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posted: 4/2/2013 1:06 AM

Batavia to spend $100K plus for River Street arch $93,960 for wood-and-metal piece doesn't include cost of lighting

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Batavia will spend as much as $117,000 on an entry arch for North River Street to finish a streetscape project.

Only two aldermen, Susan Stark and Victor Dietz, voted against the request Monday night.

The arch will be paid for with property taxes collected from the tax-increment financing district the street is in. The taxes are to be used to improve the downtown.

Batavia resident Steve Vasilion, an architect, asked the council to reconsider the design. "I don't like the design. I don't see this as a design that particularly touches on our past ... I don't see this as a design that particularly points to our future."

He doesn't even see it as an arch, but described it as a halo shape that is 30 feet in diameter and 14 feet above the street. Vasilion also criticized the spending. "$120,000 is a lot of money when you are looking at wants vs. needs," he said. Vasilion is a candidate for 5th Ward alderman April 9, but said he was not speaking as a candidate.

His opponent, Alderman Eldon Frydendall, said the River Street project, which removed curbs and made a mall-like shared, bricked space for cars and pedestrians, has been a hot topic as he campaigned door-to-door. "People either love River Street or hate River Street. There doesn't seem to be any halfway." But Monday was the first he's heard of complaints about the arch, he said.

Alderman Michael O'Brien said a 15-person committee of aldermen and residents had worked on the design of the streetscape project in public meetings, and that they heard no comments from other residents about having an arch.

"With due respect to Alderman O'Brien, I have to say that 15 members of the community is a very, very small slice of Batavia," Stark said. "I heard from many more than 15 people about the arch and the price."

The contract approved Monday is $93,960 to WW Timber. The city has already spent $9,136 for design work and foundation installation. It expects to spend $10,000 to $15,000 on lighting.

The initial rough estimate for an arch was $55,000, but the design changed. The arch will be placed at the intersection with Wilson Street.

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