North Pond Restoration Update: July 22, 2022

North Pond Restoration Update: July 22, 2022

Big Marsh Park (Photo courtesy of Chicago Park District)

by Doug Widener

This week was a slow one for work at North Pond, but we are still significantly ahead of schedule. This week’s slowdown was intentional to switch gears and coordinate the installation of new drainage systems to collect stormwater north and east of the pond. Look for work to begin again today and ramp up next week. While we have a temporary break in the action at the Pond itself, there’s plenty more to share about the North Pond Restoration Project, including a behind-the-scenes story featuring one of Chicago’s newest parks. 

Big Marsh Park Trail (Photo courtesy of Chicago Park District)

Big Marsh Park is located in Chicago’s South Deering neighborhood on the eastern shores of Lake Calumet. Formerly a slag dump from surrounding steel mills, the Chicago Park District took possession of the site in 2011 and opened it to the public in 2016. The 300-acre park has continued to evolve and develop since its opening and currently comprises a BMX bike track and trails, walking and hiking trails, and its latest addition last fall, the Ford Calumet Environmental Center.

The high-quality sandy material dredged from North Pond was transported to Big Marsh earlier this summer and is being used to improve soil composition and quality in a new section of the park that is not yet open to the public. When completed, the site will comprise an additional 30 acres of native prairie and savanna communities adjacent to the park’s existing wetland. 

This is a behind-the-scenes benefit of the North Pond project that may not have gotten the most attention but is a success story worth telling. And what a story it is: material from one of Chicago’s oldest parks (North Pond was built in the 1880’s as part of the initial expansion of Lincoln Park) helping to improve and expand one of Chicago’s newest. This creative re-use also saved the dredged material from landfill disposal while providing significant cost savings to the project. This “win-win” opportunity came from early and ongoing dialog with our main partner, the Chicago Park District, and is a testament to our organizations’ long-standing and collaborative partnership in Lincoln Park.

In closing, I have enjoyed this week’s temporary respite from work at North Pond, reveling in the peace and quiet and nature’s beauty and resilience all around. While we are ahead of schedule, we have plenty yet to do and several busy weeks to come. I am thankful for the breath and looking forward to completing our work early this fall. Thank you for your ongoing support!

Read our blog series to stay abreast of the North Pond Restoration Project. Visit the project page to learn more about the project’s goals, impacts and timeline.

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