Major changes are slated for the Hawk Hollow Forest Preserve near Hanover Park.
The DuPage County Forest Preserve District is finally moving ahead with a $4.1 million pedestrian bridge and trail that will link Hawk Hollow and Mallard Lake preserves over County Farm Road. And later this year, a sprawling exercise area for off-leash dogs will open at Hawk Hollow.
Since the early 1990s, the district has eyed a bridge allowing pedestrians to safely cross four lanes of busy traffic on County Farm. Officials hope the bridge brings more visitors to one of the district's largest grassland habitats.
"That will be a great amenity and a great investment by the forest preserve district," Hanover Park Mayor Rodney Craig said.
So far, officials have secured about $3.4 million in grants from county, state and federal sources to pay for the project.
Part of that financing includes a $450,000 state grant originally intended for a new trail connecting Meacham Grove Forest Preserve to Foster Avenue in Roselle.
But that proposal met a frosty reception. None of the surrounding homeowners stepped forward to sell property to make way for the trail. Roselle officials also said the village did not have the staff time to prepare for such a project.
While Roselle still identifies the trail on its wish list, forest preserve officials were working against the clock to spend the state grant, district Planning Director Andrea Hoyt said.
Siphoning the state dollars toward the pedestrian bridge will now free up some of the financial burden on the district's pockets, officials say.
The bridge and one mile of limestone path should debut in 2017.
Another project in the works will relocate a dog exercise area from Pratt's Wayne Woods Forest Preserve about five miles east to Hawk Hollow. The move gives a more central location for dog owners living in the Hanover Park area.
"It's right in your neighborhood," Hoyt told Hanover Park trustees this week.
The Canadian National Railway will pay for the $1.5 million facility in exchange for the temporary use of land in Pratt's Wayne Woods. The company also will pick up the tab of moving a model aircraft field within the forest preserve near Wayne.
Meanwhile, Canadian National will store equipment on the five acres of Pratt's Wayne Woods as crews work on tracks on the company's property beginning in spring 2015 until that fall.
Then, the land will be restored to a natural habitat.
The new dog exercise area will span 34 acres off Bittersweet Drive in Hawk Hollow. Fences will separate two sections for large dogs and one for smaller breeds.
The existing facility will remain open to canines during construction. Permit holders can use any of the district's six dog exercise areas.