Neighbors in favor of a neighborhood mosque

The Islamic Center of Naperville (ICN) is planning to build a new, expanded center on 248th Avenue between 95th St. and 103rd St.

The surrounding communities welcome their Muslim neighbors and support a neighborhood-scale mosque. They are, however, concerned about the impact of the full-scale complex of structures.

Right now, 248th Avenue runs entirely through low-density, quiet neighborhoods. Within a half mile radius of the proposed location, there are two retirement communities, two grade schools, a middle school and a new regional park.

As the primary route for high school students going to Waubonsie Valley High School, 248th Avenue already carries over 600 vehicles per hour.

ICN’s proposed multi-use, multi-facility complex will serve congregants from around the region, far beyond the local community. Worshippers will come from Oswego, Montgomery, Aurora and Plainfield, as well as Naperville. As one of the largest Islamic Centers in North America, it may become a destination for visitors from across the country.

The full-scale development, including a large multipurpose hall and a fitness center, will create especially major traffic disruptions. ICN’s proposed school will add 150 daily vehicles as students are picked up and dropped off — high traffic times for the three other schools on 248th, all of which are within a mile. The multi-purpose hall will host up to 500 people at a time for seated events (and potentially more for other kinds of events). Studies suggest this could mean up to an additional 450 trips on a weekend night.

The City’s Master Land-Use Plan indicates that regional centers should be located along major regional transportation routes, like Illinois State Route 59, not minor routes like 248th.

The existing network of two-lane roads are not scaled to handle that additional traffic. If traffic volumes overwhelm the constrained network, as seems inevitable, vehicles will divert through neighborhoods on residential streets creating safety concerns for those living in these neighborhood.

The City of Naperville is currently conducting a preliminary study for improving 248th Avenue between 95th Street, a minor arterial, and 103rd Street, a two-lane road. Because no funding has been identified for that work, City Staff estimate that it could be many years before the project even begins.