The City of Batavia states that we are a community that preserves a strong relationship with the natural environment. Reclaiming a resource like Batavia Creek starts with building community awareness of this stream as being a natural, historic, and aesthetic benefit to our town. Naming and signing the creek was the 1st step in bringing attention and awareness to it. With awareness, we can learn to appreciate the wonderful qualities that Batavia Creek has and see the possibilities to restore as much of it as possible to a thriving, healthy urban stream ecosystem.
Batavia Creek Sign Program
In November 2003, the Kane County Department of Environmental Management began making Kane County Streams signs to help identify streams within the County and offering them to municipalities to post. Batavia was the 1st municipality in the County to participate in this program and sign installation began in February 2004. An interesting dilemma presented itself during the implementation of the stream sign program. While there are several tributary streams of the Fox River in Batavia, only 2 had names; Mahoney Creek on the east side of town and Mill Creek on the west side. Even so, Mahoney Creek is the only one of the 2 that is truly a Batavia stream since it was named after Daniel Mahoney, an Irish immigrant that made Batavia his home from 1841 to 1891, and its entire 2.5-square mile watershed lies within Batavia's present day boundaries.
One of our most prominent "nameless" streams lies on the southeast side of town. Although initial thoughts were to find a name that tied into local history, it seemed pretty obvious after a time to christen the stream "Batavia Creek." Batavia Creek can be found generally flowing along the north side of the Prairie Path, the former Chicago, Aurora, and Elgin railroad line. It begins just west of the intersection of Raddant Road and Giese Road as a small swale flowing west through Big Woods Park. From there, the creek flows through storm sewers installed as part of the Wild Meadows subdivision. It emerges again west of Davey Drive, flowing south through several unincorporated properties that front Hart Road. Batavia Creek then crosses Norcross Drive just north of the Rotolo Middle School and turns west to follow the Prairie Path. After crossing under Hart Road, it is soon thereafter joined by its principle tributary; a small intermittent stream that flows south to north through Fox Trail Park. From there, the creek crosses under South River Street (Illinois Route 25) and joins the Fox River in the Glenwood Park Forest Preserve.
For most of the post-settlement period, Batavia Creek was located beyond the limits of town. Originally, much of the land in the watershed was forested as indicated on an 1871 map of the area. From the late 1800's to the mid-1960's, the land surrounding the stream was converted to agricultural farms that, over time, belonged to many different people. After the mid-1960's, residential development, previously extending no further than Pine Street, pushed south along Hart and Raddant roads; a process that is continuing today.
Batavia Creek Today
Today, the Batavia Creek watershed is heavily urbanized with residential development dominating the watershed. Fortunately for the community, most of the stream corridor west of Hart Road remains intact and in public ownership through the Batavia Park District and the Kane County Forest Preserve District. Challenges remain, however, and choices need to be made for the stream corridor as a whole. Like Mahoney Creek to the north, significant portions of Batavia Creek, east of Hart Road, exist in a series of private ownerships, making holistic ecosystem and flood plain management efforts difficult. Also, a few stretches of the creek have been replaced with storm sewers and storm water detention facilities, thus disrupting the continuity and serenity of a naturally flowing stream, a quality that human beings have always been drawn to. Finally, urbanization of the watershed has resulted in water quantity and quality impairments that have degraded the creek over time.