Park Board gets look at plans for activity center

<p>File photo.</p>

File photo.

Having completed various events to gather public input, Naperville Park Board commissioners took the next step Thursday night to begin construction of the new activity center that is expected to open in the fall of 2016.

Commissioners awarded a contract worth just under $1.3 million to Wight Construction Inc. of Darien for construction management services on the facility, to be built at 1760 Quincy Ave. on the north side of the city.

The district plans to build a facility with about 80,000 square feet of recreation space on a 5.2-acre property at the site.

Park District Executive Director Ray McGury said a number of firms presented bids for the job.

“We interviewed a number of companies and this was, in our opinion, the best fit,” McGury said. “We’ve used this company before on other projects, and they’ve always brought their work in on time and under budget. We think it’s good to have the construction manager and the architects ‘married’ early in order to keep the process moving.”

Commissioners also had the opportunity to review preliminary architectural drafts of the activity center on Thursday. Frank Parisi, principal of Williams Architects, was on hand to answer questions about space and design decisions made up to this point.

Before the meeting, director of planning Eric Shutes said Parisi’s preliminary conceptual layout “would consist of ground level and second story drafts of the building” as well as space allotments inside for various components.

“These drafts are based on public input we received in January of this year at three different meetings, as well as the focus groups who met with us in February,” Shutes said. “We want the board to see some of the options at this point and be able to ask questions.”

Director of Recreation Brad Wilson showed a number of renderings on a television monitor that he said “hit all the priorities residents have asked for” with the exception of a pool.

The first floor included a child care and indoor playground area and a café, along with three courts for basketball, volleyball, and other activities. Other first floor design features included a fitness area with weight equipment, three multi-purpose rooms, a gymnastics area and locker rooms.

The second floor offered a second fitness area for workout machines, group exercise or dance studios, and a walking/jogging track.

Wilson explained that feedback from Parisi and others suggested that two wider lanes on the walking/jogging track would be better than three narrower ones like many facilities have.

“People that are walking generally walk side-by-side with someone else, and would get in the way of someone in another lane if the lanes were narrower,” Wilson said.

McGury added that the 6-foot-wide lanes would also better accommodate those in wheelchairs using the track.

A total of 5,000 square feet of space will remain undeveloped on the second floor in the beginning, Wilson said.“This will allow future boards at some time to add on to the facility as the need warrants,” he said.

Park Commissioner Ron Ory asked after the presentation where the project will go from here. McGury said there will be meetings “every two weeks or so with the architect and construction manager” and that final plans are expected to be complete by the end of the year so that construction bids can be put out and work begin next spring.