A Closer Look at the Riverwalk 2031 Master Plan

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Riverwalk 2031 Master Plan

2031 marks the City of Naperville’s bicentennial and the Riverwalk’s 50th anniversary.

That’s one reason why the Naperville Riverwalk Commission believes it’s the right time to begin some projects and enhancements to hopefully be completed in the next decade.

On September 9, the commission approved the 2031 Master Plan, which could include 12 new projects.

Grand Pavilion

One is reimagining the Grand Pavilion.

“What we’re really looking to do is enhance and rehabilitate and really upgrade one of our biggest assets on the Riverwalk,” said Patrick Kennedy, the Chairman of the Riverwalk Planning, Design & Construction Committee. “Over the years what we’ve experienced is both a rundown parking lot we’d really like to upgrade. There’s a big ecological and water quality component to how we’d like to upgrade the parking lot. From a hospitality standpoint we’d like to introduce some pavers and other things around the pavilion itself.”

A new grill station, fireplace, and more seating could be added, while providing space for pop up tents for events.

Prairie Nature Garden

And just a short walk from the pavilion to the centennial beach area, a new garden might pop up.

“The Prairie Nature Garden is an opportunity for the Riverwalk to showcase how we can convert mown lawn into a native landscape, what the original prairie landscape looked like,” said Naperville Riverwalk Commission Chairman, Geoff Roehll. “Through the nature garden would be a small trail and an elevated board walk so that when it does periodically get inundated with water you could still use it.”

Pathways on both sides connecting to the garden, plants popular to birds and butterflies for pollination, and signs to teach younger kids about the native landscape are also part of the project.

Ecological restoration work including restoring areas of erosion and removing invasive species near the river is another priority.

South Gateway

For those who enjoy walking along the southern portion of the Riverwalk, the South Gateway project provides a path to Edward Hospital.

“Instead of having to go up to Washington or try to cross Hillside in a dangerous condition, they would have a pedestrian access directly underneath Hillside Road bridge, said Roehll. “Probably the one big component of the south extension is it connects one of the largest employers to our downtown.”

Roehll reminds the public the document is not final, and is merely a plan that could change.

The master plan will be sent to the Naperville Park District before it goes to City Council on October 20.

Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.