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September 11, 2022 - 11:37pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Oktoberfest, Eli Fish Brewing Company, Jackson Square, batavia, news.

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Eli Fish hosted its fourth annual Oktoberfest Saturday at Jackson Square in Batavia. As promised by organizer Adam Burnett, the event was overflowing with attendees, as the ever-popular German band The Frankfurters played traditional songs, accompanied by the band's dance troupe. Attendees joined in with the dancing, and quenched their appetites with German-themed brews and food from Eli Fish Brewing Company.

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Joanne Beck contributed to this article. Photos by Howard Owens.

July 24, 2022 - 8:10am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, BID, boxcar derby, Jackson Square, notify.

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There was one part about an upcoming boxcar race that especially appealed to Mason Dominiak, he said.

The 13-year-old likes speed.

“I like racing,” he said Saturday at Jackson Square in Batavia. “The adrenaline of going fast, I like going really fast.”

He and Adrian Tabelski were watching Adrian’s dad work to gradually put together a boxcar for them. The boys are participants of a first-ever Batavia Business Improvement District Boxcar Derby. Handmade creations will take off down the Ellicott Avenue hill at 9:30 a.m. sharp on Aug. 27.

Saturday was “Build Day,” and about 10 kids and their parents picked up their car kits and took them home to work on while the remaining 20 stopped by throughout the day to put their cars together with hands-on support from many BID committee members and community volunteers.

In between sounds of construction equipment, Adrian, 10, said that his participation was sort of a surprise.

“My mom signed me up,” he said.

Adrian in turn invited Mason to come along. They are sharing the initial duties of assembling and decorating a car, and both agreed that Adrian would be taking the wheel on race day. He has never been in a boxcar, but has “learned a lot about construction” during the day, he said.

Mason didn’t think he’d know as much as he did. Then again, he has worked on vehicles — four-wheeling is his favorite ride — and once had to take an entire engine out for a piston issue, he said. He will be there on race day to root on his friend. They began to brainstorm their car's exterior: how about black and gold with flames for a design, they agreed.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Mason said.

Committee member Lydia Schauf had telltale signs of sawdust on her black outfit. Using a saw, perhaps? No, drilling into wood.

“So we found out that they're doing the boxcar thing, and they were doing a build day. So we all came out and said that we’ll volunteer and help cut out templates, like my dad said, and just help build wherever we can with these kids,” she said. “It was fun to get out and try my hand at it.”

Lydia gave her dad, Rich Schauf, a nudge to join her in the effort. She also brought friend Marianne Pautler with her.

When asked if there had been any mishaps yet, Pautler smiled and nodded yes.

“I might have added a couple extra pieces here and there,” she said. “Those two extra pieces slid in. But hopefully it's been rectified. We went back through and pulled them out,” she said. “So yeah, just putting the kits together so that they're ready for the people to pick up or build here.”

Looking like he was ready to hunker down for some work, Rich Schauf, wearing a thick gray headband, happily obliged his daughter’s request, he said. He saw lots of enthusiasm during his time there.

“I thought it was a very worthwhile project,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of kids. And it's been really great to see these young kids and their excitement. I don't know if memory is still serving people about it, or if this will be new to people, but it's pretty exciting. And if you remember back in the day, it was quite good.”

There were stations with various tools and materials set up for the project, and several committee members and volunteers on hand to help. Participants each received a car kit, and BID merchants have been supportive of the idea, Executive Director Shannon Maute said. The race will be double elimination, which means several — about 50 — races on event day.

She and the others encourage spectators to join the fun and root for the kids. There will be tents set up and pizza and beverages for sale afterward as a “picnic in the park” BID style at Centennial Park, she said.

“We would like to make this a really large event. I mean, how fun cheering on these kids going down the hill, because what a feeling of a park filled with people cheering you on when you're going down this ramp,” she said. “I have challenged every child that I've come in contact with, because I built a car and I have challenged them to race me, so it's gonna be fun.”

She joked that she threw the gauntlet down to committee member Chris Suozzi, but believes that “he’s afraid to race me.”

The actual race is not in the downtown business district, she said, but merchants were OK with that. Ellicott Avenue has not only a nice hill that’s in the city but also was used years ago for similar races, she said.

“We had talked at length if anyone minded us doing (this) actually outside of the downtown area, but everyone was all for it because it's really more about the kids and not the district,” she said.

Other members Saturday included Jim Krencik, Lauren Becht, Gail Tenney, John Roche, and volunteers Don Cunningham, Jay Steinbrenner, Ron Galdun, Derek Ells, and TJ Henderson. Genesee Lumber cut and delivered the wood needed for the car kits.

The adults have taken care of all of the “logistics,” Krencik said, so that “the kids can focus on the hands-on skills that they’re learning by building the boxcars.”

