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Kiwanis Park

ILGR to hold picnic at Kiwanis Park July 26 to celebrate ADA signing 28 years ago, please RSVP

By Billie Owens

Press release:

Batavia’s premier consumer-run human service and advocacy agency for people with disabilities, Independent Living of the Genesee Region (ILGR) will hold an ADA Picnic to celebrate the 28th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Open to the general public, and offering FREE food, fun, and games, the event will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 26, at Kiwanis Park3808 W. Main Street Road, Batavia.

Contributing to the fun will be the University Heights Art Association (UHAA), which regularly partners with ILGR on the ARTiculations Ability Exhibition in the Independent Living reception area. Artists with disabilities are given the opportunity to display and sell their artwork at the Center. UHAA will bring projects and materials that will enable picnickers to creatively celebrate the birthday of the ADA.

To ensure that we have enough food and materials for the fun, if you plan to attend, please R.S.V.P. to Donna Becker at (585) 815-8501, ext. 411.

At the time the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed in 1990, a patchwork of laws existed to protect the civil rights of citizens with disabilities only in certain situations, such as access to airports, fairness in housing, and non-discrimination by federally funded institutions.

The ADA broadly bars disability-based discrimination in employment, telecommunications, by state and local governments, in places of public accommodation such as stores, restaurants, banks, theaters, hotels, and stadia, among other protections.

This has made it the single most important body of law for a particular population, the disability community, since the protections for racial and ethnic minorities and women of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which inspired some of the ADA’s provisions.

We look forward to having you celebrate with us, but please remember to R.S.V.P.!

Society of Artists host demo of plein air painting

By Howard B. Owens


Deb Meier, a retired Batavia art teacher, provided a demonstration in watercolor plein air painting for members of the Batavia Society of Artists at Kiwanis Park on Monday.

Painting en plein air, or outdoor painting, which often requires the painter to work quickly in direct response to the scene before the painter, was a technique favored by the French impressionists of the 19th century and has continued to remain popular with artists.



Photo: Flag dedication in Kiwanis Park

By Howard B. Owens


GOP-endorsed candidates joined Assemblyman Steve Hawley in Kiwanis Park on Wednesday to dedicate a newly donated U.S. flag and a state flag.

Pictured: Legislator Andrew Young, Endorsed Town Council Candidate Sharon White, Town Councilman Chad Zambito (with daughter Madilyn) and Town Justice Michael Cleveland. Picture taken by Assemblyman Steve Hawley.

Photo: Ribbon cutting for inclusive playground at Kiwanis Park

By Howard B. Owens

Committee members who helped organize creation of the inclusive playground at Kiwanis Park in the Town of Batavia gathered with friends and supporters this evening for an official ribbon cutting to celebrate the opening of the new playground. Committee leader Anita Strollo said there's still work to be done and money to be raised for expanding the playground.

Public invited to Inclusive Playground ribbon cutting tomorrow at Kiwanis Park

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

The Kiwanis Park Inclusive Playground, located on Route 5 in the Town of Batavia, will officially be open to the public following a ribbon-cutting ceremony to be held on June 18th at the park at 6:30 p.m.

The Inclusive Playground, which was built for individuals of all physical abilities, was constructed nearly entirely by private donations as a joint venture between the Town of Batavia, the Genesee ARC, and the Batavia Kiwanis Club. The effort was led by a group of volunteers including Town Board Members Patti Michalak and Chad Zambito, Shelley Falitico, director of Development for the Genesee ARC, Anita Strollo of Kiwanis, Amy Disalvo, Lynn Houseknecht, Sue Maha of Kiwanis, and Rotarian Rosalie Maguire.  Design team members included Joe Foresyth of Kiwanis, Lisa Ace and Ricky Palermo. Town of Batavia Highway Superintendent Tom Lichtenthal acted as the project manager. 

Twenty-two private donors contributed $73,000 to the effort, including major donations from Kiwanis Club, Bank of Castile, Down Syndrome Support Group, Oatka Milk and Batavia Rotary. County Line Stone of Batavia donated 850 tons of stone for the wheelchair friendly paths that bisect the park. 

The park was the signature project of the United Way’s Day of caring on May 8th. On that day, 75 volunteers contributed 450 man-hours to install a Wheel Chair Swing, Roller Table, Omni Spinner, Sway Fun, Sand Diggers, and Adult Molded Bucket Swing. Volunteers also painted the pavilion, spread 150 cubic yards of wood chips, planted seven trees and dozens of flowers. 

“It was amazing to see everyone come together to build something so unique for the area,” said Councilperson Michalak. “It was truly a community effort that will benefit everyone.”

The group believes the inclusive playground is the only one of its kind in Western New York, and perhaps all of Upstate New York. “We have not heard of a similar park located anywhere in the region,” added Councilperson Zambito. “Every time we presented the project, no one could believe that this type of facility didn’t already exist in our region and they were eager to help. Now children with disabilities can enjoy a full day at the park with family and friends. It is the single greatest project I have ever been involved in.”

