How much stuff is too much stuff on the sidewalks of downtown Naperville? That is a question yet to be answered by the Naperville city council. City officials are pushing the envelope to see how many people, tables, chairs, benches, signs, and huge pieces of ‘artwork’ they can jam onto the sidewalks and still have some semblance of movement within the mass. Which will come to a complete stop first, pedestrians on the sidewalk or vehicles in the street? If the goal is to stop speeding, or making it easier for Naperville’s finest to apprehend the bad guys after a robbery, city officials are making it happen. Not much if anything will be moving at a quick pace in downtown Naperville.
For a number of years the Downtown Naperville Alliance has promoted an annual themed sculpture series. This year heart-shaped sculptures will be on display throughout the downtown area from June through September. In previous years other series have included chairs, book benches, cows, baseballs, classic cars and golf balls to name a few.
The concept is admirable, businesses or sponsors pay for the sculptures, artists are commissioned to design and paint or decorate the themed items, they are then placed in the downtown area, and afterward returned to the sponsors to sell, auction, or donate to non-for-profit organizations for fund raising. So to that extent, it’s a cool idea, however with most cool ideas, at some point it crosses over to being a bit much or too much.
Downtown Naperville is blessed and cursed at the same time with excessiveness. By adding 18 heart-shaped sculptures the size of VW Beetles (actually 52 inches high and 52 inches wide) on sidewalks, it’s going to make congested areas even more difficult to navigate. When city officials have to measure the distance between a store front or restaurant to the curb to see if a baby stroller and wheel chair can safely navigate side-by side without one or the other spilling into the street, you know you have reached the point of too much.