Visitors to the Forest Preserves of Cook County may have noticed some recent upgrades. As part of an ambitious, yet targeted, five-year Capital Improvement Plan we are renovating public spaces and buildings to improve your overall experience at the forest preserves.
The newly renovated pavilion at Thatcher Woods hosts Forest Preserves programs and will soon be available for event rental.
The work is strategic and in keeping with our preexisting development footprints as often as possible. Funded by a recent bond issue, it addresses deferred maintenance as well as new projects. We’re renovating existing buildings that have fallen into disrepair, such as the restored pavilions at Thatcher Woods in River Forest and Dan Ryan Woods in Chicago, which remain true in style to their 1930s origins. (Both facilities are in use for Forest Preserves programming, and will soon be available for event rental.)
In South Holland, a new 750-foot-long boardwalk now snakes across wetland at Sand Ridge Nature Center, allowing visitors to explore this sensitive environment without impacting it (or getting their boots muddy).
Many of the improvements we’ve made may not attract much attention, but they add to the visitor’s experience. A couple of examples are a repaved Salt Creek Trail and a refreshed comfort station at Eggers Woods in Chicago.
And there are more improvements just around the corner. A new boathouse at Busse Woods is almost complete. Next spring, this will be the place to go to rent a canoe or rowboat at Busse Lake. The interior of the historic one-room schoolhouse at Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center in Willow Springs has been updated from its 1960s appearance and will reopen this fall. And the Forest Preserves is collaborating with Elk Grove Village (which is funding the project) to construct a pedestrian bridge over busy Higgins Road so that users of the paved trails at Busse Woods can ride a continuous 7.7-mile loop around the preserve.
Toni Preckwinkle, President
Forest Preserves of Cook County