The Naperville Park District added to its list of properties Thursday night a 5.2-acre site at Quincy Avenue and Fort Hill Drive envisioned to be the future home of an indoor activity center.
Park board members bought the land for $2 million as the first major step in a plan to build an indoor facility with amenities for basketball, walking, fitness and social gatherings by sometime in 2016.
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Park board President Rich Janor said the activity center will "fill a major void in our community, especially in the winter months," as it gives seniors, people with special needs and average athletes who do not play on elite teams more public space to be active.
While past efforts to build an indoor recreation facility have failed, such as a push in the mid 2000s, park board member Ron Ory said the community seems to be rallying behind this initiative.
Officials said they have heard from a handful of detractors, but nine speakers before the board's unanimous vote in favor of the land purchase all said they support the activity center, foreseen as an 80,000-square-foot building with a $20 million proposed price tag.
Executive Director Ray McGury said the activity center will include basketball courts, a walking track and a fitness center. Other amenities will be added after open houses early next year to gather resident suggestions.
"The activity center is a need and not a want," said Kristi Landorf, a Naperville resident and executive director of Little Friends, which serves people with autism and other disabilities. "It is not an extravagance to have a facility where members of our community can come together, participate in activities and be included."
Two residents with special needs expressed their desire for more recreation space in their hometown, with Adam Swanson saying he would enjoy using the facility to play basketball and volleyball with his friends and Michelle Anderson looks forward to social and wellness programs.
"I love dance classes and being on sports teams," Anderson said. "My family has driven me to Bloomingdale and Glen Ellyn for weekly practices because these programs were not conveniently available for me in Naperville."
Two senior citizens also voiced support for the activity center plan, with Bev Patterson Frier saying it will help Naperville add "senior-friendly city" to its list of accolades, and Karen Courney saying a walking track will be a popular spot during the winter as older adults look to stay as active as possible.
"In reality, the walking track could have traffic jams of seniors getting their exercise," she said.
The park district does not plan to ask voters for a tax increase to build the activity center, as McGury said a combination of land funds, donations, investments, grants and tax revenue will cover the costs.