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Saturday, May 4, 2013 at 11:25 am

Photos: Flag raising at the Peace Garden

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Peace Garden

Batavia and Le Roy Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and the American Heritage Girls Troop NY0146 in Le Roy participated this morning in a flag raising at the International Peace Garden.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Innovative Community Contribution of the Year Award: Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden

post by Alecia Kaus in batavia, business, Chamber Awards, Peace Garden

This is the first of a series of articles we will run over the next three days highlighting the winners of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce awards for 2012. The awards gala is Saturday evening at the Clarion Hotel.

When Barb Toal went on a sightseeing trip to Rome, Italy, with her sister six years ago, she sat in a beautiful garden across from the Colosseum to rest for a few minutes. At the time she had no idea what the garden was, only that it was a wonderful peaceful spot to sit and take a break.

Fast forward two years later to 2009.

Barb is sitting in the living room of Paula Savage, president of the International Peace Garden Association, who is trying to convince Barb to help set up an International Peace Garden commemorating the War of 1812 in the City of Batavia.

As the two women sat discussing the project, Paula had a laptop on the coffee table running pictures of International Peace Gardens from around the world. Barb froze when she saw a photo of the beautiful garden she remembered sitting in a few years earlier on her trip to Rome.

After scrolling through a few more of Paula's photoss, Barb recognized another garden she visited the following year after her trip to Italy -- in Dublin, Ireland.

"It's pretty ironic. I've been to two of them now. This is a no-brainer. I gotta get involved," Toal said.

Being president of the Holland Land Office Museum at the time, she thought this would be good use for the vacant land to the east of the museum and a good way to bring more people in to visit the Holland Land Office."This is a great fit, a perfect fit," Toal thought. The idea was now planted.

She then solicited the help of longtime friend Carol Grasso. The two have been friends since ninth grade and both graduated from Pembroke High School together.

"I just knew I had to be a part of it," Grasso says.

"This community, we knew since we were little, would come together to make this happen," Toal added.

Armed with seven solid volunteers, the group now referred to as "Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden" went to work. After four years of meetings, fundraising, and solicitations, they were ready to make the garden a reality.  

Running into many obstacles along the way, the project had to be accomplished one day at time. The electric wiring and digging through the base of Walnut Street and the old bridge was a stopper.

"After the electric meeting we were whipped. We thought, 'we can't do this and it's not gonna happen,' Toal said. It was like climbing a mountain, I slipped went down 10 notches then had to go up another 10 again." She said she learned a lot about patience over those four years.

Toal said they knew what they had to do, but had no money. It was amazing how the community came out to help. There were 15 landscaping trucks in the prime season that showed up and volunteered to revamp the once-barren land.

Martin Dilcher, of Dilcher's Excavating, who nominated the group for the award, was driving by the work in progress one day and spotted Barb using a jackhammer. She was making her way through layers of old buildings and solid rock to create a 5-foot hole in the ground for the electric and base for the globe. Dilcher yelled out to her, "What are you trying to do kill yourself ?" Dilcher showed up at 9 a.m. the next morning with a backhoe to help out.

When Toal needed someone to make the giant metal globe she turned to her neighbor Rob Barone who is a welder. He didn't know what she really wanted.

Toal made a trip to BJ's Wholesale and purchased a glass globe in a box and showed it to Barone. She also handed over a few pictures of one located in the Town of Lima. Barone then solicited the help of Patrick Waite, and together they created the globe that is currently on display at the Garden.

According to Grasso, "There were a lot of ups and downs. We didn't think we were going to make it, especially moneywise, but we did it."

She says people can't wait to help out and fund-raise now.

The Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden will be holding their third annual fundraiser dinner to be held at Terry Hills April 27th. They are planning a fashion show and are honoring Joe Gerace and Carolyn Pratt this year.

May 11th they will be having a birthday party and celebrate by raising the 23 flags for the year. It will be a community day from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Everyone is welcome to come out and join in the festivities.  

The Batavia Peace Garden commemorating the War of 1812 is stop number 13 of 25 on a 600-mile trail that runs through Canada and the United States. Batavia became the rallying point in the War of 1812. British forces burned 200 homes in Youngstown, many families then relocated to the Batavia area to take shelter.

Three more gardens were added to the trail last year. All are located in the Thousand Islands region of New York State. Brussels, Belgium, will be the location of the next garden. It will be created in 2014.

Toal says the group has plans on expanding the Batavia Garden in 2014. They want to extend the grounds to include the area behind the Genesee County Courts facility near the falls of the Tonawanda Creek. They will add more flags and possibly a gazebo.

Toal, who is now retired, says she is more busy now being president of the Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden. She says, "It hasn't been a hard road, just a long road to get to this point."

"To think what we've done in a couple of years, it's humbling to think we got this award," Grasso says. "It's was worth every drop of sweat that we had. All the hard work, the back-breaking digging. It's amazing."  

Anyone interested in buying a brick or path stone can contact Barb Toal at 585-344-2548 or e-mail her at btoal@ rochester.rr.com.

The group also has a new Web site, bataviapeacegarden.org.

