Down on our Main Street, it could be better

City of Naperville illustration.

For many years, City officials and business leaders have been discussing the need to update the streetscape in downtown Naperville. “Streetscape,” for those unaccustomed to urban planning jargon, refers to all thing things you hardly notice: sidewalks; streetlights; trash receptacles; signs; street trees; utility poles and wires. A good example of a pedestrian-oriented streetscape in Naperville is West Jefferson between Washington and Main. You know, in front of Naperville Running Company, Molly’s Cupcakes, Costello Jeweler and Potter’s Place.

But check out the east side of Main between Jefferson and Jackson. The streetscape—the area between the street and the fronts of the buildings—is in disrepair. Much of the central core of the downtown—the older part—needs work. Everybody knows it, a preliminary design is ready to go, but where will the money—several million dollars—come from?

The City Council recently approved a 60-40 cost split, meaning the owners of adjacent buildings will pay 40 percent, with the City paying for the rest. Now the property owners can weigh in. If more than half of them vote against proposal, it’s back to the drawing board. But that probably won’t happen, and the multi-million dollar project will finally get under way.

But why is this taking so long? Because repairs and maintenance have not been budgeted for ahead of time. Every year the City budgets millions for street maintenance. We should have a similar system for public improvements in the downtown. Politicians love ribbon-cutting ceremonies, but keeping what we already have up to par is more important.

You can read more about the project here:

And if you like Bob Seger, here’s a different take on a different Main Street.


Response to Naperville Sun article

Naperville voters – Joe and his wife have each written separate responses to the Sun article from March 7, 2019. Dear Friends, Almost 24 years ago, my wife Kay and I had an argument that turned violent. Kay hit me, I hit her, hurting her badly enough that I had to call 911. It was… Continue Reading

Getting 5th Avenue on the right track

In real life, dreams are complicated Fifth Avenue – It’s enough to make a city planner—or a real estate developer—swoon. Just blocks from downtown you have 13 acres of city-controlled property adjacent to the second busiest commuter rail station in metro Chicago. Terrific demographics, and the entity controlling the property is ready to roll. When… Continue Reading

Where I stand: Fifth Avenue development plans

My vision for the area around Fifth Avenue and the Naperville train station is to replace the surface parking lots and decrepit former public works building with a great place, a place that will enhance, not harm, the nearby neighborhoods. Again, it’s a question of balancing competing interests: more commuter parking would be nice, but… Continue Reading

And they’re off…

Last night the two candidates  for mayor, incumbent Steve Chirico and challenger Rocky Caylor, answered questions before a large audience at City Hall. It was their first joint appearance, and I thought they both did well. Chirico is an avid development proponent, while Rocky focuses more on protecting neighborhoods. Rocky supports a humane pet ordinance,… Continue Reading

4 things I’ll do in the next 4 years

Naperville is changing. The days of rapid growth and seemingly endless abundance are over.  We have more people with low incomes, and we have homes and commercial areas that look worn down.  We cannot govern a large, mature city the same way earlier councils governed a booming techno-burb in the late 20th century. Here’s what… Continue Reading

What about flooding?

With so many people running for City Council, some important issues are going to get lost in the shuffle.  I understand it but don’t like it.  Especially discouraging is the lack of discussion about flooding. This is really two problems: one is storm water flooding, when water floods your yard and then gets into your… Continue Reading

Protecting trees, saving money

I am very proud of Naperville’s efforts to protect ash trees from the emerald ash borer, a tiny beetle that has killed millions of trees throughout North America the past several years. Shortly after being elected in 2011, I attended a seminar put together by the Naperville Area Homeowners Confederation, where I learned that ash… Continue Reading

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Vote for Joe McElroy April 2
Early voting begins in mid-March

Parade photo by Ron Hume; family photo by Brian Bates

A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available on the Board’s official website ( or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, IL.