From a sunny Thursday to a rainy Sunday, the photos in this post provide a peek at progress in the Riverwalk Gateway Park on the campus of North Central College.
The longtime vision for North Central College to partner with the Naperville Riverwalk Commission and Naperville Riverwalk Foundation to improve pedestrian access via its campus quickly is becoming a reality. Since the groundbreaking of the Riverwalk Gateway Park on May 18, the project has been moving right along the DuPage River.
The landscaped pathway along the east bank of the West Branch of the DuPage River next to Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium can now be seen with foundations for the brick pillars designating the area as an entrance to North Central College from the stunning beauty of Fredenhagen Park with its landmark clock tower and Exchange Club Memories Fountain.
Click any photo to enlarge. Check the progress since Aug. 23 when a large flatbed truck arrived with trees and other plantings for landscaping. By Sunday, many of the plants and bricks had been set and the entire Riverwalk Gateway was taking shape.
Officials at North Central College and on the Riverwalk Commission repeatedly have recognized that the Riverwalk Gateway improvements will create a seamless entryway to Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium, Merner Field House and the entire campus, with seating and paths that will enhance the downtown connection to the college and vice versa.
High School Football Classics, Too
Weather permitting, the Riverwalk Gateway is expected to be completed by mid-September, in advance of the annual Prairie Classic on Fri., Oct. 5, a football contest played at the Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium between Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley high schools in Indian Prairie School District 204. Its predecessor now in its 10th year, the annual Wes Spencer Crosstown Classic is slated for Fri., Oct. 12, between Naperville Central and Naperville North high schools in Naperville Community Unit School District 203.
Class Act II Big Band Concert on Sept. 15
Members of the Riverwalk Foundation recently expressed their optimism that the new Riverwalk Gateway will be completed by 4:30PM Sat., Sept. 15. Sept. 15 is the date of the Class Act II Big Band Concert directed by Ted Fredenhagen, an annual tribute to Grace and Walter Fredenhagen, his parents who once owned the property for their ice cream enterprises, Prince Castle and Cock Robin. (Watch for more details coming soon with notes about the Riverwalk Fine Art Fair on Sept. 15-16.)
A second phase of the project was begun recently to allow walkers, joggers and runners to explore North Central’s campus along a north-south pathway between Brainard and Loomis streets that extends from just north of Chicago Avenue to Benton Avenue. The Sesquicentennial Walkway improvements also will include burying overhead power lines and installation of brick pavers and landscaping.
Often called the community’s pride and joy or “crown jewel” of Naperville, the beautiful and tranquil Riverwalk features 1.75 miles of brick paths, fountains, bridges, meeting and event places, outdoor sculpture and artwork, recreational facilities, and commemorative features. Created in 1981, the Riverwalk was started to begin a permanent place to celebrate Naperville’s Sesquicentennial anniversary and ongoing community spirit.
Through the years, the City of Naperville and the Naperville Park District have maintained agreements with the Riverwalk Commission and Foundation for the maintenance and preservation of this important landmark. In much the same way that the Riverwalk was created, through community partnerships, its legacy is protected through these cooperative relationships that also include North Central College.
It’s raining in Naperville, much needed at the time of this post. Though some folks were strolling the winding brick path with their umbrellas, tomorrow likely will be better day to enjoy all the amenities of the Riverwalk, a natural treasure set in the heart of downtown Naperville.
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