Quantcast
Skip to main content

Howard B. Owens's blog

Sunday, November 9, 2008 at 9:00 pm

FAQ and Help for The Batavian

post by Howard B. Owens in help, thebatavian

The following links are designed to help you better understand how things work on The Batavian.

 

Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 11:31 pm

Winter storm warning in effect for Sunday and Monday

post by Howard B. Owens in weather

The previous winter storm warning is now a winter storm watch.

The National Weather Service is forecasting an inch or two of snow in the morning, another four to six inches Sunday night, two to four inches Monday, with storm totals of seven to 12 inches.

The most intense period of snow is predicted for Sunday night into Monday morning. 

Winds could be 15 to 20 mph, causing areas of blowing and drifting snow. 

Visibilities could be down to a quarter of a mile at times. 

Hazardous travel conditions are expected.

CORRECTION: we transposed the words. The watch became a warning. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 6:37 pm

Water reported coming from vacant building on Pearl Street, Batavia

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia

City Fire is dispatched to 189 Pearl Street for water coming out of a vacant building.

Law enforcement is on scene and requested the Fire Department respond.

Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Winter storm watch issued for Sunday through Monday afternoons

post by Howard B. Owens in weather

Up to seven inches of snow is possible tomorrow afternoon through Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

A winter storm watch has been issued from Sunday afternoon through Monday afternoon.

Blowing snow is possible. Travel could be difficult.

Forecast confidence is medium.

Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 9:58 am

New mobile app: We ask the questions, you win the prizes, get the special offers

post by Howard B. Owens in advertisement, Sponsored Post, thebatavian

In our neverending quest to help local residents connect more easily with local merchants, we're launching a new mobile app called Reacht.

 

Click here for the iOS version.

Click here for the Android version.

Reacht is a fun, interactive way for people to share their opinions on a variety of topics, from politics to baseball, world events to music, hot-button controversies to the amusing topics of society. Participants will also receive unique and special offers from local merchants -- and some national merchants -- tailored to their interests.

We promise you won't get bombarded with a string of daily notifications, but the app uses your smartphone's notification service to ask you poll questions and send you offers.

We will use this app in conjunction with our current daily poll, but we'll also fashion special, mobile-only polls.

There will also be prizes you can win for participating.

The app is free.

Our kick-off next week is being sponsored by Southside Deli. Those who download the app and respond to the second poll question of the day on the app will be eligible to win a $5 gift certificate (we'll give away at least 80 of them over the first two weeks) to Southside Deli.

We're working on obtaining other prizes. (Local businesses, want to participate? Contact me or Lisa Ace at (585) 250-4118.)

Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 9:42 am

Grand Jury Report: Man accused of choking 10-year-old child

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, corfu, crime, Le Roy

Daniel J. Saeva Sr., is indicted on one count of second-degree strangulation and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Saeva is accused of intentionally impeding the normal breathing or blood circulation of another person by applying pressure to the throat or neck, causing stupor or loss of consciousness. Saeva allegedly choked a 10-year-old child Dec. 12 in the City of Batavia.

Joseph R. Kress is indicted on counts of felony DWI and felony driving with a BAC of .08 or greater. Kress was allegedly driving drunk Sep. 1 in the Village of Corfu. He's accused of having a prior DWI conviction in January, 2011.

Eric L. Jamalkowski is indicted on counts of aggravated unlicensed operation, 1st degree, and bail jumping. Jamalkowski is accused of driving March 22 in the Town of Le Roy while knowing his driving privileges were suspended or revoked. He allegedly had 10 suspensions on his license at the time going back to 2007. Upon his arrest March 22, Jamalkowski was released from custody and allegedly failed to appear for a subsequent court date.

Rion J. Pawlak is indicted on four counts of falsifying business records, 1st, and two counts of petit larceny. Pawlak is accused of submitting false claims for reimbursement on business-related purchase to his employer in the Town of Le Roy on four separate occasions in the amounts of $78.30, $57.30, $102 and $98.76. He's also accused of stealing an umbrella.

Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 9:02 am

Coach Pero honored prior to Notre Dame girls basketball game

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, batavia, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

Former players, such as Laurie Call, above, and his son, Dave Pero Jr., paid tribute Friday night to Notre Dame girls head basketball Coach Dave Pero Sr. prior to the team's game against Holly.

Pero hasn't announced his retirement, but there's a suspicion that this will be his final season, so Pero Jr., wanted to have a ceremony to honor his father, whose teams have won four sectional titles and a state championship.

Pero said he hasn't decided whether to return next season. Right now, he's focused on getting his team through another postseason, which starts in a couple of weeks. "Whatever I decide, it will be best for everybody involved," he said.

Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 1:11 am

Redband sets new school mark for single-game scoring as Batavia rolls over Irondequoit 71-49

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, batavia, Batavia HS, high school sports, sports

A 10-2 team, a 9-1 team, expectations were high going into Friday night's matchup of Batavia and Irondequoit for an exciting game.

But fans got a different kind of thrill as the Blue Devil's leading scorer topped all of his previous bests and set a new school record with 51 points in the game as Batavia dusted Irondequoit 71-49.

The previous single-game scoring record for Batavia was set by Tom Hoitink at 45 in 1965.

Batavia led wire-to-wire, making the game a bit of a snoozer but for Redband's heroics.

Redband recorded a double-double, pulling down 14 rebounds to go with his 51 points. He was an astonishing 15-15 from the foul line and made six of his 12 three-point attempts. On field goals, he was 15-16. He also blocked a shot, had three steals and three assists.

No other Batavia player was in double digits in any other offensive or defensive category.

Jared Laskett hit three three-pointers to finish with nine points on the night. 

The win makes the Blue Devils 11-2 on the season.

Saturday, January 31, 2015 at 12:20 am

Deputy says he's leaving satisified after 21-year law enforcement career

post by Howard B. Owens in John Duyssen, Le Roy, Sheriff's Office

The best way to describe John Duyssen's decision to retire after 21 years as a deputy sheriff is, it's just time.

That's what he said in an interview Friday, his last day of duty, "It's time."

In law enforcement, you're always on the edge, more so in today's environment. The death of his friend and fellow Le Royan Frank Bordonaro weighed on Duyssen, a father to five adopted children. As a member of the crash management team, he's seen enough mangled and battered bodies. The son and brother of farmers, he has his own spread on Bater Road to run. The Le Roy School District can use him as a bus driver and that seems like a good route to take at this juncture in his life.

It's just time.

"I've had a great career," Duyssen said. "I'm leaving happy. I'm not disgruntled. I'm at the top of my game. The Sheriff just gave me an awesome award here the other day. That was kind of cool because it was almost like a career wrapper. "

The best part of the job, Duyssen said, was seeing justice work. He takes a lot of satisfaction in the confessions he's obtained and the convictions of people who did bad things to his friends and neighbors.

Mostly working the east side of the county, he gave his personal cell phone number out to hundreds of people. They called him with their complaints and when appropriate he opened cases.

One such case was a series of thefts of timber from several property owners in the Le Roy area in 2010.

The investigation took more than a year. It involved several victims, including older residents and farmers and landowners who simply enjoyed the park-like settings of their property.  

Duyssen made arrests and defendants eventually entered guilty pleas.

"When you work a case hard and you see it to the end, and see the people who were stolen from, defrauded, to see them get justice, is my biggest thing," Duyssen said.

Law enforcement, however, isn't without its dangers. Living on the edge takes its toll, even physically, Duyssen said.

"You don't know what you're pulling up on," Duyssen said. "Last year when that one guy attacked us in Pavilion, we didn't know what to expect. He was huge. I had a recruit with me, brand new, out of the academy, and he came right at us. We won, but when you've got a guy that has arms that big around and he's way bigger than me and you're not prepared for it, the door comes open and he comes flying at you, yeah, you're adrenaline goes through an adrenaline rush."

One of Duyssen's duties the past several years was leading the investigations on many fatal accidents. It's a matter of science and mathematics to reconstruct a scene, but you're also dealing with the human costs, the dead bodies and their friends and relatives. 

