Naperville predicts 6-8 weeks for nature center flood repairs

  • Knoch Knolls Nature Center in Naperville is expected to remain closed for another six to eight weeks after a sanitary sewer backup on March 30 flooded it with 2 inches of water.

      Knoch Knolls Nature Center in Naperville is expected to remain closed for another six to eight weeks after a sanitary sewer backup on March 30 flooded it with 2 inches of water. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/10/2017 5:01 PM

The Naperville Park District expects its Knoch Knolls Nature Center to remain closed for another six to eight weeks as crews clean up and make repairs to the flooded facility.

Executive Director Ray McGury said a sanitary sewer backup on March 30 caused about 2 inches of water to fill the 5,000-square-foot nature center after a day of heavy rains.

 

A restoration crew is working to remove flooring, drywall, equipment and materials damaged by the water, and the park district has hired the building's construction firm, Wight & Co., to oversee renovations, McGury said.

But the cost of the work, as well as its exact timeline, remains uncertain.

The park district opened the nature center in October 2014 as a place where students and adults can learn about the role of water in supporting life and ecosystems. The $6 million facility is in a 224-acre park in south Naperville at the convergence of the east and west branches of the DuPage River.

But its proximity to water, including a pond directly behind the building, did not cause the flooding, McGury said. The backup instead was caused by a problem with a sanitary sewer line servicing the building, which the city of Naperville has temporarily fixed by adding a valve.

"I'm not pointing fingers," McGury said. "It's a problem, we discovered it, and now we're going to fix it and move on."

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He said the city also plans to install an underground lift station before the nature center reopens to make the fix more permanent.

"This is the best way to make sure it never happens again," McGury said.

Although indoor activities at the nature center have been canceled or moved elsewhere, outdoor programs are still scheduled to take place.

A flashlight egg hunt is set for 7:15 to 8 p.m. Thursday, a Fishin' Kids program is scheduled for April 30, May 21 and June 25, and Wildflower Walks are still on for April 30, May 14 and May 21.

These programs require registration at napervilleparks.org.

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