Naperville’s Fredenhagen Park fountain could see new changes

Naperville’s Fredenhagen Park fountain.
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The Exchange Club Memories Fountain at Naperville’s Fredenhagen Park could be rehabbed or transformed into something completely different.

The Naperville Riverwalk Commission met on Wednesday morning and discussed four possibilities for the renovation of the Exchange Club Memories Fountain. Geoff Roehll, the senior principal of Hitchcock Design Group, and his team are volunteering on the project. They are working on concepts that will be presented at the July 11 Riverwalk Planning, Design, and Construction meeting.

Fredenhagen Park Fountain shut down in 2021

The fountain has been shut off since 2021 due to operational issues. It sits at a noteworthy spot in Naperville’s downtown.

“It’s the intersection of two of our most important assets in the City of Naperville, this north-south highway (Washington Street) that carries 36,000 cars a day and the Naperville Riverwalk, arguably one of our most important assets,” said Riverwalk Bicentennial Fund member, Rick Hitchcock.

And it’s across the river from what’s to come at the empty property at 430 Washington St. The City of Naperville is currently utilizing that property from North Central College to make room for equipment and materials used for the Washington Street Bridge Replacement Project.

Once construction is done, a park will be built, in addition to a gateway sign to North Central College. The project is included in the City of Naperville’s Riverwalk 2031 Master Plan.

Four possible concepts for Fredenhagen Park fountain

The city has $400,000 budgeted in its capital improvements plan to repair the fountain. But members of Naperville’s City Council are concerned about the size and recurrence of rehab expenditure.

“We got pushback from the city council saying that it’s a lot of money to repair, especially if we have to do it every 20 years,” said Naperville Riverwalk Commissioner, Jan Erickson. “They asked the commission to take another look at that to see if there’s another alternative that might be either, number one; less costly to do and secondly, less costly to maintain.”

Now three other strategies are being proposed by Hitchcock Design Group.

One would be to create a more natural water feature compared to the spray feature that’s currently used at the fountain. Hitchcock said it would be similar to a koi pond but on a larger scale, with rocks and plants. He added that maintenance for such a structure would be far less costly.

Hitchcock says that another strategy is to create possibly rotating semi-permanent pieces of art, much like the Morton Arboretum does with its seasonal pieces. He said that strategy would likely need to include a sponsorship.

The final strategy discussed was a fixed sculpture or lighting fixture.

No matter what strategy is selected, the Riverwalk Commission intends to keep all the memorial bricks that surround the fountain. The Exchange Club secured naming rights for the fountain by selling commemorative bricks that include donors’ names.

Funding the new strategy or repair

The Riverwalk Commission discussed that the funding for the project could go through the Riverwalk 2031 Master Plan.

Besides fixing the current fountain, estimates on the expenses of strategies have not been made.

“We have no idea what any of the other features may cost,” said Hitchcock. “But we have design criteria established that suggest it should be no more than $400,000 because we don’t want it to exceed the cost of fixing what’s there presently. But again, there have been no estimates conceived of any kind.”

Next steps

After the strategies are presented at the July 11 Riverwalk Planning, Design, and Construction meeting, the project will need to get Riverwalk Commission approval.

The final design is scheduled to be introduced in January 2024, with construction beginning in the spring. Early hopes of the rededication would happen in the summer of 2024.

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