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Local

Batavia residents stage protest against proposed downtown arch

BATAVIA – Batavia resident Pat Hirschtick thinks spending $117,000 on a proposed arch to North River Street is a waste of money.

"There are so many people hurting right now," she said. "Why don't they give it back to the taxpayers?"

Hirschtick was among 20 to 30 people Saturday afternoon who were protesting the Batavia City Council's recent decision to build the arch, estimated to cost between $112,000 and $117,000. The protest was held at the corner of River and Wilson streets in downtown Batavia, where the arch would be built.

Batavia resident Dan Anderson held up a sign that simply said, "No."

"It's a lot of money," Anderson said. "That's my opinion. We don't have to spend the money just because we have it."

The arch, planned as part of the North River Street streetscape project, originally was expected to cost about $50,000. As part of the project, North River Street has been transformed into a curbless street in which pedestrians have priority over cars.

Batavia resident Sylvia Keppel, who helped organize the protest, said she wanted to get people's attention.

"It is ridiculous to pay $117,000 for an arch," she said.

The protest got the attention of Batavia 3rd Ward Alderman Dan Chanzit, who said he will call for another vote on the matter at the next Batavia City Council meeting on April 15. Chanzit voted to approve the arch, but said he now regrets his vote. Second Ward Alderman Victor Dietz and 4th Ward Alderman Susan Stark had voted against the arch plans.

"I am listening," said Chanzit, who spoke to the protestors. "I see the backlash. The message was received loud and clear."

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