never mind we’re going to not use it for reserve, we’re going to put it over here.’ The reserves are reserves because they’re protected; they’re locked (for specific purposes) for a reason.”

Moore said that a conversation is taking place with local and state leaders about reserve fund options and that he plans to reach out to Assemblyman Steve Hawley and Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer “to allow us to deal with operating expenses and give us a reasonable time to be able to repay the reserve.”

VAN NEST: RESTRICTIONS ABOUND

City Attorney George Van Nest said the problem with reserve funds under Article 6 of the General Municipal Law is that each type of reserve fund is very restrictive as to what it can be used for, and if there’s any leftover balance as to how that can be used.

“When you get into a financial situation like this, you just don’t have the statutory flexibility that you’d hope for or want to be able to access some of those funds …,” he said.

Van Nest then mentioned a bill in the State Assembly (A10492) relating to bond anticipation notes issued from 2015 to 2021 that authorizes the expenditure and temporary transfer of reserve funds for expenses related to COVID-19, and gives an extension of repayment of interfund advances made for expenses related to COVID-19.

“This legislation is something that NYCOM (New York Conference of Mayors) has obviously been supporting on behalf of municipal members and something that they are tracking very closely,” he said.

Council Member John Canale asked Van Nest if the board would be able to “borrow our own money … and then pay that fund back?”

Van Nest said that a capital reserve fund could only be used for capital expenditures and that a transfer from any type of reserve could be used for COVID-related issues as long as it is repaid, with interest, within a five-year period.

Jankowski said he puts a lot of stock in reserve funding for specific projects, but it’s not a priority at the moment.

“If we would have known in January when we were doing our budget that we were going to take a hit, I don’t think any of us would have put any money into reserves,” he said. “We would have said let’s hold off in reserves this year and keep the money in our fund balance or in our fund, not in reserves, in the event we go short somewhere, then we have the money.”

NEARY: RESCINDING MAY BE AN OPTION

Neary said that she believes that Council has the power to rescind a prior authorization to fund reserves in the 2020-21 budget, leading Van Nest to say that he would look into such a measure.

Canale wrapped things up by saying he wanted to know “for a fact what our options would be.”

“It’s about being prepared for the worst,” he said. “And I think at this point we really need to. I’m doing it on a personal level as well. I’m preparing for the worst and making sure that I have funds available if I need to during a second wave of this thing.”

In other action, Council approved a resolution amending the City’s investment policy to add BankonBuffalo (formerly Bank of Akron) as a designated depository. The resolution was immediately forwarded from the Conference Meeting to a Special Business Meeting set up tonight exclusively for this item.

In explaining the reasoning for the move, Moore said that the City has a chance to get a “more favorable” interest rate of around .75 percent from BankonBuffalo by investing liquid funds that aren’t immediately needed but could be accessed if necessary.

City Clerk Heidi Parker said the resolution was expedited to get BankonBuffalo “in there so we can move quickly in investing this money.”

Future policy changes would allow investments to be made without having to wait “for a Council meeting to come up in case it is a bank that is not listed as one of our designated depositories,” she said.

Jankowski said he had no problem with the resolution, but asked for additional modifications in the wording of the policy that included “some kind of checks and balances” to make sure that more than one person is involved in the process.

He suggested that Parker, Moore, Neary and Assistant Manager Rachael Tabelski all have a say in these types of investments and the financial institutions to be utilized.

Also, as previously reported on The Batavian, Council moved to the June 8 meeting a resolution that spells out a $554,112 grant the City received from the NYS Department of Health’s Lead Service Line Replacement Plan.

The grant will enable City crews to replace up to 75 lead service lines on Swan, Hutchins and Otis streets on the City’s Southside.

DPW Director Matt Worth said the grant requires no match from the City and the only cost a homeowner would incur is if crews were unable to make a connection from the curb shut-off into the house likely due to a deteriorating pipeline.

(Click here to see the previous story.)

Another resolution forwarded to the June 8 meeting was a motion to obtain a firm to provide administration/engineering services for a $750,000 Downtown Revitalization Initiative project to improve Jackson Square.

Worth said the deadline for firms to respond to the City’s request for quotation is Wednesday.

He also reported that the City Centre mall roof replacement project is about 35 to 40 percent complete and he expects it to be done within 30 days.

