Naperville approves design for new park that will be open-air workspace
A Naperville park for outdoor meetings or casual work over a cup of coffee has all the approvals it needs to proceed toward construction this summer.
The Riverwalk Commission, park district board and finally the city council approved the design of what will be called Jaycees Park once it's built as a Wi-Fi hot spot and open-air workspace between the municipal center and the Riverwalk.
The council's approval was unanimous, member, Rebecca Boyd-Obarski said she fears the space may be overbuilt and too packed with tables and benches.
The park is budgeted to cost $416,000. Private donations to the Riverwalk Foundation, led by $200,000 promised during the next 10 years from the Naperville Jaycees, will fund construction. Mayor Steve Chirico said the donations also include $100,000 to be set aside for future maintenance or other needs at the park.
"I really like the way it's laid out," council member Kevin Coyne said. "I think it's just going to be a wonderful addition to the area around our city hall."
Geoff Roehll, chairman of the Riverwalk Commission and a landscape architect with Hitchcock Design Group, said his firm has completed drawings and plans for the park for free. He said the concept of open-air meeting spaces is a growing one, especially in areas filled with foot traffic, such as downtown Naperville.
"We want to put these kind of parks where the people are who want to have those meetings," Roehll said.
Designs include a patio with electrical outlets, charging stations and USB ports for powering phones and laptops, as well as benches and tables of various sizes to serve between one and eight people.
Covering the area will be shade trees and ornamental flowering trees, along with three shade structures to help people more easily see their computer screens. Roehll said designers are even thinking down to the level of whether the shade trellises should be built with wooden slats, which could cause streaks of light and shade, or solid metal for a clearer view. That detail remains undecided, he said.
A rain garden will help filter stormwater before it flows into the nearby DuPage River and native plantings will provide drought-resistant grasses and flowers that grow well in the region's weather.
Powering the outlets and charging stations will be a set of solar panels to be installed on the roof of the municipal center, which will be tucked behind a parapet wall and out of view. The panels are predicted to generate more power than Jaycees Park users will need.
"I like the idea that the building here will be able to use some of that power as well," council member Benjamin White said.
City Manager Doug Krieger said once Jaycees Park opens, it will be available to the public, free of charge, as a place to be productive in the pretty surroundings of the Riverwalk.
"This would be a centerpiece," Coyne said, "for people to meet."