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Oak Street

No new information on shots fired incident on Oak Street on Monday, public assistance sought

By Howard B. Owens
shots fired
The scene on Oak Street on Monday night where investigators marked possible evidence locations on the roadway.
Photo by Howard Owens.

An incident involving apparent gunshots on Oak Street in the City of Batavia on Monday night is still under investigation, said Chief Shawn Heubusch, Batavia PD.

Heubusch did not release any information on possible suspects or whether suspects have been identified. He did not release any information related specifically to the incident.

In response to an inquiry from The Batavian, Heubusch said, "We are still investigating the incident of shots fired on Oak Street and are asking the public, if they have any information, to contact the detective bureau at 585-345-6350."

The confidential tip line number is 585-345-6370. Confidential tips can also be submitted using this online form. The form offers an option for remaining anonymous.

'Mad love' for Habitat, says new Oak Street homeowner

By Howard B. Owens
Terry Smith

It was no accident that brought together a group of caring people at 50 Oak St., Batavia, on Saturday, said Pastor Vern Saile before blessing the new home of Terry Smith and his family.

"What strikes me is how many people came together to make this possible for you," Saile said. "I believe that God brought those people together for you. You know, the Bible says, 'Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.' I have no doubt that the Lord has built this house for you, Terry. And it's his love that started this project. It is his love that carried it through, and it is his love that will carry it forward."

Smith started the home acquisition process with Genesee County Habitat for Humanity nearly five years ago.  It meant a lot to him, he said, to provide a home for his children, one they can count on as permanent for the rest of their childhoods. 

The house was a tax-lien foreclosure by the City of Batavia that the city transferred to Habitat rather than put it up for auction.

"The ability of the City of Batavia to encourage rehabilitation of houses and promotion of single-family home ownership is enhanced by the strategy to move foreclosed properties into a program like Habitat for Humanity,"  said City Manager Rachael J. Tabelski. "The restoration of homes, and the ability to match families, who are ready to make the move to home ownership, and adds exponential value to neighborhoods, as opposed to auctioning the property into the rental market.”

Jaylene Smith-Kilner, executive director of Habitat, thanked a long list of people who made this home, Habitat's 26th build, possible, from government officials and agencies to small business owners and local volunteers and donors.

Smith said that effort that help was a  blessing and that he is excited for his kids.

He's watched Habitat, along with his own labor as part of the process, transform an old house into a beautiful home.

"Seeing the process from it being completely gutted to how it is now, it's just so crazy process," Smith said. "It's a crazy process, and they did a good job. I got mad love for all the Habitat family community."

Terry Smith

Marianne Newmark, with USDA Rural Development, discussed how her agency assists potential Habitat for Humanity homeowners get the financing necessary to close on their house.

They help the homeowner secure low-interest, longer-term loans so they have affordable house payments.

"We love partnering with Habitat for that, and that Habitat takes these houses and makes them beautiful, and really renovates them to the point where the homeowners don't have to worry about, 'Oh no, I just bought this house, and I have to do so much work on top of my new mortgage payment,'" Newmark said. "They take a lot of that stress out of the way in the beginning."


Due to Richmond Avenue project, water mains in area to be shut down tomorrow

By Press Release

Press release:

The City of Batavia Water Department will be shutting down water mains in the area of Oak Street and Richmond Ave, on August 11, 2022, due to the Richmond Ave Water Line Project.  The streets with possible water interruptions will be from, North of Richmond Ave on Oak Street, Richmond Ave from Oak Street to State Street, Verona Ave from Richmond Ave to Hillcrest Street, all of Buxton Ave, Genesee Street, and New York Place.  Additionally, new water main valves will be installed on Prospect Ave and State St.  During valve installations; water will be shut down on Prospect Ave from Richmond Ave to Oak Street and on the West side of Oak Street from Prospect Ave to Ellicott Ave and Main Street intersection, along with an area on State Street from the Richmond Ave intersection to just South of Park Ave.

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

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

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

No way out? Turnaround

By Joanne Beck


Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.

Byron resident Terry Speed learned that about his impromptu turnaround at a home on Oak Street, Batavia. He and his wife Dawn purchased the one-family building in 2016, complete with a small turnaround in the front yard. The soil settled and it became a small pond, he said.

