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Geneseo

Town Council race: Tenalio vs. Millard

Foundation establishes Main Street Gallery

Town hesitates on April Meadows tax break

Gang assault on Main Street

Cedarwood Estates finally starts construction

Gateway construction nears completion

Joint village and town office proposals slow to emerge


 

Town Council race: Tenalio vs. Millard

One of the few closely watched and hotly contested town council races in the November election was in the Town of Geneseo, where two newcomers, Republican Mike Tenalio and Democrat Mike Millard, vied for the seat vacated by former councilman Bob Moses. In the wake of Wes Kennison's 1999 election to the post of supervisor, a Millard victory would have given Democrats a majority on the Geneseo town board.

Millard works for Merrill Lynch and is a GEVA director in Rochester. Tenalio works for Kodak and, having recently located to Geneseo, is a former mayor of the Village of Livonia.

Election day saw Tenalio victorious in a 1,239 to 1,026 vote. By a prearranged understanding of the town board, Tenalio was immediately appointed to fill the Moses vacancy.

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Foundation establishes Main Street Gallery

In May the Geneseo Foundation proposed purchase of the three story home at 26 Main Street for conversion to a public art gallery. As envisioned by the foundation, the galley would house the ever growing SUNY Geneseo art collection, most of which had not been displayed for lack of space. The galley would also serve as a public exhibition center for all types of art, as well as a resource center for students.

The proposal was well received throughout the Geneseo community—especially since the likely alternate fate for the grand old home would be conversion to student rental apartments.

The house had a noteworthy history, having been built by President John Tyler's son-in-law William Spencer, later occupied by Benjamin Angel, an American consulate, then Angel's grandson James Gerard, U.S. Ambassador to Germany in World War I. Subsequent owners were Antonio D'Aprile, Dr. C.M. Fero, and Col. Robert McMillan. From 1950 until 1984 the house served as parish center for St. Mary's Church. Recent owners were Marilyn Hanson and Robert Gallo.

Jim Brunner, a well known opponent of college expansionism beyond campus limits, did suggest that the home ought not to be removed from the local property tax rolls, since, even though college-owned, it had potential to produce commercial income.

Brunner's objections were overruled by the Village of Geneseo Zoning Board of Appeals in a June 6 decision, which granted special use status to the structure.

The formal opening of the gallery took place in October with an exhibit which featured the works of 25 members of the Genesee Valley Council on the Arts.

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Town hesitates on April Meadows tax break

In April, Housing Opportunities commenced construction of a 24-unit affordable income townhouse complex at 3 Megan Drive in the Village of Geneseo. The project would mostly serve families with children and low-to-moderate incomes.

The project had the general support of village government, as well as endorsement from Livingston County Catholic Charities.

Controversy arose, however, when, as the project neared completion in August, the Geneseo Town Board balked at granting a tax exemption. Housing Opportunities had anticipated receiving the equivalent of exemptions provided over the past three years to two other projects, the senior citizen Fox Run apartments and the medium-to-high income Morgan Estates. These abatements have a ten year diminishing exemption starting at 50 percent and reaching zero at year eleven.

(As happened with the Avon-on-the-Green project, the developer had made the mistake of failing to secure an exemption agreement with the appropriate town government entity before construction commenced.)

April Meadows had a November dedication ceremony and is now fully occupied by tenants. Over the past four months Housing Opportunities representative Julie Everitt has been courting the Geneseo Town Board, which remains undecided about the exemption. Everitt's strongest arguments for getting the exemption appear to be the precedent set by the Fox Run and Morgan exemptions, and the fact that 75 percent of April Meadows tenants resided or worked in Geneseo before moving into the project.

Town Supervisor Wes Kennison has promised that the board will make its decision early in 2001.

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Gang assault on Main Street

In an unusual gang-related racial hate crime, seven Dansville men faced charges of aggravated harassment, disorderly conduct and felony gang assault in an attack against Aric Lee, age 24 of Geneseo. The incident occurred at Club 41 on Main Street on the evening of June 25. The defendants, all in their early twenties, were Shawn Schledorn, Daniel Renwand, Justin McKinney, Joshua Penta, Jacob Sharp and Jeremy and Adam Tuso. Lee testified he was confronted by the boisterous group who were at the Club 41 bar while he was leaving the restroom. A racial slur was used, words were said and Lee suddenly found himself being beaten, he alleged, by at least six of the gang. Two individuals, including Kevin Meyers, intervened to stop the fighting and lead Lee out of the club. Geneseo Police initially arrested the seven on only the harassment and disorderly charges. The assualt charge was filed after police learned that Lee had suffered a fractured arm during the attack. In Septeber, defendant Jeremy Tuso died in a head-on vehicle collison. The remaining defendants await trial.