Photo by Howard Owens. From left, Barb Toal, Mary Ellen Wilber, Carol Grasso, and Berneda Scoins.

Friday, December 21, 2012 at 10:50 am

Memorial set up for Newtown victims at Peace Garden

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Peace Garden

Press release:

As a nation, grieves the Batavia Peace Garden provides a place of solace where Batavia citizens can visit to lament their feelings of sadness for the fallen angels of Newtown, Conn., a community very similar in size to that of Batavia.

Barb Toal, project manager for the Batavia Peace Garden, commented that “with so many people in our community touched by this terrible sadness it just seemed like the right thing for us to do. When events like this happen you just feel so helpless and you need a place to go to express those feelings”.

Over the next few days, Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden will be hanging pink ribbons through the trees at the Peace Garden in honor of the 20 slain children and six teachers who perished last Friday.

Residents and visitors are invited to drop by the Peace Garden. The temporary memorial will be on display in the glass covered kiosk at the Peace Garden in Paolo Busti Park adjacent to the Holland Land Office for the next several weeks.

Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:48 am

Chance to meet Frederick Douglas descendant at Batavia Peace Garden on Sunday

post by Daniel Crofts in batavia, events, local history, Peace Garden

As part of an interstate tour focused on the history of the anti-slavery movement in the Northeast, 16 educators from California and Kenneth Morris, the great-great-great grandson of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, will come to Batavia's Bicentennial Peace Garden around 3:30 pm on Sunday.

The Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden, the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and the office of the County Historian are planning an afternoon of educational entertainment that includes refreshments and costumed reenactments. It is free and open to the public, but people should bring their own chairs.

The Peace Garden is located at West Main St. in Batavia. It is right next to the Holland Land Office Museum, which is at 131 West Main St.

Event Date and Time

July 29, 2012 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm
Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:34 am

Chance to meet Frederick Douglas descendant at Batavia Peace Garden on Sunday

post by Daniel Crofts in announcements, batavia, local history, Peace Garden

As part of an interstate tour focused on the history of the anti-slavery movement in the Northeast, 16 educators from California and Kenneth Morris, the great-great-great grandson of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, will come to Batavia's Bicentennial Peace Garden around 3:30 pm on Sunday.

The Friends of the Batavia Peace Garden, the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and the office of the County Historian are planning an afternoon of educational entertainment that includes refreshments and costumed reenactments. It is free and open to the public, but people should bring their own chairs.

The Peace Garden is located at West Main St. in Batavia. It is right next to the Holland Land Office Museum, which is at 131 West Main St.

Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Photos: Peace Garden dedication

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Peace Garden

In an afternoon-long celebration, highlighted by the raising of flags of 20 nations, the Peace Garden in Batavia was dedicated today.

Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 12:15 am

Anti-U.N. residents plan protest during peace garden dedication Sunday

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Peace Garden

The dedication of the peace garden in Batavia on Sunday will draw a quiet protest from some local residents, according to Mike Barrett, owner of Barrett's Batavia Marine.

The problem, Barrett said, is that the peace garden is a little too closely linked with the United Nations and Barrett and others are no fan of the U.N.

One of Barrett's current concerns is a U.N. push to create an international treaty on the trade of guns, and while supporters of the treaty say it merely deals with the illicit sale of guns, groups such as the NRA fear it's really an attempt to circumvent the 2nd Amendment (Wikipedia).

"(The peace garden is) a noble effort," Barrett said, "but when one of the principles of the peace garden gets an award from the United Nations and they're going to have a torch run via the U.N. from Buffalo to Albany, that concerns us. We don't want anything to do with the U.N."

Barrett is referring to Paula Savage, a Batavia native who organized the first peace garden in Ottawa and is now part of the International Peace Garden Foundation.

Savage was recently honored by the U.N. for her peace garden efforts.

The Batavia garden is adjacent to the Holland Land Office Museum on West Main Street and the protest is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. on the opposite side of the street.

"It will be peaceful. There will be no bullhorns," Barrett said. "We're going to have an informational protest to show that the the peace garden is associated with the United Nations and that we're dead set against what the U.N. does."

Sunday, June 5, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Photo: Hot dog sale to benefit the Peace Garden

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Peace Garden

Volunteers were in front of the Holland Land Office Museum parking lot today hawking hot dogs to raise funds for the International Peace Garden.

The peace garden supporters will be back at HLOM weekend after next.

Friday, February 18, 2011 at 1:13 am

During his return to Batavia, Terry Anderson sees hope for the Middle East

post by Howard Owens in batavia, Peace Garden, Terry Anderson

It's an auspicious time for Terry Anderson to return to Batavia to dedicate a peace garden.

Anderson, who grew up in Batavia, was chief Middle East correspondent for Associated Press when he was abducted on March 16, 1985, in Beirut following a game of tennis. Anderson was held in captivity by Hezbollah for six years and nine months.

As Anderson returns to his boyhood home, the Middle East is exploding in a way it never has before. Governments in Tunisia and Egypt have been toppled by pro-democracy demonstrators. Even the Iranian government, which backs Hezbollah, is facing youthful opposition.

