‘If you build it, they will come’, and if you pay for it, you can keep it. There is hope for the old, original Nichols Library building, if the current hurdles can be overcome as outlined in Watchdog’s last posting.
Things are on course for an outdoor, landscaped, office park adjacent to the Naperville Municipal Center; its name will be Naperville Jaycees Smart Park. The area, with seating and shade, will support the use of electronic equipment, including laptops, cell phones, with solar-powered USB ports, electrical outlets, with free Wi-Fi.
The initial idea was proposed by Naperville Chamber of Commerce President Nicki Anderson, and supported by Naperville mayor Steve Chirico. Part of the goal was to entice new companies with young employees to come to Naperville. Another goal was to have it funded via donations, instead of tax dollars.
The expected cost to cover the ‘smart park’ is a little over $400,000 with the Naperville Jaycees supporting nearly half of the project with a $200,000 donation. Naperville councilman Kevin Coyne is a member of the Jaycees. Mayor Chirico made the pitch to the group, and the idea was met with enthusiasm from the Jaycees, hence the naming of the smart park. The Naperville Jaycees have been active in supporting projects in Naperville through money raised by Naperville’s Labor Day Weekend’s Last Fling. The goal is to begin the project early in 2018, and have it completed in the summer or fall.
Chirico has also figured out a way to have the maintenance of the park funded without Naperville taxpayer money. He is working on a grant for a solar plant to power the park, and the plant will produce enough electricity to create a revenue stream to pay for ongoing maintenance in the future. Additionally, the mayor is working to secure enough private funding to establish an annuity to take care of all future enhancements and repairs.
The Mayor announced the idea in his State of the City address last spring, and emphasized the caveat of using public funding, not taxpayer dollars. Now with the help of the Naperville Jaycees, along with an anonymous major donor, and various sponsors, the idea will come to fruition.
The same thing can happen with the old Nichols Library building. Preservationists want to keep the building and have it ‘brought back to life’. It all starts with an idea, and people willing to creatively make it happen.