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Cedarwood Estates finally starts construction

Frustrated with two years' lack of any construction activity at the Lima Road site of the promised “Cedarwood Estates' subdivision, in January the Geneseo Village Board issued an ultimatum to partners Fred Holub and Matthew Geherin: get construction started or remove your sales office trailer from the site!

With promises from the partners, construction materials were soon delivered to an excavated foundation site. But when construction still did not start and a letter of credit failed to materialize, the board made good its threat, ordering removal of the trailer.

The trailer was removed in May, creating some hardship for the builders, but—to the surprise of some of the village trustees who had been suspicious of the partners' credentials—a $328,000 letter of credit was eventually forthcoming. During the summer, actual construction of the home commenced.

Currently, the project has received necessary DEC approvals for street and sewer construction—and the house is externally complete.

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Gateway construction nears completion

When the new administration of Geneseo Town Supervisor Wes Kennison took office in January, among the inherited matters of business was the Gateway Park: 220 acres of land between Route 20A and Lima Road slated for planned residential, commercial and industrial development, and to be served by new highway and utility infrastructure.

Complimenting a $60,000 investment in planning made by the former Harold Stewart administration during the previous five years, the Gateway construction was also to be subsidized by $1.5 million in Livingston County sales tax industrial funding.

The Gateway stood in contrast to its privately developed counterpart, Morgan Way, on the opposite side of Route 20A. Morgan developers Bill and Peter Bruckel had been vigorous advocates of Kennison's candidacy in the November, 1999 election which saw Kennison victorious over Stewart.

Kennison nevertheless promised that Stewart's pet Gateway project would not be orphaned under his administration. On April 6 the Geneseo Town Board awarded bids for Gateway Construction, with Ramsey being named as general contractor.

Supervisor Kennison invited former supervisor Stewart to move the first shovel-full of earth at the May 19 groundbreaking. Construction of the new road proceeded steadily all summer and autumn.

By December, the Gateway was virtually complete, but faced several unexpected construction glitches connected with gas line relocation and DOT authorization, so the planned December opening will be delayed until spring.

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Joint village and town office proposals slow to emerge

The ascension of Wes Kennison to the position of Geneseo Town supervisor promised to usher in a new era of cooperation between village and town—especially in matters pertaining to the proposed joint office expansion in which former town supervisor Harold Stewart and village Mayor Richard Hatheway often disagreed.

Under Kennison, Stewart's planned purchase of the Hicks Funeral Home building at a reported $450,000 was initially postponed and then entirely abandoned. Town-village consultants Clark Patterson engineers discouraged the Stewart plan, which was to simply move town government into the Funeral Home.

Hatheway and Kennison encouraged the joint Building Committee to pursue the concept of the Hicks building purchase and demolition, and construction of a large village-town annex to the Geneseo Building occupying the former funeral home site. There was an attractive architect's rendering of the proposed complex—and a $5.4 million estimated pricetag.

Although the price was subsequently toned down to $4.6 million, the

resulting "sticker shock" for this and other options would put the project on hold for several months. In May the Building Committee was still examining four building options and had expended $27,000 to date on consulting and architectural fees.

Option One would put an addition on the rear of the Geneseo Building and utilize all three levels for government functions at $4.4 million. Option Two was the favored one at $4.6 million, entailing the Hicks purchase and demolition. Option Three would put police and courts in a new building at Kelsey Field for $4.5 million. Option Four would build a completely new, large facility on Wadsworth Homestead property for $5.1 million.

In September, Mayor Hatheway insisted that the office project “be moved off dead center.” In a new round of frantic Building Committee activity, yet another proposal emerged. The Geneseo Building would be internally revamped and expanded with a three story addition filling the narrow alley which is shared with the funeral home. This latest, favored proposal was admittedly “a compromise.”

It is likely that town and village voters will have a referendum opportunity to accept or reject the ‘alley proposal' in 2001.

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