"I can remember, as I drive around the county and see the crosses, the memorials from fatal accidents," Duyssen said. "All the guys who have to work these cases, the community doesn't know the carnage that a deputy, trooper, police officer sees throughout 20 some years. You can remember smells, sights, sounds, and you can relive that.

"So I know what PTSD is all about. In the crash world, to use the science and the evidence and translate that to reconstruct a scene, to see that those who are physically wrong, if it's a DWI manslaughter case, and justice serves, there's nothing better."

Never, Duyssen said, are these accidents really accidents.

They're collisions.

"An accident is if you or I spill our coffee or milk," Duyssen said. "A car crash is either reckless, careless or negligent."

Drugs, drink, not enough sleep, speed, distracted driving, are all choices.

"I've seen some of these little kids tear me up," Duyssen said. "You just say, 'why?' and that's why it's time. I've seen enough. I've done enough. It's time for another, younger guy to take over."

A decade ago, Duyssen received the Carl Drexler Award, one of the highest honors in the state for a deputy sheriff for exceptional career achievements and conscientious devotion to duty. Both Duyssen and Sheriff Gary Maha mentioned at the awards ceremony memorable moments in the deputy's career.

One of the things that made Duyssen an exception deputy, Maha said, was his ability to relate to people. He was so good at getting suspects to talk and even confess, that Maha said he would have made a great detective.

"He had a lot of common sense and sometimes that makes a big difference in an officer," Maha said.

Yup, Duyssen, said, he could always talk with people.

"Law enforcement doesn't mean you have to be the biggest Hulk Hogan guy to enforce the law," Duyssen said. "I'm definitely not the biggest guy. My biggest asset is talking with people and solving things that way. If you treat people nice, they reciprocate I think, and they'll tell you want they did wrong. How do we get confessions? By treating people the right way. You know that hard-ass cop stuff just doesn't work."

More than once, Chief Deputy Jerome Brewster would remind him, "Just go out and talk, John," Duyssen said. "Talk to them."

"So, you head back out, things start rolling and next thing you know, you hand them a pen and a piece of paper and tell them, 'why don't you just tell me what happened?' " Duyssen said. He smiled, mimicked writing on a piece of paper, and added, "Five pages was the last one."

John and his wife, Jessica, decided to go the adoption route to start a family, and one adopted son encouraged them to try a second, then a third and finally a fourth and fifth.

They are Jonah, 17, Colt, 17, Julian, 13, Miranda, 6, and Jaden, 5.

All are homeschooled, though Jonah and Colt started at Le Roy High School this year, their senior year. Jonah is playing his first year of varsity basketball and will attend Bible Baptist College in Scranton, Pa., next year, where he plans to continue pursuing his hoop dreams. Colt is a wrestler and soccer player.

With more time for the farm, Jonah might get that second hog barn he wants and John will add some beef cattle. They'll continue to grow and sell their famous strawberries and raspberries.

And John will drive a school bus, working a morning shift, coming home to do chores and then heading back to the bus garage to start a round of afternoon drop-offs.

That's how John Duyssen will spend his time.

At shift change Friday afternoon, Sheriff Gary Maha presented John Duyssen with a Certificate of Appreciation and a keepsake retired deputy badge and ID.

Deputy John Duyssen signs off as GS-33 for the last time.

Friday, January 30, 2015 at 10:30 pm

Holland Land Office Museum celebrating 200 years of its historic building

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, history, hlom

The Holland Land Office Museum opens a new exhibit at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, to commemorate 200th anniversary of the building it calls home.

The building was the third location built by Joseph Ellicott for the Holland Land Office, where Ellicott and his agents sold property to Western New York's first settlers.

That's why they call it the "Birthplace of Western New York."

Some of those first deeds, called indentures, will be on display in the new exhibit, along with surveying material as well as other items that made the land office a land office.

The exhibit will cover the entire period of land office history, including the War of 1812 and the impact of the Erie Canel on WNY trade.

Some of the exhibits will be affixed to panels covered with carpet (the better to hold Velcro) donated by Max Pies Furniture.

There's also information on how John Kennedy, the local educator and education reformer, saved the building for Batavia when Henry Ford tried to buy it and move it to his property in Michigan.

