Naperville readies to demolish Barn Rec Center
Twenty-six contracts approved by Naperville Park District spell the end for the Barn Recreation Center and the beginning for a new maintenance facility.
The contracts total $6.1 million for the majority of work necessary to demolish the Barn and an aging maintenance shop on Martin Avenue and replace them with a new central headquarters for park maintenance workers.
"The Barn carries a lot of memories for a lot of people," park board President Mike Reilly said about the red recreation center that opened in 1965. "But like most other things in life, it's served its time."
Now the project's construction manager, Lamp Inc. of Elgin, can execute the contracts and begin the work while the park district plans the Barn's final days.
A Barn Farewell Event is scheduled for 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 4, featuring free concerts by the grown-up version of some of the teen performers who rocked the facility during its early days in the 1960s and '70s.
"They're a little bit older than that now but they're going to come out and get the band back together," Reilly said. "That'll be a nice nostalgia type event. I think it'll be a good send-off."
Then after the 29th annual Ribfest concludes in early July, demolition can begin.
The park district has been planning to replace the old maintenance shop and the Barn at 421 W. Martin Ave. with a new maintenance facility since 2010, after a study in 2009 found both buildings would need extensive renovations for safety and accessibility. The $7.8 million facility is expected to open by summer 2017.
"We need a place that is central for our maintenance people to work from," Reilly said. "We'll have an area that allows for secure storage of the equipment in a safe manner."
The new maintenance building also will include public restrooms to be used by Knoch Park visitors and a conference room where the district can host open houses and community meetings. The parking lot west of the Barn will remain and will be given a fresh coating and new striping.
Now that the $24 million Fort Hill Activity Center is scheduled to open in August with a track, gyms, group exercise rooms, a fitness center and an indoor playground, the district has a place to move the recreation activities that have taken place at the Barn.
Plus, some of the Barn's purpose as a teen hangout has been fulfilled by NaperBridge at the Alive Center, which opened in November 2013 and moved last spring to a new facility on Fifth Avenue near Naperville North High School.
"It's a space for kids to be involved in positive and creative activities," Sue Omanson, park district community development manager, said about the Alive Center. "Even though it's sad to see something like the Barn go away, we'll be preserving the memories of it and we're providing something better for today's kids."