October 31, 2014

Council Discusses CSO in Naperville

If certain members of city council have their way, the empty space at the Alcatel-Lucent property could one day be filled with music.

The group recently voted six to three to earmark $12 million in potential state funding requests for 2015 to help the Chicago Symphony Orchestra buy land on the Alcatel-Lucent property for a summer concert venue.

“The point is that the state funds various things throughout the year even though they’re broke, they still fund things. The difference is that Naperville doesn’t receive any of that funding cause we never ask. So that money is being distributed and awarded to the state for different things, Naperville just hasn’t been able to take advantage of that,” said Steve Chirico, Councilman for the City of Naperville.

The request may seem a bit premature, because so far the CSO has simply discussed the possibility of creating a suburban music venue with no tangible plan.

But at his state of the county address, DuPage County Board Chairman, Dan Cronin suggested that Naperville was one of three locations being considered.

“Huge, it’s a game changer, tremendous financial impact, the economic impact would be amazing. I think the brand of having the CSO in Naperville would be great and it would work both ways because Naperville has a great brand also but to have the CSO would be a really amazing thing for the community,” said Chirico.

While the plans are still in their early stages, the possibility of having a music venue here in Naperville is not music to everyone’s ears.

“At a time when our states budget is under a big crunch, dollars are tight. Going to the taxpayers to ask them for money for something like this $120 million project is not sound policy to me. Keep in mind we’re under assault for increase funding to the state, for SB16, increase property taxes, income taxes,” said Grant Wehrli, Councilman for the City of Naperville.

Another worry? Oversaturation. The CSO already plays at the Morton Arboretum occasionally and Aurora’s River Edge Park and North Central’s Wentz Concert Hall already offer musical choices for the area.

But some don’t see that as a problem.

“One thing helps another and I think that having an institution of the level of the CSO here could do nothing but help the other institutions in the town like say North Central College and Naper Settlement, think about the cross marketing opportunities. North Central College has a really good music department, how cool would it be to do some sort of work together with the CSO same thing with Naper Settlement, I think it’s a wonderful opportunity,” said Joe McElroy, Councilman for the City of Naperville.

The state funding requests are scheduled to come back before the council for final approval at their December 2 meeting.


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