Naperville's Riverwalk

Naperville will extend the Riverwalk's southern boundary from Hillside Road to Martin Avenue, but doesn't plan to do any construction work for years. (Melissa Jenco, Chicago Tribune / January 22, 2014)

Naperville will extend the boundary of the Riverwalk south to Martin Avenue, but shovels won't be hitting the ground any time soon.

The City Council gave its approval to the extension for planning purposes, but also agreed with Councilman Grant Wehrli's request it be "as far out as possible" in the capital budget.

"I do think the connectivity we could provide toward the Edward Hospital campus, toward that Martin Avenue facility … from a walkability (standpoint) it's a great idea," Wehrli said.

Preliminary sketches of the plan show possible features like rain gardens, a pedestrian bridge, seating areas and informational signs.

The idea for an extension came up in the summer of 2012 when McDonald's was looking to open a restaurant at the southeast corner of Hillside Road and Washington Street near the Riverwalk's current terminus. That plan fell through and the site is still occupied by a Citgo gas station. It is the only piece of land along the proposed extension the city does not currently own.

The Riverwalk Commission and Naperville Park District each gave its approval to the boundary extension, but councilmen balked at the costs involved – roughly $2.7 million for construction, $276,000 for design and engineering and another $10,000 to $15,000 annually for maintenance.

"I'd rather spend this money maintaining what we have," Councilman Doug Krause said.

Councilmen voted 6-2 in favor of extending the boundary, but putting off construction. Wehrli, Paul Hinterlong, Joe McElroy, Judy Brodhead, Dave Wentz and Bob Fieseler voted in favor while Krause and Steve Chirico voted no. Mayor George Pradel was absent.
r: @melissajenco