Community, Local, Park Forest, Recreation

Somonauk Nature Adventure Park Opening Delayed

blue herron sitting on wooden platform in the middle of a pond
A blue heron sits on one of the fishing platforms in the Somonauk Park pond, which has become stagnant during the pause in construction. (Photo John Hudzik)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Park Forest residents, anxiously awaiting the opening of the new Somonauk Nature Adventure Park, are frustrated with the apparent lack of progress. Comments on social media range from wondering what is taking so long to questioning if the park will ever open.

Originally planned to open by late June, the project fell victim to the same supply issues that impacted many parts of the economy and a labor strike at local quarries. Rob Gunther, the Park Forest Parks, Recreation, and Community Health Director, is hopeful that everything will be in place to open the park to residents late this year.

A main attraction of the new park is kayak rentals to be used on the newly built pond. While the village has six new kayaks stored in the recently constructed shed, the kayak launch will not be delivered until the Fall, even though the Village ordered it in February.

The equipment the village originally planned to use for the 175-foot zip line proved unsuitable for the park, and another supplier had to be identified. That company has started the project’s design work, and Gunther hopes it will be completed later this year.

Equipment for the new swings was delivered, albeit after a lengthy delay, and installation will begin once the final excavation work is done.

Another issue causing delays not just for the park but for projects across northern Illinois is an ongoing strike by heavy equipment operators in the nearby stone quarries. While the village has secured limited asphalt quantities for some projects, widespread availability is still a problem. This has resulted in a delay in constructing the new basketball court adjacent to the park.

pile of gravel sitting in a grassy field
The planned basketball court in Somonauk Park has fallen victim to construction delays, including a strike at nearby quarries. (Photo John Hudzik)

Work on the pond and brook has also been delayed. The pump to push the water up the rocky brook was supposed to be delivered in April but did not arrive until June. The pump will help aerate the pond and maintain the water level. Additional aerators will be placed in the pond to keep algae from building up and the water from becoming stagnant, as it currently is. Gunther is meeting with the contractor who completed the initial excavation of the park to develop final plans for the brook construction work.

According to Gunther, the pond has been partially stocked with fish, and once open, the park will initially allow catch-and-release fishing with a permit.

One additional layer of landscaping will be placed around the pond this Fall. Gunther noted that before work can commence on the walkways around the pond, the heavy equipment work must be completed. The current chain link fence will also be removed at that time. The walkways outside the construction area were resurfaced this past week.

One more victim of delay is the new pavilion planned for the park. Originally ordered last February, it is now scheduled to arrive in February next year.

Gunther understands that residents are frustrated at the delays and asks residents to be patient. They should start seeing more work activity at the park within the next month or so.

Under the current schedule, Gunther hopes residents will have access to the park, including the zip lines, late this year, with kayak rentals probably delayed until 2023.

Location of Somonauk Park: