Construction of Naperville's 95th Street Community Plaza is underway after Wednesday groundbreaking
Contractors have been clearing dirt for weeks for what will be Naperville's 95th Street Community Plaza and the heavy machinery will roll in a few weeks.
But Tuesday was a day for clean hard hats and fancy, gold shovels to get their turn as Naperville city, park district and library officials gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking for the $3.6 million project that will separate the 95th Street Library from the Frontier Sports Complex.
Designed by Hitchcock Design Group, the project will include a band shell and performance lawn, a playground, a splash pad, several plazas, seating areas, restrooms, shade structures and connecting walkways. A parking lot will be installed, and native plants will be restored along the pond shoreline.
"This is an unbelievable spot," Park District Executive Director Ray McGury said Wednesday. "This is an amenity that is going to be great for south Naperville but I truly believe this will be a destination spot for all of Naperville."
He also praised 95th Street Library Manager Karen Dunford for seeing the potential in the land three years ago.
True to Dunford's initial proposal, the plaza will connect the library, the sports complex and the Neuqua Valley High School campus, including its freshman center. It also will serve as a link to a cluster of nearby shops and eateries.
Rick Hitchcock, of Hitchcock Design Group, said to have a great place you need stuff to do, great connections to get there and a captivating appearance to draw people there. In time, he said, this spot will have it all.
"It's spring, and there's all kind of cliches about planting seeds and watching them grow but, for sure, that's what we're doing here. As cool as this is, and it's extremely cool, this is not the end game. This is the beginning."
Most of the work will be done by the end of this year, with some finishing touches completed next spring.
The plaza should be fully operational by Memorial Day Weekend 2020,
Both the library and the park district plan to use the new space for programming, such as outdoor storytime, yoga, fitness classes, concerts and children's entertainment. Dunford said she also envisions families strolling along the pathways, teens doing their homework outside, and parents gathering at the benches while their kids play in the splash pad.
• Daily Herald staff writer Lauren Rohr contributed to this report.