“Hopefully, the buckets will be gone by the end of June,” Jankowski quipped.

November 20, 2019 - 3:00pm


Amazing Office Space Available in Jackson Square! We at Thermory USA have loved being able to grow our business in this unique office space. Thanks to an industrial modern vibe and open floor plan, this office has felt more like a home than just a place to come to work. 

While this location is tucked away, it is also conveniently located at the center of Downtown Batavia, allowing us the freedom to walk to our choice of awesome restaurants and shops. We have enjoyed a front row seat to the summer concerts in Jackson Square as well as Oktoberfest festivities as well! 

The open concept space is approximately 900 square feet with its own private restroom and plenty of natural light. There is ample room to load and unload in the square if needed. Rent is $850/month, utilities paid by tenant. Contact Thompson Builds at 585-721-1252 to set up an appointment or for more information. 

While we are sad to leave, we look forward to seeing another business have the opportunity to thrive here like we have. Come and check it out!

June 22, 2019 - 9:12am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jackson Square, news, downtown, batavia, music, arts, entertainment.

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The annual Jackson Square Friday Night Concerts series opened last night with Genesee Ted.

The line up for the rest of the season:

  • June 28 – The Skycats
  • July 5 – It’s My Party
  • July 7 – Downtown Batavia Music Ramble Festival -- Bands & Times for The Ramble will be announced soon!
  • July 12 – Old Hippies
  • July 19 – Red Creek
  • July 26 – Mitty & the Followers
  • Aug. 2 – Ohms Band
  • Aug. 9 – The Ghost Riders

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September 26, 2018 - 6:30pm


Join the Eli Fish Brewing Company team as we celebrate OktoberFest -- our first! -- DER ERSTE! This Friday, Sept. 28 from 5:30-10 p.m. at Jackson Square.
Tickets are $8 in advance / $10 day of, and can be purchased at the brewery and at Eventbrite.com.

Enjoy the classic German beer hall sounds of The Frankfurters, playing from 6 to 10 p.m. They are THE BAND to celebrate OktoberFest with!

Be among the first to taste the inaugural batch of ELI FISH OKTOBERFEST BEER. Brewer Jon is giving the classic Marzen Lager that Eli Fish touch.

Chef Sam and team are preparing a special OktoberFest menu. Savor tasty German cuisine served by Eli Fish and the FreshLab Eateries. And you'll want to do some practicing -- we're having a beer-hosting competition, among other fun activities.

March 30, 2018 - 5:26pm
posted by Billie Owens in BID, batavia, Jackson Square, music.

The lineup has just been released for the 2018 Downtown Batavia Concert Series in Jackson Square, according to the Downtown Batavia Business Improvement District.

Live music will be featured on Friday evenings from 7 to 9 in the square, located between Center and Jackson streets, bring your own chair. Admission is free thanks to the generosity of sponsors for the concert series.

Here's the lineup:

  • June 22 -- Red Creek (Party Rock)
  • June 29 -- Don Newcomb Band (Country)
  • July 6 -- Old Hippies (Acoustic & Original)
  • July 13 -- The Josie Waverly Band (Contemporary Country)
  • July 20 -- The Grove Street Band (Classic Rock / R & B)
  • July 27 -- The Ohms Band (Classic Rock)
  • Aug. 3 -- Mitty & The Followers (Motown)
  • Aug. 10 -- Ghost Riders (Hardcore Country)
  • Aug. 17 -- Something Else ('80s / '90s Pop Rock)
  • Aug. 24 -- Bluesway Band (Blues)
July 1, 2017 - 9:54am

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The trio Something Else played Jackson Square yesterday evening as part of the summer concert series downtown. There's live music in Jackson Square each Friday at 7 p.m. through August.

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June 6, 2017 - 12:00pm


Any nonprofit or service agency that would like to host a night and set up to sell drinks or snacks can contact Beth Kemp, executive director at the BID. Any business interested in sponsoring a night/band in the Square can also contact Kemp at 344-0900 or via email at [email protected]

July 2, 2016 - 11:31am

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The 2016 summer season of concerts in Jackson Square kicked off Friday night with performances by St. Joe's of Batavia Brass Ensemble (its 85th Reunion) and the Mighty St. Joe's Alumni Corps (with an interlude covering the history of the bugle, featuring members of the ensemble).

