Nicki Anderson Appointed to City Council | Religious Services in Former Walmart Garden Center | Greenfield Announced as Gagliardi Award Finalist

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Nicki Anderson Appointed to City Council

Naperville City Council has chosen Nicki Anderson to fill the council seat left vacant by former councilwoman, Patty Gustin. 

Anderson is the former President and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce. She is currently the director of L.E.A.D.S., an undergraduate women’s leadership program at Benedictine University, and serves as the executive director of university development. 

Gustin was recently elected as a District 5 representative on the DuPage County Board. She was sworn in to that position in a ceremony Monday night.

Anderson will serve as councilwoman through April 2023, which is the remainder of Gustin’s term.

Religious Services in Former Walmart Garden Center

After sitting dormant for nearly a decade, a former Walmart garden center space within the River Commons shopping center is poised to become a space for religious services.

The Naperville Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday gave a favorable recommendation to convert the space into services for an institution under the leadership of Sri Veda Dharmashala, who is described as a guru or spiritual teacher in application materials. 

The religious institution will join the rest of the Mall of India, which occupies the main portion of the former Walmart. 

The retailer abandoned the building in 2014 to relocate to a larger space. In its current iteration, the Mall of India features a grocery store, food court, retail establishments, dance studio and daycare. 

A religious institution has not historically been a permitted use within the site, which prompted the amendment from city officials. The commission’s recommendation will advance to city council for a final vote on Dec. 20.

Historical Landmark Status Procedures

The Planning and Zoning Commission also gave its support to proposed tweaks to the city’s ordinance on designating historical landmarks. 

The current city ordinance allows anybody to ask for any building to be deemed a historical landmark, even if the applicant is not the owner of the property. 

A revision, which members of the Historic Preservation Commission approved early this month, states property owners must be notified and sign off on the landmark status before final approval is granted. An applicant could still potentially seek an appeal if the owner objects, based on the language within the ordinance, though there would be additional steps to work through. 

There are a few other amendments in the ordinance, including clearer language that will allow a homeowner to apply for landmark status if he or she chooses. The city council will review the ordinance at its next meeting.

Park District Budget Approval

During Thursday’s meeting, the Naperville Park District Board of Commissioners approved its 2023 budget ordinance, which features a budgeted amount of $50,768,351. 

This total is a 6% increase from last year, as board members created an estimated tax levy increase as part of the budget review process. The change means an average homeowner would pay about $17 more on their annual property tax bill, based on the assumption of a $421,000 home valuation.

The bulk of the park district’s budget will go to the recreation fund ($16.7 million), the capital fund ($13.5 million), and the general fund ($8.7 million). 

There were no changes from the budget presented at the Nov. 10 board meeting.

Greenfield Announced as Gagliardi Award Finalist

North Central College senior running back Ethan Greenfield was recently announced as one of four finalists for the Gagliardi Award, which is presented to the top player in Division III football.

Greenfield is the Cardinals all time leading rusher and leads the nation in rushing yards this season with 1,751 yards as well as rushing touchdowns with 23. 

This is the third consecutive season North Central has had a Gagliardi Finalist. Wide receiver Andrew Kamienski was a finalist in 2021, while quarterback Broc Rutter won the Gagliardi in 2019. The winner of the 2022 Gagliardi Trophy will be announced by on Friday, Dec. 16, prior to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl. 

Tomorrow, North Central hosts University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) in the D3 semifinal at 2:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.