Palos preserves among several where camping will be allowed

Camp Kiwanis to have sites for horse-riders

By Laura Bollin

Camping in the Cook County forest preserves has in recent years been offered only to groups of scouts and students, but the county plans to open camping in some preserves to the general public beginning next year.

The Forest Preserve District of Cook County has begun a $22 million project to create and renovate camp grounds in Tinley Park and Willow Springs as well as Northbrook, Palatine, South Holland, River Forest, Glencoe and Winnetka. Two existing campgrounds will be renovated and seven will be developed, said Forest Preserve District director of planning and development Chris Slattery.

"We want to bring families in," Slattery said. "Since the 1920s, in the early days of the forest preserves, there was a big legacy of people camping in the preserves."

The district will fund the project with a portion of $110 million in general obligation bonds issued last year. The renovation project is the second-biggest capital improvement project after land acquisition, which will cost $25 million, Slattery said.

Forest preserve campgrounds have fallen into disrepair in the past 90 years, Slattery said. Only one camp - Camp Sullivan at 147th Street and Oak Park Avenue in Tinley Park - features buildings that are open.

Camp Sullivan is one of two existing campgrounds to be renovated. The 80-acre site features a barn at least 80 years old that will be repaired, and a new entrance will be built off Oak Park Avenue to help Camp Sullivan feel more isolated, Slattery said. Three bunkhouses constructed in 1975 will be renovated and 12 canvas cabins will be erected. The non-permanent cabins with cement floors will feature cots. The district will allow campers to bring their own tents.

"The bunkhouses currently have bunk beds that sleep 40 people, and only one bathroom," Slattery said. "We're going to build a modern toilet and shower building, like you'd find at a state park, with several bathroom stalls and showers."

Three new campgrounds will also be created, including a primitive one at Camp Bullfrog Lake at the Pulaski Woods in Willow Springs. The Bullfrog Lake site, west of Wolf Road and south of 95th Street near both Maple Lake and Red Gate Woods, was chosen because it is the center of the district, according to Slattery. Camp Bullfrog Lake will not have electricity or water.

"That's the heart of Palos Preserve, our flagship preserve," he said. "We wanted to take advantage of the natural topography and beauty: the rolling hills, and water, the proximity to the [Little Red Schoolhouse] Nature Center and the trails. The Palos Preserve is our largest single preserve. People can drive a half hour from downtown, and still be able to have a full, natural, outdoor experience."

The Palos Preserve features 50 miles of trails, 14 of which are paved and 36 of which are multi-use, Slattery said.

A second existing campground, Camp Reinberg in the Deer Grove Forest Preserve in Palatine, will feature eight tent cabins, 20 tent sites and a restroom with showers. The camp is currently closed because structures on the site violate building codes.

Two other campgrounds will be developed. Camp Pine Woods in Northbrook will provide an alternative to Camp Dan Beard, which will be closed. A bunkhouse, eight tent cabins, 20 tent sites, and toilet and shower facilities will be built. A canoe launch site and activities such as rope courses may be built in the future.

Shabbona Woods in South Holland will have eight tent cabins, 12 tent sites and a toilet building. Shabbona Woods, a former picnic grove, is close to the Sand Ridge Nature Center, 15890 S. Paxton Ave. in South Holland.

The district hopes to in the future add family cabins and additional dining and recreation opportunities at the five "top tier" campsites, but whether that can be accomplished depends on funding being available.

The district also plans to developing four primitive "second-tier" campgrounds including Camp Kiwanis, across the street from the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, 9800 Willow Springs Road in Willow Springs. Camp Kiwanis will feature campsites for trailers and horses, Slattery said.

"We won't have tents for horses, but we will have more hitching posts," Slattery said. "The site currently connects to the equestrian trail system, and we haven't allowed people to camp there. It was brought up in focus groups that equestrians would really like that opportunity."

Other second-tier sites include possible camp locations at Skokie Lagoons, along the North Branch of the Chicago River and the Des Plaines River; and at Columbia Woods in Willow Springs or Thatcher Woods in River Forest.

"There will just be some limestone slabs for people to set up tents," Slattery said. "Right now, we are allowing people to camp at Columbia Woods, but it isn't obvious so we want to make it more clear to people where the campsites are. The idea is to create a few opportunities along the river. That way, paddlers and hikers can do a weekend, stay a couple of nights and stop at a few different points."