“And then having a lot of fun racing them,” he said. “Our goal really was, for Build Day, to see the kids, their smiles as they’re walking away with these projects that they’re gonna dive into. And it’s going to be several hours of memories that I think are gonna really inspire them as they go through middle school, high school and, for my hat with GCEDC, to integrate into careers.”

As for the fun of it, someone suggested to him to think of the Little Rascals movie, in which the impish kids race boxcars. That sealed it for Krencik, he said, and that movie has fueled his zeal for the grand finale next month.

“It's really gonna be fun on August 27, to see these kids take off … it’s right at the corner of Centennial Park. But I liked that the race kind of goes towards the heart of the BID,” he said. “Because I think that's the energy that's right there. And it's getting more memories for those kids coming downtown like they are today.”

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Parents, committee members, volunteers, and kids got together to build some boxcars Saturday at Jackson Square. Photos by Jim Krencik.

July 3, 2022 - 8:10am

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Chuck and Kathy Walters just happened to be driving down Main Street, Batavia Saturday when they noticed some commotion on Jackson Street.

The entrance was closed, but the rhythmic beat of drums and tents along the street enticed them to stop for a visit.

“We didn’t know this was happening,” Mrs. Walters said during the annual Batavia Ramble Explore Art and Music Fest. “We watched the African drummers and dancing … it’s the first time I’ve seen African music that’s not on TV.”

Womba, a group of authentic African performers, was a new element to the music festival. Organized by GO ART!, a series of culturally rich musicians and dancers, artists, crafters and puppeteers filled the street with activities throughout the day.

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The Walters found a spot at a picnic table to nosh on grilled hotdogs from a nearby food stand. Troupe Nisaa members, dressed in sparkly, colorful outfits, performed a traditional bellydance at one end while a singer belted out tunes at the Jackson Street stage on the other end near Ellicott Street.

“They should have more of these,” Mrs. Walters said, adding that they would “definitely” come again next year.

The Bergen couple agreed that it was nice to visit Batavia, especially since “they’ve got so much more than Bergen.”

When asked if they would like to see anything else at the event, Mr. Walters suggested a large sign with a schedule for visitors to know what’s happening, when and where. They had never attended a Ramble and had not been to Jackson Square before.

Mrs. Walters likes country western music, she said, and would like to see that featured.

Overall, though, she was ready for more.

“I would like a two-day event,” she said.

As the Walters finished and walked away, Jay and Christine Elmore and a friend, all of Le Roy, sat down to enjoy some Red Osier fare. Mrs. Elmore’s sandwich was filled with prime rib, coleslaw and barbecue sauce, capped by a roll with salty crystals promising a sweet and savory bite.

“This is so good,” she said.

She and her friend had gone to a concert at Batavia Downs Friday, and decided to return Saturday to use their freeplay money. They then stopped downtown, first at O’Lacy’s and then the Ramble just around the corner.

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Foot traffic had thinned out some, and most art vendors had left by that time in the early evening. Mrs. Elmore suggested that a corn hole tournament would be a fun addition to draw people and provide more interaction.

“My husband is a huge cornhole (fan), that would be a big draw,” she said. “It would bring a lot of out-of-towners.”

Her husband Jay agreed that he’s really into the game, but not exactly sure why. His wife suggested that it’s about the competition and camaraderie of people getting together.

It may be something for Ramble organizers, including lighting and sound man Stephen Kowalcyk to consider for next year. During a talk with The Batavian, he had mentioned wanting to expand the offerings at Jackson Square, including themed music nights.

“This is an awesome asset to this music scene. Typically, I would like to see some new stuff in here. I've talked to the owners in here (Eli Fish), we have some ideas of doing some DJ nights out there, or doing an 80s night, one night, maybe a hip hop night or something just to change things up,” he said. “And I think that benefits all the restaurants around here. So it'd be a fun thing to do.”

See also:

Top photo: Chuck and Kathy Walters of Bergen stop for a bite during Batavia Ramble Explore Art and Music Fest Saturday downtown. Photo by Joanne Beck.

Womba entertains spectators at the GO ART! tent, a crowd enjoying the art vendors, food, and cultural performances on Jackson Street Saturday. Photo by Howard Owens.

June 28, 2022 - 8:05am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, batavia, city council, Jackson Square, dri, notify.

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A deeper dive may be needed for a Jackson Square project that's already gone out two times for bids, City Manager Rachael Tabelski says.

She had recommended Monday that City Council vote to rescind a bid from Mark Cerrone Inc. due to the company’s last-minute revision of its original low bid of $654,000. After all, bids were received and council agreed to award Cerrone with a contract, the Niagara Falls-based company hiked its bid up to $847,950.

That move didn’t exactly seem kosher to Council President Eugene Jankowski.

“Is that even legal,” he said, addressing City Attorney George Van Nest. “We certainly have a lot of concerns with the communication that took place … there was some back and forth between the architects and the city, and contractor. At this point, we have a new contract. I’m just trying to get educated here for the future. It almost appeared that once they brought out their bids, then they mysteriously appear to be just under the next bid. Once someone bids, that’s it.”

