Bill Novack: A rare chance to make everybody happy
By BILL Novack City of Naperville February 9, 2013 8:10PM
City of Naperville's TED department
Updated: March 11, 2013 6:11AM
As a first-year engineering student I had to declare a major and had no idea what to choose. After considerable thought and discussion, I went from aerospace engineering to mechanical engineering and finally settled upon civil engineering. The main reasons I chose civil engineering were the opportunity to work outdoors and the ability to see and enjoy what I had helped build. Face it; you cannot be both a rocket scientist and an astronaut!
When I first started working for the city of Naperville, one of my fellow engineers noted that the work we do improves the quality of life for our residents. While designing a road, traffic signal or stormwater basin is neither glamorous nor exciting, the ability to improve people’s commuting times or relieve flooding is very satisfying.
Working for the city of Naperville has allowed me to be involved in several great projects throughout the years. Some of my favorite projects include the widening of Route 59 with the diverging diamond interchange at I-88 (construction on this new entrance/exit will be underway soon), the 75th and Washington Street intersection improvements and the Steeple Run flood control project.
These are all high-impact projects that provided (or in the case of Route 59, will provide) a lot of benefit to the overall public. They also had some large impact on individual property owners. We are fortunate that the City Council has supported staff’s efforts to work with affected individuals to minimize the impact to them. As a result, over the years I have been at many “spirited” meetings with individuals listening to a wide variety of concerns.
One thing I thought I had learned was that I could never please everyone. There would never be a project, no matter how great the benefit, that everyone would embrace and love. Early this year, though, I found out how wrong I was!
Late in 2012 we had this little project that came out of nowhere. North Central College worked out a purchase agreement with BMO Harris for the building and property at 420-440 S. Washington St. North Central College representatives asked if the city could tear the building down if the college purchased the property, so I was directed to prepare bid packages for contractors to demolish the “eyesore” in downtown Naperville.
I have listened to my fair share of people complain about that building even before it became an eyesore. I knew tearing this thing down would make a lot of people happy, but I never imaged that it would make everyone happy, or how happy we all would be.
While I cannot confirm it, I believe I saw some Cubs and White Sox fans embracing in celebratory hugs with each other as those walls came tumbling down.
Who knew that a project so simple could create unity throughout Naperville?
Who knew that building absolutely nothing and actually tearing down something could make everyone so happy?
This was definitely something I never expected, and it was not a lesson that was taught to me by my college professors.
Thank you, Naperville, for providing me with the opportunity to make everyone happy!
Bill Novack is the TED (Transportation, Engineering & Development) director for the city of Naperville.