Columbia Woods would feature a small cluster of tent sites along the river. The islands at the Skokie Lagoons would allow space for one to three tents.

The district plans to allow campers to register for sites on its website and pay via credit or debit card. Rates will vary, but the cost is $25 per night for half of a large cabin at Camp Sullivan, Slattery said. Campers who do not want to use the online system can reserve sites at the district's office in River Forest. The district has a pool of funds available to groups that need subsidies, Slattery said.

The next step is more detailed architectural and engineering plans for the top-tier sites, which should be completed by the end of the year, Slattery said. Camp Sullivan and Camp Reinberg are expected to be open by spring 2014. The sites at Camp Bullfrog Lake and Camp Pine Woods are expected to be completed by mid-2015.

WWII at McCord

The World War II display coming to Palos Park's McCord Gallery and Cultural Center March 6-10 is already garnering national attention.

Ralph Krill who is in a nursing home in Ohio saw the notice of the exhibit in the happenings section of American Profile Magazine. He contacted McCord and wanted to have the plane that he made as "Trench art" displayed. His daughter sent it, along with articles about her dad. He intends to donate the item to a Word War II memorial recently constructed in Williams County at Montpelier, Ohio.


Last week's "Whatizit?" was, indeed, Tow Mater from Disney's "Cars" and "Cars 2." Not sure if he'll be making an appearance in the upcoming "Planes," but keep your eyes peeled. Those readers who got it right were Belle Fruendt and Beverly Yazumbek, both of Hickory Hills; Laura and Dan Heneghan, and Rick and Lara Groll, all of Oak Lawn; Theresa and George Rebersky, Celeste Cameron and Robert Solner, all of Worth; Rick Rahn of Evergreen Park; and Dana Oswald of Chicago Ridge. Great job, all of you!

This week's clue is: God save the queen, and her teeth. Send responses to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. under the subject Whatizit, and include your first and last names and where you live. You can also call us at 448-6161 or mail your answers to 12247 S. Harlem Ave., Palos Heights, IL 60463. Smell ya later!

Worth farmers market coming to Metra lot

Last one was held in 2004

By Laura Bollin

Worth plans to resurrect its monthly farmers market this spring after an eight-year absence.

The farmers market will be held the third Sunday of the month from April through September in conjunction with a flea market in the Metra station parking lot at 110th Street and Depot Avenue, adjacent to Worth Village Hall. Worth Trustee Rich Dziedzic said he and village Clerk Bonnie Price started talking about the idea last year.

"We've got so much more space that way," Dziedzic said of holding the market in the Metra lot. "The whole idea to doing this, expanding the flea market and bringing in a farmers market, was to create more for our community. We want to bring in vendors to get people out of their houses and into the community, to buy corn or tomatoes or whatever it is."

The village used to hold a farmers market that was founded by late Worth Township Clerk Bud Gavin and late village Clerk Betty Mattera. The market closed in 2004 because the village was prohibited from hanging a 60-foot advertising banner at Harlem Avenue and 111th Street, according to Price.

"We couldn't do that anymore because it was probably dangerous, hanging someone over 111th Street," Price said.

The vendor fee for the farmers market or flea market is $20 for one market, and $15 for each additional market. The cost to vend at all six markets is $85.

Dziedzic, Price and the village's Economic Development Commission are working to bring farmers market vendors into the village.

"We're contacting 20 different vendors right now, and they sell fruit, vegetables, candles and homemade jams," Dziedzic said. "Realistically, if you have something to sell, come on out.

"My biggest reason for getting it going is the community involvement. We want to give people a place to go. Some of the byproducts of that is that people are going to get healthier food and get things they wouldn't normally get in a grocery store."

The flea market started in 2011, and was begun by Worth residents Joe and Diane Burke. The couple held five flea markets in 2011, and with Dziedzic's help held six in 2012. The 2012 markets were really scattered with respect to dates and people were getting burned out, Dziedzic said.

"We're doing it once a month this year, and there are quite a few other flea markets like Our Lady of the Ridge in Chicago Ridge and St. Bede's in Chicago that do the same thing," Dziedzic said.

Trivia time

The speech team from Shepard High School will hold its first Team Trivia Challenge from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 8. Teams of four to six players will compete for a first prize of $500. The entry fee is $20 per team member. Teams also can win prizes for second and third places. Questions will vary, much like the selection from the board game "Trivial Pursuit." Proceeds benefit the Shepard speech program. Checks can be made out to "The Shepard Speech Team."