New Fox River bridge in Batavia would require lots of community input

Batavia officials discussed the possibility of a new Fox River bridge and the need to gather resident input before pursuing such a project during a recent review of the city's strategic plan.

No decisions were made and City Administrator Laura Newman said any discussion of a new bridge would require more than a community survey.

If the city were to consider such a project, she said, it would have to host a community conversation in which forums or workshops would be held to gather residents' input.

"We would need community support for a second bridge," she said.

That discussion would "fill a room," she said. "People want to be heard."

The board has been exploring options to pay for another bridge.

"Batavia would foot the bill for building the bridge," Newman said. "Grant funding can't be counted on."

"We have a lot of funds but no funds for a bridge," Alderman Dan Chanzit said.

Alderman Marty Callahan didn't see the point of taking steps to move commuters quickly through an area the city has invested in.

"A bridge will get people through downtown faster," he said. "It doesn't make fiscal sense."

Chanzit said the city can't force drivers to pass through the downtown and a way to bypass the area already exists.

"People already do that (using bridges) in North Aurora and Fabyan (Parkway)," he said.

"I'm not willing to spend any more money on a second bridge if we need money for other things." Alderman Elliot Meitzler said.

"Four of five (residents) don't want a new bridge," Alderman Abby Beck added.

But the group was open to a community forum to gather input.

"We would need to have overwhelming support from the public that want the bridge," Callahan said. "It would reduce what we've done."

Newman presented the board with an option of using a national survey for information about a bridge and other items in the long-term plan. The National Community Survey, a tool utilized by "hundreds of communities," could show how Batavia stacks up against other U.S. cities, she said, compared to local surveys they have done in past years, which only present information about their city.

Surveys are helpful "if you're trying to gauge the livability of your community," Newman said. "It gives us a benchmark for comparing ourselves to other communities."

The latest review of the strategic plan didn't result in any changes or adjustments and no items were sent back to the board, Newman said. But frequent reviews keep everything on track.

"It demonstrates that it's a living, breathing document," she said. "This plan is so specific it guides our day-to-day operations.

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