Outdoor musical instruments could come to Naperville Riverwalk
Harmonious sounds -- but not too loud -- could be coming later this summer to Naperville's Riverwalk.
The Rotary Club of Naperville plans to add four outdoor instruments playable by anyone in what will be called Rotary Harmony Park, pending city council approval Tuesday night.
The musical percussion pieces are set to be installed along the north side of a section of the Riverwalk close to Aurora Avenue, between the paddleboat quarry and Rotary Hill, said Jan Erickson, Riverwalk administrator.
As Harmony Park moved through the approval processes of the Riverwalk commission and Riverwalk Foundation, detractors largely stayed silent about noise concerns, said Marie Todd, a Naperville Park District commissioner who also sits on the Riverwalk commission.
But parks Commissioner Bill Eagan said he's heard some recent questions about how much noise the instruments will make and whether they will disrupt Riverwalk users or students across Aurora Avenue at Naperville Central High School.
Kevin Finnegan, director of parks, said the sound level from the chosen instruments developed by Colorado-based Freenotes was tested at an average of 65 decibels at a distance of 32 feet. By 75 feet, the distance at which a park district noise ordinance comes into effect, he said the sound produced will "significantly dissipate to well under the required 60-decibel level."
"The science doesn't support the complaint," said Derke Price, an attorney for the park district. "The instruments don't violate any noise regulations."
The park board approved Harmony Park as an addition to the Riverwalk last week, a step toward final approval that was music to the ears of Rotary Club of Naperville President John Norman.
"It's going to add a component for our community that everyone can enjoy, no matter their age, no matter their ability," Norman said about the display of free-standing instruments, which will look similar to xylophones. "There is no bad note played. Everything sounds great."
Rotary Harmony Park is a collaboration between the club and the public art nonprofit Century Walk Corp., Century Walk Chairman Brand Bobosky said. The instruments will be the 49th location across Naperville where Century Walk features art, including sculptures, mosaics and murals.
"It's a good chance for people to entertain themselves for free and appreciate nature and music," Bobosky said.
If approved Tuesday as part of an amendment to the Riverwalk maintenance agreement between the city and the park district, Rotary Harmony Park could be complete by August, Norman and Bobosky said. The finished park will include the four musical sculptures, brick pavers and landscaping.
Other amendments proposed to the agreement reduce the amount the city owes the park district for Riverwalk maintenance each year and turn the deal into a three-year pact with two automatic one-year extenders, if neither party objects.
The city stands to owe the park district $903,327 for Riverwalk maintenance during the next five years, starting with a $175,326 bill in 2019 and rising from there. The agreement also governs city payments to the park district for maintenance of the Millennium Carillon, which stands to cost $542,105 total during the length of the pending deal.