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Batavia new construction activity best in eight years

May 14, 2015 08:39AM ● Published by Katelyn Nelson

By: Mayor Jeffery D. Schielke

The city’s building department has stacks of submitted plans for such projects as the Toll Brothers new housing addition to Tanglewood Hills along the Deerpath Rd. corridor which seems to signal a rival of the home building market in town. A number of homes are already under construction at several other locations in our community with others awaiting permits as I write this column at the end of March.

On the commercial side of the development ledger, we are anticipating that we should soon be witnessing the demolition of the former Swanson Hardware Store building in downtown which will allow Batavia Enterprises Inc. to commence construction of a new enlarged Walgreens Drug Store which will include a drive-thru pharmacy pick-up window. On the far east side at the northeast corner of Wilson St. and Kirk Rd., a modern mini-market and gas station is about to take shape carrying the Speedway name. I am often told that there is a need for more business petroleum stations on the east side given the fact that currently we have six stations on the west side and only two fuel station on the east side at this time. It appears that the number of gas stations on the east side will increase to three.

On the topic of street and road work for 2015, a major project in the downtown area is slated to be the total rebuilding of Houston St. from Island Ave. up to Batavia Ave. This work is projected to start in late June and will be completed by the fall. During the expected construction activity, access will always be available for cars to travel to the city hall, police station and the Riverain Retirement Home complex. Likewise, the ability to cross on Water St. at Houston Street will also be accessible. The city has been careful not to schedule too much road work in the downtown at any one time and thus the two block stretch of Houston Street will be work area for the summer of 2015.

The city government has been successful in obtaining some tentative commitments for federal transportation dollars to be used in local projects in coming years. First up will the rebuilding and widening of the Deerpath Rd. bridge over Mill Creek scheduled for 2016. It looks like 2017 could be another year of major road construction for on tap is the rebuilding of Main St. from Water St. to S. Van Nortwick Ave. This project will also involve some utility replacement along the route which will enhance the construction activity. We remain optimistic that the stream of federal transportation funding dollars for use by local communities shall remain as an integral part the any new Transportation Act approved by Congress. Over the past 30+ years this funding stream has been an important ingredient in helping us to pay for such local improvements as the upgrading and replacement of Wilson St. from Kirk to Randall Rds., the construction of an entirely new Wilson St. bridge, the rebuilding of S. Water St. from Wilson to Main Sts., the installation of Raddant Rd. from Wilson St. to Fabyan Pkwy., the replacement of Pine St. from Raddant Rd. to Kirk Rd., and the widening and upgrades of the intersection of Fabyan Pkwy. and Randall Rd. In this last case, local commercial developers involved around the Fabyan/Randall intersection also contributed a fair share of this improvement. Needless to say, Batavia has been most fortunate to have enjoyed this nice share of federal transportation funding in our town. I want to thank our friends at the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) for all of their cooperation in these matters which has certainly provided a welcome alternative funding source that benefits local residents and taxpayers. As is always the case, 2015 will again feature a local street improvement program for repair and replacement of street issues in neighborhoods around town. This work is largely funded by the city’s share of local motor fuel tax revenues from the state and some minor amount of local taxes.

As the month of March ended, our community was truly saddened to learn the news of the death of Sam Rotolo, beloved educator and doer of countless deeds of positive action impacting thousands of local residents over the past six decades.

The arrival of Sam Rotolo as a new employee in School District 101 in the early 1950’s brought about a new chapter of how our town taught and inspired its younger generation. Sam’s lesson plan for life was to insure that students within his influence not only learned the basics of education but also were instilled to consider how to be a kind and caring individual as they grew up to adulthood. For many young people within his reach who had little in the way of parental support, Sam stepped up and filled the role.

One of the most successful programs to emerge in 1950’s Batavia was the summer swimming lesson program which Sam headed each June at Quarry Park. Those who embarked upon this legendary experience generally came away from the pool with a clear ability to swim in deep water, a lifelong gift that no doubt saved a few local lives from serious trouble later in life.

Sam’s strongest legacy, however, was his gift as a teacher and school administrator. Thousands of Batavia students were benefactors of his teaching tactics and countless others learned a life lesson or two while under the guidance of his discipline style inside his principal’s office.

Sam also took great pride in being a teacher of his school’s teachers. He loved the role of being a mentor to newly hired teachers on his staff and watched carefully as they learned the lessons of classroom success. Many of those who he brought into education would later become recognized leaders in the teaching field themselves.

Sam’s legacy is found in all those who responded to the wonders of education that he taught so well. It is a legacy that shall continue to grow and make our world a better place for generations to come. Sam truly did make a monumental contribution to the good life of our town. May he rest in peace.

Hope that the spring season of 2015 is a colorful and pleasant experience for everyone in this great place that we proudly call our home. Stay safe.

News construction Jeff Schielke
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