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Batavia considers assistance for River Street businesses

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012 6:42 a.m. CDT

BATAVIA – The city of Batavia is looking at giving utility assistance to River Street businesses affected by the streetscape improvement project.

River Street is set to reopen to pedestrian and vehicular traffic Oct. 19. The street has been closed since spring.

“There is no disputing the fact that, despite the attempts to maintain access, the project has had a significant negative impact to the street. And access at any particular hour to any particular business has been confusing, to say the least,” Batavia City Administrator Bill McGrath said in a memo to aldermen.

Given the impact, city staff has proposed reimbursing River Street businesses El Taco Grande, Katrina’s Spa, Tusk Thai, Rhino Room and O’Brien’s for six months of city utilities. The city operates its own electric department.

With a monthly average of about $825 per business, the total reimbursement would be about $25,000, McGrath said.

City staff has recommended the reimbursement. Aldermen will discuss the issue today at their Community Development Committee meeting.

“Staff believes that those particular businesses have taken the brunt of the project,” McGrath said.

The Batavia City Council approved a budget of $3.5 million for River Street. The project is being funded with tax increment financing funds generated from the two active downtown TIF districts.

The plan for North River Street from State Street to Wilson Street calls for making it a curbless street in which pedestrians have priority over cars; adding identity gateways at Wilson and State intersections; widening the sidewalk on the north side of State; and replacing the diagonal parking with parallel parking.

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