Naperville OKs funding for Joe Naper, Grinch sculptures
March 14, 2012 — Source: Daily Herald — Author: Justin Kmitch
For a brief moment, Naperville City Council members actually debated whether the Grinch or the city's founder, Capt. Joe Naper, was more deserving of being honored with a sculpture this year.
Of the 89 requests the city received seeking more $3.4 million in Special Events and Cultural Amenities (SECA) funds, the council's decision this week about which sculpture to support drew the most attention.
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In the end, council members agreed to fund both.
First they agreed to tap a $200,000 reserve within the SECA fund to give the Naperville Heritage Society $175,000 to install a sculpture of Joseph Naper at his original homestead site at Jefferson Avenue and Mill Street.
The interpretive site is part park and part museum, displaying the first, second and third homes Joe and Almeda Naper built on the site with low stone walls outlining the location of their foundations. The space also includes a hand water pump, benches and signs explaining the site's past uses and significance,
“The reason that I allocated $175,000 for (the Naper statue) is multifaceted. There's another line for a Dr. Suess character, which is great. It would be our third one,” said Councilman Grant Wehrli. “But we're talking about a statue for the founding father of Naperville, a guy who really goes unrecognized, other than everyone saying the word ‘Naperville.'”
Then the council approved $150,000 for Century Walk Corp. to install a Grinch sculpture outside the Naper Boulevard Library.
The Grinch sculpture will be the third Dr. Seuss character to be cast in bronze outside Naperville's libraries. The Cat in the Hat is featured outside both the downtown Nichols Library and the 95th Street Library.
Naperville offers the SECA money, derived from a citywide 1 percent food and beverage tax, to assist eligible organizations pay for new and continued cultural experiences. The money has been used in a variety of ways, ranging from assistance to the DuPage Children's Museum to funding for the Century Walk public art project to offering assistance for community festivals.
The council is expected to formally approve this year's SECA funding following a public hearing in April and money will be dispersed in May.