Naperville unveils draft of election map

Updated 12/1/2011 10:24 PM

If the computer has its way, Naperville's new voting districts will be roughly bound by the DuPage River and 75th Street.

Earlier this year, City Manager Doug Krieger directed staff to use 2010 census results and a special geography software to construct the map. Naperville staff members will present city council members Tuesday with their first crack at drawing the five compact and contiguous districts, that voters backed during the November 2010 election.

In the meantime, council members, residents and members of the civic groups that put the measure on the ballot are perusing the map on the city's website.

"The proposed map depicts five districts that are close to equal population, maintain the integrity of subdivisions and respect geographic boundaries such as major arterial roads," reads the statement accompanying the map. "Perfect population equality among the districts is impossible without compromising the integrity of subdivisions. The smallest district is District 5, which is the most southern district and the geographic area that is projected to have the highest population growth in the future."

Under the new system, three council members and the mayor will continue to be elected at-large. Five will be elected by districts. The four council members whose seats will expire in 2013 will only serve two-year terms if re-elected. All seats will open up in 2015.

The northern and western boundaries of proposed District 1 are formed by the city limits. The southern boundary extends to 75th Street and the eastern boundary generally follows Rickert Drive, Plainfield/Naperville Road, and the DuPage River.

Proposed District 2 extends from 75th Street to the northern city limits. Generally the eastern boundary is Washington Street to Hillside Road and the western boundary is formed by Plainfield/Naperville Road and the DuPage River.

The northern boundary of District 3 is formed by segments of Chicago Avenue, Prairie Avenue and Hillside Road. The western boundary runs primarily along Washington Street. The eastern and southern boundaries are formed by the city limits.

The proposed fourth, and largest district, would extend between Washington Street and Route 59, and surrounds significant portions of the Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve. The southern boundary of the district generally follows 95th street to the city limits and the northern boundary is defined by 75th Street.

The fifth and smallest district would encompass the southernmost portions of the city. Most of the property in this district is south of 95th Street between the DuPage River and the western city limits.

"I think it's a great first crack at it. It's a great map," said Councilman Robert Fieseler. "I appreciate how it appears to follow natural boundaries like the river while also seeming to be devoid of any political bias."

Bill Eagan, spokesman for the Naperville Voter Education League, which put the question on the ballot, said the city needs to consider more than one map option. While conceding the city's draft is a "a good geographical map," he is concerned about the smaller size of the proposed fifth district.

He's proposing the city allow the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation to select a member from each district and "let the people come up with their own map."

"In my opinion, the citizens need to be heard, concerning the maps, not city staff," he said.

Jane Barnes of the League of Women Voters said members of her organization intend on speaking Tuesday night.

"We have plenty of questions that we'll pose at that time."

City staff members are also working with DuPage and Will counties officials to revise voting precinct boundaries to eliminate some discrepancies.

Council members are expected to post the maps on the city's website and host three public hearings over the next few months before approving a final version by their self-imposed June 2012 deadline.

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