BATAVIA – A plan to construct an arch at the entry to the newly reconstructed North River Street is moving forward despite criticism about the project’s growing price tag.
The Batavia City Council on Monday approved WW Timber’s final design for the arch at a cost not to exceed $93,960. The cost for lights and installation is estimated to be between $10,000 and $15,000, with the total cost of the arch estimated to be between $112,000 and $117,000.
Voting “no” were 2nd Ward Alderman Victor Dietz and 4th Ward Alderman Susan Stark.
The arch originally was expected to cost about $50,000. North River Street has been transformed into a curbless street in which pedestrians have priority over cars.
Steve Vasilion, an architect who is running against 5th Ward Alderman Eldon Frydendall in Tuesday’s election, criticized the arch’s look and its cost.
“It doesn’t speak to our past or point forward to our future,” Vasilion told aldermen. Vasilion said he was speaking as a private citizen and not an aldermanic candidate.
The North River Street project is being funded with money generated from the two active downtown TIF districts. Concept plans for the arch can be seen at the city’s website, www.cityofbatavia.net.
Batavia Woman’s Club member Joan Marks also criticized the arch.
“It is a waste of money,” she said.
Frydendall noted the streetscape project has generated conversation.
“People either hate River Street or love River Street,” he said.
First Ward Alderman Michael O’Brien said the arch will help bring more people to the downtown.
“This is an investment,” he said. He said the arch plans were reviewed by a group of 15 residents and business owners.
Stark, however, said “15 members of the community is a very, very small slice of Batavia.”
“I think that we may need to go back to the drawing board,” Stark said, in voting against the plans. “That money could be reallocated.”
Fourth Ward Alderman Jim Volk said he would like to see the arch installed.
“It’s art by committee,” Volk said. “We are not going to please everyone. If it’s that dog ugly, the next City Council can tear it down.”