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Stories of the Year: Arch stirs controversy in Batavia

Some critical of project’s cost, design

Published: Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013 8:48 a.m. CDT
(Sandy Bressner file photo -
Workers erect an arch on River Street in downtown Batavia as part of the Batavia Streetscape project.

BATAVIA – City officials created controversy after approving a $116,000 arch that was installed on North River Street in downtown Batavia as part of that street’s newly completed streetscape project.

Some residents and aldermen criticized the project for its cost, as well as the project’s design.

The arch was installed in June at the intersection of River and Wilson streets at the entrance to North River Street, which in 2012 was transformed into a curbless street where pedestrians have priority over cars. Aldermen voted in April to approve the arch, prior to an election that ousted three incumbent aldermen from office.

“It looks pretty much the way I thought it would be,” said 4th Ward Alderman Jamie Saam, who was elected in April. “For me, it was more the cost, not the design. It will be something that draws attention, that’s for sure. The original amount of $55,000 sounded more reasonable.”

Originally, $55,000 was allocated toward the project’s cost, Batavia city engineer Noel Basquin said. That number was not meant to be an estimate of the project’s cost, he said.

Basquin said the arch’s cost – including lights – was $116,000.

The arch features a metal halo on top of wooden supports. Batavia resident Sylvia Keppel, who helped stage a protest in April against the installation of the arch, said the arch looked worse than the proposed rendering, noting she was concerned about the arch’s price tag.

“It’s hideous,” she had said.

– Eric Schelkopf 

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