Speed then dug a channel through the sunken area so that water could escape. He has applied for a variance to add 12 feet of loose stone to his existing 23-foot-wide driveway. That would make a 48 percent lot frontage at the Oak Street property. According to city code, “the width of driveways and parking spaces may not exceed 25 percent of lot frontage,” prompting the need for a variance.

“We needed to come and speak with you people.  I was told to apply for a variance,” Speed said during Tuesday’s City Planning & Development Committee meeting. “I would like to have a proper turnaround. I jumped the gun, it’s my fault.”

He has a business variance for his wife’s beauty salon to operate in the back of the home, he said. Customers usually arrive one at a time, but there are occasions when there are three vehicles (including his wife’s) in the driveway at one time. Given the amount of traffic on Oak Street, which is state Route 98, it’s difficult for customers to back out of the drive, he said. He added that he also thought it was illegal to back out onto a state roadway.

“People in and out of there are having a hard time,” Speed said. “Something’s going to happen. She’s hearing horns blow.”

In his application, Speed said that this issue is “due to bumper-to-bumper traffic on Oak Street weekdays,” and is therefore not a self-created problem.

As for the legal aspects of backing out onto Route 98, according to New York State’s vehicle and traffic law, there are limitations on backing up a vehicle. Section 1211 states that “the driver of a vehicle shall not back the same unless such movement can be made with safety and without interfering with other traffic. The driver of a vehicle shall not back the same upon any shoulder or roadway of any controlled-access highway.”

Still, allowing for the turnaround proposed by Speed “seems like an excessive amount, and sets a precedent for neighbors,” committee member Ed Flynn said.

He and fellow members discussed the options and issues with such a set-up, and eventually recommended a compromise: a 10-foot by 18-foot turnaround that is at least 18 feet from the road and 10 feet from the sidewalk.

Speed will continue the process with the Zoning Board of Appeals later this week.

For anyone who lives on Oak Street or other similar streets that coincide with busy state highways, how do you get out of your driveways? The Batavian would like to know your solutions for a follow-up article. Email them to:

Illustration: Satellite view of Oak Street property requiring a variance for a larger turnaround area. Heavy traffic on Oak Street (Route 98), Batavia, prompted the variance request to create more space for visitors to turn around versus backing out onto the street. Illustration provided by City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee.

Water main repair on Oak Street delayed by leak on Elm Street, Batavia

By Press Release

Press release:

Due to an additional situation on Elm Street, the City of Batavia Water Department will be repairing the water main break on Oak Street at a later date.  The Water Department will now be focusing its attention on a water leak on Elm Street, between East Main Street and Fisher Park.  There is the potential that the water may need to be shut off on Elm Street from East Main Street to Fisher Park.  The water would also have to be shut off on Fisher Park from Elm Street to Vine Street.

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

Traffic will be closed down on Elm Street between East Main Street and Fisher Park.

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

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

Crews scheduled to repair water main break tomorrow on Oak Street

By Press Release

Press release:

The City of Batavia Water Department will be repairing a water main break on Oak Street, in the southbound lane in the area of Noonan Drive on Wednesday, February 2, 2022.  There is the potential that the water may need to be shut off on Oak Street, from Union Street heading north to the City line.  In addition, the water shut-off would also impact all of Noonan Drive.

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

Traffic will also be impacted in the area of Oak Street and Noonan Drive in the form of lane closures or lane shifts while the repairs are being made.

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

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

City Water Department to repair water main on Oak Street tomorrow

By Press Release

Press release:

On Wednesday, Sept. 2, the City of Batavia Water Department will be making repairs to a water main in front of number 23 Oak St.

The street will be open for traffic on Oak Street but lane restrictions and different traffic patterns will be in effect.

For safety, Prospect Avenue and Mix Place will be closed at Oak. There will be no parking permitted in this area on Oak Street while work in taking place.

Water may be turned off in the area; this may produce discolored water. Please refrain from doing laundry if water is discolored.

Work will begin about 8 a.m. and should be completed by 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

Mother and daughter feel blessed to move into new Habitat home

By Howard B. Owens


Today, Habitat for Humanity dedicated the new home on Oak Street of Sheila and Jada Rolle.

Sheila expressed her gratitude for the staff and volunteers who helped them with a beautiful home.

