BATAVIA – When motorists enter Batavia on key roadways they are greeted by signs that are relics of the past.
The decrepit, weather-beaten wooden signs, now 37 years old, hang unevenly between their posts, announcing the driver’s arrival into a city of Batavia from the 1980s.
Ever since she became city administrator in 2016, Laura Newman has been determined to replace those gateways signs, believing they make a poor first impression of the community.
First, Newman sought to develop a new logo to replace another 1980s city symbol, so that the new image could be incorporated not only on the gateway signs but on the city’s website, vehicles, business cards and the like.
It took some time to get the Batavia City Council to warm up to the idea.
When aldermen finally agreed to a change, they squabbled over every aspect of the logo’s design, dragging out the process for three years.
Early last year, with a new logo finally in hand and designs for new monument-style signs to grace the city’s entryways, Newman was ready to set her replacement plan in motion.
Then the pandemic hit and the project was shelved.
Demonstrating single-minded persistence, Newman is hoping to make this the year that at least one new sign is installed and more to follow next year.
At a committee meeting on Sept. 14, aldermen were presented with a revised design for the monument signs.
The plans call for a stone base topped by a pre-cast concrete collar supporting the sign panel, which could be synthetic, aluminum or made of wood. The base could be masonry or a faux stone material.
Depending on size and the materials used, the signs are now estimated to cost anywhere between $13,000 and $34,000 each.
The larger version of the sign would measure about six feet high and about 12 feet wide.
The sign panel features the city’s new logo depicting a Batavia windmill and the Fox River. The larger portion reads “Welcome to Batavia est. 1833.”
The color for the panel design that was presented to aldermen was variously described as brown or burgundy. Several council members were not impressed.
“This brown color I don’t recognize as representing Batavia in our current logo,” 2nd Ward Alderman Leah Leman said.
Newman reminded the council that the last time around, many aldermen had balked at a design featuring blue, because of its association with Geneva.
Some aldermen expressed support for brown as a natural color.
Ultimately, city Communications Manager Griffin Price told aldermen that the staff will return to the council with revised options for them to consider.
Second Ward Alderman Alan Wolff, the council’s senior member and committee-of-the-whole chairman, said he wants to avoid a repetition of the drawn-out logo design process.
Of the eight wooden signs originally placed at locations on the edge of the city in 1984, two have been missing for years. They were on Route 25 near Funway Entertainment Center and at the corner of Randall Road and Fabyan Parkway.
Of those remaining, there are two along Route 31. One is located near the West Cemetery and the other at Fabyan Parkway.
The signs also are located at the corner of Randall Road and Main Street and at the corner of Route 25 and Fabyan Parkway.
Finally, there are two of the 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.
Newman indicated she wishes to start the replacement program at the Route 31 locations.