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Riverfront renovations announced for Chicago’s Ronan, River, and Legion parks

The project will beautify the Park District land between Lawrence and Peterson avenues

Flickr Creative Commons/Mike Fourcher

On the heels of approving a transformative framework plan for the industrial land flanking the Chicago River between the Fullerton Avenue bridge and Kinzie Avenue, city officials have announced a major overhaul for the riverfront parkland further north in the Ravenswood, Albany Park, and North Park neighborhoods. The initiative would create 29 acres of savanna habitat and restore 14 acres of river bank at the city’s Ronan, River, and Legion parks.

The Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners approved the plan earlier this month, reported DNAinfo. The five-year undertaking would see the District partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The majority of the project’s estimated $14.5 million price tag is expected to come from the Corps’ existing Great Lakes Fisheries and Ecosystems Restoration Program.

The first phase of improvements will remove the 100-year-old dam where the river splits northwestward between Foster Avenue and Argyle Street at River Park. Its replacement would be a series of manmade "riffle pools" that would allow fish to traverse freely along the waterway. Other aspects of the plan involve re-grading the adjacent river bank and the eradication of invasive plant species. The proposed changes will also make it easier for members of the public to access the riverfront habitat.

“Upon its completion that section of the Chicago River will not only be more aesthetically pleasing, but also provide many more opportunities for recreation activities to visitors and residents of the area,” said Mike Kelly, CEO of the Chicago Park District, via statement reported by the Chicago Sun-Times. The work is scheduled to be done by the year 2022.

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