Final forum gives residents say on new activity center

<p>File photo.</p>

File photo.

The Naperville Park District Thursday night wrapped up its series designed to get resident input on the big new activity center to be built on the north end of the city.

It was the third public forum held in January on the center, which will be built on 5.2 acres at 1760 Quincy Ave.

Park District Director of Recreation Programs Brad Wilson said an indoor walking track, cardio equipment, and athletic courts remain high on residents’ wish lists, as well as meeting room space and an indoor playground.

“The top three or four things we’ve seen requested at these open meetings pretty much reflect what we’ve seen on past community surveys,” Wilson said. “One of the activities we’ve also heard about is pickle ball, which can be played in the gym space people have asked about.”

Wilson said online participation has been strong as well, with the Park District receiving more than 100 responses the first day the web survey began.

Those who chose to come out Thursday in person like Marcia Straub of Naperville generally sought the same amenities others were seeking at previous meetings.

“I’d like to see the walking track and also look at the possibility of a community room, so if you want to have a party, you don’t have to mess up your house,” she said. “I know there is a need for this space. It also would be good to have things like a café lounge or the workout areas so when parents drop their children off for a program, they have something they can do while they wait.”

Straub’s son Mark, 13, said he was hoping the activity center might include a game or electronic center for playing X-Box games as well as a room stocked with textbooks used in local schools.

“It would be good if there was a place where a few tutors could come or maybe have some staff members so kids can do their school work, as well as a café where you could get something to eat or drink,” Mark said. “I’d also like to see a gym where my friends and I could have some space for athletics and hang out.”

Larry Gentile who lives in Naperville and also works with the Wheatland Athletic Association said that “indoor space in Naperville is at a premium” and that adding gym space is important to the community.

“The schools here don’t let you use facilities until after 5:30 p.m. and that’s pretty late for a lot of people,” Gentile said. “I think we need more facilities also in order to encourage kids to be more active. Too many from this generation are too sedentary.”

Park District Executive Director Ray McGury said a summation of findings from the forums will be presented at a Feb. 27 Park Board workshop meeting.

He said work on the activity should begin in 2015.

“Hopefully there will be shovels in the ground a little over a year from now,” he said.