The exhibit kicks off a series of bicentennial events, including in May the burying of a time capsule. 

Fifth-graders from throughout Genesee County are being invited to write letters to their future selves to be buried in the time capsule.  

Any local resident can include a letter or other small item in the time capsule. Call the museum at (585) 343-4727 for more information.

The museum was first dedicated Oct. 13, 1894, and it will be rededicated Oct. 13 of this year.

Photo: Jeff Donahue, museum director, Jim Owen, museum board member, Phil Pies and Steve Pies of Max Pies Furniture.

Friday, January 30, 2015 at 4:27 pm

Comptroller tells Elba Fire Department to audit books, account for expenses

post by Howard B. Owens in elba, Elba Volunteer Fire Department

The Elba Volunteer Fire Department got two dings in a recent comptroller's audit: The board of directors needs to be sure the treasurer's work is audited, and expenditures need to be properly approved and recorded.

There is no evidence of missing or misappropriated funds, though there are a few expenditures that aren't properly documented.

Although there's no evidence of missing money, the department's lax oversight, auditors said, could cause problems.

"The Board’s inadequate oversight and weak controls increase the risk that Department disbursements may not be for appropriate purposes and that all money due the Department may not be received and deposited," the audit report states.

There is a lack of supporting documents for expenditures, auditors said, for $40,566 in spending. There are no documents to show that the board approved these expenditures.

Receipts from the department's largest fundraiser, the Onion Festival, were not properly recorded in 2013, the report states, affecting the department's ability to properly track revenue.

The festival generated $87,210 in revenue, with $78,886 in expenses, for a profit of $8,324.

While raffle tickets printed and sold are properly tracked, the same can't be said, according to the report, of food and beverage tickets.

The treasurer wrote a check to cash for $7,500 before the last festival, so there would be cash on hand for miscellaneous expenses. While she had receipts for $3,250 of the money spent from that fund, the rest of the expenditures had no supporting documentation.

Some of the cash is recorded in the fund-raising report, but there is no documentation for the balance of $1,365.

"The Board’s failure to properly oversee fund-raising activities substantially increases the risk that fund-raising money could be lost or stolen without detection," the report states.

Robert Ziphel, acting president of the Elba Volunteer Fire Department Board of Directors, responded to the audit and stated, "In response to our audit, we agree with your findings. We have implemented changes in 2014 and will continue to do so in the future as needed."

Friday, January 30, 2015 at 11:50 am

Hotel robber found guilty by trial jury

post by Howard B. Owens in batavia, crime
Mark Maltese

The defense challenged the confessions of 44-year-old Mark Maltese to a series of robberies and a burglary in 2013; a jury yesterday found the Batavia resident guilty on all but one count on the indictment against him.

The jury went into deliberations shortly after noon Thursday, returned to the courtroom a couple of times to review video evidence and have transcripts read back, and then returned the verdict at about 4 p.m.

"Obviously, the key to the case is the defendant's confessions," said District Attorney Lawrence Friedman. "That's obviously the most powerful evidence we can have."

Maltese was found guilty of three counts of robbery, one count of third-degree burglary and second-degree criminal mischief and one count of grand larceny, 3rd.

A not guilty verdict was returned on one count of burglary.

The participation of Maltese in a burglary Nov. 27, 2013, of the Rent-A-Center in Batavia led to his arrest and helped investigators crack the case of three hotel robberies in Genesee County in the week prior to the burglary.

In confessions at the time of his arrest, Maltese told police he robbed the hotels because he needed money to buy crack cocaine. 

"I have been struggling with a major addiction to crack cocaine for about the past six or eight months," Maltese said. "This addiction has consumed me and the majority of my money goes to buy crack to feed by addiction. My crack use got way out of control and I didn't know how to stop or slow down with smoking it. I became desperate for money so that I could get more crack cocaine, so I turned to robbing places to get the money I needed for crack. Every bit of the proceeds from the three robberies went to buy crack for me to smoke. I was out of control with my addiction and didn't know where to turn."

Friedman said the defense challenged whether the confession was truly voluntary as well as some of the facts contained in the confession.

