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Mission in Batavia: Restoring the boardwalk

Shelley Kouzes of Batavia works on removing an old wood plank during a renovation project on the Batavia Riverwalk on Aug. 10.
Shelley Kouzes of Batavia works on removing an old wood plank during a renovation project on the Batavia Riverwalk on Aug. 10.

BATAVIA – On a recent Saturday, Batavia Park District employee Derek Duplack was helping fellow park district employee Justin Klopp remove planks from the well-used boardwalk at the Batavia Riverwalk.

Duplack and others are helping give the boardwalk a facelift this summer.

“It’s nice to get it in top shape for everybody coming out here,” said Duplack, 23. “I remember when I was a little kid, and they were laying the bricks for the project.”

The boardwalk was built by volunteers in the 1990s as part of the Batavia Riverwalk, and needs to be replaced.

Different groups have been lending a hand throughout the summer, and on this particular Saturday, employees from the Batavia Park District were volunteering their time.

On the other side of the boardwalk, Batavia Park District Recreation Supervisor Kristin Bykowski helped to put new planks in place. She is a frequent user of the Batavia Riverwalk.

“Me and my dog walk on the Riverwalk almost every day,” Bykowski said. “It’s been fun working on this with everyone. When we come down here in the future, we can say that we helped with it.”

The Batavia Parks Foundation is overseeing the boardwalk renovation project.

A public campaign to raise $25,000 to $40,000 toward the $175,000 project has raised more than $18,000 to date.

The Parks Foundation recently received a $50,000 Kane County riverboat grant for the boardwalk renovation.

The goal is to finish the project by the end of October, Batavia Parks Foundation President Steve McKenna said.

The group continues to seek volunteers to help with the project.

And volunteers do not need to have any special skills to help.

“They just need a little enthusiasm and a willingness to do whatever is asked,” McKenna said.

McKenna and his wife, Britta, were involved in the original construction of the Batavia Riverwalk and served as founding board members of the Friends of the Riverwalk.

Britta McKenna also helped spearhead a recent effort to add a permanent band shell to the Peg Bond Center on the Batavia Riverwalk.

Dennis Kintop, who is serving as the project construction manager for the boardwalk renovation project, also was involved in the original construction of the Batavia Riverwalk.

“I created a lot of lasting relationships when I worked on that project,” Kintop said. “It’s nice to see people out here again helping. We love the Riverwalk and the city. We care about the city.”

That sense of volunteerism doesn’t surprise Batavia Depot Museum Director Carla Hill, who also helped to build the Batavia Riverwalk.

“I moved here in 1965, and the sense of volunteerism hasn’t changed at all,” Hill said. “How many communities can say that? Batavia is amazing when it comes to volunteerism.”

Steve McKenna just hopes that sense of volunteerism continues far into the

“Hopefully, the next generation will stand up when the boardwalk needs to be repaired again,” McKenna said.

On the Web

Go to to find out more about the boardwalk renovation project or volunteer.

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