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Downtown Batavia business owners brace for Wilson Street improvements

Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 4:49 p.m. CST
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(Sandy Bressner – sbressner@shawmedia.com)
Business owners along Wilson Street in downtown Batavia are bracing for streetscape improvements set to start on Wilson Street in the spring.

BATAVIA – Daddio’s Diner owner Scott Beltran doesn’t know what to expect when work begins in June on the Wilson Street streetscape project or how it will affect business at his restaurant at 134 W. Wilson St.

He hopes the project doesn’t drag on as long as last year’s North River Street streetscape project, which took about eight months to complete.

“I felt sorry for those businesses along North River Street,” Beltran said. “It had to be horrendous for those people to cope. It makes me nervous.”

Wilson Street is the next street in downtown Batavia to receive improvements. The project will be done in conjunction with the Wilson Street traffic signal improvements, which have begun.

The project is estimated to cost $3.5 million. The project will be partially funded by a $1.5 million Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program, a federally funded competitive grant program that promotes alternative transportation, bike and pedestrian travel and streetscape beautification. The city also received $656,000 in state funds for traffic signals.

The four-month project will start in June and should be completed by September or October, City Engineer Noel Basquin said. The project will stretch from Island Avenue to Batavia Avenue (Route 31) along Wilson Street.

The streetscape project will include the installation of five or six bump-outs along Wilson Street to reduce the width of roadway that pedestrians have to cross, along with wider sidewalks and brick paver crosswalks at major intersections.

“We’re trying to make it into more of a walking area for downtown residents and customers,” Basquin said.

Basquin knows the work will cause disruptions, but he said the city is working to minimize it. For example, the majority of utility work will be done at night.

Access to Wilson Street businesses will be maintained during the project, he said. If there must be closures, he said that would be communicated to businesses in advance to lessen disruptions.

Gene Olmstead, owner of Olmstead’s TV and Appliances at 221 W. Wilson St., said he feels the downtown business owners have been kept in the dark about the plans.

“It would be nice if they informed people,” Olmstead said. “Nobody has provided a picture of what they want to do or gotten our input.”

Olmstead said he is worried that access to the parking spaces in front of his store will be cut off during the project. He also is concerned that bump-outs will take away “prime” parking spaces on the street.

Basquin said the city will hold a kickoff meeting for downtown business owners in the coming months to discuss the project in detail. Once the project starts, he said business owners will receive regular updates.

Craig Foltos, owner of Foltos Tonsorial Parlor at 7 E. Wilson St., said he isn’t worried about losing customers during the work.

“I’m destination driven,” Foltos said. “They will find a place to park.”

Know more For information, visit www.cityofbatavia.net or Batavia Project Streetscape's Facebook page

The next street to receive streetscape improvements is Houston Street. That project is set to start in 2014.

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