Van Nest agreed.

“In general, I’d say that’s accurate,” he said. “There are some other nuances with this. Just to be clear, you’re not rejecting Mark Cerrone Inc’s bid; you’re rescinding that bid and rejecting the other two bids.”

Council agreed to move the item to the business meeting that would follow. The council later unanimously voted to rescind Mark Cerrone Inc’s bid due to "failing to honor" the original bid of $654,000 and reject the other two from Scott Lawn Yard, with a bid of $870,000, and Whitney East with a $1,002,800 bid.

An architect had originally recommended that council approve a contract award to Mark Cerrone Inc. for construction enhancement of Jackson Square. That bid would have included an alternative plan that would add about $31,000 for a total bid of $685,500.

However, once the city agreed, the contractor “refused to proceed with the project as bid, claiming significant mistakes and the need to adjust the contract price,” according to Director of Public Works Brett Frank.

The Batavian reached out to Senior Project Manager Jeff Salvatore of Mark Cerrone, Inc. earlier Monday for comment about the revised bid and council’s impending decision to rescind it. Salvatore offered “no comment.”

The project is to be primarily funded with a $750,000 Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant, plus $225,000 from National Grid, Tabelski said.

“When we go out for bid, they look at the scope of work, and they put a price to that with the materials and the labor … so it necessarily doesn't always line up with the budget we have,” she said to The Batavian. “So we will be re-examining our bid specifications to make sure we think that pricing can come in within that.”

She was hopeful that a contractor with an acceptable bid can be approved within the “next few months.” That leaves the door still open for a construction start date this fall or winter, she said.

“But we do want to take a deeper dive at the design of it. Because this is the second time it's been bid out,” she said. “So yeah, we have some review work to do internally. Construction projects can certainly start in the fall. But again, we'll have to analyze when; it could technically happen in 2022.”

Illustration: File photo. One of the architectural renderings for the proposed redesign of Jackson Square.

June 18, 2022 - 7:30am

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The Friday Night Jackson Square concert season opened last night and featured on the bill was up-and-coming local artist Deanna Spiotta.

The Batavia High School graduate has been singing for most of her life.  She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music from Nazareth College, lived in Nashville for a couple of years, and moved back home to WNY to continue her music and songwriting career.

She released her debut EP, “The In Between” last year, produced by 1809 Studios in Macedon.

Deanna is performing solos in the Rochester area and singing with Eric Carlin’s Half-Dead, a tribute to the Grateful Dead, and also performing in an acoustic duo called, Pushin’ Time with her fiancé, Eric Carlin.

Her music and tour can be found at deannaspiotta.com

Opening up for Deanna were local artists Crimson Crossroads, Dave Knaudt and Ross Chua, two Batavia natives that just recently connected to start performing together. They can be followed on Instagram @daveknaudtmusic and @ross.chua.music

The Old Hippies and the Ghost Riders also performed Friday.

For a list of upcoming shows, click here.

To view or purchase more photos, click here.

Photos by Steve Ognibene

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June 13, 2022 - 8:00am
posted by Joanne Beck in news, arts, music, Ramble Music & Arts Fest, notify, Jackson Square.

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What do you call a fun, outdoor, multi-pronged event geared for adults, families and children of all ages?

It’s the Batavia Ramble Explore Arts & Music Festival, of course. Filled with a full day of live bands, African drumming, a larger-than-life puppet show, interactive theater workshop, and Mexican, African and belly dancers, this fest incorporates the best of the sights and sounds for spectators, organizers say.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 2 at Jackson Square, tucked between Center and Jackson streets, Batavia.

Beginning the arts end of the event at 10 a.m., there will be a children’s camp of arts projects, face painting, temporary tattoos, caricatures, sidewalk chalk drawings, take-home crafts and other assorted activities, GLOW Traditions Director Karen Canning said. The camp will be found at the Explore Art tent, and runs until 5 p.m.

Meanwhile, Artsapalooza has two sessions, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Meant especially for families with young children, the palooza features the Springville Center for the Arts touring troupe centered around a theater performance by resident artists using large-sized puppets. This is an interactive theater experience that lures kids into the fun while ukuleles and drumming warm up the crowd, Canning said.

Drop-in visual arts stations encourage kids to make art while also watching the show.

“This promises to be a fun-filled and enriching experience for all ages,” she said. “GO ART! is happy to join with the Ramble to add opportunities to explore dance, visual, theater and diverse musical arts. The Artsapalooza program that we are able to sponsor this year will definitely be something different and fun for everyone to enjoy.”

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Later in the afternoon the sounds of authentic, traditional African drumming, songs and dance from Ghana will be led by Quaye Odai of Womba Africa, a cultural drum and dance group that’s part of the Ga Adangbe People in greater Accra, Ghana.

