Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke on Tuesday painted a positive picture of the city for guests at the annual Batavia Chamber of Commerce Mayor's Breakfast.
Over 160 attendees heard Schielke give his State of the City address outlining the most current outlook for Batavia.
The event was held the Lincoln Inn in Batavia. In contrast to previous years, the legislative committee of the Chamber presented Schielke with four questions to address. They were:
1. What is the status of a second bridge in downtown? Is there any hope such a structure will be built in the near future?
2. Now that the Recreation Center issue failed, what do you believe is the future of that piece of property, including McDonald's?
3. What are the major sources of revenue for the city, where does the money go and what plans does the city have to continue to meet its obligations?
4. How will the annexation of the Mooseheart property impact Batavia from a long-term planning perspective?
The above questions were addressed during the Mayor's speech, which was accompanied by a slide show to illustrate his points.
Second Batavia Bridge
After the Batavia City Council's vote Monday, the proposed second bridge site is from Webster Street on the east side to First street on the west side. Don't look for it to happen anytime soon, the mayor said.
"The Wilson Street Bridge was 87 percent funded by sources other than the Batavia taxpayers," Schielke explained. "We were fortunate to build that bridge at the right time; you can consider it a nationwide gift to Batavia."
Since federal and state funding sources have dried up, he is not optimistic Batavia could get funding at this time. A referendum would be needed and he said "it is not the time for that."
Mooseheart Property Annexation
Due to the near century-long cordial relationship between the City of Batavia and Mooseheart community, Schielke said a thoughtful discussion about annexation was owed both parties. Current plans are for 470 acres to be annexed into Batavia.
Commercial property zones, mixed use property, open land, an age-restricted residential community, upscale residential and an upscale apartment complex are all included in the site plan. A public hearing concerning the Mooseheart Zoning Map Amendment Hearing was continued to today, Nov. 17, from the original Sept. 8 hearing. The discussion will be held at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the City Council Chambers, 100 N. Island Ave.
Batavia will use the $1.5 million grant from the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) for Wilson and River Street streetscape projects. The money, combined with tax increment financing dollars (that would otherwise be lost), will be used to enhance the downtown image and improve pedestrian flow.
Schielke cited the revitalization efforts of downtown Plainfield in describing how the money could be used. A committee is currently being formed to investigate how best to utilize the funds. Interested citizens and business owners should contact the city, Batavia MainStreet or the Batavia Chamber of Commerce if they would like to serve on this committee.
After the failure of the Nov. 2 Recreation Center referendum election, McDonald's indicated that its company officials are in talks about whether to extensively remodel the downtown restaurant or build a new one on the present site.
The mayor also said discussions were held Monday with the owners of the Island and Wilson Street strip mall. The owners indicated they would work to bring the nearly empty mall up to code so new tenants could take occupancy.
During the hour-long presentation, Schielke touched upon many other new and ongoing projects throughout Batavia. He teased the audience that a high-profile restaurant chain is likely to build on the southwest corner of Randall Road and McKee Street soon. Since the deal is not totally finalized, he declined to identify it.
Elsewhere on Randall Road, a Smashburger restaurant will open soon, becoming the first Illinois site for the growing chain. And for the third straight year, Schielke said "Golden Corral is coming." Financing for the long-awaited restaurant has been secured, so completion is expected soon.
Several new firms have recently located in the Industrial Park. These include Eagle Flexible Packaging, which held a ribbon cutting in October, Rubicon Technology and New Edison Energy.
Mayor Schielke also touted the success of Water Street Studios, and the beginning of a second building on the Dreyer Medical Campus on Fabyan Parkway, west of Randall Road as positives for Batavia.