Warrenville is a great town and family community. There are plenty of things that make it unique. Here are five things I love about Warrenville:
Blackwell Forest Preserve
(Photo by Ted Villaire)
Spread out over more than 1,300 acres, Blackwell Forest Preserve is a haven for hikers, bilkers, horseback riders, cross-country skiers, birdwatchers and anglers. Dog lovers can (with a FP Permit) let Fido run free at the off-leash dog area on Mack Road.
Mt. Hoy is the result of a landfill that operated from 1965 to 1972 and stands around 120′ high. On a clear day you can see the skyscrapers of downtown Chicago. In the winter, tubes can be rented for sledding down the hill. It’s also a popular spot for birders, especially those looking for hawks.
McKee Marsh is another popular spot where state-listed endangered marsh birds breed annually. In 1977 a 13,000 year old woolly mammoth skeleton was unearthed at McKee Marsh.
Silver Lake, Pine Pond and Sand Pond feature bluegill, catfish, crappie, largemouth bass, northern pike, rainbow trout and walleye. Every June the district hosts a Just for Kids Fishing Derby at Silver Lake.
Northwestern Medicine Proton Therapy Center
The Northwestern Medicine Chicago Proton Center opened in October 2010 in Warrenville, IL to treat cancer patients using Proton Therapy, an alternative to standard radiation treatments that causes less damage to healthy tissues and results in fewer side effects by precisely targeting tumors.
Proton Therapy has proven to be very effective in treating complicated cancers of the brain and neck, pediatric cancer, colorectal and prostate tumors, or any tumors that cannot be removed by conventional surgery.
The fact that this center exists in Warrenville is almost as miraculous as the treatments patients receive. At one point the Illinois State Board of Health had all but killed the idea of a second proton center in Illinois. Northern Illinois University had also applied for a Proton Beam Center at the DuPage Technology Center in West Chicago and was much further along in the approval process.
A last second appeal revived the plans when some questions were raised on how realistic the plans for the NIU center were, and the Northwestern Medicine Chicago Proton Center (CDH ProCure at the time) in Warrenville was approved.
The 60,000 square foot center can treat 1,500 patients per year. There are an estimated 11,000 cancer patients in IL, and over 250,000 in the United States that could benefit from Proton therapy. The center is the first in Illinois and only the ninth in the nation.
Approximately four hundred construction jobs were created by the project, and the center has over one hundred full time staffers. Nearby hotels and restaurants also benefit from out of town patients coming to the center to receive treatment.
Before it was decommissioned in 2011 after the construction of the CERN Large Hadron Collider, Fermilab’s Tevatron was the world’s second largest proton-antiproton collider.
Beams of protons and antiprotons were accelerated in opposite directions around a four mile underground ring at almost the speed of light before colliding them at the center of two detectors. Scientists explored the structure of matter by analyzing the showers of particles created by the collision.
Fermilab boasts over a thousand acres of reconstructed tall-grass prairie that attracts a wide range of birds and other wildlife. There is also a herd of approximately twenty five Bison. Established in 1969 by Fermilab’s first director, Robert Wilson, the bison are a draw for families and wildlife enthusiasts. Where else in DuPage county can you see buffalo?
The Fermilab site isn’t actually part of Warrenville, but it does border our west side and is easily accessible from the Batavia Road entrance. There is a full calendar of scientific, cultural, artistic and educational events, and even folk and barn dancing! Some areas not open to the public so visitors are encouraged to check the Fermilab visitor’s information on their website before visiting.
Hubble Middle School
When I moved to Warrenville I was a single guy. When the debate around the proposed new Hubble school building in Warrenville began I didn’t really have a feeling either way, other than the fact that good schools can help with property values. Since then I’ve gotten married, and have a stepson that attended the new Hubble school. Now I’m very happy we have it!
The 80 year old Hubble building in Wheaton was plagued with power and flooding issues and would have required extensive repairs to bring it up to code. An 18-acre site at Herrick and Galusha roads in Warrenville was proposed as the site for a new Hubble Middle School.
A small group of very vocal opponents raised concerns that the proposed location was too close to the BP research center putting it at risk of contamination, fire, explosion, and even terrorist attacks. In February 2008, after the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency reported the site free of any environmental risks, taxpayers in CUSD 200 approved a referendum to authorize $58 million in funds for construction of the new school (58% of voters in favor).
The new Hubble is just the third school in Illinois to achieve LEED for Schools Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. Some of the green features are drought-resistant landscaping, permeable pavers and bioswales in the parking lot, daylight harvesting to utilize natural light where possible, a reflective “cool” roof, and more efficient mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.
Warrenville Road Permeable Pavers
It’s hard to get excited about a road, but the mile long stretch of Warrenville Road between Butterfield and Batavia roads and its 186,000 L-shaped pavers is pretty cool. Warrenville was the first in the Midwest to use permeable brick pavers on a public roadway project and its the largest public project in the state of Illinois to use pavers. Former Ward 1 Alderman Jim McGuire led the effort to have pavers installed.
Permeable pavers work by letting rainfall drain into a 20″ rock chamber below the pavement to infiltrate runoff. Water is then cleaned and cooled by moving through the rock chamber where it eventually becomes ground flow or surface water.
Construction began in 2007 and was completed October 2009. The $4.5 million cost of the project was covered by TIF district funds. Initial cost of permeable pavers were 15% higher than traditional surfacing, but the life expectancy of pavers is 50-75 years, opposed to 45 for asphalt, and do not require resurfacing.
With so many great things to choose from I’m sure I missed a few favorites. Did I miss one of yours? If there’s something you love about Warrenville share it in the comments!