Naperville Jaycees Help Fund Smart Park

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“We need to stay in front. We always have. And this is one of those projects that will keep us in front,” said Naperville Mayor, Steve Chirico.

That project? An outdoor smart park – now closer to becoming a reality thanks to a legacy donation from the Naperville Jaycees. The mayor, along with Councilman Kevin Coyne and other longtime Jaycees made a strong case to the group to back the project with a $200,000 donation – a prospect met with an overwhelming yes.

“I’ve always had this vision of wanting to do something significant for our community,” said Matt Eastman, Internet Vice President of the Naperville Jaycees. “And to see that all of our members kind of got behind this idea, and saw its kind of significance for the Naperville community, it’s pretty incredible to see what our organization has done and to kind of use this as a roadmap for what we can do in the future.”

The idea for an outdoor office park next to the municipal center initially came from Chamber President Nicki Anderson, who was trying to find ways to attract newer companies and younger workers to Naperville. The Mayor backed the idea, making it a talking point in his State of the City address this year.

“The space would provide Wi-Fi, power outlets, shade and seating for users. We’re still in the dream stage, and we’re continuing to work on this, but sometimes it helps when you can see your dreams coming to life before your eyes,” said Chirico at the 2017 State of the City Address.

And that dream is now achievable with the Jaycees financial commitment. They’ll foot nearly half of the $412,000 bill for the internet park – and in return, secure naming rights. The other portion of the funding has been secured from private donors.

To many, the Jaycees were a natural choice to be the chief backers of this project.

“It’s right in their brand of having young up-and-coming professionals in the city – it’s a perfect fit for their organization and I’m really excited they got on board,” said Kevin Coyne, Councilman for the City of Naperville.

It’s one in a growing line of legacy projects in town funded by the group, through monies raised by the highly popular Last Fling – a festival held each Labor Day weekend.

“We donated to the Jaycee Marina, the Jaycee Gazebo, the Jaycee ADA Park, so this becomes a gift that truly gives back to the community that everybody as a whole can use,” said James Groat, President of the Naperville Jaycees.

The mayor hopes to break ground on the tech park in spring of 2018, and says the Jaycees link to the project is sure to net a successful outcome.

“I can tell from the excitement in that room that they are stoked about really meeting this challenge. And they’re ready for it. And I know they’re going do a great job with it,” said Chirico.

Naperville News 17’s Kim Pirc reports.