Naperville's aging rec center might become maintenance building
Naperville's Barn Recreation Center eventually may be replaced by a new maintenance facility.
Naperville Park District commissioners have given planners the green light to study that possibility, the favored option among three for the site of the aging Barn and Central Maintenance Facility on Martin Avenue.
The Barn was built in 1965 for youth recreation purposes and is used for preschool programs, meetings, special events and recreation. The maintenance facility behind the Barn serves as the home of the district's vehicle fleet as well as park operations. Officials say both facilities have issues of safety, handicap accessibility and usefulness.
"We can't deny these are both in trouble and we need to do something," Executive Director Ray McGury said.
A review team made up of more than 20 community members came up with seven goals for the site - not moving out of the existing footprint, having a single-purpose facility, alleviating conflicts of mixed uses, having adequate parking, maintaining green space, keeping disruption of service to a minimum and addressing the needs of the community.
With their input, planners tweaked the options they had created and discussed the three with park commissioners Thursday.
• A "Band-Aid approach" of spending about $1 million to renovate the buildings to correct safety and accessibility issues.
• Replace the Barn with a new maintenance facility. Eric Shutes, director of planning, said costs estimates are very preliminary but could be about $8 million to $9 million. The facility would house fleet maintenance, vehicle storage, trades, support, parks control and administration.
• Build a new community center to replace the Barn at a cost of about $5 million to $6 million. This plan calls for 24,000 square feet of indoor recreation space and 2,450 square feet of play area.
The review team found that renovations and a new community center each meet only three of its goals, while the proposal for a new maintenance facility meets all seven.
Park district staff also recommend that option. Shutes said it would make sense for the maintenance facility to stay near the Riverwalk and other amenities as it is now.
Some park commissioners said determining whether each option met the goals was subjective, but the majority indicated they would like staff to study the possibility of a new maintenance facility.
Of those who disagreed, Commissioner Ron Ory said he would prefer to study both the new maintenance facility and new indoor recreation facility options to compare the costs and benefits of each. Commissioner Andrew Schaffner said the district should be looking at the bigger picture when it comes to its deficiency of indoor recreation space.
Commissioner Marie Todd supported studying the maintenance facility. She said the district analyzed its indoor space when it created its master plan and it's time to start making decisions.
"Let's follow through on something," she said. "We need to get this done."
Brad Wilson, director of recreation, also supported the maintenance building option saying a recreation facility would make "a very small dent" in the indoor space deficiency. He also said if the park district decides to move forward with the new maintenance building it first will need a plan to relocate the recreation programs that had been held in the Barn.