"There’s so much love and peace and the angels all around because everyone who took part in this project blessed us so much, and I thank all of you for the love that you’ve shown us and you have given us," Sheila said.



City, National Grid to remove 18 trees on Oak Street starting Monday

By Howard B. Owens

Press release:

The City in conjunction with National Grid will be removing trees between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Mondays thru Fridays for the time period of February 29 through March 31.

This work involves the removal of 18 trees that have become unbalanced due to years of required trimming for utilities, thus becoming a liability and unsightly.

The area of work is Oak Street between the NYS Thruway Exit 48/ Park Road to NYS Rt 5/ West Main Street. Work shall begin north of Richmond Avenue and proceed south.

This work will require lane shifts, lane reductions and temporary stoppages. All efforts will be made to minimize impacts to traffic but there will be delays so please plan accordingly and avoid the area if possible. Work will occur as weather and other work assignments permit.

Future work plans will be the replanting of more appropriate underwire street trees and replacement rate of 2:1. This work is anticipated in the Fall of this year.

Water main break reported on Oak Street

By Howard B. Owens

There is a water main break on Oak Street near Park Road, according to Matt Worth, superintendent of Water and Wastewater. Residents on Oak Street and Union Street north to the city line are effected. Crews are on site beginning repairs.

SUV and tractor-trailer collide at Oak and Richmond

By Alecia Kaus

A two-vehicle accident involving a tractor-trailer and an SUV occurred at Oak Street and Richmond Avenue about 10:30 this morning.

The tractor-trailer was traveling north on Oak Street and the SUV was facing south at the intersection and turning left onto Richmond Avenue when it was struck by the tractor-trailer. The SUV sustained damage on the passenger side.

According to the Batavia Police Department, no one was injured and the driver of  the SUV is being issued a ticket for failure to yield.

UPDATE 5 p.m., Friday: Further investigation by Batavia PD uncovered a different version of events. The SUV was eastbound on Richmond.  He was not issued a citation.

"We're unable, based on the information available at this time, to determine who was at fault," said Officer Kevin Defelice.

Road construction causing long delays on Oak Street, Batavia

By Howard B. Owens

If you're heading north, be aware that Oak Street heading north has been mired in traffic jams all day.

Road reconstruction at Oak and Park seems to be the cause for the delays.

Currently, traffic is piled up from Park all the way to Richmond and at times even to Main Street.

UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: Southbound Route 98 is being shut down at West Saile Drive because of traffic congestion.

UPDATE 5:17 p.m.: Howard spoke with the construction supervisor on duty who said the work is supposed to be done at nighttime, but the temperature must be 50 degrees or higher. With colder nights lately, they had to do the work during the day to keep the project schedule on track.

Photos: Sink hole repairs on Oak Street

By Howard B. Owens

City crews this morning repaired a sink hole at 15 Oak St., Batavia. The location is a storm sewer that is still in use and is older than any of the homes on the block.

Photo: New deli on Oak Street off to a good start

By Howard B. Owens

Six weeks since opening, Krista Maniscalco, left, says business is good at her new deli on Oak Street, even without much promotion.

Gigi's is in the former location of Salome's and features subs, hot sandwiches and pizza, all made from fresh ingredients and cooked to order.

Maniscalco, pictured with her mother Linda Sprung, said opening in Batavia -- her husband, Charles, owns Scooter's in Le Roy -- means she has to emphasize quality.

"Here you have competition everywhere, so you've got to be a cut above," Maniscalco said.

She then added, "faith and family is a big part of what we do."

Rear-ender on Route 98 results in minor injuries

By Geoff Redick

Two drivers from Holley, Orleans County, collided on Oak Orchard Road/Route 98 in Batavia this afternoon.

Doris Lusk, 78, was operating her Subaru Forester northbound on Route 98 when she slowed to allow another driver to make a left-hand turn into a driveway. Robert Blosenhauer, 63, was also northbound in a Jeep Wrangler and failed to stop. He rammed into the rear of Lusk's vehicle.

Both were able to exit the roadway safely. No serious injuries were reported.

Blosenhauer was charged with failure to yield following too closely.

Trooper Mark Catenzaro responded along with Town of Batavia fire and Mercy EMS.

