Plan Commission Approves Restoration of North Pond Nature Sanctuary in Lincoln Park

Northwest Boardwalk Rendering Courtesy of Planning Commission

The Chicago Plan Commission has approved a restoration of the North Pond Nature Sanctuary in Lincoln Park. Located between N Cannon Drive and N Stockton Drive, the project looks to preserve the existing north pond which was built in the mid-1880’s. Notable sites on the North Pond include the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and Michelin-starred North Pond Restaurant.

Overall Project Plan Courtesy of Planning Commission

The over 100-year-old pond has been plagued with issues since the beginning, mainly due to its shallowness, around two-feet deep at its shallowest, and lack of connection to a flowing body of water needed to keep the water fresh. These issues have led to the pond being refilled through city water which has caused a high level of algae to form as well. The project to remediate these issues along with a few additions will be split into four phases.

Overall Project View Courtesy of Planning Commission

Phase one of the plan will be the most intensive involving the dredging 25 percent of the pond to eight feet deep, while grading to existing depth levels to help keep the area’s biodiversity. The spraying of a polymer ‘lining’, which will need to be replaced every 10 years, across the bottom of the pond will help stop the loss of water to the ground below. New under-drains will also be installed to capture stormwater back to the pond, all of these efforts combined should resolve the majority of the pond’s water issues. New native trees and plantings, aerators, and an automated water management system round out this phase of the project.

Northwest Boardwalk Plan Courtesy of Planning Commission

Phase two and three are aimed at improvements in the user experience of the pond. New park paths with additional lighting, water fountains, and the removal of excess concrete around the gazebo make up phase two. Phase three focuses on a new boardwalk on the northwest side of the pond giving visitors a view over the pond down to the skyline. Phase four will replace the existing casting pier with a new, accessible, and reinforced pier with improved connections to the museum.

Casting Pier View Rendering Courtesy of Planning Commission

The $7.3 million dollar project has already raised $6.8 million dollars of private funding and hopes to be done with the permitting process by the end of September with groundbreaking occurring this fall, and have all work completed within a year. Once completed it will be easy to reach the site as it is directly served by CTA bus Routes 134, 143, 151, 156, and 76.

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