Miller Meadow and the Trailside Museum of Natural History, the two Cook County Forest Preserve recreation areas closest to Forest Park are getting major upgrades, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be ready before summer is over.

Miller Meadow

Located between Cermak and Roosevelt Roads along First Ave. in Maywood, Miller Meadow was home to the Checkerboard air field in the early days of aviation. A stone marker there reads “Air mail pioneers 1918-1927 first scheduled commercial air mail line operated from this field.” 

That heritage is continued in the model airplane field located in the recreation area. Other amenities have included a picnic grove and athletic fields. With the unveiling of its Recreation Master Plan in March of 2013, the Forest Preserve revealed that this recreation area on the banks of the Des Plaines River is one of eight priority sites for upgrades.

Even so, Kindy Kruller, a Senior Planner at the Forest Preserve headquartered in River Forest at Lake and Harlem, says Phase One of the master plan won’t be completed until June of 2015.

Plans for Miller Meadow include

A seven acre fenced in dog park with designated small dog and big dog areas;

An eight foot wide, 1.5 mile paved loop trail;

The relocation of the model aviation flying field to the southern end of the property which will include a 500′ by 50′ grass runway and an overfly area with a range of 500′ to 800′ radius and split rail barrier fences;

An 8′ wide paved access trail to the picnic shelter;

Athletic fields with eight acres of flexible space with capacity for two full 225′ by 360′ soccer fields, a 160′ by 360′ football field and a 120′ by 360′ ultimate Frisbee field. 

“We worked with the Miller Meadow Dog Group,” said Kruller, “to reach out to municipalities and interested folks including the Villages of Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park to ensure that this amenity would not be duplicated by a neighboring community.”

“Funding for the initial infrastructure of the off leash dog area including the concrete pad, shelter and fencing will come from money budgeted by the Forest Preserve, but we will look to partner groups and volunteers to help if specific equipment or capital projects are requested.”

After Phase One is complete, the Master Plan calls for:

A new parking lot with 50 spaces;

A canoe launch with access to the Des Plaines River;

A river viewing area with seating;

A bird watching area with a shelter, connection to the loop path, a sculptural element and seating;

Invasive plant removal and prairie restoration;

An 18-hole disc golf course with a range of difficulty and a distance range of 150′ to 300′ per tee.

Trailside Museum of Natural History

Long a favorite of younger children and the parents they bring along, the Trailside Museum at 738 Thatcher Ave in River Forest currently has construction projects underway. The Trailside website said the parking lot, walkways and interior will get a makeover. 

The museum will install a new accessible walkway and accessible seating in the outdoor Nature Play Area. Meanwhile, Trailside’s building is closed for improvements. Outdoor exhibits and grounds are open. 

Kruller said she did not know when the construction will be finished, but a staff person at Trailside thought it might be completed by the end of August.