Going in circles in the Oak Street roundabout

By Howard B. Owens

A police officer has been dispatched to the Oak Street roundabout to check on a report of a tan sedan going in circles through the roundabout, repeatedly, at a high rate of speed.

Oak Street resident can keep his ducks, but must comply with new conditions

By Howard B. Owens

An Oak Street man with a fondness for waterfowl will get to keep his ducks and continue some of his hobbies in his yard, but with new restrictions.

As part of a plea bargain, Ron Graziaplena, of 172 Oak St., admitted to keeping debris in his back yard, a violation of city code, and agreed to a number of conditions on his continued ability to keep 10 mallard ducks as pets and grow tomatoes and build waterfowl-related projects.

The deal was worked out Friday afternoon over three and a half hours, at a time when his trial on numerous alleged code violations was scheduled. Almost all the negotiations were held in open court with Batavia City Court Judge Robert Balbick presiding.

Balbick told Graziaplena that he would be fair with him if Graziaplena made substantial progress toward complying with the plea agreement between now and his sentencing on April 15.

The main agreement regarding the ducks is that Graziaplena can keep only 10, except when there are hatchlings, which must be released in an Elba swamp owned by Graziaplena's family before Oct. 1 of each year.

A neutral, non-governmental, qualified inspector will visit the property twice a year -- on or about July 1 and on or about Oct. -- to ensure Graziaplena is maintaining only a 10-duck population and they are kept in sanitary, humane conditions.

Graziaplena will be required to build a six-foot-high stockade-type fence along his south property line from the garage to the back corner of the lot and for some distance along the back property line. 

He must also install a stockade-style gate across his driveway from the southeast corner of his house to his property line on the south.

The gate is intended to create a visual barrier for anything on his driveway, from construction materials for his projects and his tomato boxes.

Graziaplena prefers to work on his projects in the front yard. He can continue to do so during the day, but come nightfall, he will be required to put all construction materials behind the gate.

He must also keep his BBQ grill behind the gate rather than in the yard.

In recent months, Graziaplena has mounted a number of duck decoys atop 10-foot-high poles along his south property line, and more recently added waterfowl-themed wind vanes that he said he made.

He acknowledged that some of his neighbors are aggravated by the poles, but said the decoys are left over from his hunting days and just a symbol of his hobby. He said he plans to start selling the wind vanes.

"I've gotten many compliments on them, your honor," Graziaplena said. "Several of my friends want them for themselves. Perhaps you would like one?"

Balbick said he couldn't accept the offer.

The judge ordered that all of the pole structures be taken down before sentencing and that they remain down for at least the duration of Graziaplena's conditional discharge (a six-month period after his sentence in which Graziaplena must remain violation free to avoid having the original charges reinstated).

Graziaplena also keeps a boat on the north side of his house. He must either put a driveway on the north side to set the boat on or start keeping the boat on his south side driveway.

About a half dozen of Graziaplena's supporters were at the courthouse Friday, many of them planning to testify in the trial. One neighbor who is unhappy with the situation on Graziaplena's property attended the hearing.

"I want to see that property code compliant," Balbick told Graziaplena after accepting his guilty plea. "I'm not going to punish you just for the purpose of punishing you, but I do have an obligation to the people of this city to see that the yard is safe and there isn't debris strewn about throughout the yard and that the yard is sanitary."

Photos: Take at Graziaplena's residence on Friday.

Trial set for Oak Street duck case

By Howard B. Owens

Ron Graziaplena is taking his case to trial.

The Oak Street man who has raised the ire of neighbors, and is accused of numerous code violations by the city, will defend himself against the charges in a bench trial before City Court Judge Robert Balbick.

Graziaplena did not appear in court today, but his attorney was present to set the trial date, which is the afternoon of Feb. 21.

Previously: Dispute over ducks, other complaints, has Oak Street man headed to court

Driver who fled scene of Oak Street accident not yet identified

By Howard B. Owens

The man who owns a silver Mustang involved in a one-car accident on the edge of the Oak Street roundabout last week says he wasn't driving the car at the time of the accident.

The driver fled the scene.

There were two witnesses of the driver running from the car, according to Officer Ed Mileham, but neither witness could positively identify the driver after looking at photo line ups.

"Right now, it's just an unauthorized use," Mileham said.

The owner of the car reported it stolen the morning after the accident.

The name of vehicle owner has not been released.

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