BATAVIA – A major interior renovation project at Batavia City Hall has been on hold for more than a year, but some of the work can wait no longer.
The Batavia City Council has authorized spending $20,500 for the installation of a wall to improve security for second-floor offices, with the work expected to be completed before the end of the year.
The council’s action came on Sept. 16 as part of a $194,000 appropriation, most of which is for remodeling at the city’s Public Works Garage on North Raddant Road.
A $1 million renovation for the city hall building at 100 Island Ave. was delayed indefinitely after the Batavia’s Sam’s Club store closed early in 2018 and city officials contemplated the potential loss of sales tax revenue from the retail giant.
The city went ahead with a $1.1 million project to replace the building’s 96 windows, perform tuck-pointing on the masonry and other work, but shelved the far more complex interior renovation plan.
The three-story building, constructed in 1901 from locally quarried limestone, was originally home to the Appleton Manufacturing Company, one of Batavia’s historic windmill manufacturers.
Now, City Administrator Laura Newman is planning to revive the renovation project by including the work in the 2020 budget.
The interior overhaul is designed to make the building more functional and easier for visitors to navigate.
The key to the plan is the creation of a large public reception area on the ground floor, providing direct access to the Utility Billing Department, which would move from its current office on the second floor.
The plan also includes revamped office spaces and conference rooms on the first and second floors, as well as new restrooms and staircases.
An existing staircase which does not meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act would be eliminated.
The design work for the renovations was already complete when the project was halted. At that time, city officials had envisioned two phases for the work, spreading the cost over two budget years.
The building has two principal entrances on its west side, with the one to the north providing public access to the Batavia Police Department. The plans call for better definition between the police department and the rest of the building.
The entrance to the south is seen as underutilized and would be more clearly established as the main public entry to the building.
The building’s showpiece is the City Council Chambers, where the limestone walls and ceiling support timbers are on full display. Plans are to expose those same architectural elements in the new public reception space.
Mayor Jeff Schielke has never placed a priority on the renovation project.
Asked about Newman’s plan to include the work in the 2020 budget, Schielke replied: “It is how much we can afford … We have to be cautious.”
Newman said the limited work that has been approved by the council was part of the larger renovation plan and will not duplicate efforts.
At the top of a public staircase is a small reception area in front of a glass wall and a sliding glass door leading to the building’s mailroom. On the other side is another sliding glass door providing access to a hallway lined with offices.
The mailroom will be sealed off from the public area and a locked door installed in the new wall.