Riverwalk master plan gets support from Naperville council
A framework for possible improvements to the Naperville Riverwalk has been endorsed by the city council, providing a vision for future partners who may want to invest in the downtown icon.
Developed by the Riverwalk Commission, the master plan serves as a wish list of potential enhancements along the linear park ahead of the city's bicentennial in 2031. The goal is to seek community donors and volunteers to help complete the projects, which vary in cost and scope, said Councilwoman Judith Brodhead, who also sits on the commission.
"Rather than having all our worthy organizations come up with their own ideas, we're sort of guiding them, saying 'here's something you might like to do,'" she said. "(The plan) is, I thought, beautifully put together and something we can really look forward to for the next couple of decades."
The council's unanimous support of the Riverwalk Master Plan 2031 does not commit the city to any amount of funding. Instead, it indicates elected officials "approve of the vision of the Riverwalk and hope to acquire financial support to complete the projects in the future," Bill Novack, transportation, engineering and development director, said in a memo.
The Naperville Park District's board of commissioners also endorsed the master plan at its Oct. 8 meeting.
The Riverwalk was constructed by volunteers in 1981 to commemorate Naperville's 150th anniversary, and has since been expanded through various community partnerships. The 1.75-mile path along the DuPage River now serves as one of the city's key downtown attractions, linking amenities, landscapes and businesses.
The master plan aims to build upon that success with enhancements to gateway areas, improved overlook points, accessibility upgrades and ecological restoration efforts.
Funding is in place for a new park and plaza at 430 S. Washington St., which could be among the first projects to move forward, Riverwalk stewards said. Other larger-scale improvements in the plan include an extension of the Riverwalk south to Martin Avenue; the creation of a new pedestrian bridge and path along the east side of the river; upgrades to the Grand Pavilion parking lot and plaza; and a block-long transformation of the area between Main and Washington streets.
"I really like what they're proposing here -- very forward-thinking," Mayor Steve Chirico said. "It's going to be so cool for this Riverwalk, but I imagine it's going to take some time."