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Article updated: 2/3/2014 1:21 PM

Initial support strong for Naperville Park District activity center

By Marie Wilson

Early public support has been strong for almost everything Naperville Park District is considering including in the indoor activity center it aims to open by fall 2016.

Courts for basketball and volleyball, cardio equipment, dance studios, a walking and running track, a gymnastics room, an indoor playground, preschool classrooms and spaces for arts and crafts, birthday parties and meetings all received high interest from roughly 500 people who attended three open houses the park district held last month, said Eric Shutes, director of planning.

The only amenity that didn't seem to catch the public's attention was racquetball courts, which Shutes said received "low interest" from open-house participants who picked their desired recreation options from a list the park district provided.

Amenities proposed for the facility, which will be built on a 5-acre site at 1760 Quincy Ave., were chosen from community surveys conducted in 2005, 2009 and 2012. Shutes said residents responding to those surveys told the park district more indoor space for use by people with special needs, seniors and average citizens was a pressing need.

"Indoor space continues to be a priority for the district," park board President Rich Janor said.

As the park district works with Williams Architects of Itasca to design the facility and seek building permits this year, Janor said space will be built in for activities not currently offered in Naperville, such as certain social and recreational offerings of the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association.

"I think this activity center will allow some of those programs to find a home right here in Naperville," Janor said.

The park district told open-house participants the activity center will cost no more than $23 million, including $2 million already spent to buy the land. The park district's share of the property tax bill for the average Naperville homeowner is likely to increase between $8 and $10 a year to fund not only the activity center, but also other capital projects and improvements in accessibility to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The building will be roughly 80,000 square feet, and it will be built right next to the environmental collection center the city is developing and Players Indoor Sports.

"A lot of what we're proposing fits in well with what they have, which is primarily indoor synthetic courts," Shutes said about Players Indoor Sports, the activity center's neighbor to the east on Quincy Avenue.

Next steps in development of the activity center include holding focus groups this month with organizations expected to use the facility and developing architectural renderings to present to the public sometime this spring, Shutes and Janor said.

The park district aims to begin activity center construction in 2015 to have the facility open by fall 2016.

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