Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Batavia's Houston Street streetscape up for vote

Batavia's Houston Street

Batavians, your input is needed on an important upcoming event:

The proposed $2.1million Houston Street streetscape project was discussed at last night's JCOW (Joint Committee of the Whole) meeting. The streetscape designers (Altamanu) were also brought in to review their analysis and design.

City Administrator Bill McGrath spoke on behalf of his staff and asked for the process to slow down. With River Street not officially finished, and Wilson Street in the midst of construction, he said city staff is being stretched too thin. He also reviewed the TIF budget, which is the primary funding mechanism for the streetscape project. Moving ahead with this project in 2014 will result in the TIF fund going into the red for several years until TIF revenue replenishes the fund.

Some aldermen want this project to move forward immediately. Others, including me, are not comfortable with the deficit spending, and have asked to review the design to ensure that we are not spending wastefully. There is no doubt that Houston Street needs renovation. The roadway is in horrible condition, and the infrastructure beneath is aged. That said, there are ways to reduce the spending for the project.

One other important piece of the puzzle: the proposed streetscape project will result in a net loss of 15 parking stalls along Houston Street, between Island Avenue and Water Street.

A motion was made to move ahead with the project. The resulting committee vote was 6-5 to immediately proceed with no further review or revisions.

The six aldermen voting in favor of moving ahead were: Brown, Atac, Wolff, Sparks, O’Brien, and McFadden. The five aldermen voting in favor of slowing down were: Stark, Callahan, Hohmann, Saam, and Vasilion. Aldermen Clark, Chanzit, and Cerone were not present.

This now moves on to the full council for a vote at this coming Monday’s meeting (Aug. 19th). If approved by the full council, this project will be built in 2014.

What are your thoughts? Please contact your aldermen (there are two in each ward) and let them know your opinion. Please attend the council meeting and let your voice be heard. This council is more inclined than ever before to listen to you. Your opinion is important.

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