When the doors of the newly renovated Centennial Beach are thrown open next weekend, beachgoers will be able to get a hot dog and side of history with their tans.
Naperville parks officials will unveil the nearly $5 million renovation, which features a new front entry plaza and patron drop-off area, improved locker facilities and a new concessions building with an expanded food menu.
Centennial Beach will host an open house from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday so guests may view the newly renovated bathhouse and enjoy a taste of the new Centennial Grill. And beginning at 11 a.m. on May 28, guests will be treated to free admission and entertainment to celebrate the official Grand Reopening of Centennial Beach.
"So much work has gone into this project over the last nine months, we just can't wait to get our patrons in to see it," said Brad Wilson, director of recreation. "The detail that's gone into this renovation, whether it's the stonework, or the landscaping and so on really ties the historical integrity of the park together while featuring the facility."
Planning Director Eric Shutes said Midwestern quarries were searched to find limestone for the addition that matched original limestone on the 77-year-old bathhouse. Inside the front entrance, patrons will be greeted with a historic photo of the old bathhouse and a timeline with photos profiling Centennial Beach's history.
Staff also preserved sections of walls from the lifeguard station that was signed by nearly everyone who has worked at the beach over the years.
"We brought together residents in the community and patrons who use the facility and that was one of the key points. They really wanted us to preserve the history," Shutes said. "We realized that with all of the code requirements and ADA accessibility requirements we had to make some major changes to the building. So that's why we talked about taking pictures and documenting every aspect we could."
Wilson said he thinks many patrons will learn facts they never knew about the area once the photos and plaques are installed.
"Telling the story and having the signage with the history is not something that was previously part of the facility so I think that many people have come to the beach and enjoyed it over the years," Wilson said. "But they didn't necessarily know the full history. Now they'll have that information available inside the facility."
Shutes said he's proud of the work done during the winter to knock the project out in nine months, thus avoiding having to close during the summer. Parks Director Ray McGury said it's also going to come in under the anticipated $5.5 million price tag.
The project also includes a new entrance, family changing rooms, deck-level restrooms and lockers, and new mechanical systems and infrastructure for the bathhouse.