Smart Park, Precursor For Old Nichols Library Building

‘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.

Show 3 Comments


  1. Gerard H Schilling

    Beyond smelling and sounding like the Bell Tower Fiasco could the city BEFORE putting one shovel into the ground get the finances (all of it ) and 5 years of maintenance cost put into escrow?

    As to building a solar power station to pay for the yearly maintenance that’s a pipe dream as the cost and maintenance of that piece of junk will be more then the park with no payback ever.

    Cell phones and human chips have and will be replacing all this technology within the next 5 years and these types of parks and centers are obsolete already. Save us all a lot of money and build a rose garden park for we overburdened tax payers to sit and smell them!

  2. Jim Haselhorst

    Yes, large projects are possible using public and not taxpayer funds but there are limits on just how large, as the Carillon project has taught us. The “Naming Rights” donation the Jaycees made to fund this park is not a regular practice for them. It has only been done a handful of times since this organization was founded, the first and most notable of which was the Jaycee Marina. Like the Marina donation these funds will be provided for this project over several years and not in a single lump sum.

    The cost of acquiring the ONL property alone is large enough to push the limits of what public funding in Naperville has been show as possible in the past. Case in point the DuPage Children’s Museum, which also had a high purchase price, was only possible because the city purchase the property.

  3. joe g

    The Mayor has a task force to protect the bell tower. Fat chance it will come down. get your wallet out.
    BTW looking at the utility bill fro Naperville they hit us with a tax on our own electric company I must be bad at math,

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