Maltese was also convicted of stealing a safe from a local residence, but he was not convicted of the burglary charge in that case.

Maltese faces up to 15 years in prison on each robbery count. Sentencing is set for March 4.

Friday, January 30, 2015 at 11:19 am

Flip Ad contest winner

post by Howard B. Owens in advertisement, Sponsored Post, thebatavian

Our latest Flip Ad contest winner is Bud Prevost.

Bud was the 5th person to send in the correct secret code, which this time was William Morgan.

Bud wins $25.

NOTE: The contest ad is still up and will likely be up throughout the day, but we do have a winner.

Friday, January 30, 2015 at 11:00 am

State Police plan increased DWI patrols over Super Bowl weekend

post by Howard B. Owens in crime, STOP-DWI

Press release:

The New York State Police will join local law enforcement agencies across the state in an effort to crack down on impaired driving during Super Bowl weekend. The STOP-DWI campaign will include increased patrols on the roadways and sobriety checkpoints to deter, identify and arrest impaired drivers.

While STOP-DWI efforts across New York have led to significant reductions in the number of drinking and driving fatalities, still too many lives are being lost because of crashes caused by impaired drivers. During the 2014 campaign, State Police made nearly 100 impaired driving arrests. The campaign will be promoted on variable message boards on highways across the state, including the New York State Thruway, and runs from noon through midnight on Super Bowl Sunday. The enforcement crackdown is funded by the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee.

Troop A Troop Commander Major Michael Cerretto said “We want everyone to enjoy the Super Bowl game and parties, however we would also like to ask them to be responsible, have designated drivers or plans to get home safely. We will be out patrolling the roadways and highways ensuring that they are safe for everyone to use."

An impaired driving conviction carries a maximum fine of $10,000, up to seven years in prison and license revocation.

In 2012, there were 10,322 people killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in the United States — 31 percent of all crash fatalities in the nation.

Friday, January 30, 2015 at 8:04 am

Today's Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

post by Howard B. Owens in polls
Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 6:35 pm

Collins promotes bill to support craft cider makers

post by Howard B. Owens in chris collins, NY-27

Press release:

Congressmen Chris Collins (NY-27) and Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) today issued the following statement after reintroducing the bipartisan Cider Industry Deserves Equal Regulation (CIDER) Act. The Act, HR 600, would amend the section of the tax code that deals with wine and related beverages, 26 USC § 5041, to support the growing number of craft and entrepreneurial cider makers, and tailor IRS rules to reflect variations in craft ciders across the country.

“I am proud to introduce legislation that will support our nation’s apple growers and cider makers,” Congressman Collins said. “The CIDER Act will help spur growth in these industries by restructuring taxes to fairer rates that take into account the natural variations in the cider-making process. I thank Representative Blumenauer for joining me in this goal to reduce burdens on small businesses and simplify our tax code.”

“Cider making is sometimes closer to an art than a science,” Congressman Blumenauer said. “As the American apple and pear hard cider industry becomes more prominent on the world stage, and cider becomes a beverage choice for more Americans’ developing palettes, we need to ensure that cideries have every opportunity to expand and meet the needs of this growing market without an unfair tax burden.”

During the fermentation process, a variety of factors can lead to small changes in the composition of a cider’s alcohol content and carbonation. Because of the narrow way that hard cider is currently defined in the tax code, these small variations can lead to cider being taxed at a rate 15 times higher than what the statute clearly intended. The Collins-Blumenauer bill would update the tax definitions to greatly reduce the chance that improper taxation could occur. The bill would also broaden the definition to include both pear and apple ciders.

The changes proposed by congressmen Blumenauer and Collins will update the existing federal definition of cider to better reflect the industry and keep American cider competitive in the international marketplace. Production nationally has been robust, more than tripling from 9.4 million gallons in 2011 to 32 million gallons in 2013. Cider revenues in the U.S. have been just as impressive, tripling from $178 million in 2007 to $601 million in 2012.

Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 6:23 pm

Just in case this is his last season as head coach, Dave Pero to be honored before tomorrow's game

post by Howard B. Owens in basketball, high school sports, Notre Dame, sports

Notre Dame's Dave Pero will be honored before tomorrow night's girls basketball game against Holley.

