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Village schedules 9/11 ceremony

6 Sep

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One of the most solemn anniversaries in our nation’s history comes around again next week. The two simple words by which we all know it belie the horror of the day: 9/11.

The Village of Webster always does a very nice job commemorating the occasion, with a ceremony held at the gazebo at Veterans Memorial Park, on North Ave.

Scheduled for next Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., the event usually lasts around 45 or 50 minutes, and includes first responders, and local and regional political representatives who offer some comments. Last year the Chorus of the Genesee also participated, performing some patriotic tunes.

Members of the Webster Fire Department are planning to congregate at the station on South Ave. at around 6:15 and march as a group to the ceremony. You won’t want to miss that.

Click here to see the blog I wrote about last year’s 9/11 ceremony.

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Village gets charged up

29 Aug

charge 1

The Village of Webster has just taken a very big eco-friendly step.

Just this week, the village installed a new EV charging station for electric cars, located in the village parking lot behind Village Hall and the fire station. It will fully charge a car in about six hours (faster than home charging) and it has two ports, so that two cars can use it at the same time. It works with an app called EVConnect, which drivers download on their phones.

Village Mayor Darrell Byerts said that installation of the charging station is part of a charge 2broader plan to make the village a “greener” community, and perhaps nab a New York State grant.

“This brings the Village a step closer to being a Clean Energy Community and eligible for a $5000 grant,” Byerts wrote in an email.

“I have been in favor and an advocate of a charging station in the Village since seeing one at the Port of Rochester and a public parking lot in Venice, Florida,” Byerts added. “We join a growing number of local communities that are providing service for the new electric vehicles.  In fact, we are investigating and considering the future purchase of electric vehicles for Village use.”

“It is exciting to be able to now service vehicles in the heart of the downtown business area.”

Final details are still being worked out, including hours of operation, how long cars can stay connected, and whether there’s a charge to use it (no pun intended). These details will be discussed at the upcoming Village Board workshop on Tuesday Sept. 4 and regular Village Board meeting on Thursday Sept. 13. So if you’d like to weigh in on any of those topics, you should try to attend one of those meetings.

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Construction and deconstruction in the village

23 Jul
gateway

WHAT is going on at the intersection of North Ave. and 104?

If you’ve driven by the intersection of North Ave. and Rt. 104 lately, perhaps when you came into town Saturday for the Jazz Fest, you noticed there’s quite a bit of construction going on along North Ave., especially at the intersection with 104.

It’s all part of the North Ave. revitalization project, which will mean a little bit of a mess for a while, but in the end will make our village’s primary access point much more attractive.

A big part of that project is the gazebo and sign-like thing going up at the bottom of the 104 east exit ramp. That’s all part of what the village is calling the North Ave. Gateway Project. Photos of what the finished project will look like are posted below.

 

According to Village Mayor Darrell Byerts, “The land was given to the village by the state and will be a park and rest stop along the bike trail.”

Specifically, it appears from the drawings that drivers and pedestrians who approach Webster will encounter a handsome gazebo, water fountain, and a sign welcoming them to the village. The electronic billboard that was down there at the intersection for a while announcing upcoming events will be replaced by something less tacky, but equally informational.

While I was at Village Hall taking photos of these drawings, I popped into the office of Superintendent of Public Works Jake Swingly and asked him if there’s been any movement in plans to purchase and install bike racks in the village. (Click here to read more on that issue.)

He was able to tell me that they’ve come up with a tentative design (which he wasn’t able to share with me yet), and it sounded like the village is considering purchasing four custom-designed racks.

Mayor Byerts added in another email that “Some ideas regarding the bike racks have been put forward. How to pay, since they were not in the budget for this year, is the question.”

Hopefully the village will discover that they’re not too pricey. As long as we’re spiffing up the village and trying to make it pedestrian and bike-friendly, they would be a natural addition and well worth the cost.

water tower

The deconstruction to which I referred in the headline is the dismantling of one of the two water towers just south of the village on South Ave.

Mayor Byerts told me in an email that,

The little tower, “Top Hat,” is not needed by the MCWA. When we removed the cell antennas, they were ready to take it down. The remaining large tower is all they need as a reserve. MCWA will be scraping and painting the outside with a MCWA and Village of Webster logo as well as relining the inside of the tank. This would have been a huge expense for the village a few years ago.

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Village looks to upgrade two of its parks

30 Jun

If you’re a fan of our village parks, here’s something that might interest you:  Our village administrators are looking to make improvements to two of them, Schantz Park on State Rd. and Veterans Memorial Park (Gazebo Park) on North Ave.

A lot of changes are being proposed, all of which can be seen in the photos I’ve included above. You can also click here to see a detailed .pdf document:  2018.06.26 DRAFT Webster Parks Public Meeting. But here are some of the highlights:

Improvements to Schantz Park would focus mostly on the southeast portion of the park, adjacent to State Road. The tennis courts, which are infrequently used and are in very poor repair, would be removed entirely. Replacing them would be a much larger parking lot, a pavilion and a natural play area. All would presumably make the park more comfortable and welcoming for families and fans who come to watch ball games played there.

