Community, Local, Park Forest, Recreation

Somonauk Park Update: This is the year!

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- 2023 is promising to be the year that the long-delayed Somonauk Nature Adventure Park will open to residents.

facial photo of Kevin Adams
Kevin Adams, Park Forest Director of Recreation, Parks, & Community Health (VOPF Photo)

According to Kevin Adams, the Director of the Park Forest Recreation, Parks & Community Health Department, everything is coming together for a grand opening ceremony this July. Staff will determine an exact date over the next few weeks as work on multiple remaining projects continues.

As readers may recall, the original plan under then-Director Rob Gunther, was for the park to open during the summer of 2022 after groundbreaking in May 2021, but that date fell victim to equipment and other delays related to the pandemic. Gunther retired last August after 35 years of service to the village.

Adams says that the village now has all the necessary equipment to complete the construction of the park. Residents should see a flurry of activity in the park over the next few weeks as work on the footpaths workers complete the interior island. These paths will lead to the wooden bridges already in place.

drawing of park with lush vegitation surrounding blue pond
Artist rendering of the completed Somonauk Adventure Park (Village of Park Forest Image)

The biggest part of the preparation work is the installation of wetland prairie plugs, which will extend six feet from the edge of the pond. These plugs act as a deterrent to anyone attempting to get close to the water. Once they are in place, the village will do a final reseeding of the grass.

Final Design of Somonauk Park Takes Shape

The boathouse and kayak launch are ready. Construction teams poured concrete for the Friendship Circle. Original plans called for a structure over the Friendship Circle, but Adams said that aspect of the plan is on hold.

Wooden fishing pier extending into water, Blue building in the background.
One of the two accessible fishing piers in the new park (Village of Park Forest Photo)

Adams is exploring the use of a kiosk-style rental process for kayak rentals similar to that used by bike-share companies. This would eliminate the need to staff the boathouse with village personnel.

Installation of solar-powered aerators for the pond is waiting for additional electrical work by ComEd. After, expect to see the pond restocked with fish.

Late last year workers installed the adjacent basketball court. It will be color-coated within the next two weeks. Work on a new all-abilities inclusive playground will also start around the same time.

The village received all materials for the new pavilion. The village has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to solicit bids for its construction. The RFP includes all necessary foundation, electrical, and plumbing work. Adams expects completion of the pavilion this Fall.

The final component of the project is upgrading the parking lot, which is in very poor shape. That work should begin within the next month.

The original design called for zip lines, but the village will not install them. Organizers had difficulty finding a supplier that could accommodate the slope of the hill. Adams said that zip lines may be added at some point in the future.

The fencing around the park is likely to stay in place until closer to the grand opening to protect the work activities taking place over the next couple of months.

Details on the date for the grand opening will be reported in eNews Park Forest when available.