Several former players will be on hand to speak and share their thoughts on how Pero helped influence them and shape their lives.

If this sounds like a swan song event for the Fighting Irish coach, it just might be. Then again, maybe not.

Pero hasn't announced any retirement plans but his son, Dave Pero Jr., is thinking that once the season is over, the elder Pero just might call it a career.

"It's not guaranteed he's going to resign, but if I had to put a dollar on it, I would say it's his last year," Pero Jr. said.

Given that hunch, the assistant coach wanted to be sure his father got a proper send-off. The Friday game seems like the best time to do it with only two home games left on the schedule -- a weekday game, which former players who are in college wouldn't be able to attend, and then senior night, and on that night a farewell to the coach would take the spotlight away from the players.

Pero became head coach at the start of the 2002-03 season. His teams have notched eight five league titles, a state title (in 2013) and sectional titles in 2003, 2006 (the team lost the state title game that year), 2007 and 2013.

A logical choice of successor for Pero Sr., is Pero Jr., who said he's obviously interested in the job, but that's a decision for the Notre Dame Board, not to mention his wife, who he would ask to bless any such assignment.

UPDATE: More on Pero's record:  He is currently 234-51, and 101-12 at home. His teams have a postseason record of 34-11.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 1:17 pm

Photo: Demolition of Town of Batavia Fire's rec hall

post by Howard B. Owens in Town of Batavia Fire

Demolition has begun on the old Town of Batavia rec hall (and onetime fire hall) on Lewiston Road. The fire department is planning a new, modern fire hall at the location, as well as a new Station #2 on Clinton Street Road.

Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 9:22 am

Sheriff's Office announces retirement of two deputies

post by Howard B. Owens in Sheriff's Office

Press release:

Deputy Daniel M. VanValkenburg, of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office retired December 20, 2014, after 20 years of service. Deputy VanValkenburg started his career with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office on December 5, 1994, as a Correction Officer at the Jail.  He was appointed Deputy Sheriff-Road Patrol in 1998 and for the past two years, was assigned to the Court Security Detail. In addition to his normal duties, he also participated in community events on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office with the Safe Child ID Program. During his career, Deputy VanValkenburg has earned two Commendation Awards. 

Deputy John R. Duyssen, of the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office will retire effective at the end of his shift tomorrow, January 30, 2015, after 21 years of service. Deputy Duyssen started his career with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office on April 19, 1993. In addition to his normal duties, he was also a Crash Reconstructionist, Field Training Officer and also conducted farm safety training for the agricultural community. During his career, Deputy Duyssen earned several awards which included Officer of the Year in 1998, three Meritorius Awards, and four Commendations. 

“Deputies VanValkenburg and Duyssen have been valued employees with the Sheriff’s Office, and everyone here wishes them all the best in their future endeavors,” stated Sheriff Gary Maha.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Planners look at how to make Batavia more attractive to Millennials

Millennials -- that generation born after 1980 but before the turn of the century -- came of age in a time of economic stagnation, fewer jobs, fewer chances for career advancement, lower pay.

Technology has ruled their lives.

They're getting married later in life, starting families later, and moving to smaller cities in droves.

Buffalo has attracted a 34-percent jump in recent college graduate residents, outpacing bigger cities such as Los Angeles.

All of these trends, and more, are attracting the attention of land use planners and informing a new way of looking at planning, said Felipe A. Oltramari, director of the the Genesee County Planning Department, during a presentation at City Hall this morning on the Millennial Generation.

There are 87 million people born in the Millennial decades, about 11 million more than were born during the Baby Boom years.

What they want out of life tends to be far different than Baby Boomers or even Gen-X.

To them, suburbs are dead.

A higher percentage of them than any previous generation have never had a driver's license. Often, they don't own cars.

They're more environmentally aware and socially connected through their digital devices.

The reason they're flocking to cities like Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Portland and Houston is they're more interested in deciding what lifestyle they want before deciding what job they will take, Oltramari said.

Sixty-four percent settle in a city before they get their first job offer.

