Naperville mayor delivers first State of the City Address

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“When the task seems too hard or doesn’t go as planned, we put our heads together to overcome that bigger lift than we expected,” said Wehrli. “By coming together, we set Naperville apart. So join me in being part of “The Big Lift” and telling our story to everyone you meet. Because those people just might be the ones who write the next chapters.”

Naperville Mayor Scott Wehrli delivered his first State of the City address on Wednesday.

The speech’s theme was “The Big Lift,” as Wehrli referenced the 1981 creation of the Riverwalk and Webster Street Bridge. And, how if something goes wrong, people work together to solve the problem and never give up.

Economic growth around Naperville

Wehrli was introduced by Christine Jeffries, who recently retired from her role as President of the Naperville Development Partnership (NDP) after more than 25 years.

The mayor emphasized his desire to continue revitalizing the I-88 corridor. He detailed the city’s updated zoning in the area to limit warehouse development and bring in research offices, and lab space for biotech and other “cutting-edge” fields.

“Business development and attraction is a contact sport,” said Wehrli. “You can’t sit back and wait for them to come to you. You must go to them.”

The mayor also highlighted business developments popping up around the city.

“Over the next year, Block 59 will invigorate the northeast corner of Route 59 and Aurora Avenue with new dining, retail, and entertainment centered around an open common area,” said Wehrli. “Not far away, the former Dominick’s grocery store at the corner of North Aurora and Ogden Avenue will reopen as 99 Ranch Market, one of the nation’s most elite Asian American grocery chains.”

To continue bringing businesses to Naperville, Wehrli will enlist the help of the NDP’s new President Monica Conners, who began her tenure this week.

“One of the things I love about Naperville from the very first meeting that I had here is that people have big ideas, and they’re not afraid to make them happen,” said Conners.

High standards for public utility departments throughout the city

Wehrli lauded public utility departments in the city, such as Naperville’s Electric Utility, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

“(Naperville’s) customers experience the fewest minutes without power each year for municipal utilities in the entire state,” said Wehrli. ”16.5 minutes is a far cry from almost 11 hours experienced in southwestern Illinois.”

The mayor also spoke on upcoming improvements to the city’s water supply.

“This spring, a new disinfection system will come online at our treatment plant,” said Wehrli. “This process uses ultraviolet light instead of chemicals to treat wastewater, which is one of our most critical municipal health operations… The (water) utility also inked one of the largest contracts that will come before this current group of city leaders: a billion-dollar, 30-year commitment with the DuPage Water Commission.”

Public safety isn’t just a police issue — it’s a community challenge”

Later in his speech, the mayor acknowledged the work of both the Naperville Police and Fire Departments to keep the city safe.

This year, the city has four new police officers assigned to the downtown area full-time and two new officers in the Strategic Response Unit.

Wehrli also complimented the fire department’s “innovative” Community Advocate Response Team for their approach to public health crises in Naperville.

“When someone starts to rely on 911 for their everyday mental or wellness care, we don’t brush them aside or talk around them, we talk to and with them,” said Wehrli. “The (Community Advocate Response) Team connects the person in need with long-term medical and social services so they can live a better life. They want to find a solution, not just put a bandage on the problem.”

At the conclusion of his speech, Wehrli called for every Naperville citizen to “be a doer.”

“For your neighbor, our seniors, your schools, the kids, the service clubs, and charities – all that make this City great,” said Wehrli. “Because when you pay it forward, you will lift this community and leave a legacy behind, something way bigger than yourself.”

Media courtesy: City of Naperville

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