Dear Resident, Neighbor and Friend of Forest Park:
The Forest Park Project Corporation and The City of Lake Forest are pleased to provide you with an update on the park project over the winter months and what is on the horizon later this summer. Since January 2013, significant progress has been made in a variety of areas and the Construction Implementation Phase is off to a terrific start. The group’s primary focus over the past few months has been to kick off our fundraising efforts, refine the design specifications, and complete critical tree work on the property.
In keeping with the identified mission of the Master Plan, tree work on the tableland and bluff began in February. We were proud and fortunate to have Kinnucan Tree Services and Nels Johnson Tree Experts offer their services in support of the project. These companies completed the vast majority of the tree work and donated their equipment and arborists over multiple weeks which saved the project thousands of dollars. This type of philanthropic commitment is what makes Lake Forest such a special community.
Tree removals and trimming ensued over the north half of the park and bluff; setting the foundation for the infrastructure work and rehabilitation of the landscape. One can already see the new vistas taking shape and views along the lake are spectacular. Several existing trees on the tableland will be relocated later this spring and fall. Tree work in the south half of the park will be completed next winter. Tree pruning and removal is being done under the guidance of the landscape architects and the City Forester, and is based upon a variety of factors including the aforementioned reopening of the vistas, the over-arching goal of proper tree care, bluff stability and erosion benefits, and establishing a high quality, ecologically diverse landscape that rehabilitates and enhances this unique park. New plantings will be phased in over the next year (and on an ongoing basis into the future), in accordance with the final landscape and management plans which are currently in development. Attached to this letter is more information regarding the process underway along the bluff.
Infrastructure improvements of the park’s storm sewer, lighting, roadway and south parking lot will most likely begin late summer or early fall, rather than this spring as previously communicated. This schedule will minimize any potential disruption for lakefront patrons during the peak season and gives the Forest Park Project Corporation time to refine the construction specifications. As a result, minimal activity in the park, bluff or ravines will occur over the next several months and summer access will remain uninterrupted.
Fundraising and community outreach is gaining momentum quickly and response in these early months has been extremely positive. The Forest Park Project Corporation has been making presentations and interacting with residents from all wards of the City. If you are interested in setting up an opportunity to learn how your homeowner association, community organization or service club can support this unique project, or simply wish to learn more, please contact us.
Last, but not least, we encourage you to SAVE THE DATE for these two special events planned at the park. More specifics about these events will be shared as they are completed:
Saturday, May 18, 2013 Invasive Plant Removal Volunteer Work Day
Saturday, August 3, 2013 Groundbreaking Ceremony
We greatly appreciate your support and patience during this important project for all Lake Foresters. For further information, or to find out how you can contribute to the project, visit the Forest Park Project website www.ForestParkProject.com.
Ralph Gesualdo, Robert R. Kiely,
President, Forest Park Project Corporation City Manager
One of the primary goals for the proposed landscape and restoration improvements slated for Forest Park is already beginning to take shape--the reestablishment of the primary vistas. Some of you may have seen the ongoing tree work that has restored many of the original views of the lake from the ring road atop the bluff. Since the removal of trees is never taken lightly in the City, it is important to note that there is a process for selecting trees slated for removal based on the following criteria.
The goal for the redefined landscape on the bluff is to create a naturalistic system composed of a series of dynamic and interactive ecological zones that not only allow for the establishment and long term management of the main vistas and associated meadow openings, but also provides for the restoration and re-creation of the native oak and maple forests with transition zones between the two.
Once the proposed vistas were laid out on site, existing trees within those zones were visually evaluated for health, safety and structural integrity, for compatibility with the long term goals, and as to whether the trees were native, non-native, or invasive. Unfortunately, a significant number of our native ash trees were infested with Emerald Ash Borer and needed to be removed. However, the majority of the trees removed were non-native and invasive.
Generally speaking, the term invasive refers to plants, native or not, that colonize and have the potential to be dominant within a plant community, typically at the expense of other plants deemed more desirable. These invaders eventually reduce the species count and therefore the diversity of the existing ecosystem. This, in essence, can weaken the entire system.
The trees that are being removed from the bluff at Forest Park are primarily Norway Maple, Black Locust and buckthorn. Invasive shrub species, both native and non-native, are also being managed. There are several ways to approach the management of invasive plant species, the most common one being complete removal. Another is to stage the control by reducing numbers and attempt to hold them in check while redeveloping or protecting the diversity of the ecosystem. Typically the remaining plants would then be removed at a later date, phasing in the restoration. Both methods are being employed at Forest Park, with the total removal being more typical in the viewsheds and the staging process in the transition zones between the main vistas. This process will continue sporadically in the months ahead, focusing mainly on ash trees infested with EAB, hazardous trees, and the few trees that may be impacted during construction. Next winter, the more comprehensive tree work will continue on the southern section of the bluff.
The restoration and re-creation of the plant communities on the bluff is not just about removing invasive plants. This fall we will begin to plant dozens of trees and shrubs in strategic locations on the bluff. Red and White Oak, Sugar Maple, Serviceberry, Basswood, Hop Hornbeam and even our native White Birch are slated for planting, as are junipers, dogwoods, and a variety of other shrubs. Native wildflowers, grasses and sedges will be seeded onto the disturbed areas on the bluff to augment those that were seeded previously.
The bluff at Forest Park is a wonderful asset to the community and when the project is completed and the new landscape is apparent, the importance of this resource will be fully realized for the enjoyment of all.
February 20, 2013
Dear Fellow Residents:
The City of Lake Forest has joined with a group of citizens, the Forest Park Project Corporation, to undertake the restoration, enhancement and preservation of Forest Park. The City has had a number of public/private partnerships to renovate and enhance our public spaces, such as Market Square and Elawa Farm, and we are excited about this latest project.
As you know, Forest Park is one of the signature elements of Lake Forest. It is the gateway to our wonderful beach and lake front facilities. Many people come to the Park to enjoy a quiet moment overlooking Lake Michigan. Over the years, some of the Park’s original character, dating back to the very early days of Lake Forest, has been lost. The main objective of the project is to restore native trees and plants while removing the invasive species that have taken hold in the wooded areas, update the amenities, and to open up vistas of Lake Michigan that have become overgrown with time.
In addition, the Park’s infrastructure is in need of attention, and the City Council has budgeted $850,000 to bring the infrastructure up to our standards. The balance of the project will be for updating the landscape of the Park, plantings and new features. The Forest Park Project Board has undertaken the goal to raise the balance of the funds for this portion of the project.
We are pleased to be working with the Board on this important undertaking for the community and look forward to Forest Park becoming even more attractive and inviting than it is today.
Release from Ralph Gesualdo, Board President, Forest Park Project Corporation to Gazebo News Subject Tree Removal at Forest Park Date: February 18, 2013
The tree trimming by Kinnucan was completed last week and we are ready to move into the tree removal stage. As a result, City Forestry crews will begin tree removals on the tableland on Monday, February 18, 2013, weather permitting. The work should take approximately one week, again if weather cooperates. The decision on the trees to be removed was a coordinated decision between City Forestry and Cliff Miller, Forest Park Project Consultant, and are being done in consideration of the master plan and the condition of the trees. Twenty-eight trees will be removed at this time, none of which are memorial trees. The signs that were placed previously when tree trimming began are still in place at the park and beach, and the upcoming removals were discussed in the recent media articles.