Trying to navigate through downtown Naperville is getting more and more challenging all the time, and finding a parking spot is turning into a game of survivor. It’s only going to become more intense when projects such as Water Street get approved by city officials and become reality.
Naperville city officials created the problem, and now they are being called upon to fix the problem. Committees are formed, discussions start, surveys are created, followed by more committees, more discussions, and more surveys. This is probably how Chicago became Chicago. Two-story buildings, became 5 story buildings, followed by committees, discussions and, well you get the idea.
The City of Naperville turned the “let’s-be-like-Chicago” corner, when the Naperville city council approved the Water Street Project, and Naperville changed direction from being known as a ‘family friendly’ city to become a destination for entertainment and business. Many Chicago area towns have come to the same fork in the road, and most have chosen to remain family-friendly with a quaint downtown area along with limited and modestly planned growth goals.
There was a time, not that long ago, that Naperville was the same size as Hinsdale, Geneva, Barrington, and Lake Forest. Now Naperville is rivaling Aurora, Joliet, Rockford and aiming towards Chicago. That won’t happen for quite some time, but the machinery is in motion to move in that direction.
Naperville city officials have been quick to approve ‘bigger and more’, but not as quick to address traffic and parking issues. The last Naperville city council left the problem for the current city council, and this city council will probably pass it forward to the next city council, and, well again, you get the idea. Driving through Naperville and looking for a parking spot, is making every day like Ribfest weekend.
It doesn’t take a genius or a high-paid consultant to determine that parking choices are evident:
- Build more
- Build up
- Build out
- Build not
I think Watchdog just saved the city $150,000 in consulting fees.
Actually, the last city council did discuss and address this issue. The decision make was to wait until the Water Street parking garage is open, then close the parking central garage, which has structural issues, and replace it with a larger better designed parking garage. Because of the estimated $35 million cost of this project the city has been working on getting as much of the finances needed in place but will still need to issue bonds for part of the cost.
Just because a city gets bigger does not mean it has to give up its family friendly roots, but the best way for a city to keep its property taxes low for it’s residents is to rely on taxes from business operations. That means attracting more businesses, which means more people, which means more traffic. Putting a hotel downtown does not make Naperville any less family friendly (most of the events – central park concerts, ribfest, last fling, Easter egg hunts, etc are still family centric) but it does make it more business friendly.
And no the two are not mutually exclusive, in fact businesses want to be located in family friendly communities because they provide a employment pool that is dependable, loyal and hard working. The city government can make decision that impact the family orientation of our community, but it is us and our involvement in our community through various organization (church, volunteer, charity, etc) that determine our community’s nature. So long as we remain committed to being a family oriented community and donate our time and money to organizations that strengthen our family roots we will always be a family friendly community.