"It's going to be a difficult job market any place you go, so you might as well go to someplace where you want to live," Oltramari said.

So why not go to New York City instead of Buffalo?

Because it costs a lot more to live in NYC than Buffalo.

So why come to Batavia instead of Buffalo?

Because, Oltramari said, eventually, as Buffalo attracts more Millennials, the cost of living will rise. Adjacent small cities such as Batavia can offer some of the same advantages of bigger cities, but at an affordable price.

Besides, Millennials are the coming economic driver, so Batavia should be planning to be the kind of community they want now; otherwise, we get left behind.

The planning model for this new urbanism is called "form based."

From the 1920s until recently, all planning was built around zoning codes -- what developers cannot do, not what a community wanted.

Planning zones were radically segregated, not just separating, say, residential from industrial, but apartments from houses, offices from retail space, artisans from factories.

Mix-use was a product of the organic growth of American cities in the 19th Century, but planners tried to stamp it out in the 20th Century.

In the post-War years, as suburbs grew and highways were built to accommodate the booming auto industry, planners replaced dense city blocks with strip malls and paved over culturally diverse neighborhoods.

Batavia, with its white elephant of a mall and Urban Renewal conformity, is an example of a city that lost its soul to parking lots and drive-thru restaurants.

"What planners tried to do was try to make our cities more like suburbs, and what did we get? Very bad suburbs," Oltramari said.

Form-based codes allow cities to set a vision for what they want to be.  

"Conventional planning looks at use, not at form," said Derik Kane, a senior planner for the county, and himself of the Millennial Generation. "In looking at use, you eliminated things you might want, such as small artisans when you moved out the industry, things like that that make an economy and a community. With form-based codes, instead of eliminating things you don't want, you say what you do want."

For developers, new construction and renovation of existing structures becomes a more streamlined process.  

A community with form-based codes doesn't need to require a developer to go through the current lengthy and expensive environmental review process, Oltramari said, because a conforming proposal will already fit within those environmental requirements.

"We need to be moving at the speed of business," said Chris Suozzi, VP of business development for Genesee County Economic Development Center. "Developers don't want delays."

The City Council has already approved funding for a new master plan for Batavia and City Manager Jason Molino said form-based codes will certainly be part of the discussion as the process moves forward.

Urban Renewal did a lot of damage to Downtown Batavia, but there are still positive aspects that can be enhanced.

Kane pointed out that experts in new urbanism recommend you build on successes, rather than trying to fix problems.

For Batavia, that success would center around Jackson Square, especially Jackson Street.

Oltramari suggested borrowing a page from a small Massachusetts city and building over a portion of the parking lot on the west side of Jackson Street and putting up a row of single-story, small retail shops.

Millennials want walkable communities -- remember, they often don't have cars -- which means density, and more retail on Jackson would give them what they want.

County planning is planning on bringing in a walkability expert this summer to study Batavia, but online resources such as WalkScore.com already give Batavia low marks.

On a scale that counts 80 as pretty good, very little of Batavia scores higher than 70 (my house, three blocks south of Downtown Jackson Street, scores 67).  

Greater density and more options downtown would help improve those scores, which Millennials look at when deciding where to live.

One issue planners might wrestle with is Baby Boomers still have an auto-oriented mindset. They demand parking. They expect to park right in front of the store they wish to enter. Any proposal to eliminate parking downtown is going to meet resistance, even as data shows it's not necessary.

People will park and walk, or just walk from their residence, if it's an interesting walk, Oltramari said. 

"Nobody wants to park on the far edge of the Walmart parking and walk to the store, because it's not interesting," Oltramari said. "But if you measure it, they probably walk at least twice that distance once they get inside the store."

People will walk for blocks and blocks at Disneyland, he noted, and then come home and complain if they can't find a convenient parking place downtown.

For Millennials, if they're living and working in a neighborhood they like, parking simply isn't an issue.

"The good news is, we know how to build this way," Kane said. "We built this way for centuries.  Your villages, your main steets, are all walkable places."

Copies of the slides used in Oltramari's presentation along with related material can be found on the Web page for the county planning department.

Premium Drupal Themes