Known as a tribe with a rich history and culture distinctive from other major ethnic groups, these performers first came to the United States in 2019 to compete on America’s Got Talent. They settled into Rochester after the show and now give workshops and performances throughout New York State at schools, libraries, community centers, festivals and parties.

“Anywhere that people are ready to move and renew their body and soul,” she said.

A workshop for families runs from 4 to 5 p.m. with a performance from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. at the GO ART! stage.

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Womba Africa’s performances showcase their unique culture through costumes, instruments, rhythms, dance, and songs, Canning said. The costumes’ colorful Ghanaian fabrics are embedded with Adinkra symbols, with each symbol having a distinctive meaning.

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The instruments include drums, xylophones, flutes, and a variety of shakers and bells. They are mostly handmade from wood, bamboo, gourds and seeds or beads, with drumheads from goat, cow and antelope skins. Womba’s songs and rhythms “intertwine in a characteristic African, polyphonic manner, blending distinct voices into a tapestry of rhythm, harmony and color,” she said.

Next up is Troupe Nisaa (pronounced Nee-Say), with many styles of belly dancing, from 6:30 to 7 p.m. Performers put an emphasis on Fusion Style and include “beautiful, strong women who gather together to enjoy the art of bellydance.”

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“The Troupe believes strongly in the sisterhood bond of bellydance, and supports and promotes the empowerment of the feminine through their dancing,” she said.

Capping off the lively arts-themed day is Alma de Mexico from 7:15 to 8 p.m.

karla_alcala.jpgKarla Slack Alcalá was born and raised in Mexico City, and is in love with her country, customs and traditions, Canning said. From a very young age, Alcalá had a passion for dancing, and at the age of 8 years, her mother “noticed her eagerness and thankfully enrolled her in Mexican folklore dance classes,” she said.

“Karla has over 25 years of teaching experience serving at Casa de Cultura de Acolman, Grupo Mexicatlalli, and at other dance school programs in Mexico. She holds a diploma in Art from CEDART Luis Spota and is an interdisciplinary artist and physical and wellness educator who focuses her efforts on Mexican traditions, Canning said.

“Karla has taught, performed, and choreographed numerous dance programs within the Mexican territory and in other countries like Cuba, Belgium, Spain, Basque country and Guatemala,” she said. “She loves movement and obtained a degree in Physical Education. She believes that sports and dance are perfect tools for our abilities and the development of motor skills. In her dance classes, there was always time to play and integrate sports.”

In 2013, Alcalá left Mexico for the United States and is now making the Rochester area her second home. With a goal to preserve the soul of Mexico, she is leading Alma de Mexico program as the artistic director and is responsible for three different groups of children, youth, and adults. The program’s principal objective is​ to show her Mexican culture through music, costumes, and folkloric dance, Canning said.

“We're very excited to bring Womba Africa Drumming and Dance, Ghanaian master drummers and dancers who have recently moved to the Rochester region. Along with Alma de Mexico, and Nisaa Belly Dance, these artists lead audiences into their unique cultural traditions through a shared enjoyment of rhythm, movement, color, and sheer joy of making music,” she said. “There are many connections audiences will find as they listen and watch -- and move.”

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On the musical side, event coordinator Paul Draper has a slew of bands to fill out the day into the evening with tunes. The lineup includes:

  • The Ghost Riders
  • Groove
  • Warren Skye and Friends
  • Kissin' Whiskey
  • DriVen
  • The Trolls 2.0
  • Lonesome Road
  • Marnie Kay and the Nonblonds
  • Beethoven's Dream Group
  • Sierra
  • Jostepa Trio
  • Noah Gokey
  • The Bluesway Band
  • Zackstreet Boys
  • Steve Kruppner
  • Tom Ryan and Friends
  • PD3
  • Knaudt and Chua
  • Vette
  • Midnight Cruisers
  • Brick
  • Spare Parts
  • High Pines
  • The Remediators
  • Bad Sign

Top photo: Womba Africa; a prior Batavia Ramble Arts & Music Fest; Womba Africa drummers; Troupe Nisaa; Batavia Ramble. Arts photos submitted by Karen Canning. 2018 File Photos of Batavia Ramble. Photos by Howard Owens.

May 27, 2022 - 9:22pm
posted by Joanne Beck in news, music, Old Hippies, Jackson Square, notify.

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Old Hippies, flowers and art seem to be a natural fit, and all three are part of this year’s Home to Home Concert Series.

A free yearly event hosted by Bill and Kay McDonald of the Old Hippies, the Home series is billed as being “for the common good.” Since the duo requires a nonprofit to receive grant funding, it partnered with Batavia Peace Garden and GO ART! to bring two concerts in June at Jackson Square.

