'Parking at Nichols is really bad': Officials reviving parking deck plan at downtown Naperville library
Reviving a plan that's been dormant for more than a decade, leaders of the city of Naperville and Nichols Public Library have renewed discussions about building a parking deck next to the library to alleviate the struggle to find downtown spots.
The site at 200 W. Jefferson Ave. has been criticized for years over its lack of parking. The library's surface lot has 130 spaces.
A proposed four-level deck would create 371 more spots, bringing the total to 501.
According to City Engineer Andy Hynes, a downtown parking feasibility study determined the Nichols site should be the top priority among multiple potential locations.
Because the city already has design plans from the 2007 effort to build a deck, Hynes said, the process to build the structure could start relatively quickly. The project, estimated at $23 million in today's dollars, was shelved because of the downturn in the economy and the desire to focus on other downtown parking structures.
The city, which owns the lot, would need to fund the project. However, Hynes expressed hope that federal money could help offset some of the cost.
Depending on funding, Hynes said, an "aggressive" timeline would see a design consultant hired in 2023 and construction possibly beginning in 2024. Construction would take about a year.
"The city doesn't have any funding in our current fiscal year for any type of design work or anything," Hynes said. "There's a strong interest in trying to get some external funding for this as well, and that usually takes six to 12 months. And we don't even know what funding sources might be available at this point."
Library Executive Director Dave Della Terza said the lack of parking remains a common complaint among library patrons. He said the idea of building a parking deck resurfaced in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed further discussion until now.
The proposed structure would be an L-shaped deck north and west of the library with a brick facade and a row-house design stretching along Jefferson Avenue and continuing south down Eagle Street. Despite the four levels, Hynes said, it would be similar in height to the library itself.
There would be access points on Jackson Avenue, Jefferson Avenue and Webster Street, with an exit from the book drop location onto Eagle. The parking structure would have bathrooms, landscaping and planters, and there would be a community plaza at the southeast corner of Jefferson and Eagle.
Hynes said plan updates are needed to adhere to new code standards, and there would be public meetings to receive additional input. He anticipates changes to be minimal, though, because of the amount of work that was done and the feedback received in 2007.
"Every single time we do a customer satisfaction survey, the number one thing that people say is parking at Nichols is really bad," Della Terza said. "I'm glad this is something we're looking at and that's being explored."