Naperville starting minor work to improve Ogden appearance
A major streetscape renovation and a rebranding as "Uptown Naperville" might be further down the road, but Naperville is ready to move on a few ideas to make Ogden Avenue look better.
It starts with burying power lines.
Using $1.5 million in credits the city accrued from a previous contract with ComEd, Naperville plans to hide as many power lines as possible along Ogden from Washington Street to just east of Naper Boulevard.
"Burying the lines would be a huge step, in my opinion," council member Kevin Coyne said.
The city also will begin this year to paint 19 rusty or deteriorated electric transformer boxes and plan in next year's budget to replace street signs at 20 intersections along the same stretch of Ogden, said Allison Laff, deputy director of transportation, engineering and development. Transformer box painting is estimated to cost $100,000, while sign replacement is projected to cost $40,000.
Later council discussions will focus on how to improve the appearance of business signs along the Ogden corridor and whether to create a deadline by which so-called "pole signs" must come down.
But for now, council members said burying the power lines wherever possible, painting the transformer boxes and replacing street signs will improve the aesthetics of the area at the northeastern edge of the city.
The work scales back a streetscape overhaul discussed last fall with business owners and residents that would have cost $5 million.
Aside from the $1.5 million in ComEd credits, the rest of the cost could have been split between the city and roughly 400 Ogden Avenue property owners, who could have paid a special service area tax to build a fund.
The city and the Naperville Development Partnership hosted an open house last October to gauge support for a special service area tax and found there was none, Laff wrote in a memo to the council.
So the work, which would have included upgrades at three primary and four secondary intersections such as landscaping, signs pointing to the downtown and other destinations, and large lettering identifying "Naperville" or "Uptown Naperville," will have to wait.
Mayor Steve Chirico said he also wants to add new entrance signs along Ogden and other major streets letting people know they're in Naperville. But that, too, will take time and planning.
"Ours are really bad," Chirico said about the city's welcome signs. "We'll have to get money in the budget for that. I know it's not in the budget this year. That's something we need to take more pride in."