Community, Local, Nature, Park Forest, Recreation

At Long Last, Somonauk Nature Adventure Park Officially Opens

Almost two and a half years after the groundbreaking ceremony, the Somonauk Nature Adventure Park was officially opened on Saturday, September 30.

group of people standing on a bridge with a man cutting a ribbon
Park Forest Mayor Woods cuts the ribbon opening the new Somonauk Nature Adventure Park (Photo John Hudzik)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- On a perfect Fall afternoon, Park Forest Mayor Joe Woods and village trustees cut the ceremonial ribbon during Fall Fest, officially inviting the community to enjoy the redeveloped recreation area.

The annual Fall Fest, returning to the park after several years’ absence due to the pandemic, created a perfect opportunity to celebrate the new park.

The Fall Fest featured the Main Street Market vendors, food vendors, music throughout the day, games, face painting, and other activities for children. The village sponsored raffles and giveaways, including two kayaks, throughout the afternoon.

Construction Encountered Numerous Delays Along the Way

The park construction was subject to multiple delays caused by the pandemic and associated supply chain problems. The original planned opening date was July 2022.

Woods and Village Manager Tom Mick thanked the village residents for their patience over the past two years as the park was constructed.

man on stage speaking into a microphone
Park Forest Recreation, Parks & Community Health Director Kevin Adams announced the schedule of Fall Fest activities. (Photo John Hudzik)

Mick said the final cost of the park renovation was about $1.2M, with $400K coming from an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) Grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Mick thanked State Representative Anthony DeLuca, who was in attendance. State Rep. DeLuca helped in securing the grant.

The updated park features kayak rentals, fishing piers, an all-abilities playground, a new basketball court, and a new pavilion equipped with a kitchen and restrooms. The kitchen and restrooms will only be available to groups renting the pavilion through the village.

wooden pavilion set among tree landscape
The new pavilion offers kitchen facilities and restrooms and will be available for residents to rent. (Photo John Hudzik)

The only pieces yet to come are oversized porch swings. These will be on top of the hill overlooking the park. There was a problem with the mounts for the swings, but Recreation, Parks, and Community Health Director Kevin Adams expects the installation to be complete in the next couple of weeks.

Park Offers Something for Everyone

The completed park was the vision of former Parks Director Rob Gunther, designed to appeal to various ages and interests.

Mayor Woods sitting in a kayak holding up an oar as Somonauk Park opens.
Mayor Woods was one of the first to try out the new kayaks. (Photo John Hudzik)

A prime feature of the new facility is kayak rentals. Four one-person kayaks are available for rent near the pond’s boat launch. The cost is $25 for a two-hour rental and $10 for each additional thirty minutes. The rentals are possible through the phone app from Rent.Fun. Secure your kayak using a credit card. Each rental includes a life jacket and a kayak paddle.

four kayaks in a metal holder with a sign across the front
There are four kayaks available to rent using the Rent.Fun phone app. (Photo John Hudzik)

Somonauk Park Opens for Fishing, Fun, and Play

The new pond also offers catch-and-release fishing. The village has stocked the pond with bass, catfish, and bluegills. Adults wishing to fish must have a state-issued fishing license.

blue swing suspending on wires
An accessible zip line chair is one of the attractions at the new playground. (Photo John Hudzik)

Another highlight of the park is the new all-abilities playground. Staff designed the park for children of all ages and abilities. The park features climbing nets, a musical station with several large percussion instruments, a petite spinner, and a zipline chair.

climbing tower with nets on the outside
A tower is one of several climbing features available to children of all ages. (Photo John Hudzik)

A stone Friendship Circle with a fire pit surrounded by large log benches is conducive to group events. At the grand opening, the Scouts demonstrated their fire-building and safety skills.

Somonauk Park opens with a stone circle with fire pit in the middle and wooden log benches around the pit
Large wooden benches surround the fire pit in the Friendship Circle. (Photo John Hudzik)

After a long wait, the residents in attendance appeared to agree that the new Somonauk Park was worth the wait.