“Featured local artists performing will be Old Hippies, Ghost Riders, Deanna Spiotta, Don Thomas, and a selection of talented youth and seasoned artists,” Bill McDonald said. “We will los have three other artists: Leah Ford on bass guitar, guitar and French horn; Ross Chua on stringed instruments and vocals; and David Knaudt on stringed instruments and vocals.”

rosschuagwmea.pngThe first concert, at 7 p.m. June 17, will also include Chua and Knaudt in their band Crimson Crossroads. It’s a safe bet that the musical genres in these concerts will go from folksy, blues and country to contemporary. Chua’s repertoire has included the Beatles, Katy Perry and Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up, in which Chua does a mean ukulele.

Old Hippies perform guitar-rich tunes such as Blowin’ in the Wind, Three Little Birds, Fallen Eagle and James Taylor’s classic You’ve Got a Friend.

Batavia Peace Garden treasurer Carol Grasso said the group’s members will be out of the weeds and selling hotdogs during the first event June 17.

“That’s how we make our money for flags and mulch, and things for the garden,” she said.

If you’ve got a bit of a green thumb, members are looking for more volunteers, Grasso said. Pulling weeds and maintaining the landscape on West Main Street takes time and energy, she said.

“I’ve got 10 years into the garden,” she said. “We started when we retired, and now we’re just tired. We’ve been working hard.”

A second concert is set for 2 p.m. June 26. The concerts are free, and attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair to park and enjoy the show.

The Restart NY Regrant Program was developed as part an initiative to spur the revitalization of New York's creative economy. The program is administered through a network of local and regional organizations through a transparent peer panel funding process and is available to artists and organizations in each of the state's 62 counties. Organizations or individuals with a fiscal agent  -- in this case Old Hippies have Batavia Peace Garden and GO ART! -- that meets NYSCA and GO ART! criteria may request regrant funds.

For those unable to attend in person, these music shows will be livestreamed online at Bill McDonald’s Facebook page . For more information, click HERE.

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Top photo: Bill and Kay McDonald of the Old Hippies, submitted photo. File photos of Ross Chua, Old Hippies and the Ghost Riders.

March 30, 2022 - 5:51pm

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Downtown Batavia will be booming with live music once again this summer, organizer Paul Draper says.

After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the annual Ramble event will resume on July 2 at Jackson Square.

“We’ve partnered with GO ART! this year to help us not only grow the entire event but also bring more of a presence to the ‘arts’ side of the festival,” Draper said to The Batavian Wednesday. “We are very excited about the partnership and are looking forward to bringing them into the fold.”

The event’s name has been tweaked to The Batavia Ramble Explore Art & Music Festival. Downtown Batavia is to be filled with art displays, family-friendly activities and, of course, a line-up of hometown bands for a Saturday full of live music.

There are sparse details on the GO ART! and Batavia Ramble Facebook pages, but both promise updates as they become available. Executive Director Gregory Hallock was not available for comment. GO ART! staff posted about the long-awaited return:

“It’s going to be an incredible festival with a ton of great bands, artists, vendors and food. Applications for vendors/bands/artists will be available soon!”

Batavia Ramble has posted an application for bands, with the fair warning that slots are filling up fast for this year.

For more information, go to: facebook.com/thebataviaramble

July 24, 2021 - 10:35am
posted by Steve Ognibene in Jackson Square, downtown batavia, news, music, Ghost Riders.

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With many music traditions in Batavia, the Ghost Riders continue playing over 30-plus years and highlighted last evening's Jackson Square concert series with a packed crowd. Mild Bill Pitcher and Wild Bill McDonald founded the band decades ago and would play 100 plus concerts from May to August. 

Since COVID-19 came present in 2020, they cut it down to about a dozen gigs in the summer months and traveling back and forth to Florida has increased for some members also. 

For the last eight years, Bill and Kay McDonald continued in the winter months as the "Old Hippies." With some changes, the duo decided this summer to perform a home-to-home concert series. Wild Bill said, they plan two mini jam series on Aug. 8th and Sept. 12th in Jackson Square, and Aug. 22 in Elba.

Photos by Steve Ognibene.

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July 11, 2021 - 6:38pm

With it looking more and more as though a new City of Batavia Police Department headquarters will be constructed on the parking lot at Alva Place and Bank Street, city leaders are trying to figure out the best course of action for the current station at 10 W. Main St.

City Manager Rachael Tabelski, in a memo dated July 2, is recommending that City Council pass a resolution to support the Batavia Development Corp.’s submission for a 2021 Consolidate Funding Application under the New York Main Street technical assistance program.

The item is part of the agenda for Monday night’s City Council Conference and Business Meetings at the City Hall Council Board Room, starting at 7 o’clock.

Tabelski wrote that the grant, if received, would be used to hire a design firm “to prepare building reuse analysis, renderings and cost estimates for the reuse and rehabilitation of the historic former Brisbane Mansion.” That report would set the stage for the application of a future NY Main Street building renovation grant.

Per the memo, the BDC is interested in helping ensure proper historical renovation and restoration of the building,

CLICK HERE for a history of the Brisbane Mansion written in 2015 by Larry Barnes, city historian. Relocating the police force has been a topic of discussion even before that year.

