Naperville News Digest: Religious organization’s plan to convert old garden center goes to council; newly approved Naperville Park District $58.8M budget includes money for new parks

Plan to convert old garden center headed to council

The Naperville Planning and Zoning Commission voted this week to recommend the Naperville City Council approve a religious institution’s request to renovate an empty portion of the Mall of India property as a place for spiritual guidance and ceremonies.

Sri Veda Dharmashala, a Hindu organization founded by spiritual teacher Acharya, needs to secure a variance from the city to operate a religious facility in an area zoned for a community shopping center before space once used as a Walmart garden center at 776 S. Route 59 is adapted for a religious facility.

Council members could vote on the request at their Dec. 20 meeting.

The space has been vacant since Walmart moved to 75th Street in 2014.

Tickets on sale for DuPage Children’s Museum Bubble Bash

The DuPage Children’s Museum is counting down to noon on New Year’s Eve with a festive celebration featuring music, confetti, bubbles and more.

The annual family-friendly New Year’s Eve party is in its 20th year and will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 31, at the 301 N. Washington St. museum.

Special activities, such as firework art, party rocket launchers and an interactive photo booth, are part of the party and guests can also explore the museum’s exhibits. At noon, families can opt to countdown to 2023 with confetti, bubbles, live music from Miss Jamie’s Farm or a quiet area.

Tickets are $25 per person for museum members and $30 per person for nonmembers. Children under 1 year old are free, but they need a ticket.

For more information, go to

Sock collection to help homeless veterans set up at library

Naperville residents can drop off pairs of new socks through Jan. 5 at the 95th Street Library, 3015 Cedar Glade Drive, to help homeless veterans keep warm through the winter months.

State Sen. Linda Holmes, D-Aurora, is working with Guardian Corps of America to help area veterans who are experiencing homelessness. The sock drive will benefit shelters in Senate District 42.

New socks help prevent serious risk of foot disease and dangerous exposure to the winter cold, and they are the least donated clothing items at homeless shelters, a news release said.

The Guardian Corps of America, which will distribute the socks, works directly with homeless veterans, offering kits that include clothing, nonperishable food, sleeping gear and other everyday essential items.

In addition to the Naperville library, Holmes has collection sites at the Prisco Community Center, 150 W. Illinois Ave., Aurora, and the Oswego Public Library, 32 W. Jefferson St., Oswego.

For more information, call 630-820-8650.

Hike to Naperville’s Whalon Lake planned for Dec. 17

The Forest Preserve District of Will County is offering a winter hike to Whalon Lake in Naperville — complete with hot soup — from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, starting at the Hidden Oaks Nature Center, 419 Trout Farm Road, Bolingbrook.

The “Soup-er Chili – Hike to Whalon Lake” event is for ages 10 and older.

Participants can bring either a can of soup or a can of chili to be added to one of two pots that will simmer over a campfire while the group hikes to and from Whalon Lake. Participants can fill a mug when they return.

The hike is about three miles round trip and consists of a variety of surfaces, including pavement and natural terrain. Hikers should dress for the weather.

The event is free, but registration is required by Dec. 16 at

Naperville Park District’s $58.8 million budget OK’d

Naperville Park Board this week adopted a $58.8 million budget for 2023.

The budget includes funding to renovate playgrounds at four parks and to redevelop the skate park at Centennial Park, which the Park Board authorized to be named the Rothermel Family Skate Facility.

Two new parks are slated to open in 2023: Naper Commons Park, with a playground, basketball court and performance pavilion, and Heritage Place Park, with a playground and shelter.

The Rothermel Family Pickleball Courts will be completed at Frontier Sports Complex and the Frank J. Rus Pavilion will be constructed at Knoch Knolls Park.

Springbrook Golf Course will reopen in the spring following major renovation work this fall.