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updated: 11/13/2012 11:48 AM

Concerned residents can say a lot in just three minutes

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I've got three minutes, just three little minutes, if I stand before Naperville City Council to express my opinion during a public forum.

I hope you're reading these words quickly and out loud.

You'll have three minutes, just three little minutes, too, if you sign up prior to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20, to provide your comments in a public forum about Naperville's proposed Water Street development, or to address any of the other items on the city council agenda.

It's likely been 13 years since I took three public minutes to go before council.

In recent years, I've preferred to call my councilmen for a one-on-one conversations and to learn what they think. Yet, back when I was more active in my homeowners association and traffic circles in square intersections were an issue, I always practiced my comments at home to stay within three minutes in advance of being called to the podium.

In my appearances I never heard, "The speaker's time is up."

At issue for me at the moment is Water Street, a project long crying out in need of responsible development.

The current plan for the 2.4 acres between the DuPage River and Aurora Avenue and between Webster and Main streets calls for a 130-room Holiday Inn Express, a 551-space parking garage, 63 apartments and roughly 16,000 square feet of office space.

During a recent council meeting, 22 individuals signed up to speak, pro and con. And many of the 22 individuals talked over their allotted three minutes after the city clerk said, "The speaker's time is up."

The rejuvenation of Water Street has been considered since the municipal center was built back in the early 1990s, perhaps even earlier. And since 2007, a mixed-use design has been proposed in varying heights.

Area residents should have a lot to say about it, but they should stay within the three-minute limit.

Consider how much can be communicated in a 15-second commercial. Simply be prepared.

The Water Street District as it's now proposed at a height of 80 feet, or thereabouts, comes with beautiful fountain and plaza elements to replicate piazzas in Italy and Spain, where temperatures seldom drop below freezing.

I'm mindful of our Midwestern climate that can be blanketed with snow from early November through March.

For nearly 20 years, I've walked the length of the Riverwalk at least once a week from Main Street to Jefferson Avenue and back. Several months of the year, depending on the temperature, parts of the winding brick path must be carefully maneuvered, as they can be slippery when wet and even more slippery when icy, whether in the sunshine or shade.

Months ago at a Riverwalk Commission meeting, I brought up my concerns about public safety.

The Naperville Park District, which manages the maintenance of the Riverwalk, does not use salt or other ice melting chemicals on the brick path because they eat away at the concrete paver bricks.

Again, I've experienced that even when it's sunny, portions of the of our municipal treasure remain slippery in the winter, especially after it freezes, thaws and freezes again. It's just the way it is.

After one of the Water Street District presentations, I asked the developer about operations management. I noted the need to prevent falls where unsuspecting pedestrians could use the staircase and spill onto the Riverwalk from the restaurants and other retail shops.

I asked if "heated" elements had been considered under the brick walkway and the staircase to prevent slips in the piazza.

He said he'd talk to the architect.

Public safety is my biggest issue.

If you have comments about the Water Street development, speak Tuesday or forever hold your peace. You'll have three minutes. Just three little minutes.

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