Council Makes Resolution Against Racism, Debates Kroehler Mansion

Donate Today

Resolution Denouncing Racism

It was unanimous among Naperville City Council members at last night’s meeting, when the group voted in favor of a resolution denouncing racism.

“I make the motion to adopt the resolution celebrating the diversity of our community and denouncing all acts of racism, intolerance, and unlawful discrimination,” moved Councilman Benny White.

The resolution came in response to a speaker at the April 7 council meeting, who referred to Asian-American residents as “carpetbaggers.” The comment was in reference to a large and visible Asian voting contingent in opposition to recreational marijuana sales in Naperville.

But that hasn’t been the only incident. In March, a 60-year-old Chinese man was spat at and told to “go back to China” on a Naperville trail.

Powerful Public Speakers

More than a dozen people wrote in support of the resolution or signed up to speak at the meeting.

“Racism has no place here,” said Christine Simonson, who said she was one of the first Chinese-American babies born at Edward Hospital. “It endangers our diverse community and strikes at the heart of our values. Today, with this resolution, we’re strongly supporting our Asian American community. We’re also sending a clear message of where we, as Naperville residents, stand: united against xenophobia and in solidarity with any group being targeted with hate.”

Other speakers recalled personal experiences in Japanese internment camps or of racially-based bullying in elementary school.

“I am hoping that with this Resolution and the creation of this new commission we will become better able to address instances of prejudice and racism within our community,” said Naperville resident Grace Arimura.

The resolution comes during Asian Pacific Heritage month, which is being celebrated throughout May.

Kroehler Mansion

Council also provided feedback to a potential buyer of the Little Friends’ property that includes the Kroehler Mansion.

Ram West Capital has offered to buy the property contingent on a $562,000 incentive council offered in December for proposals that preserve the mansion.

Ram West Capital’s proposed concept for the Kroehler Mansion property

City staff now believes, based on the offers submitted, that $450,000 is the highest justifiable incentive. That is the difference in the highest current offer without the mansion ($4.95 million) and the highest with the mansion ($4.5 million).

But some councilmembers questioned the value of spending even that reduced amount of money.

“I don’t think this is a good way, a good precedent to spend taxpayer money. There isn’t value to the taxpayers as a whole,” said Councilwoman Theresa Sullivan. “When we take that straw poll, not only would I not support $562,000, I would not support $450,000. I wouldn’t support $5.”

Previous Sale Terminated

In July of 2019, a sale from Little Friends to North Central College was canceled after the process to demolish buildings in the historic district was changed.

Little Friends, a nonprofit that provides services to people with autism, has maintained throughout the process that they will maximize the value of their property, whether that involves demolishing the mansion or preserving it.

Preserving the Mansion

Ram West’s proposal would preserve the mansion by renovating it into a single-family home, a concept that appeals to preservationists.

The Kroehler Mansion

The Kroehler Mansion

“This is more than just saving the mansion,” said Councilman Paul Hinterlong. “This is saving one of our crown jewels that we’re proud of in Naperville: the Historic District and the integrity of it.”

Councilman Krummen suggested some more creative thinking on the project to preserve the historical building. He threw out the idea of the city purchasing the building, or converting it into a building the public can use.

He compared it to the former Studebaker Mansion in South Bend, Indiana, which was converted into a restaurant in 1980.

Council did not take any votes on the proposal, but a spokesman for the developer said their comments would be used as feedback as they modify their concept, but if they aren’t getting enough value, they may need to withdraw their offer.

“I am certainly not saying we’re unwilling to work with the community, but at some point in time, the finances come into play and if we’re losing or consolidating units, that affects our ability to move forward at $4.5 million,” said Russ Whitaker. “And if there’s a limited incentive amount then at some point in time the metrics just don’t work and Little Friends makes a decision to terminate and they move forward with the demolition of the mansion.”

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.


If you have a story idea or news tip you want to share, we want to hear from you!