The stewards of Naperville's Riverwalk have approved a new procedure explaining the steps -- and the five- to seven-month time frame -- it will take to add new features to the 1.75-mile downtown path.
The policy directs groups that want to add sculptures, plazas, memorials or other elements to the Riverwalk to submit a written statement including cost estimates and visuals of their proposal for consideration by five appointed or elected bodies.
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Such proposals will be reviewed, in order, by the Riverwalk Commission's planning, design and construction committee; the full Riverwalk Commission; the parks and recreation committee of the Naperville Park District; the full park district board; and the Naperville City Council.
If all five groups grant their approval, the proposed feature can become a reality along the Riverwalk.
"I think it's really thorough and covers the steps that are needed," Riverwalk Commission Chairman Jeff Havel said about the procedure, approved last week. "It gives a clear understanding of what everyone will have to go through to get approval."
Riverwalk commissioners began discussions about putting the procedure in writing over the summer, saying they wanted to ensure fairness to all groups that come forward with ideas, while preserving the Riverwalk's value as a recreational venue and showcase for the city's history of volunteer involvement.
"We want to make sure the Riverwalk remains the crown jewel for Naperville citizens," Commissioner Annmarie Siwik said last month. "It's a beautiful place, and we want to continue to make sure it is kept up, maintained and doesn't become too commercial."
Groups proposing future enhancements to the Riverwalk are asked to explain the rationale behind their idea and estimate all costs for materials, labor, construction and maintenance in their written statement and their first presentation to the Riverwalk Commission's planning, design and construction subcommittee. Submittals can be made by mailing documents to the Riverwalk Administrator, City of Naperville, 400 S. Eagle St., 60540, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The planning, design and construction committee meets monthly, as does the Riverwalk Commission and the parks and recreation committee. The park board meets twice a month, but proposed Riverwalk additions first would have to gain approval at a workshop before heading for a vote at a formal meeting, and then on to the Naperville City Council for final approval.
The document explaining the procedure gives groups an estimate of how much time each step toward approval will require, but if any of the appointed or elected bodies along the way request changes to a proposal, the process could take longer.
"Although this process may seem lengthy, it is in place to ensure transparency, which is essential to good government," the three-page explanation of the procedure reads.
The Riverwalk already boasts elements representing the Jaycees, Rotary, Exchange Club, Masons, garden club, veterans and farmers; businesses including Edward Hospital, Exelon, Nalco and Nicor; prominent families including the Fredenhagens, Mosers, Netzleys and Wehrlis; and five pieces of Century Walk art.
But Riverwalk commissioners have said the collection may not be complete, especially as leaders consider extending the walkway south to Martin Avenue and as plans develop for a new plaza or park space at 430 S. Washington St., likely to be built as a partnership with North Central College.