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Proposals to reverse decades of decline in the downtown business district took center stage Monday at a City Council meeting.

A public hearing on expanding the Business Improvement District to include as many as 40 businesses on Ellicott Street drew two speakers. Don Burkel and Michael A. DelPlato, district officials, urged the expansion, which would extend benefits to merchants a quarter-mile from downtown. At its April 25 meeting, the Council is expected to approve expanding the district, partly financed by an assessment on property owners within its boundaries.

Community Development Director Edward M. Flynn, meanwhile, reported that the city has applied for as much as $400,000 from the state Office for Small Cities. Most of the funds would aid new and current businesses, but $75,000 is earmarked for improvements at the former Batavia Club, a historic building.

Two businesses, Flynn noted, have spent more than $500,000 to improve downtown properties. Angotti Beverages and the Bank of Castile/Tomkins Insurance Agencies also have erected new structures costing more than $3 million.

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