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August 12, 2015 - 9:53am

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Batavia Society of Artists and Batavia Players teamed up Tuesday night for a unique arts event in Jackson Square. The artists made art, the players were the models, in character for an upcoming performance of "Alice in Wonderland." Artists were encouraged to paint or draw in whatever medium they preferred. Some sketched, some used acrylics and others put chalk to cement. The players also rehearsed their parts for the show. There was also a wine tasting featuring Midgard Winery, of Corfu.

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July 17, 2015 - 4:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Jackson Square, batavia, downtown, BID.

Tonight's Jackson Square concert, featuring Penny Whiskey, is being moved to City Centre because there may be rain.

The show is at 7 p.m.

June 16, 2015 - 6:38pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, batavia, Batavia Centennial, Jackson Square.

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It turned out to be a beautiful evening for some really fine art in Jackson Square. The Centennial Celebration art and artisan show runs until 8 p.m.

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June 9, 2015 - 10:10am

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Press release:

The Genesee Symphony Orchestra is having a full-orchestra concert this Friday, June 12, 7 p.m. at Jackson Square. The GSO musicians are reaching out to our Batavia audience in hopes of having an entertaining concert for all ages. The program will be conducted and led by GSO concertmaster Gregory Docenko. Greg is a phenomenal violinist and will be playing his electric violin while conducting the orchestra through the program.

Greg has designed the program with musical arrangements that will get the audience whistling and clapping. There is a portion of the program that will feature the GSO Jazzers, and Blue Grass Fiddles. Howard Owens will be featured on his typewriter during the "Typewriter" by LeRoy Anderson. State Assemblyman Steve Hawley will read the narrative/story of "The Frog Prince" with orchestra accompaniment. "Stars and Stripes Forever" and a brass rendition of "America the Beautiful" will fill our patriotic hearts.

Though Jackson Square concerts are free, the GSO will be accepting donations to support our orchestra for the upcoming 69th season. So, bring your chairs and enjoy our very entertaining hour-long concert. The GSO is proud to continue and support our area's cultural traditions.

Photos by Howard Owens, rehearsal Monday evening in the band room at Batavia HS.

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June 4, 2015 - 12:00pm

The Genesee Symphony Orchestra is pleased to announce an addition to their 2015 concert series. They will perform free of charge at Jackson Square, Downtown Batavia, at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 12.

"This is a departure from our typical four-concert schedule," says Board Member Patty Hawley, "but not unheard of. The GSO has performed benefit concerts in the past."

While this is technically a free event goodwill donations will be gratefully accepted.

"Like any local nonprofit, the GSO depends on the support of local arts agencies and our loyal audience," Hawley says. "This is a way for us to reach out to people who may be unfamiliar with the GSO while raising some much-needed funds for programming." 

Greg Docenko, GSO's concertmaster, will conduct the orchestra through a series of popular tunes. The musical selections include: "Star Spangled Banner," "Gabreielli," "Blue Danube," "My Fair Lady," "Can Can," and Brass Group featuring Kevin MacLaud, Typewriter, Pirates of the Caribbean, "The Frog Prince," "Star Wars" Theme.

The GSO is also looking for board members to begin serving in August 2015. Terms are three years in length. For more information about this concert of how you can become a GSO board member contact Paul Saskowski at [email protected]

August 28, 2014 - 3:43pm

The Independent Living Center hosted its first Taste of Independence festival in Jackson Square last night.

Several local restaurants and bakeries served food at the fundraiser, which included a basket raffle.

Participating were: D&R Depot, Rack Shack, Terry Hills, T.F. Browns, Swy's Catering, Big Pauly's, Sweet Ecstasy Bakery, Bistro & Banquets, Coffee Culture Cafe & Eatery, and Tops Friendly Markets. Mueller Quaker also provided yogurt, Subway provided cookies and Wendy's provided beverages.

Above, Rae Frank and Greg Bruggman drew tickets for the raffle.

Photos by Amanda Earl.

Jeremy Franklin and Gillian Cleveland.

Yvette Lucas, Community Events Outreach coordinator.  

Donna Becker of Independent Living enters tickets for the basket raffle.

Don Bouchard.