Plans for Veterans Memorial Park are much more extensive.

The biggest change would be the addition of a sidewalk encircling the entire grassy area of the park, expanding into a larger paved area directly in front of the gazebo. The idea here is to encourage better circulation and additional seating area, with the added benefit of providing easier access for those with disabilities.

The veteran’s memorial itself and its gardens would be moved from the southeast corner of the park to the northeast. And fear not, the park will still have a clock, although chances are very good it’s going to be replaced with something as handsome, but a lot less troublesome.

Sculptures, additional plantings, a rain garden, and a decorative gateway will make things look pretty.

While plans have been sketched out for both parks, right now the village is only planning to try for a state grant to work on Veterans Park, and focus on Schantz Park some time in the future.

The proposed upgrades come from recommendations provided by a six-member advisory committee comprised of village and local business representatives. Matt Chatfield, Executive Director of the Webster Economic Development Alliance, explained that the public meeting was the next step in the “quick concept phase” of the proposal.

“The grant application is just the first of many steps in this process,” he said. “If the Village is awarded funding, there will be several additional public involvement opportunities prior to any final design and construction.”

Of course this is going to be a long process (anything involving government administration usually is). The grant application isn’t due until the end of July, and we won’t know until December if we’ve been awarded any funds. If so, then there’s an entire year-long park design process. Construction wouldn’t even begin until late 2020.

No other information/comment gathering sessions are planned at this point. However, if you’d like to share your opinions about the planned improvements, you can fill out this form here. (It only asks your thoughts about Veterans Memorial Park because it’s the only one on the table for now.)

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Community meetings scheduled this week

24 Jun

 

welcome to webster

So I came across some information mostly by chance about a few community meetings coming up that I think everyone should know about.

The first is the Town of Webster Community Meet & Greet, Monday June 25 from 7 to 8 p.m. in the community room at the Webster Public Library.

Participants will get a chance to meet their state, county and town elected officials, along with first responders and leaders of several community organizations, including the Webster Special Police, who will be recruiting new officers during the event.  It’s a good chance to learn about upcoming projects and ask questions. Bring the kids, too, because there’s going to be some crafts set up for them.

Then on Tuesday June 26, the Village of Webster will host an Open House Meeting at the Community Meeting Room, 28 W. Main Street, to discuss updates to some of the local parks, and other plans for the village.

The meeting is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

I’m planning to be at both meetings, so I hope to see you there!

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Update on the bike racks

15 Jun

As promised, I did attend the Webster Village Board meeting last night and said my piece about the need for more bike racks in the village. I am pleased to report that the idea was well received. Actually, it appears that Jake Swingly, Superintendent of Public Works, has already done some legwork on the idea.

In the discussion that followed my presentation, Swingly said that after the idea was first proposed a month or two ago, he had done some investigating to see what kinds of bike racks were available for purchase and what they cost.

What he found out is 1) they cost “a lot to really a lot” and 2) they can be as simple as just a hitching post design to pretty much any shape you might want from an animal to a martini glass.

Swingly also thought that installing bike racks might present a marketing opportunity. He suggested working with the BID to have the village logo or other message laser-cut into them.

There was also discussion about where the racks might be installed — down by Veteran’s Park and in front of Smith Insurance at four corners were mentioned — and how they would have to be removable since winter salt application would destroy them.

Nothing much was decided last night. But I was encouraged that Swingly has already looked into the issue, and that the board members seemed to think it was a good idea. I’m hoping that there’s now some momentum, and perhaps later this summer we village cyclists will have someplace — or several places — to park our bikes when we go into town for a pizza or a pint or a concert.

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Village bicyclists, unite!

14 Jun
bikes

Dunkin’ Donuts on North Ave. could use its own bike rack, evidenced last June when my husband and I went for coffee one Sunday morning.

At a recent gathering of our Barry’s (Pub) Runners club, a running buddy and I were discussing how the Village of Webster could really use some bike racks.

The only one we have in town right now (and you probably don’t even know it’s there) is a small one on Lapham Park at the corner of East Main, outside where Mac 5 Bikes used to be. Not big enough for more than one — maybe two — bikes, and not very convenient.

I’d love to see a bike rack installed at the gazebo park, one outside Barry’s or Smith Insurance across the street, maybe even one in front of Village Hall.

I’m going to propose just that tonight (Thursday) at the Village Board meeting, and I invite any and all other village biking fans to join me in support. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Village Meeting Hall, 29 South Ave. You can enter off of South, or behind the building off of the parking lot.

And yes, I’ll be riding my bike there.

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Some thoughts about the Village Board

11 Mar

It had been a long time since I’d attended a Webster Village Board meeting, but last Thursday, on the advice of the fine ladies at the Village Hall (where I’d gone to renew my passport), I decided to go. And I’m glad I did.

