BATAVIA – When arriving in the Windmill City, both visitors and Batavians are greeted by entryway signs that have seen better days.
The wooden signs, installed about 35 years ago, are weather-beaten and hang unevenly between their posts.
Of the eight signs originally placed at key locations on the edge of the city, two have been missing for years.
That’s why Batavia aldermen are moving ahead with plans to erect new, more substantial entryway signs.
At a recent committee meeting, aldermen authorized City Administrator Laura Newman to seek bids for fabricating and installing the signs.
Newman presented aldermen with a dozen concepts prepared by Pedersen Design of Batavia.
All of the monument-style concepts feature a similar design and read “Welcome to Batavia,” with the city’s name dwarfing the welcoming greeting just above it.
“Established in 1833” and the “City of Energy” motto also are included, as well as a simple graphic element depicting windmill blades.
The alternatives included a variety of combinations for the materials and typefaces to be used for the signs.
Aldermen quickly focused on a design featuring limestone – a nod to the building material that was quarried in Batavia and is evident on structures throughout the community – paired with a traditional Roman typeface for the city’s name.
They also liked an alternative that includes a design element representing the Fox River with an undulating blue line atop the sign. The consensus also seemed to favor a dark background with white lettering, believing this will be more visible at night.
The city has budgeted $60,000 for the project and is expected to get several alternatives for the bids, including synthetic materials.
Batavia Building Commissioner Jeff Albertson said man-made materials will require far less maintenance, and Newman said that passing motorists will be unlikely to notice the difference between real limestone and the faux material.
The size of the signs also will be a bid alternative. One option is about 4 1/2 feet tall, 8 1/2 feet wide and 1 foot deep, while the other is 6 feet tall, nearly 12 feet wide and 1 1/2 foot deep.
Two of the existing signs greet motorists entering Batavia on Route 31, one at Fabyan Parkway and the other near West Batavia Cemetery. Another of the signs is located at the corner of Randall Road and Main Street. There are two signs along Kirk Road, one near the bike bridge that passes over the roadway near Fermilab and the other at the intersection with Fabyan Parkway. Finally, there is a sign at the corner of Route 25 and Fabyan Parkway. The missing signs were located on Route 25 near Funway Entertainment Center and at the corner of Randall Road and Fabyan Parkway.
The existing signs feature the name “Batavia” in lettering that might have been stylish in the 1980s but looks dated today, along with “Established in 1833” and the “City of Energy” motto. The graphic element includes a rendering of Fermilab’s Wilson Hall and a windmill.
Newman has been encouraging the council to replace the signs for quite some time.
“The six existing entryway signs located at various gateways to our community have continued to deteriorate to the point that most look dilapidated and are a very poor reflection of what is otherwise a very vibrant and healthy city,” Newman said.
With the replacement entryway sign proposal providing the catalyst, aldermen in late 2016 commissioned a graphic design firm to come up with a new “brand” and logo for the city.
The exercise performed by Winnetka-based Sparc included a survey of residents and resulted in the “Powered by Neighbors” tagline that was rejected by aldermen a year ago.
The simple rendering of windmill blades used in the Pedersen design for the new entryway signs is similar to the logo that was developed by Sparc during the branding project.