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updated: 3/14/2013 2:10 PM

River Street remodel just needs warmer weather

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  • The Loyalty Day Parade brings quite a crowd to Batavia.

      The Loyalty Day Parade brings quite a crowd to Batavia.
    JOHN STARKS | Staff Photographer, 2011

  • It might've been difficult to picture during construction just how nice the streetscape on North River Street in downtown Batavia would become. Once the snow melts residents will see something quite special.

      It might've been difficult to picture during construction just how nice the streetscape on North River Street in downtown Batavia would become. Once the snow melts residents will see something quite special.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer


The River Street makeover in Batavia simply waits for its most important ingredient at this point: Warmer weather.

Prior to getting covered with the most recent blast of snow, the benches and large planters along the newly bricked streetscape were visible and reminded us that this will be an enjoyable hangout when spring slips into summer. The light fixtures near the trees are sure to give this portion of downtown Batavia a special feel.

It is designed to look and feel like an extension of the city's Riverwalk area, just as city planners had envisioned.

Wilson Street is next for the streetscape makeover, starting in June. Enduring long construction periods has obviously been painful for downtown business owners, but the payoff looms large.

For those who have felt downtown Batavia has had to endure a back seat to others in the Tri-Cities in years past, that thought may soon be a thing of the past.

Actual sign of spring?: Kane County naturalist Valerie Blaine provides Daily Herald readers with plenty of information about what to watch for as signs of our changing seasons.

Even though it was darn cold at the time, I spotted a sign of spring during a walk at Wheeler Park in Geneva a couple of weeks ago. The grow lights inside the park's greenhouse were doing their work -- mimicking sunlight on seeds and seedlings to get them started for planting in late spring or early summer.

Yes, when you are tired of winter, you'll watch for anything that would pass as a sign of warmer days ahead.

Catching up with Balla: Because he hasn't terrorized local golfers with his dominant performances by playing in the St. Charles City Tournament at Pottawatomie Park in several years, I hadn't seen Rich Balla in a while.

Balla, surely one of the best golfers St. Charles has ever produced, was the city champion five times between 1995 and 2001, while finishing second once. By any measure, that is having your own way on the golf course.

I caught up with Balla at The Office bar and restaurant in downtown St. Charles last week during a Blackhawks' game and asked if he still worked for local golf club manufacturer Tour Edge.

"Yes, as a matter of fact, it is 20 years tonight," Balla said.

That brought back some memories, because Balla was a new employee at Tour Edge about the time I bought my son his first set of clubs there.

Tour Edge has been located in Batavia the past few years, after moving around to a couple of locations in the St. Charles industrial park bordered by Kirk and Kautz roads.

As for Balla, he said he still plays a lot of golf -- and hovers around playing scratch. For those who aren't golfers, that means he's really good and shoots close to par on a regular basis.

A quick Time Out: Time Out, welcomed a few months ago as a new sports bar in St. Charles near the former Dominick's store, looks to have had a short run.

I went by the west side location last week, hoping to take in a Blackhawks game while polishing off a burger -- and the place was pitch dark.

Must be something about that strip mall? The empty Dominick's was turned into Geneva Hardware for a very short-lived run before that operation also closed its doors.

Going upside down: It's the first time I have seen what appears to be a clear indication that a business has closed: Its sign was upside down.

Such was the case last week when wondering why the Pizza Hut sign at the Island Avenue location in Batavia was flipped around.

Workers were hauling stuff out of the location and filling trucks, so this particular pizza location is no longer with us.

Winter joys: At least the sledding hill near the Fabyan Forest Preserve windmill saw a lot of action the past two weeks. After all, if you are a kid living in Illinois, you at least have to get in some sledding.

And it's a good thing, considering a couple of miles south of the sledding hill, the Depot Pond in Batavia has had a shaky winter. The roller coaster changes in the temperatures, low water level, and the heavy, wet snow seems to have left the pond empty fairly often this season.

Park Place's new setup: After closing her store in Geneva earlier this year, owner Kathleen Newhouse confirmed that Park Place Interiors is back in business in St. Charles on an appointment-only basis at 103 N. 11th Ave., Suite 203.

"I'm still doing a very nice business," Newhouse said. "It's more personal, and I feel I can really enjoy the relationship I build with my clients."

A final dancing count: After all expenses were paid, and donations and sponsors' checks came in, the "Dancing With The Geneva Stars" event last month raised $18,500 for the city's arts and schools, event chairman Carolyn Hill said.

That's not a bad way to go out. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, the Geneva Cultural Arts Commission has decided to move on to other events, ending the five-year run of the fun-filled dancing evening.

Planning a parade: Organizations or businesses planning to participate in Batavia's Loyalty Day Parade May 5 should get their spot reserved soon.

Applications are available at, through email at or by calling Batavia VFW Post 1197 at (630) 879-9630.

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