Longest serving Batavia alderman faces challenge from architect
Downtown improvement among issues candidates addressBatavia's longest-serving alderman is facing a challenge this spring from an architect who thinks the city council doesn't work quickly enough on downtown projects.
Eldon Frydendall, 74, has represented Batavia's Fifth Ward, which encompasses most of Batavia's downtown, for 32 years. He owns Batavia Insurance Agency.
Steve Vasilion, 57, has been an architect for 30 years and has owned Vasilion Architects for 22 years.
Vasilion has designed several Tri-Cities buildings, including the Peg Bond Center Bandshell, a new building for Fox Valley Orthopedics and the Regional Cancer Care Center for Provena Saint Joseph Hospital in Elgin.
As an architect, he said he knows what it takes to create an exciting, economically viable downtown along with the challenges of running a business. He also pointed to his experience on Batavia's Historic Preservation Commission since its inception in 2003 and his four years as commission chairman. He's particularly proud of creating a mentoring program for high schoolers interested in architecture.
Frydendall said his longtime experience as alderman makes him best suited to the job. He cited as accomplishments co-chairing committees on two City Hall building projects and the public works facility on Raddant Road, the new Wilson Street bridge, two new fire stations, and his role as chairman of the public utilities committee during the building of new electric lines and a substation.
Frydendall said he had mulled not running again, but was encouraged by residents to seek another term. When asked about the major issues facing Batavia, he responded in an email: "Continuing to improve the downtown, such as River Street, McDonalds, and many other new and rehabbed businesses through the use of TIF fund, grants and loans. Soon to happen: The proposed new Walgreen, West Wilson Street and Houston Street improvements will be a great asset to the area. Rebuilding an aging infrastructure, water sewer, wastewater (study in progress) and electric."
He added: "I support all of the above items."
Vasilion said that if elected, he will work to "create a culture of collaboration" between the council and administrative staff, whom he said do not currently cooperate effectively, and said he thinks council members should be involved earlier when building projects are proposed.
He also said that more retail and restaurants could be attracted to the Water Street Studios arts district if parking, sidewalks and lighting were improved.
His other priority would be to increase the city's transparency, he said, claiming he's had difficulty obtaining details about the utility contract and its investment in a downstate coal plant. Information should be more readily available in simple language to residents on the city's website, he said.