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Batavia aldermen OK $166,000 for sewer project

Work to begin multiyear separation of storm and sanitary systems

BATAVIA – The city is moving slowly but steadily ahead with plans to separate the stormwater and sanitary sewer systems on the near southwest side of the community.

A June 15, 2015, storm produced flooding throughout the city, but especially hard hit was a neighborhood centered on Blaine Street, where stormwater and sewage run through the same pipes. Residents had raw sewage backing up into their basements.

To begin the process of separating the combined systems and to provide for increased capacity, the city will build a new “outfall” storm sewer pipe to empty into the Fox River.

The Batavia City Council earlier this month approved a contract for nearly $166,000 with A Lamp Concrete Contractors of Schaumburg to perform the work. Construction will be completed before the end of the year, Batavia Assistant City Engineer Andrea Podraza said.

The work involves the installation of 220 linear feet of reinforced concrete pipe, running from the west bank of the Fox River to the east edge of the West Side Cemetery. The location of the work would be roughly on a line from Morton Street extended.

The pipe will be 48 inches wide at the point where stormwater will flow into the river. To perform the work, a coffer dam will be put in place to remove the old outfall pipe and to install the new infrastructure, Podraza said.

The new sewer will tie into an existing storm sewer system in the cemetery, Podraza said.

Later, as the city continues to install new storm sewer pipes to the west, the sanitary system will be separated.

That will require new budget appropriations from aldermen, Batavia Public Works Director Gary Holm said. Work could take several years, he said, with the estimated cost now at $3.5 million.

The combined stormwater and sanitary system in the affected neighborhood was constructed in the 1920s or 1930s, Holm said.

Next step, eminent domain?

Aldermen killed Mayor Jeff Schielke’s plan to erect signs in front of dilapidated properties that are the targets of legal action by the city, but the underlying issue hasn’t gone away.

In particular, a vacant house on North Prairie Street near Louise White School is becoming a major headache for the city.

Batavia Community Development Director Scott Buening said the city has spent about $10,000 already to board up the house, remove debris from the yard and keep the lawn maintained. The city has placed a lien on the property, he said.

The property is going through a complicated bank foreclosure process, which is expected to take some time.

During a recent committee meeting, aldermen began to wonder aloud if the city should invoke eminent domain, take over the property, and resell it to someone who will restore the home. The property actually consists of two lots, with the house on one and the other vacant, meaning a second home could be built next door.

Time waits for no speaker

The Batavia City Council wants to hear your opinion, but you’re going to need to be concise.

Aldermen have set a five-minute limit on public comment from individual speakers for issues that appear on the meeting agenda.

Motivated by the seemingly endless parade of people wanting to speak at the Campana project meetings, aldermen decided they need the policy in order to give everyone a chance to speak, and to make sure the meetings end before midnight.

City Administrator Laura Newman said the city has procured a time clock that will be mounted on a wall in the council chambers where it readily can be seen by the person speaking, as suggested by the mayor.

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