Tabelski wrote that the goal is to find a private developer to purchase the property, rehabilitate it and eventually return it to the tax rolls.

Deadline for the CFA grant submission is the end of this month.

Phone calls to Sharon Burkel, chair of the City Historic Preservation Committee, for comment were not returned by the time of the posting of this story.

In a related development, replacement of the current police station’s flat roof is moving forward in the form of a resolution that, although not complete, provides City Council with an update on the project.

According to a memo from Maintenance Superintendent Ray Tourt to Tabelski dated July 1, the roof sections over the 1960s addition and over the rear vestibule have deteriorated to the point that the roof is no longer waterproof and the insulation has become saturated.

Last month, Council approved the use of $100,000 from the facility reserve fund to replace these sections.

Tourt advised that the Department of Public Works is in the bidding process and will recommend a contractor in the near future.

The resolution would authorize Council to award the contract to the responsible low bidder.

Other agenda items:

  • Resolutions accepting a pair of awards from Genesee County STOP-DWI to the Batavia Police Department – one for $32,981 to fund enforcement nights, training, equipment/supplies and calibration/repairs related to driving while intoxicated enforcement and the other for $2,400 to fund high visibility checkpoints during the July 4 (which has passed) and Labor Day (Aug. 20 through Sept. 6) holiday periods.
  • A public hearing concerning the application of a Community Development Block Grant to help fund an estimated $1.36 million project to replace 4- and 6-inch water lines on Jackson Street with 2,250 linear feet of 8-inch water main. Tabelski previously indicated that the grant, if received, could fund up to 90 percent of the project cost. Council is expected to vote on the resolution during the Business Meeting.
  • A resolution to set a public hearing for Aug. 9 to formally (and finally) approve the rezoning of the 211 and 211 ½ E. Main St. parcels from P-2 (Planned Development) to C-3 (Commercial) to accommodate the Healthy Living campus project of the GLOW YMCA and United Memorial Medical Center. The City Planning & Development Committee recommended the rezoning for both properties on May 18 and June 15, respectively, stating that the C-3 designation is consistent with the city’s Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2017.
  • A request from Batavia Brewing Co./Eli Fish Brewing Co. for an Oktoberfest celebration on Sept. 18, starting at 4 p.m., at Jackson Square. A 20- by 20-foot tent with a dozen picnic tables will be set up for the event, which will feature food, beverages and the sounds of The Frankfurters, (photo below), a German music band out of Buffalo that also is known as “The Best of the Wurst."

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May 24, 2021 - 10:44am

The lineup for the Downtown Batavia 2021 Concert Series in Jackson Square is set for Friday evenings from 7 to 9 starting June 25. Admission is free.

Here are the entertainers:

  • June 25 -- Penny Whiskey
  • July 2 -- Old Hippies
  • July 9 -- Skycats
  • July 16 -- The Don Newcomb Band
  • July 23 -- Ghost Riders
  • July 30 -- Tommy Geraci's Rio Bravo
  • Aug. 6 -- DSP Jazz Trio
  • Aug. 13 -- Bluesway Band
  • Aug. 20 -- Mitty & The Followers
  • Aug. 27 -- Red Creek
May 19, 2021 - 4:53pm
posted by Press Release in Jackson Square, DRI project, downtown batavia, news, GCEDC, bdc, BID.

Submitted images and press release:

After public input and multiple stakeholder engagement sessions for the reconfiguration of Jackson Square, and with the preliminary design finished, the final design will now advance to full engineering, permitting and construction in the next few months. The project is expected to be completed next spring.

On Oct. 6, 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced eight transformational projects for Downtown Batavia as part of $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). Enhancing Jackson Square was one of the eight projects chosen to receive a strategic investment grant of $750,000 to transform public space in a public plaza. 

“The upgraded public plaza will become a lively hub and common space for community interaction, and provide connections to multiple businesses through its unique configuration," said Eugene Jankowski Jr., City of Batavia Council president and DRI cochair.

"As we continue to recover from the pandemic, I am happy to see the City complete this project and be able to offer citizens and visitors a unique experience in Downtown Batavia."

Jackson Square, a public gathering space bordered by historic buildings in the heart of Downtown, will be transformed with decorative pavement upgrades, a professional multipurpose stage, seating, lighting and decorative signage. 

“Jackson Square is a hidden gem in the City of Batavia, currently hosting lively concerts and urban events," said Steve Hyde, CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center and cochair of the Batavia DRI. "After the project is complete the Square will bring in more opportunities for the community to gather creating a downtown neighborhood."

Architectural Resources is the architectural firm selected to design the reconfiguration project, which is on schedule will go out to bid this winter.

“We received feedback from the residents, the Batavia Business Improvement District (BID), Batavia Development Corporation (BDC), adjoining building owners, and users of the square," said City Manager Rachael Tabelski. "The pavement and lighting elements will give a square a historical feel in a unique urban setting."

