A proposed extension of Naperville's Riverwalk has moved a step closer to becoming reality.
Naperville Park District commissioners unanimously approved moving the southern border of the pathway from Hillside Road to Martin Avenue.
"I think connectivity is something we consistently hear from our residents," park board President Rich Janor said. "And obviously the Riverwalk … is one of the crown jewels of our community and extending it to reach further into that part of town I think is a great thing."
Officials have said the extension will better connect Edward Hospital and Knoch Park to the downtown.
Residents had a chance to view sketches of the proposed extension during an open house last winter at which time attendees in favor said they thought it would enhance the Riverwalk while some questioned whether there would really be a benefit.
Officials said the majority of feedback they received supported the proposal. The extension also has received endorsement from the Riverwalk Commission.
Preliminary sketches of the plan show possible features like rain gardens, a pedestrian bridge, seating areas and informational signs.
Under the proposal, bicycles would be prohibited on the extension just as they are on the rest of the Riverwalk. However, people will be able to ride them on the sidewalk along Washington Street.
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 extension proposal will now go before the City Council. If approved, landscape architects will create a final design and the city and Park District will work out a maintenance agreement. Actual construction of the extension likely won't happen for several years.