Erik Saluste is looking for some help from the city in keeping people off his property at 5 Walnut St., Batavia.
He said trespassers are a huge and consistent problem.
His property backs up to the Tonawanda Creek and he doesn't want people on his land when they want to sightsee, fish, or kayak on the creek.
"People think that all the houses on Walnut Street, Route 98, that back against the creek allow public access," told the City Council last night during public comments. "There is no public access. My property line extends to where the creek ends. I’ve posted no trespassing signs on my property."
He said he's had to call police about trespassers four times already this year.
He said he brought the issue to the City Council four years ago and nothing happened. He said he applied for a building permit to install a fence on his property line and it was denied.
He took that as the city asserting easement rights but he said the city has no easement rights. The state has easement rights 50 feet in from the creek and that he was told he could build structures within the easement, but if the state needed the structures removed for flood control measures he would have to remove the structures.
Interim City Manager Matt Worth said he will need to research it but he believes the state might be concerned about a fence catching tree limbs and other debris that could contribute to a flooding issue.
Saluste thinks a fence from the footbridge to 1 Walnut might help alleviate the problem and said he would be willing to help pay for it. He said the problem is a huge privacy and liability issue for him.
"You do have to realize that until I have satisfaction in this area I’m going to continue to call Batavia Police Department every time I have somebody (trespassing)," Saluste said. "I’m not going to confront them anymore because they’ve almost become physical on certain occasions and I don’t want that to happen."
The council instructed Worth to look into the issue further.
UPDATE: Felipe Oltramari, county planning director, brought this to our attention:
Per DEC’s website (https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8371.html): “If a waterway is navigable in fact, the right to public navigation authorizes a boater to get out of the boat to pull it around obstacles or to get around obstacles by portaging over private property, so long as the portage is by the most direct and least intrusive safe route possible.”
This property is right at the dam so a kayaker or canoer could come ashore legally on Mr. Saluste’s land for the purposes of getting around the dam while navigating the creek.
PHOTO: Screen grab from county's GIS map, shows, from the top, 1 Walnut, 3 Walnut, and 5 Walnut.