Batavia mayor optimistic about future of city

Updated 11/1/2012 3:12 PM
  • Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke

    Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke

Batavians will have new places soon to satisfy their hunger, Mayor Jeff Schielke said Thursday in his annual address to the chamber of commerce.

"I am very pleased that Batavia seems to be on an upward trend," Schielke said.

Besides the long-anticipated Golden Corral restaurant ("Nov. 17 is the magic day," Schielke said), Fantastico's is reopening in its old space on West Wilson Street, he said.

Open Range Southwest Grill plans to open a second location in the former Lodge on the Fox space at Houston and Water streets, he said. Lodge on the Fox closed about six weeks ago.

An Italian restaurant plans to move into the vacant CiCi's Pizza spot at Randall Road and Wilson.

And Walmart bought a building permit Thursday for its long-planned expansion of the store at Randall and Fabyan Parkway. It will enlarge the building and expand its grocery area, becoming a Super Walmart.

Schielke's speech touched on property and sales taxes, the history of development around town, electrical supply and fears he has about how difficult it may become for the city to get federal and state money for projects.

And he acknowledged the frustration over the building of the new streetscape this summer and fall on North River Street. The street was closed until this week. "This is probably where we get into the darkest point of my conversation here," Schielke said. He showed a slide of a large hole near State and River streets, explaining the streetscape work encountered difficulties with the uncertain location of a limestone stormwater line, installed in the 1890s, that led to delays. The city also replaced old water pipes, as long as it had the street torn up.

Schielke explained the traffic signal interconnection project that has started on Wilson, which should sense traffic and improve its flow throughout the downtown. It will be finished next year, which is also when the Wilson streetscape will be rebuilt. The federal government is paying for part of the project, and Batavia thought it best to "take the money and run," starting the work this year before a new federal balanced-budget law goes into effect in January, he said.

In other news, two yoga studios plan to open in the downtown; Siemens is waiting for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to sign off on the hazardous waste it removed from its former site at McKee and Van Nortwick streets before ripping out the foundations and planting grass; and 12 single-family home-building permits have been issued this year, double that of last year, he said.

"Hopefully you can get some idea of the number of redevelopment opportunities we have in the community," Schielke said.

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