Naperville City Council will grant additional SECA funds to Naperville Century Walk to help fund its Gold Star Families Memorial project in Veterans Park.
The extra funds came about after West Suburban Irish canceled its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and 5K for the second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic. City staff recommended an additional $20,800 be given to Century Walk, bringing its total to $39,620 as well as $6,529 be granted to West Suburban Irish for its first ever Irish Fest in August.
Woody Williams Foundation
Several speakers were on hand to advocate for the Gold Star Memorial, which will honor the families of servicemen and women who died while serving in the military. That included representatives from the Woody Williams Foundation, an organization dedicated to honoring Gold Star families across the country.
“Current to date, we have 78 monuments that are installed and we have 76 monuments that are in progress within all 50 states and one us territory of Guam,” said Alex Nauert, the foundation’s director of programs. “We would love nothing more than to be able to bring another monument and the first monument in the state of Illinois to Naperville.”
Differing Opinions on the Process
Every council member agreed that the Gold Star Memorial was a worthy cause for the additional SECA dollars, but Councilwoman Theresa Sullivan, Councilman Patrick Kelly, and Councilwoman Judy Brodhead said they would each like the process of awarding this extra money to be different.
“I’d like to just make sure that we’re looking at this money, that we’re honoring all of our applicants,” she said. “I would be in support of the original SECA Commission recommendation and would ask that we table allocating the underspend until we have a process which the community or the council is involved in that looks across all of the applicants and makes sure that we all feel good about how we’re going to put that money back into those allocations.”
Councilman Patrick Kelly said he agreed with a lot of what Councilwoman Sullivan said, and that he would like to set a date in the next few months when it’s clearer how many events will be canceled and how much more underspend the city should expect.
Brodhead was concerned that if the extra funds were given out this way, it would encourage more organizations to come to council meetings and simply ask for more money, undermining the purpose of the SECA Commission.
Underspend Grants Awarded
But enough council members were comfortable with staff’s recommendation to fund both the Gold Star Families Memorial project as well as a grant for Irish Fest.
After a motion of substitution from Councilwoman Sullivan to put the underspend aside for now failed, council was unanimous in approving staff’s recommendation.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
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