We are in the “home stretch” of Project New Leaf’s Phase One, with completion scheduled for this fall. Your patience is appreciated as we improve the park for you and for future generations of Cantigny visitors.

It’s always good news when the amount of construction fencing is in decline, and that’s the case today. By mid or late fall, the front of the park should be entirely put back together.

Parking is understandably a hot button with our guests. A shortage of on-site parking resulted this summer during high visitation days. To help with that, we’ve been providing free off-site parking and shuttle buses. But here’s more good news: By Labor Day, we anticipate the reopening of our south parking lot, with 350 additional spaces. When the lot opens we will restore direct access for visitors walking to the First Division Museum.

As you may have noticed, a new building is going up just east of the south parking lot and near the First Division Museum Tank Park. This is the Welcome Pavilion, featuring restrooms and visitor information. We know it will get plenty of use, especially during large events at the park.

The Welcome Pavilion sits alongside the Oak Colonnade, a major landscape element of Project New Leaf, stretching north-south from the Visitors Center to the First Division Museum. All 48 oak trees (parallel rows of 24) are now in the ground, and the Colonnade’s concrete pathways and crosswalks are mostly poured.

The far north end of the Oak Colonnade is essentially finished, which you can see as you approach the Visitors Center. The middle and south end of the Colonnade, and the Welcome Pavilion, will open later this fall.

To see photos of the work in progress please visit the Project Snapshots section of the Project New Leaf website, or just click here.

Of course, not everything is still under construction. We celebrated two “grand openings” earlier this summer. Our new Red Oaks Farm playground, in the picnic area, opened just in time for Memorial Day. Based on activity levels, the playground seems to be as popular among kids as climbing on the tanks.

In July, we cut the ribbon on the redesigned and replanted display gardens. The new-look spaces—white garden, rose garden and pollinator garden, to name a few—are getting rave reviews! Come enjoy them for yourself, and stroll around the updated Gold Pond, too. The new landscapes will become even more beautiful as the plantings mature and the climbing vines engulf the arching trellises.

Finally, we’re applying finishing touches to our spacious new Arrival Plaza outside the Visitors Centers’ front door. With the iconic “Lion of Cantigny” sculpture as its centerpiece and surrounding seat walls, we envision the plaza as a central meeting and resting place for visitors.

I hope you are pleased with Project New Leaf so far. In my next update, I’ll share some early news about Phase Two, which begins in 2019.

Thank you again for your patience this summer and going forward. As always, I welcome your comments at newleaf@cantigny.org.

Matt LaFond
Executive Director
Cantigny Park

The new Pollinator Garden.

The expanded south parking lot is nearing completion.

Coming this fall, a Welcome Pavilion with restrooms and visitor information.

Red Oaks Farm playground opened Memorial Day weekend.

Display Gardens ribbon cutting on July 14. Thanks to park guests Scott and Sue Watkins for doing the honors!

Posted by Jeff Reiter

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