Naperville activity center construction 'in good shape'

  • Precast walls to form the shell of the Naperville Park District's Fort Hill Activity Center have been up for more than a week, and officials say the project is on track to be complete by fall 2016.

      Precast walls to form the shell of the Naperville Park District's Fort Hill Activity Center have been up for more than a week, and officials say the project is on track to be complete by fall 2016. Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

  • Construction continues at the Fort Hill Activity Center, where the Naperville Park District plans to offer a fitness center, walking track, indoor playground, gymnastics area, basketball courts and multipurpose space for indoor recreation beginning in fall 2016.

      Construction continues at the Fort Hill Activity Center, where the Naperville Park District plans to offer a fitness center, walking track, indoor playground, gymnastics area, basketball courts and multipurpose space for indoor recreation beginning in fall 2016. Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 9/2/2015 5:06 PM

Construction of Naperville Park District's Fort Hill Activity Center has been under way for nearly five months and so far the $24 million facility is on track to be complete by fall 2016.

The center at 20 Fort Hill Drive will add 80,000 square feet to house park district amenities including a fitness center, walking track, cafe, gymnastics area, indoor playground, multipurpose rooms and gym space for sports such as basketball, volleyball and badminton.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Despite a rainy June, park board President Mike Reilly said the project is on schedule.

Contractors changed the sequence of work to continue making progress during the wet phase, he said. Best of all, Reilly said there have been no surprises with the site -- certainly nothing like when the park district unexpectedly found a demolished barn buried where crews were building the new Knoch Knolls Nature Center.

Ray McGury, park district executive director, said precast walls for the building have been in place for more than a week, quickly turning the site from a relatively empty field into the obvious home of a future building.

"I couldn't be happier with the progress that the team has made out there," McGury said. "We're in good shape."

The project got a boost for its green features Tuesday when the city council approved a $50,000 grant for a solar energy system.

The park district plans to install 117 solar panels at the center, enough to provide 5 percent of the building's total energy. The system is expected to cost $156,022, which will include an interpretive sign to explain the solar panels and other earth-friendly features of the design and landscaping.

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"Solar changes the dynamics from a cost efficiency perspective," McGury said. "We can become much more energy efficient and spend a whole lot less money."

When the system is up and running, the park district plans to add real-time data about energy collected from the solar panels to its website.

Next steps in construction include installing sidewalks, electrical and plumbing systems and constructing the parking lot. McGury said contractors aim to have the roof in place by December so work can continue inside throughout the winter.

The park district has been planning for the activity center since 2013, when it bought the 5-acre site at the southeast corner of Quincy Avenue and Fort Hill Drive for $2 million.

A lack of indoor space had been noted on community interest surveys for years and district officials wanted to improve recreation opportunities for seniors, people with special needs and average kids and adults who want to be active but aren't elite athletes.

The park district could be ready to move into the building as soon as July, and McGury said employees then would take a couple of months to get settled before hosting a grand opening.

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