Editor’s note: This Reader Forum article was submitted by Forest Park Project Board members Karen Stensrud, public relations chair, and Mary Hoffman, fundraising chair. Reader Forum articles represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of GazeboNews. We encourage you to comment on this article, but please include your full name per the GazeboNews comments policy.
Spectacular Vistas and Pathways – Your Park – Forest Park
Along Chicago’s North Shore there are very few lakefront enclaves that compare to the treasures of Forest Park. This threshold to Lake Michigan and 7-acre parcel of forested land gave the City of Lake Forest its signature name. It contains not only a rich cultural and natural history, but offers an enchanting experience along the lakefront bluffs, ravines and woodlands.
Deteriorating infrastructure, obscured views and overgrowth of invasive plant communities were threatening the park’s health and appearance, which inspired a public-private stewardship effort to rehabilitate, enhance and preserve Forest Park.
Once complete, Forest Park will reopen to the public with 1,300 feet of new woodland paths, expanded views, benches and other amenities for the community’s enjoyment. This work is possible through a partnership with the City and the Forest Park Project Board, a non-for-profit organization established to ensure the revitalization of the park.
The work is being done in accordance with a Master Plan created by Stephen Stimson and Associates and honors the legacy of the original 19th century landscape architects Almerin Hotchkiss and O.C. Simonds. Special care has been given to the historic natural woodland, bluff and ravine ecosystems, and contemporary community needs.
“Forest Park is one of the most important projects in our community and worthy of all our attention. We are grateful to the individuals, families, and businesses that have chosen to contribute and hope more will do so as we strive to complete the project this fall,” Lake Forest Mayor Don Schoenheider
The Forest Park fundraising began with an early generous donation from Lake Forest Bank & Trust, the first major corporate donor to the project. This gift was followed by a donation from the Chicago Bears. Both organizations have made a Legacy Circle commitment to the project as a way of honoring their history and leaving a legacy to the community that has been their business home. Sharing this same sentiment, Lake Forest families and businesses have contributed gifts ranging from $50 to $250,000, totaling over $2.47 million dollars towards the $3.2 million goal. Approximately $725,000 remains to be raised.
As a tribute to the community support, a donor board will be placed within the park, listing contributors of $1,000 or more. Members of the Legacy Circle (gifts of $100,000 or more) will be further recognized with their names engraved on a bench overlooking a primary lakefront vista. The Forest Park Project Board’s goal is to have as many as possible Lake Forest families and businesses represented on the donor board in perpetuity for contributing to the good stewardship and honoring its historical significance now and for generations to follow.