The Riverwalk Commission has publically unveiled new plans to lengthen the riverwalk from Hillside Road south to Martin Avenue. Proposed amenities include a pedestrian walkway under the existing hillside road bridge, informational kiosks, additional parking, an eco friendly rain garden, and a gateway and bridge at the intersection of Martin Avenue and Washington Street.
“Really there’s no gateway at this end now. It just kind of starts at Hillside,” said Jeffrey Havel, Board Chairman of the Riverwalk Commission. “At Jefferson, when the bridge was redeveloped, we developed more of a plaza and gateway there with signage so this is a chance for some more information there. If people come from the hospital or Knoch Park, they’ll know what’s going on.”
At a city council meeting last October, council members directed the Riverwalk Commission to conduct a feasibility study for an extension and they’ve been working on plans ever since.
They brought those plans to Hillside Elementary School for an open house where the public could see renderings and offer comments.
“The riverwalk belongs to the public,” said Annmarie Siwik, a commissioner for the Riverwalk Comission. “It belongs to everyone that uses it and their feedback is really important to us when we make any decisions.”
Residents had mixed feelings regarding the proposal.
“I like the idea of the extension,” said Naperville resident “Jo Malik. “I’m just worried about funding.”
“I think it’d be a pleasant thing to have,” said Richard Page, also a city resident. “Right now, I ride my bike along that area. It’s possible that may not be available to me anymore.”
“I like that it’s close to the river. It’s maybe a chance to enhance the river bank. It’s a chance to add art or cultural aspects of our community or something whimsical,” said longtime Naperville resident Mary Lou Wehrli. “I would be leery about getting too monumental.”
Residents left behind comment cards, which the Riverwalk Commission will review over the next couple months. If public feedback is generally positive, the riverwalk commission will develop a project scope, estimate its cost and find possible funding sources by the end of spring. It will then present the findings to the Naperville Park Board in the summer, before going to council for final approval.
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