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updated: 6/26/2012 5:21 PM

Batavia delays Houston Street work

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Streetscape work along Houston Street in downtown Batavia has been postponed until 2013. City officials want more time to review changes in the work proposed, and have their hands full keeping up with the streetscape work being done on North River Street, according to a memo by city administrator Bill McGrath.

The city council voted last week to put off the work.

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Batavia plans to replace utilities and upgrade the look of streets and sidewalks throughout the downtown, in a multiyear project that started in May on North River Street.

It had hoped to also get Houston Street, from Batavia Avenue to Island Avenue, done this year too, including replacing a water main and putting a sidewalk on the north side of the street.

But changes proposed to the original design, and hammering out the details for those and the requisite changes to the construction contract, took longer than expected and would have required a quick decision by the city council to get the work finished this construction season. There were also concerns about how to stage the work so that it didn't interfere with the Windmill City festival in July, which takes place on Houston east of Water Street and at the Batavia Riverwalk.

Furthermore, Batavia's administrative officials and the mayor have been busy dealing with issues from the work on North River -- either working out unexpected glitches or placating owners of businesses along the street, which is closed during the project. Doing so is occupying more of their time than expected, according to McGrath's memo.

A week earlier, Mayor Jeff Schielke told aldermen, "It has turned into an almost daily exercise of nursing local merchants along," as they perceived work was not getting done. "I can't get down the street without being pinholed about it."

That perception came from a delay on removal of contaminated soil, according to a city engineer.

The street and its sidewalks were torn out. Utilities are being replaced, and a curb-less street is being installed. The new street is supposed to encourage pedestrian traffic. An entrance arch is also being installed at Wilson and River streets.

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