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Article updated: 12/9/2012 7:17 AM

Naperville Park District expands south with 95th Street Center

By Marie Wilson

South Naperville residents used to finding outdoor parks, schools and library services on 95th Street now have an indoor park district facility on the same corridor.

The Naperville Park District 95th Street Center hosted a grand opening Saturday allowing residents to sample all the cooking, gymnastics, dance and fitness programs it will offer.

On the second and third floors of an office building at 2244 W. 95th St., the facility includes an instructional kitchen for culinary programs, a wood-floored studio for dance and exercise classes, a room with mats and bars for gymnastics and other multipurpose areas.

"We're excited to have this type of space in south Naperville," said Brad Wilson, the park district's director of recreation. "It's something we've been lacking as a park district."

The 95th Street Center will be more convenient than other indoor facilities in central or north Naperville for park district residents like Jim Wagner and his family.

"We have kids at Gregory (Middle School) and Neuqua (Valley High School), so this is actually in the middle," Wagner said.

He attended the grand opening with another of his children, 5-year-old Angela, who made a snowman decoration out of paper plates in a craft room and tested out the gymnastics facility.

The new space will be "tremendously helpful" for participants in Western DuPage Special Recreation Association activities, many of whom live in south Naperville, spokeswoman Sherry Manschot said. The association, which partners with several park districts including Naperville's, will offer Zumba, yoga, music, animal interaction and cooking classes at the 95th Street Center beginning in January.

"We surveyed our families, so the programs we're offering are exactly what our participants wanted," Manschot said.

Saturday's activities also included bingo games, performances by several dance groups in the studio and demonstrations of how to make a Southwest corn chowder in the third-floor instructional kitchen, which some called the "showcase" of the facility.

Paula Harrington of Aurora experienced all those activities Saturday morning during the two-hour grand opening event.

"It's a beautiful building," she said. "The rooms are nice and spacious."

A few programs are being offered at the 95th Street Center in December, but most offerings start in January, Wilson said. Registration is available now at napervilleparks.org.

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