City of Naperville considers fate of Moser Tower

Neya Thanikachalam, Editor-in-chief

The Naperville City Council is considering the possibility of decommissioning, or dismantling, Moser Tower, more commonly known as the bell tower.

The tower, which is located directly across from Naperville Central’s main entrance and houses the Millennium Carillon, was found to have many structural defects when the City of Naperville decided to perform a routine assessment of the building in 2015. The report, which was published April of this year, revealed the extent of the damage to the structure.

“The main conclusion was ‘Holy smokes. This structure’s in much worse condition than we would’ve thought for a structure roughly 15 years old,’” said Bill Novack, who represents the city staff on the Riverwalk Commission. Novack is the Transportation, Engineering and Development Director for the City of Naperville.

According the City of Naperville’s website, the Riverwalk Commission’s function is to “promote, encourage and guide the development and use of the Riverwalk.” Because Moser Tower is along the Riverwalk, the Riverwalk Commission is responsible for the maintenance of the tower.

Councilwoman Judy Brodhead serves as the city’s liaison to the Riverwalk Commission. The Central Times made several attempts to obtain a statement from Broadhead, but she did not respond to those requests.

Moser Tower was first commissioned under the Millennium Carillon Foundation in 1999 to commemorate the turn of the century. However, a lack of funds caused them to stop construction. In 2006, the City of Naperville decided to complete the construction of the tower.

“It was a very expensive structure to build,” Novack said. “In 2015, the Commission […] decided it would be a good time to do a structural assessment basically to get a snapshot in time of the condition of the structural elements of the carillon.”

The report showed that there has been premature steel corrosion and deterioration of the tower, which would in time lead to falling pieces of concrete and decreased structural stability and structural damage. When it was discovered that the tower was structurally unsound, the Commission decided to look into the options they had in terms of repairs.

“It’s not the instrument itself, it’s the tower that there’s issues with,” City Councilwoman Becky Anderson said. “So they’re still looking into it. They’re trying to get some engineers to figure out what the real cost to repair it will be.”

The report from the initial assessment states that the least expensive option is decommissioning, or dismantling, of the structure. This is projected to cost about $1.5 million, which is about half the cost of the options to repair the structure. If decommissioned, the site would be restored to a grassed condition.

“I think it’s kind of a little bit on the back burner now, while people are trying to learn more about it and learn more about the expenses and looking into repurposing and different options for it, as opposed to decommissioning it,” said Brien Nagle, the former Millennium Carillon chairman.

Anderson also believes that the tower won’t be decommissioned.

“I think [Moser Tower] has become sort of an iconic […] tower in the city, and if you ever look at the news in Chicago from the television stations like Channel 5, Channel 7, a lot of times you’ll see the carillon in those pictures,” Anderson said. “It’s really become a part of the Riverwalk.”

As of now, the city has appointed engineers from Engineering Resource Associates in Warrenville to determine if there are other, less expensive options that won’t involve the decommissioning of the tower.

“We’ll have a better understanding when they do a more detailed look at it,” Novack said.

The engineers haven’t released a report yet. Until they have finished their evaluation, the City of Naperville will not come to a final decision about the future of the tower and the carillon.