CHICAGO — The Chicago Park District is getting a $4.75 million donation to repair the badly damaged Lakefront Trail.
The trail is set to reopen Monday after months of being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. But it’s been damaged by storms and waves from Lake Michigan, necessitating repairs.
Billionaire Ken Griffin will give $4.75 million for those repairs and so the city can take measures to protect the trail from future storm damage, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday morning. Griffin has previously donated to the trail, including giving $12 million in 2016 to separate 18 miles of running and biking trails.
“Chicago’s lakefront is one of the city’s most beloved and iconic features,” Griffin said in an emailed statement. “I am proud to make this investment in the restoration and preservation of the Lakefront Trail, knowing that we all look forward to enjoying the lakefront this summer.”
Though the trail reopens Monday, it’ll have restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus and there will be closures due to construction for repairs.
It will be open 6 a.m.-7 p.m. and people will not be allowed to stop or gather along the path. Face coverings are required at all times.
To keep track of how many people are using the trail, the city will only open about half of the path’s access points. Park security, Police Department officers and other city workers will “work in tandem … to keep the trail safe under guidance from public health officials,” the city said.
Social distancing “ambassadors” will be along the trail, enforcing 6 feet of social distancing between people.
Park District Supt. Mike Kelly urged people to respect the fences and barricades put up on parts of the trail, noting some are there to protect people from construction.
Three sections of the trail will be merged due to construction: Fullerton to North Avenue, North Avenue to Ohio and 43rd to 51st streets.
Kelly also urged trail users to not congregate.
“Keep it moving,” Kelly said.
Lakefront beaches and parks east of Lake Shore Drive will remain closed, as will sports courts and workout equipment along the path. Lightfoot acknowledged people have been using playgrounds despite the rules.
“We have repeatedly said that playgrounds are closed and off limits, and that’s because of the danger of the spread of the virus. We are not devoting resources to repeatedly cleaning the playgrounds, and I would urge parents not to use them because you’re putting yourself at risk,” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot said officials remain concerned about people congregating, so the beaches will remain closed indefinitely.
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