Residents share opinions on Naperville trails

<p>File photo.</p>

File photo.

Naperville residents had a chance Thursday night to talk about the Park District’s trail system, and where they would like those paths to go in the future.

The Naperville Park District offered an open house at the city’s Municipal Center in order to offer updates about progress made on its Trails Master Plan, which was first was forged back in 2008. Visitors were able to view a number of poster boards which showed projects completed over the past several years as well as offer comments about additional trails still needed in the future.

Planner Aileen McEldowney and Park District Director of Planning Eric Shutes were on hand to field questions and to forward concerns to park staff.

“We’re going to compile comments and input and present it to the board at our final meeting this month or at the first meeting in March,” Shutes said. “This was something we started last year where we identified things we had updated in 2012 in the master plan, and then last year, we began meeting with shareholders, the Forest Preserve, people in the county and residents.”

Ongoing projects include a trail at Knoch Knolls Park known as the DuPage River Trail Extension, as well as various linkages to be added at sites like May Watts Park. Another project involves Wildflower Park, where Shutes said a playground renovation will also include an asphalt trail connection.

Naperville resident Charles Rehor said he lives by May Watts Park and that he was interested in learning if there would be any modifications to the existing plan.

“They worked at the site last year, and did a nice job with it,” Rehor noted. “I’m just interested in learning if they plan to make any modifications to it. I don’t really use the path but I like to look at it from the house and think it’s a nice amenity.”

Warren Vik of Naperville said he is hoping the Park District “extends the system” as he lives on the city’s north side and feels there is still not enough trail access in that part of town.

“We don’t have a lot of trails in some areas and I’m hoping they will be extended as I’d like to have more access with my bike,” Vik said.

Wendy and Jeff Gross said they have lived in Naperville since 1985 and they too were looking for more biking trails.

“I’d like for there to be more access around the city without having to use the car,” Jeff Gross said. “I think that people today are too sedentary and have to become more active. We live close to downtown, and I’d like it if there was way to have quicker access around town.”

McEldowney said the open house Thursday “was to showcase the things the Park District has done already” and to show how master plan objectives are being met.

“This is an effort to show the public what we’ve done and that we have taken into account people’s recommendations and have completed some of the things the public has asked for,” she said. “We also are continuing to receive requests for various things like signage. People want to know where they are going or how far they have come. We’re looking to add more connections as well.”

McEldowney added that the Park District wants to work on learning more about how many people actually are using the trails, since they are among the most requested items on community surveys.

“People tell us over and over again that when it comes to the trails, they want more of them,” she said.