The evening was marked by two important events. The first was a moment of silence in honor of one of the village’s finest people, Carol Klem, who passed away about a week ago.

Village Trustee Karl Laurer added some thoughts. He said that Carol was “instrumental in helping me be in the position I am now. … She was a fine example of humility, integrity, decency, honor, and a solid part of our village meetings.”

Village Trustee Jude Lancy added that Carol’s funeral, held the previous day, was a “great celebration of her life….As sorrowful as we felt, (the officiants) made us laugh.”

Mark

The next order of business was another celebration of service to the community, but a bit happier one, when David Mayer was recognized for his almost 21 years of service as the village’s Planning and Zoning attorney.

During his tenure he served under seven different mayors of different political parties, earning respect from them all.

On a side note, I have to say that attending the Village Board meetings is a pleasant experience once again.

I had gotten out of the habit of attending these meetings because I was a bit put off by the shenanigans and the circus it had become under the previous administration. I had both a prurient interest in attending just to see what might happen, but also felt frustrated, embarrassed and annoyed by what did transpire.

But now they’re back where they belong: civil, not contentious. There’s a lot of dry procedural matters that necessarily have to be part of village business, but there’s usually also a lot of interesting information for our day-to-day village living.

For example, at one meeting late last year, one resident brought up his concerns about the clock tower in Veterans Park, and how it had been broken for so long. He by the way, was one of the residents who worked so hard to raise money to purchase it.

I encourage every village resident to check out a meeting every once in a while. It’s a good way to become an informed citizen, and a great avenue by which to express your concerns about what’s going on in the village. There aren’t many opportunities these days when we can look a government leader in the eye and share our gripes.

Village Board meetings are held the second and fourth Thursday of every month beginning at 7 p.m., in the Village Community Meeting Hall, 29 South Avenue. (This is a new time. Meetings used to begin at 7:30, but were moved as of March 1.)

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Goodbye, my friend

6 Mar

carol_klemWebster began the painful process today of saying goodbye to one of the village’s most precious people, Carol Klem.

Carol passed away peacefully on Saturday March 3, surrounded by her family.

I know I was just one of hundreds to file through Willard Scott Funeral Home this afternoon and evening. But I’m certain that each and every one of those mourners came with a different story, a different memory, a different reason that Carol will be sorely missed.

I knew Carol for less than 10 years, but we shared a passion for local journalism, and a love for the village. When we first met — I don’t remember when or where it was, but it was probably at some village event — we immediately hit it off.  Aside from bonding over our love of writing and journalism, we recognized in each other the same determination to live life fully, not take life too seriously, and never completely grow up.

I will miss our gab sessions at Barry’s and Golden Boys, when we would get together to swap story ideas and gossip. I will miss seeing her swinging her little digital camera at village events. I will miss her ever-present smile, boundless energy and joie de vivre.

Her passing has created an ache in my heart and a rip in the fabric of our village which will take a long time to heal.

Carol Klem’s funeral will be held on Wednesday March 7, at  11:30 a.m. at Holy Trinity Church, 1460 Ridge Rd., Webster. Interment will follow at Holy Trinity Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Webster Arboretum. Click here to read the complete obituary.

Also, if you haven’t found it yet, here is the link to the article I wrote for the Webster Herald in November in anticipation of Carol Klem Day in the village.

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Chip off the old blog

19 Jan

IMG_20180119_070716225There’s a new columnist in town, and it’s a proud mommy moment for me.

My daughter Erin has officially become a new columnist for the Webster Herald. Her column, which she is calling the “Village Beat,” will be published every two weeks in the Herald, and on the village website.

Erin is taking the reins from long-time Webster Herald columnist Carol Klem, who wrote the very popular “Village Focus” column for 12 years.  Knowing that there is really no way to replace Carol Klem, Erin explained in her first column, published on January 3, that she’ll be approaching the piece a bit differently.

She wrote,

I don’t live in the village like Carol does; I’m a Webster native, but I’m a few miles away from the center of town. For me, village life isn’t something I’ve spent my time surrounded by, at least not until the last few years. Still, that doesn’t mean I haven’t felt at home out on Main Street. The village is a place I go in order to meet with friends, spend time with family, have a pint. It’s where I go for experiences that are new and familiar at the same time. Every day is a different experience out there, but no less rewarding. Now I just have the privilege of being able to write down and share those experiences with you.

Now that the Village Beat is column is up and running (her second installment was published this week), Erin needs your help.

She’s going to need your press releases and emails, letting her know what’s going on in the village.  She’s going to want to know about your special events, important anniversaries, heartwarming village stories about village people and places. Let’s start flooding her email box with ideas for future columns, and help her share with everyone else all the things we love about the Village of Webster.

Email your news to webstervillagebeat@gmail.com.

And remember to check out the new column in the Webster Herald and online.

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