The park, which is located directly across from the Town Hall on West Main Street Road, has already seen an increase in use since the installation of the new equipment. Earlier this year, a canoe launch was installed to access the Tonawanda Creek and as part of the latest improvements, a quarter-mile walking path was added along the creek. Town officials hope to expand that path in the future.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony is open to the public. Refreshments will be served at the conclusion of the event.

Group working to raise $125K for 'inclusive playground'

By Howard B. Owens

Building an "inclusive playground" at Kiwanis Park in the Town of Batavia will cost $125,000, members of the Batavia Kiwanis Club were told at their weekly meeting today.

The group backing the project has already raised $30,000, asked the club to pitch in $10,000 and is making similar requests of a number of local groups.

Susan Maha, who is on the committee helping to bring the idea of an inclusive park to fruition, told members "it's your park" and the Kiwanis should be part of the project.

An inclusive park includes play sets that are accessible to people with disabilities, whether physical or mental.

"So many kids in our community have these fears and can't go to a normal playground," Maha said. "We have thousands of people in our community who can't go to a normal playground and it breaks my heart."

The playground would be open to the entire community, young and old, with disabilities or not.

Maha recalled the history of the park, which was first proposed in 1976. The Kiwanis helped raise $100,000 and the park opened in 1982.

Shelley Falitco, director of development for Genesee ARC, said backers have until March 1 to raise the $125,000. That's when the playground equipment must be ordered so it arrives by April's "Day of Caring."

The group will be looking for 50 people to volunteer on the Day of Caring to help install the playground equipment.

To find out how to support the project, contact Shelley Falitco at (585) 343-1123.

Top photo, Shelley Falitco; inset photo, Susan Maha.

Facebook page for 'inclusive park' launched

By Howard B. Owens

Plans to upgrade Kiwanis Park, on West Main Street Road in the Town of Batavia, to become an "inclusive park" (one that accommodates children and adults with disabilities) continue to move forward.

Local community members have been meeting recently, planning the process and starting the fundraising.

One of the first steps is the creation of a Facebook page in support of the project. Go like it.

Previously: Town of Batavia looking at upgrading Kiwanis Park to accommodate children with disabilities

Town of Batavia looking at upgrading Kiwanis Park to accommodate children with disabilities

By Howard B. Owens

It will take $125,000 of donated money, but Tom Lichtenthal, assistant town engineer and highway superintendent, hopes the community will come together to support a project that will be unique in Genesee County.

Lichtenthal is supporting a proposal to transform Kiwanis Park into a facility full of fun and activities for children with disabilities.

Central to the plan is a set of playground equipment built to accommodate children with disabilities, though can also be used by children without disabilities.

The plan also includes accessible paths and a small fishing pier on the Tonawanda Creek that is wheel-chair accessible and has guard rails.

The playground with wheel-chair swings, a tub-like marry-go-round, a conveyor-belt type of play set and a wheel-chair accessible glider would be built near the new boat launch, in an area well shaded by big, old trees.

On the opposite end of the park, to the east, would be an area of berms, sand, logs and rocks. Lichtenthal described it as "a natural play area."

The proposal was shared with the Town of Batavia Planning Board on Tuesday, but no action by the board is required at this time.

Genesee ARC supports the project, Lichtenthal said.

Town of Batavia plans outdoor meeting, dedication of new canoe launch, at Kiwanis Park

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

The Batavia Town Board will hold its September meeting outside at Kiwanis Park on Wednesday, Sept. 12. While it is unclear if the board has ever held a meeting outdoors before, it certainly has not been done in recent memory.

“I've been with the town since 1994 and I don't remember a meeting that hasn't taken place at Town Hall,” said Town Clerk Teressa Morasco.

The meeting, which begins at 5:30 p.m., will be followed by a dedication ceremony for the new canoe launch which was built with a $6,000 grant from the Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District to promote recreational access to the Tonawanda creek.

The Town of Batavia Engineering Department designed the launch and completed all the permitting and the town Highway Department built the canoe launch. It is approximately 12 feet wide to accommodate multiple canoes and kayaks and provides a safe and easy access point to the Tonawanda Creek.

Also at the meeting, the board will recognize John O'Brian, who was a member of the planning board in 1975, when the park was first conceived. O'Brian later served as the group's chairman.

The park was built in 1976 and first included 12 picnic tables, three grills and a 25-foot flagpole. The stone pillars that still stand at the park's entrance were constructed by longtime highway superintendent Bob Smart, who personally collected the rocks used in the structures.

Following the meeting, Councilperson Patti Michalak, will make a special announcement regarding the park. A reception with refreshments will follow. The public is invited.

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