By Tina Jenkins Bell
Fourth District Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore couldn’t be any more elated that his district expanded to include North Beverly, the community where he and his siblings were raised.
“When North Beverly was added to my district, I wanted to restore the forest preserves to the beauty and functionality that I knew as a kid growing up here. I didn’t want boarded up, abandoned or unsafe properties in my district,” Moore said.
North Beverly became a part of Moore’s district in 2022 after the last remapping of Cook County’s districts. Moore immediately rooted out areas of the forest preserves that needed the most attention. The Visitation Center was a boarded up storage facility and the Pavilion was an eyesore, too, he said.
Under Moore’s direction, the Visitation Center and Pavilion were renovated.
“Now, you can go to our staffed Visitation Center to get picnic permits, find out about trails and camping, or participate in programming,” Moore said.
The Pavilion also transformed from boarded up and empty, to a banquet hall where weddings, church events, and other activities can occur.
“It’s a beautiful air conditioned space, too,” Moore added.
Perhaps one of Moore’s earliest and most popular changes to the Forest Preserves was the exercise stairs, modeled after Palos Park’s Swallow Cliff. Moore said before advocating for the exercise stairs in the Dan Ryan Woods, he met with officials in Palos Park and observed use of Swallow Cliff, where he noted 60-70 people using the stairs. Moore said, now that the Dan Ryan Woods has its own version of Swallow Cliff. The Dan Ryan Woods exercise stairs are well used by community exercisers, joggers, and even fire fighters.
Other updates, renovations, and constructions under Moore’s tenure have been the creation of an all-natural playground and Major Taylor Trail improvements. Moore said, when he took office, the Trail suffered a number of issues, from broken glass everywhere, to cracked, unleveled trails. People were afraid to frequent the Trail.
“I convinced the city to turn over the right to the trail to the County, and we have maintained it ever since. Now, it’s beautiful. You see people jogging, riding their bikes, pushing their strollers, walking their dogs on it,” Moore said.
Moore’s mission is to continue transforming the Dan Ryan Woods into an area all residents love to frequent. In his sights are the Eugene S. Pike House in North Beverly and the Dan Ryan Woods Watchmen’s House, located just south of 87th Street at the northern tip of the forest preserve. He admits renovating these properties have been a challenge due to costs, ADA compliance requirements and other pitfalls.
As it relates to the Pike House, Moore is encouraged by the “will of the community” and proposals received by the Cook County Forest Preserves for repurposing this property. Moore would like to see the Pike House become a Nature Center. “There’s one in the River Oaks area, where kids come from all over to study indigenous animals in the forest preserves,” he said.
Also, a recent vote by area residents to increase taxes to cover the costs of Dan Ryan Woods renovations, upkeep, and other needs, like dead tree removal, could also cover some of the costs of transforming the Pike House into a nature center. Moore believes a Pike transformation is possible with continued community input and advocacy.
One of the primary functions of the forest preserves and parks is to protect and preserve natural habitats for plants and animals, promote biodiversity and ecological health, and provide opportunities for residents and visitors to engage in outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, picnicking, and wildlife watching.
As a commissioner whose family has lived in North Beverly since 1975, Moore says he is committed to continuing to develop the Dan Ryan Woods to address the needs of the people — from high utilization, to safety, to restoring the Dan Ryan Woods to place where current families can make great memories as he had before. ###