Gov. Quinn announces grant to fund North Central College park improvements

Oct 28, 2014

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Tuesday announced a $1.1 million grant to help fund improvements to a future downtown Naperville public park on land owned by North Central College.

The funding will help cover the cost of environmental restoration of the 1-acre site at 430 S. Washington St., known as North Central College Washington Street Riverwalk Park.

“This is an opportunity to expand the Riverwalk and connect a great campus renowned for many things to downtown Naperville,” Quinn said.

Speaking at the site, Quinn was joined by representatives of the City of Naperville, North Central College, Naperville Park District, Naperville Riverwalk Commission and Naperville Riverwalk Foundation.  

“North Central College and Naperville together have grown and flourished since 1870 and today enjoy a national reputation for providing quality higher education and an outstanding place to live and work,” said North Central College President Dr. Troy D. Hammond. “This project serves to further connect the College with the City, and together we fuel a powerful economic engine for Naperville—and the entire state of Illinois.”

North Central College purchased the property in December 2012. The City of Naperville coordinated demolition of a vacant one-story commercial building on the site in January 2013. The College intends to transform the property into a park and new entryway to campus. The state grant will cover the costs of environmental cleanup, including soil remediation that is necessary before the site can be developed as a park. Funding also will cover a portion of the costs to construct the park.

“Thanks to the financial support of Governor Quinn and the State of Illinois, a vacant piece of land that once held a dilapidated building in our community will get a new lease on life,” Naperville Mayor A. George Pradel said. “Soon, residents and visitors will have the chance to stroll through a new open area that highlights the rich history and tradition of North Central College in our community and enjoy the nearby natural beauty of the DuPage River and Naperville’s crown jewel—the Riverwalk.”

The site is just south of Fredenhagen Park and immediately west of the College’s Bambule Riverwalk Gateway, which will be connected to the site via the pedestrian Moser Bridge. The former building on the site dated back to the 1930s and housed such businesses as a dry cleaners and automobile dealership through the years. Private donations to the College will fund such planned improvements as signage and a sculpture honoring the College’s legacy of excellence in cross country and track and field, and a plaza honoring the College’s longstanding history of academic excellence.

Quinn also announced an additional $1.4 million grant for capital improvements at North Central College, part of $48.7 million awarded to private colleges and universities in the Chicago area through the Illinois Jobs Now! capital improvement program.

“By investing capital dollars in higher education, we can ensure our world-class institutions are around for years to come,” Quinn said. “Investments in Illinois’ colleges and universities will help these beloved halls of knowledge stay competitive and continue to educate and train and graduate students prepared for 21st century careers.”