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posted: 2/6/2014 3:35 PM

Naperville poised to spend on parking, traffic signals, safety

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  • City contributions to parking and Riverwalk improvements as part of the $85 million Water Street District development in downtown Naperville are one of the top projects included in next year's capital improvements plan, city officials say.

      City contributions to parking and Riverwalk improvements as part of the $85 million Water Street District development in downtown Naperville are one of the top projects included in next year's capital improvements plan, city officials say.
    Courtesy of Marquette Companies

 
 

Spending on parking, public safety, traffic management and improved online services appears to be in Naperville's future.

The city council has begun reviewing spending plans for operations and capital improvements before its new fiscal year starts May 1. Projects including construction of a parking garage at the Water Street District, improvements to the city's website, placement of more devices to revive people suffering from cardiac arrest, an upgrade to Washington Street traffic management and the addition of a new traffic signal at a dangerous intersection along Route 59 all are set to be funded.

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Spending proposed in the capital improvements plan totals $63 million and would require the city to borrow about $22.7 million. Some on the council, including Steve Chirico and Grant Wehrli, have said they are reluctant to take on such debt.

"This council is not looking at borrowing a lot of money this year," Wehrli said.

City Manager Doug Krieger said the council can cut spending or delay certain projects as discussions of the capital improvements plan continue during workshops Feb. 24 and March 10. But he said the following five projects are likely to be included.

Water Street District

Marquette Companies of Naperville is leading the $85 million push to transform a 2.4-acre property along Water Street into a hotel, shops, restaurants and offices.

But Krieger said the city also is contributing about $12 million next budget year for amenities such as creation of a Riverwalk path south of the DuPage River between the covered bridge and Main Street and a parking garage with at least 400 spaces.

"One of the first components of construction is going to be the parking garage and that is very important to our downtown and our continuing plan to provide free parking," Krieger said.

The area's 2,559 public parking spaces remain in high demand, according to a 2012 parking study, which found 56 percent of visitors do not expect to find a parking spot in less than five minutes, and satisfaction with downtown parking decreased to 61 percent from 64 percent in 2010.

The city is awaiting final plans from Water Street developers, who say they plan to break ground this spring. The city will have to borrow about $6.2 million to fund its contributions to the project.

Lifesaving devices

Naperville saw the effectiveness of automatic external defibrillators last fall when a group of nurses running the Edward Hospital Naperville Marathon used one to help save the life of a runner who collapsed. Known as AEDs, the medical devices help restart the hearts of people who have gone into cardiac arrest, Naperville Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis said.

The fire department will use $400,000 in next year's capital improvements plan to buy between 25 and 30 AEDs, place them throughout the community at locations yet to be determined and teach people how to use the lifesaving equipment.

Traffic management

To help ease traffic on Washington Street, the city plans to replace three separate traffic management systems with one integrated system to set the most efficient signal timings and keep cars moving.

Decreasing congestion is another of the city's strategic goals, since traffic often ranks as residents' top complaint on city surveys.

The city already has contributed $100,000 toward the traffic management system and will spend $800,000 more in a two-year conversion process. The rest of the money for the $2.8 million system is coming from federal grants.

Eventually, drivers will be able to access traffic data for Washington Street online, viewing green, yellow or red displays to show if traffic is congested, delayed or flowing.

New traffic signal

The intersection of Lacrosse Lane and Route 59 is home to the McDonald's just south of 95th Street, and city spokeswoman Linda LaCloche said it's a potentially dangerous intersection for drivers trying to leave the restaurant and head south on Route 59.

A traffic signal will be installed there this year at a cost of $750,000 funded by nearby property owners.

"This will improve traffic safety because right now (drivers) are trying to merge without a signal," LaCloche said.

This signal installation is unrelated to other work on Route 59, which is widening and reconstructing a 3.5-mile stretch from Ferry Road to Aurora Avenue/New York Street in a two-year, nearly $90 million project largely funded by the state.

Website upgrades

Included in the city's strategic plan for the next five years is a goal of becoming an innovator in e-government. Plans to upgrade the city's website so it can provide services instead of just information are a key element of that goal, LaCloche said.

In a three-phase project, the city is working to add capabilities to naperville.il.us so residents and businesspeople can apply for simple documents such as block party permits or arrange services such as building inspections. Other planned improvements include a calendar and the ability to apply online to speak during public meetings.

"What we're trying to do is open city hall 24/7," LaCloche said.

The first phase includes a feasibility study. The city will use $325,000 to hire a consulting firm that will help identify the best content management and payment systems for the website. Staff members are developing a request for consulting services before moving to future phases of website design and hosting.

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