Anderson is cautiously optimistic about what he sees happening.

"I watched Yasser Arafat and Isaac Rabin shake hands on the White House lawn," Anderson said tonight during a meet-and-greet at Batavia Downs. "It was one of the most optimistic days of my life, because I covered that conflict for years, and (look at) what has happened since.

"It doesn’t always turn out for the best. But yes, I see something new in the Middle East. I see something that promises something hopeful for the future."

One of America's most acclaimed and recognized journalists, Anderson was invited to return to his former hometown to help raise funds for a War of 1812 Peace Garden planned for a plot of land adjacent to the Holland Land Office Museum.

Anderson will have a busy day Friday, starting with an 8 a.m. visit to Batavia High School. He will also have lunch with GCC President Stuart Steiner followed by a public lecture at noon at GCC. At 2 p.m., there will be a press conference with Anderson at the Genesee County History Office, 7 W. Main St., and at 5 p.m., the main event -- a dinner at Terry Hills ($25 per person), where Anderson will be the featured speaker.

Thursday night, Anderson arrived at Batavia Downs shortly after 7 p.m. and he was warmly greeted by a few old friends as well as people involved in organizing the peace garden effort. Anderson also took a few minutes to talk with members of the media who where there.

Anderson -- who recently finished a teaching stint at the University of Kentucky and is now contemplating a return to residency in Upstate New York -- was animated as soon as the topic turned to the turmoil in the Middle East.

He recalled that he was in captivity when Marcos fell in the Philippines, and that was followed by the regime falling in South Africa and then, of course, the toppling of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the Soviet Union.

"It just proves again what we knew then – you can have all of the police and secret police and guns and thugs in the world, and when your people stand up and say, ‘no, we’re tired of you,’ you’re gone," Anderson said.

He added, "Every country is different, but there is something going around that they all seem to have in common: They are tired of dictators and corruption and denial of human rights."

A Vietnam veteran, Anderson said that as a 19-year-old Marine, he visited the most famous peace garden in the world, the one at ground zero in Hiroshima, Japan. So when he was invited to return to Batavia to help bring about a new peace garden he thought, "who's not in favor of peace?

"Why would I miss a chance to dedicate a peace garden? It may be on a smaller scale, but why wouldn't I support it?"

Photo: Jim Owen gets an autograph from Terry Anderson on one of his books.

Monday, April 5, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Peace garden efforts moving forward; Terry Anderson expected to lend support

post by Howard Owens in batavia, hlom, Peace Garden, Terry Anderson

holm_peacegarden.jpg

With a nod of approval (no official vote could be taken) from the Legislature's Human Services Committee today, Marilyn Drilling and Barb Toal are ready to push forward with plans for a peace garden next to the Holland Land Office Museum.

They need to raise $55,000 in the next 11 months, and Drilling said a key component of the fundraising campaign will include a dinner with Terry Anderson as the keynote speaker.

terry_anderson.jpgAnderson, who was held captive in Lebanon for more than 6 years, from 1985 to 1991, hasn't visited his hometown of Batavia in 19 years.

He didn't want to make it 20, said Drilling, executive director of HLOM, and he agreed to support the peace garden effort at no cost to the organizers.

"Who better to talk about peace than a man who spent so much of his wonderful life behind locked doors," Drilling said.

The dinner is planned for Sept. 9.

The county owns the land next to the museum and must approve any new use of the strip of real estate hard against the Tonawanda Creek. To grant approval, the Legislature must receive a finished plan, which includes at least the potential of approvals from the City of Batavia and the Army Corps of Engineers, as well as contract language from County Attorney Charles Zambito and final engineering plans.

Without that, the Human Services Committee couldn't even poll members for consensus, but it was clear there were no objections from members for pushing forward with the project.

"Of all the people I've heard talk about it, I don't think I've heard anybody say they're not in favor of it," said Hollis Upson. "It's very interesting the amount of outpouring and number of volunteers who support it. It's been vary contagious."

Drilling is concerned that without a sense that the county supports the project, it will impede fundraising, which needs to proceed now.

There are 20 countries with official Peace Gardens, which is an international effort to promote and recognize peace among nations. The Peace Garden Foundation promotes the effort and was founded by current president Paula Savage, a resident and native of Batavia. The Batavia garden would be an honorary, not official, member. It would feature the 20 flags of the countries with official gardens.

Each country would be represented by its flag, and flag poles would be sold for donations of about $2,500 each, according to Drilling.

Drilling sees the peace garden as a natural extension of HLOM, helping to bring in tourists.

Toal, who chairs the local Peace Garden Committee, said it's a natural fit for Batavia and the strong interest in the region from War of 1812 enthusiasts.

Batavia, she said, served as a key defense in stopping the British advance after Buffalo was destroyed. Many tourists interested in the War of 1812 make the trip to Batavia, she said, and the peace garden at HLOM would be an appropriate destination point.

No county funds would be used in building and maintaining the peace garden, which is why, Drilling said, it's important to get started on fundraising now.

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