The concept integrates many historical layers of Batavia including the Great Bend -- changing the trajectory of the Tonawanda Creek, the Ancient Seneca Footpaths, and the history of “old” downtown Batavia.

“The BID was engaged throughout the entire process including selecting the design firm, reviewing and refining the project," said Beth Kemp, executive director of the BID. "The adjacent building owners were consulted, as well as the multiple users of the square to advance the project. Jackson Square will continue to drive community events and business to Downtown Batavia."

Input received at each of the two public meeting informed the design of Jackson Square. The design of the stage and canopy was revised based on suggestions that were made during the second public meeting.

“I am excited to have been a part of the design committee to advance this project on behalf of the City," said Andrew Maguire, executive director of the BDC. "The BDC intends to seek additional funding for the project by applying for a National Grid Urban Corridor Grant. That funding could provide for furniture and more lighting elements in the Square."

Enhancements of Jackson Square will continue to advance the City of Batavia’s efforts to create a lively and prosperous Downtown. It will provide a gathering space and performance venue for the community and open up new opportunities.

In combination with other DRI projects advancing in the City, Batavia continues to find, new ways revitalize existing buildings and spaces.

May 5, 2021 - 6:42pm

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The redesigned Jackson Square looks great, but is it functional?

That’s a question that promoters of The Batavia Ramble Music & Arts Festival are hoping City of Batavia officials and representatives of Architectural Resources consider before breaking ground on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative project later this year.

“They’re putting too much emphasis on the artistic aspect of the design and they’re forgetting about the practicality of what it is used for,” said Stephen Kowalczyk, who has been involved in sound, lighting and (recently) administration of The Ramble since its inception 13 years ago.

Kowalczyk expressed his opinion this afternoon – a day after community residents made their way to the venue between Jackson and Center streets near Center Street Smoke House for an informational meeting set up by city leaders and the Buffalo design firm hired to bring new life to the property.

Enhancing Jackson Square is being funded by a strategic investment grant of $750,000 from the New York State DRI program.

Kowalczyk and co-promoter Paul Draper said their main issues are with components of the proposed stage – its configuration, roofing material, its height and placement of a handicap ramp. He said they gave suggestions to the architect previously, but believe their input was disregarded.

City Manager Rachel Tabelski, in an email message this afternoon, did report that The Ramble musicians requested officials to re-examine the sound acoustics, specifically the “current canopy design of the stage and the materiality of the canopy as well as the stage height and the ramp access point to the stage.”

She said the city will work with Architectural Resources to modify the design to accommodate the commentary, including the canopy and stage.

“We want the citizens of Batavia to utilize Jackson Square for a multitude of events and will continue to work through design to get it correct,” she said.

Kowalczyk provided his “blueprint” for making the area not only attractive but practical:

  • Changing the stage's proposed glass roof to wood with 50-year metal roofing over it.

He said a see-through roof idea is not appropriate for the setting.

“Maybe in an open park it might work but it does not work in a concrete jungle that is Jackson Square,” he said. “It’s already an acoustical nightmare because of all the concrete walls, and they’re just going to make it worse by adding more reflective surfaces that are angled inappropriately to the way a band would be on stage.”

  • Changing the stage from the proposed oblong shape to a rectangle.

“There are no right angles on the stage. Every single cut that they’re going to have to make in building this is going to be an odd angle that will take more resources and time to build,” he said. “We’re just asking for a simple rectangle stage with a normal roof on it so the band can have its gear protected and have some shade from the sun.”

  • Keeping the height of the stage at 30 inches instead of the proposed 16 and moving a new handicap ramp from the front of the stage to behind it to avoid having to go over any cables and wires.

“The height of the stage is the biggest thing that’s killing me,” he said. “They’re cutting the stage almost in half, which means anyone further back is not going to be able to see anything.”

Kowalczyk said the proposed design “is not functional or practical for any live event out there except maybe a poetry slam.”

“They kept talking about a poetry slam. For someone who has done acoustic shows there, with the motorcycles and trucks going by, you can’t get away with doing anything with the spoken word. It’s too noisy.”

He said he was hoping to attract band recitals and start movie nights, but the stage reconfiguration would make it difficult to hang banners or a projector screen.

Draper said he thinks the architect had “good intentions but they were considering the design more than the utility of the event space.”

“It seems like they could have done a better job if they would have listened to people who actually utilize the space,” he added.

Tabelski said that the pavement and lighting element feedback was “all positive.”

“The concept integrates many historical layers of Batavia including the Great Bend -- changing the trajectory of the Tonawanda Creek -- the Ancient Seneca Footpaths and the history of ‘old’ downtown Batavia,” she said.

Following approval of the final design concept, the project will move to the construction bidding phase. Groundbreaking is expected this fall, with completion anticipated next spring.

