The $800k Pond Coming to Somonauk Park

Plan for Somonauk Park
The plan for Somonauk Park includes a one-acre pond. (PHOTO VOPF)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- There’s a one-acre pond coming to Somonauk Park. The Village’s second-largest community park, bordered by Shabbona Drive, Sangamon and Somonauk Streets, will soon see its first major makeover in nearly 30 years.

A celebratory ground breaking ceremony will be held this Saturday, May 1, at 10 a.m. at Somonauk Park.

Somonauk Park, located on Somonauk Street in the southern portion of Park Forest, and Park Forest’s second largest community park, has often flooded in the past. Residents and former residents have written on social media of swimming or boating in the park as children after heavy rainfalls. A flood in 2008 led to the Village of Richton Park doing work to mitigate any future deluge brought about by a development in that town.

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A boat on “Somonauk Lake” in 2009. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

The park will receive a nearly $800,000 renovation. The village will provide the initial funding for the project with fifty percent being reimbursed through a state grant. When completed, Somonauk Park will be transformed to a one-acre pond providing fishing and kayaking opportunities, zip lines, elevated seating terraces, and accessible walking paths. Village leaders hope the park will provide additional recreation options for Park Forest families and will serve as a regional destination that draws others into the community.

“This project offers not only new and unique opportunities for both active and passive recreation, it also adds to the native habitat in the Village. This project is supported by the various volunteer Boards and Commissions as not only an improvement to the park but as a potential catalyst for economic development and a draw for new residents,” said Recreation, Parks, and Community Health Director Rob Gunther.

The first phase of the project will begin in May.

“This is the base work and demolition of some of the existing conditions,” Gunther said.

Following phase one, the fishing pier and kayaks are expected to be installed as part of phase two, landscaping and asphalt work planned for phase three, and final site amenities to be added in phase four.

Earlier this month, village officials held a meeting for residents who live near the park. Nearly 30 attended to ask questions and learn more about the plans. Aside from common questions related to noise and impacts on traffic, resident feedback was positive and encouraging, according to Gunther.

The redeveloped Somonauk Park is expected to open to the public in July of 2022.

For questions, contact Village of Park Forest Recreation and Parks Department at 708-748-2005.

This is news from the Village of Park Forest. Gary Kopycinski contributed to this story.