August 4, 2014 - 6:23pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Jackson Square, music, entertainment.

Amanda Earl submitted these photos of the band "It's My Party" performing Friday night at Jackson Square.

June 27, 2014 - 11:14pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, BID, Jackson Square, music, entertainment.

The annual Jackson Square concert series kicked off Friday night with a return engagement by Stone Row, who first played the series nine years ago.

The electrified Irish band entertained the crowd with traditional and contemporary numbers.

Opening the show was a string quartet from the Genesee Symphony Orchestra playing traditional Irish tunes.

For a line-up of this summer's shows, click here.

May 20, 2014 - 6:36pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Jackson Square, Jackson Street.

National Grid crews had Jackson Street closed off late this afternoon for the installation of a new utility pole behind the old Bank of Genesee building. The pole is one of two put up today to replace one in Jackson Square. The old pole interferred with the third story reconstruction of the former Carr's warehouse. The old warehouse is being converted into apartment units.

May 1, 2014 - 4:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, downtown, Jackson Square, 14 Jackson Square.

By the end of the month, 14 Jackson Square -- an address that never existed until recently -- will come to life in a new, and reinvented way.

The former Carr's Department Store Warehouse will contain three two-bedroom apartments (a fourth should be ready by the end of June) and a downstairs office space.

Paul Thompson and his partners will have invested more than $500,000 in the project, with the help of a state grant of $115,000, to convert the three-story structure into a mixed-use space.

The project fits a few of the city's goals to reinvigorate Downtown, said City Manager Jason Molino. It creates more residential space Downtown, more new office space and it converts a building that was doing nothing for the city into something vibrant.

"It takes a building that was always a warehouse and turns it into a useful and meaningful space Downtown," Molino said.

Thompson said his Byron-based company was interested in the project because they have some experience in redeveloping mixed-use spaces. It was a way to provide employment for his workers during the winter, and based on his experience with rental properties in the city, there's a strong demand for apartments designed to appeal to young professionals.

Study after study shows, young professionals want to live in environments where nightlife and shopping are in walking distance and there's a sense of urban life to the neighborhood (related story from USAToday).

This project brings the total of new apartments Downtown to nine, said Julie Pacette, coordinator for the Batavia Development Corp. All of the previous apartments rented to young professionals within days of becoming available.

By assisting Thompson and his partners, Pacette said, a property that was off the tax roles for a few years is now in private, property-tax-paying hands.

Thompson said the project has helped him expand his company. His staff of 14 is now a staff of 20, though not all of the new hires are directly related to this project.

Related: For those interested in new urbanism, the Congress for New Urbanism meets in Buffalo, June 4 though 7.

Paul Thompson

July 26, 2013 - 4:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Jackson Square, music, entertainment.

Val Zinni and Carmen Del Plato will perform in Jackson Square tonight as part of the Over the Hill Musicians Society show.

Performing as the Hutchins Street Blues Brothers Rhythm and Blue Review, Zinni and Del Plato will reprise a performance they've staged a few times over the years since 1981. That year they entered the talent show -- which was right after "The Blue Brothers" movie came out -- at the St. Anthony's Lawn Fete. 

Del Plato said after winning the talent show, Zinni kissed Monsignor Aquavia "right on top of his bald head," John Belushi-style, Del Plato said.

At first, Zinni and Del Plato performed to recorded music, but a few years ago they started performing with Del Plato's brother's band.

"We'll be performing two songs because the band won't let us do any more than that!" Del Plato said.

Show time is 7 p.m.

Photo by Shelley Zinni.

July 6, 2013 - 12:51am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, downtown, Jackson Square, music, entertainment.

Irish folk band Penny Whiskey, always a crowd favorite, opened the Jackson Square concert season Friday with two hours of Celtic rhythms and melodies. The square was pretty jam-packed with local music fans for the show.

Penny Whiskey is: Kirk McWhorter, Jon Carlson (top photo), Dan Lelito, Paul Kneis (second photo).

The Ramble Music and Arts Fest starts Saturday at 11 a.m.

Natalie Muscarella uses mom's camera to get some pictures of the band.

Officers Mark Lawrence and Eric Dibble next to the mural portrait of a Batavia police officer in Jackson Square.

To purchase prints of these photos, click here.

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