A call to Justina Dziama of Architectural Design this morning was not returned.

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Architect renderings of the proposed Enhanced Jackson Square project.

April 21, 2021 - 4:13pm

Press release:

A public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday May 4th at 5 p.m. to receive citizen and user input for the planned improvements at Jackson Square in Downtown Batavia.

The meeting for public input and engagement will be held outdoors in Jackson Square rain or shine. COVID-19 protocols will be followed.

On Oct. 6, 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced eight transformational projects for Downtown Batavia as part of $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). Enhancing Jackson Square was one of the eight projects chosen to receive a strategic investment grant of $750,000 to transform public space in a public plaza.

Jackson Square, a public gathering space bordered by historic buildings in the heart of downtown will be transformed with decorative pavement upgrades, a multilevel deck/stage, and seating, lighting, decorative signage.

The upgraded public plaza will become a lively hub and common space for community interaction, and provide connections to multiple businesses through its unique alleyway node configuration.

Architectural Resources, the architectural firm selected to design the projects, will be on hand to discuss the design elements and solicit feedback.

After a final design concept is approved the project will advance the development of construction documents and plans for bidding.

Currently, we anticipate the project to start construction this fall and be ready to host entertainment acts by next spring.

February 18, 2021 - 5:53pm
Video Sponsor

Jackson Square DRI Public Input Meeting

October 24, 2020 - 8:33am

The City of Batavia is moving forward with the design and construction of the $750,000 Downtown Revitalization Project at Jackson Square, the popular music venue tucked in between Jackson and Center streets.

Public Works Director Matt Worth on Friday said his office has received 11 proposals from professional firms seeking to take the lead for the project that calls for the following upgrades: decorative pavement, enhanced lighting, relocation of electrical utilities, planters, benches, tables, chairs for seating and a new stage.

The cost of this work, $750,000, is the full amount of the grant issued as part of the state’s DRI program, and the expense of the design firm will be charged against the DRI grant as a project cost.

A draft resolution to enter into an agreement with an engineering or architectural firm is on Monday night’s City Council Conference Meeting agenda. The meeting is scheduled for 7 o’clock at the City Centre Council Board Room.

A letter from Worth dated Sept. 25 went out to consultants, inviting them to “provide a proposal of project understanding and qualifications” for engineering and design services. The letter indicated the city “strongly encourages participation of MWBE (Minority and/or Women-owned Business Enterprise) and SDVOB (Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business) firms.”

The state is stipulating a MWBE participation of 30 percent and an SDVOB goal of 6 percent.

Worth said a team is scoring the proposals and will announce its selection in several weeks.

“Because this project is a little different – not a straightforward, engineering street design (for example), this could end up being a team approach,” he said, advising that the consultant could be an engineering firm, design professional, landscape architectural company, or a combination.

As far as the timetable is concerned, Worth’s letter indicates investigation and design work to be performed next spring and progress through to construction in the fall – after the Jackson Square performance season. It also states that two public information meetings will be scheduled.

On another front, Worth said work on the City Centre Mall roof is complete.

“The warranty is in place, so we’re moving to the next phase,” he said. “The Mall Feasibility Study is wrapping up right now and we’ll be jumping into the DRI project with the mall concourse, which will probably include some additional roofing as well.”

Worth said specific plans for the mall project will be based on the feasibility report recommendations.

Other topics on Monday’s agenda include:

-- A public hearing to amend the Batavia Municipal Code to include public garages (auto repair stations) in I-1 (Industrial) zones with a special use permit. This action stems from a request by Batavia businessman Eric Biscaro, owner of Classic Home Improvements, to place an auto repair shop on his property on Ellicott Street.

-- A resolution accepting public dedication of Carolwood Drive Extension, also known as Clinton Gardens Subdivision Part 21A, as a result of Batavia Homes and Development’s completion (and municipal approvals) of the installation of storm water system, sanitary sewer system, water main, house services and street paving to add five more building lots on the street.

-- A resolution to accept a $6,000 grant from The Batavia Rotary Club and Rotary Foundation to the City of Batavia Youth Bureau to support outdoor recreation through the purchase of kayaks, kayak launch, paddles and vests. The youth bureau has indicated that it will teach kayaking as part of its youth center and summer recreation programming, and also will incorporate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education through this activity.

May 26, 2020 - 10:12pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, 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.

April 30, 2020 - 6:59pm
posted by Billie Owens in BID, COVID-19, Beertavia, Jackson Square, batavia, news, entertainment.

Press release:

The Batavia Business Improvement District Board of Directors regretfully announces cancellation of Jackson Square Concert Series and Beertavia.

Due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, the need for social distancing, and our concern for the health of the community, vendors, volunteers, and attendees we have decided to cancel these two events for 2020. 

We are hopeful to see everyone back in Summer of 2021 and look forward to the times we can come out and enjoy the music and festivities again as a community. 

For more information on B.I.D. and Downtown events please visit our website

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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