By David A. F. Sweet Many citizens recall the wooden boardwalk at the south end of Forest Park Beach, which opened in 1987. Five years ago, the boardwalk was closed and removed after significant deterioration. The City of Lake Forest has committed $1.3 million to the Forest Park Beach Pathway Project and fundraising is underway by the Friends of Lake Forest Parks and Recreation Foundation to raise an additional $1.5 million from private donations.
Thanks to a generous lead donation from Diana & David Moore, as well as significant individual contributions, the foundation is almost to their goal. Kendall Davis of the Friends Foundation spoke to Lake Forest Love about the proposed pathway.
What sets this pathway apart from a typical walk down to the beach?
Many residents remember the old pathway; it was pretty magical, meandering through the trees while catching glimpses of the lake through the foliage. It was a peaceful journey -- one which I am excited will be returning, undoubtedly better than before.
"The pathway will allow for a more leisurely voyage down, one in which you can bring your stroller or wagons without breaking too much of a sweat," says Kendall Davis.
Lake Michigan is truly beautiful; there are days when it looks like the ocean and days when it is so still it looks like glass. It's ever changing, and it is healing. Even on a dreary winter day, a walk or drive down to Forest Beach Park restores me. I know this pathway will provide a renewed way for our community to enjoy the beach and approach the beauty of our lakefront from a new perspective.
What will be different with this pathway compared to the original one?
This new pathway will be wider and more expansive than the old path, allowing it to be safer and ADA compliant.
What will the pathway look like?
The new wooden pathway will be six feet wide and over 900 feet long. It will begin its journey at the top of the south parking lot and gradually make its way down to the playground. There will be two overlook areas to rest and enjoy the view. The bluff will be restored, while invasive species will be removed and replaced with native plantings.
The new pathway will be wider and more expansive than the old path. For a glimpse into what the pathway will look like, view the Forest Park Beach Pathway Project Virtual Tour video.
What are you most excited about for the new pathway?
I am most excited about being able to access the beach in a new way, providing a more contemplative connection from the top of the bluff down to the lake.
When my family walks to the beach we take the stairs, leaving our stroller at the top, carrying our kids and belongings, always a bit in a hurry so as not to hold up anyone behind us. The pathway will allow for a more leisurely voyage down, one in which you can bring your stroller or wagons without breaking too much of a sweat.
No matter how we get there or how much gear we inevitably overpack, when we arrive at the beach we say, “We are so lucky to live here!” My family and I love this community, but our love for the lakefront is unmatched, it is breathtaking in any season, rain or shine, and the pathway will provide us with yet another reason to love Forest Park Beach.
How can people donate?
Find out more about the project and donate at https://lfparksandrec.com/forest-park-beach-pathway-project.
You can also mail checks (payable to the Friends of Lake Forest Parks and Recreation Foundation) to:
Lake Forest Recreation Center
400 Hastings Road
Lake Forest, IL 60045
To those of you who have donated to this project already, thank you so much for investing in our community; your generosity is greatly appreciated.