New accessibility features and site features part of improved Cummings Square Campus
Visitors of the Forest Preserves of Cook County General Headquarters will experience various improvements to the e Cummings Square Campus located in River Forest and neighboring Oak Park. The public now has direct access to the Permits, Rentals and Concessions area thanks to a recent remodel which includes a new entrance and lobby. The remodel also provides key accessibility features, such as an elevator. Exterior improvements include updated wayfinding signs, landscaping and paving for visitors.
Forest Preserves of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle; Cook County Commissioner Peter Silvestri, 9th District; and Forest Preserves of Cook County General Superintendent Arnold Randall celebrated the remodel during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 8 along with officials from River Forest and Oak Park.
“This project has brought many improvements to the Forest Preserves’ General Headquarters, a historic building but one we recognized was in need of modernization,” said President Preckwinkle. “In addition to serving as administrative offices for Forest Preserves’ staff, the General Headquarters building and Cummings Square Campus serve the public as a location in which permits can be purchased as well as a programming location for events and organized activities.”
“The Forest Preserves’ General Headquarters and Cummings Square Campus offers residents a beautiful introduction to the Forest Preserves of Cook County,” said Commissioner Silvestri. “Not only can visitors purchase permits to enjoy family gatherings and picnics in the Preserves at Cummings Square, they can enjoy a variety of programming here or head to the nearby Nature Center or Thatcher Woods.”
The Cummings Square Campus is a popular programming location for Forest Preserves events. Features of the site include a band shell; a baseball, softball and soccer field; numerous picnic tables and open space for visitors to relax; and a nature sanctuary. The Oak Park River Forest Tennis Club is also located at Cummings Square.
“For years, people have come to this building to purchase their picnic permits or enjoy the open space,” said Randall. “The improvements to the building and Cummings Square reflect the Forest Preserves’ efforts as part of our Next Century Conservation Plan to be more inclusive of diverse visitors of all abilities.”
The Cummings Square Campus is a key part of the Forest Preserves’ “central zone,” which includes Thatcher Woods and Trailside Museum of Natural History. Additionally, the Cummings Square Campus, Thatcher Woods and Trailside Museum of Natural History have been identified as gateways in the Forest Preserves Gateway Master Plan, which explores gateways as a class of special sites with identifiable entry-ways at various locations throughout the preserves to encourage people to take advantage of the natural open space available in Cook County.
The property was acquired by the Forest Preserves in the early 1920s for $95,000 and was officially designated Cummings Reserve after Edmund A. Cummings on March 24, 1924. Cummings, who died in 1922, was a respected philanthropist and was active in community development and banking.
Exterior improvements to the Forest Preserves’ General Headquarters cost approximately $2.6 million, and interior improvements cost approximately $1 million. Funding for construction came from the Forest Preserves’ General Obligation Bonds, which were issued in 2012.
To learn more about the Forest Preserves of Cook County, visit fpdcc.com.
About the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.