Nichols Library Parking Lot: A 1st World Problem

For a solid 20 plus years now, local leaders have heard complaints about the very busy Nichols Library parking lot and whether or not a parking garage should be built at this location.

Many residents will contend that the size of the lot is insufficient and it offers a great inconvenience to the seniors and moms with car loads of kids who are trying to find a space. The parking lot’s shortcomings are exasperated by downtown shoppers who have taken to using this lot even though they are not using the library.

The Nichols lot is busy throughout the day and often people will have to wait a modest amount of time to find a space. But ultimately a space will be found. The parking spaces do tend to turnover quickly.

The inconvenience is a mild one.

Its so mild that the notion of spending many millions of dollars to address it – not to mention the immense inconvenience construction would cause in the short term – seems ridiculous. The open anrea is also nice and is clearly more attractive as is then even a modest sized garage would be.

The Watchdog suggests that our tax bills are high enough and government should spend on “must haves” and not “nice to haves”. The idea of a garage at Nichols should be brought to a close.

The Watchdog proposes a radical idea to council. Let’s start thinking of ways to reduce spending and stop thinking of ways to spend major money on minor problems.

Show 12 Comments


  1. Gerard H Schilling

    Not to mention that libraries are obsolete and within 10 to 15 years will turn into coffee shops which they mostly are now.

    • Derek

      You have clearly not been in one of the Naperville library branches in a long time. They are always packed and have a lot going on. Naperville has a top-tier library system and it isn’t going anywhere.

    • Joan Murray

      Obsolete? Where have you been? Libraries are thriving!

  2. Naperville's Northern Liberation Front

    As this parking would be mostly a benefit to the downtown businesses that are behind this rogue occupation of parking that should be reserved for the literate, perhaps we could look to an expansion of their current surface parking areas? That huge lot surrounded by Apple, Egg Harbour and sweetgrass could stand with a little vertical enhancement for the shopping traffic. Back of the envelope calculations show that a 5 story structure configured like the others in our CBD would provide at least 285 more spaces that could be devoted to shoppers. And that’s without dropping the Red Mango building and capturing all of that additional space wasted on inefficient single story retail. In the evenings it could be leased to the nicer restaurants downtown for valet parking needs and practically pay for itself. Which avoids the unnecessary tax burden of public financed parking for private benefit at the library. This voice for North Naperville declares we don’t need to spend a penny on expanded parking so entitled shoppers can save a few steps by occupying the library lot. A single Naperville PD detail at the library could easily conduct library card checks for everyone desiring a parking spot. No library card? Tase them, tow them, impound them and generate some extra revenue the City could use for social good from their inconsiderate selfish behavior. You do not get Global Best In Class Libraries by allowing parking stall misuse.

    Naperville has an embarrassing history of allowing uses and occupancies without any consideration of the required parking ratio. No project developed in the past 20 years has actually enforced the required parking ratios established in our Codes, and the inconveniences and life-threatening dangerous conditions (looking at YOU Freedom Drive) are the result. A world class place to live like ours cannot support asymmetrical development of use and infrastructure, too much density with not enough parking will invariably lead to situations like this. We love brick and limestone canyons that are 5 stories high, filled with trendy tasteful things to do, buy and eat and places to live, but don’t want to invest the valuable real estate square footage to parking them adequately. And just like the Chicago Bears and that silliness… we the taxpayers don’t want to pay for your parking fix after the fact.

  3. Joan murray

    Libraries are not obsolete. Parking should be reserved for library patrons first. We don’t need a parking garage in that location.

    • Grant Wehrli

      That’s not how public parking works. Can you only park at City Hall if you have business there? Can you only park in the Centennial Beach lot if you are going swimming or to a baseball game on the best little league field in town? Of course you can park there regardless of your intentions. Most of the downtown zoning doesn’t require businesses to provide on-site parking and that’s a good thing. To keep a compact downtown core you don’t want each parcel to have its own parking lot. The do pay for it through SSA’s that only apply to the downtown area.
      The library site parking deck literally has blueprints sitting on a shelf in city hall. We tabled the construction of the deck in 2008(ish?) as the economy started to wobble. I don’t think we need a deck there today but maybe that’s just my take.

      • Jim Haselhorst

        One of the rare occasion when we agree. Most people don’t even know SSAs exist let alone understand their purpose.

      • Joan Murray

        You can allocate a certain amount of spaces for library patrons only.

        • Grant Wehrli

          And how do you enforce it Joan? Law enforcement certainly has better things to do than check peoples intentions at a parking spot. What’s to stop someone from parking in a designated spot, walk into the parking lot side of the library, take the stairs down and walk out the riverwalk side on their way to Empire? Nothing. Are they a library patron then?
          You would have to pass an ordinance legally allocating the spots for library patrons only for there to be any enforcement ability. Is this what you want council to waste their time on? Your idea Joan is a solution looking for a problem.

        • Sam Nelson

          I agree with you Joan. Naperville currently enforces time limits on parking spots.

  4. Jim Haselhorst

    Yes, there are a few patrons of downtown business that abuse this lot. But I have also seen people parking in the lot across the street, intended for patrons of these businesses, that are going to the library. So there truly are no “innocents” in this situation.

    There is a wealth of on street parking surrounding this library that is also available to Library patrons and I do see them using these common parking spaces.

    This has been an on going issues for decades and every so often someone brings up the idea of building a parking garage to solve this problem. It is naive to believe this would actually make the situation any better. Parking garages bring with them their own set of problems the most common of which is on street traffic problems. Increasing parking capacity does not magically increase the ability of the connecting street to handle higher traffic volumes, which will happen (as they say “if you build it they will come”).

    I have to agree that this is not a pressing issue for our community. It has existed for decades without causing any public safety issues making is a minor problem at best but a simple inconvenience for some, most likely. To me there are simply better, more pressing issues to dedicate city resource and time too.

  5. Jim Haselhorst

    Currently there is a sign at the entrance to the library parking lot saying it is for patrons only, so it is currently allocated. The problem is enforcement. And if you are going to ticket non-library patrons for parking in this lot, does that mean you are also going to start ticketing library patrons that park in the lot across the street that says it is for business patrons only?

    Enforcement is a double edge sword and the consequence could easily be unpleasant for people on both sides of this issue.

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